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!

Davis:

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.

Enjoy

Check out this short hang-gliding action video with cool background music. Filmed in Norway.

Now Hear This

Regarding Cindy Sheehan:

Her refusal to acknowledge her son's moral authority is contemptible, and borders insanity.

In how many major media sources did you hear that identification even remotely alluded to? You didn't, anywhere. Care to entertain why?

Aspiring to Victimhood

I was having dinner out on the back terrace of a neat little place last evening with a group of folks (of the left, politically) when I broached the subject of victimhood. Here's how it went down. One person, who works in the HR department of a large company, mentioned that someone had filed a sexual harassment report that day against a guy. Something about jokes about cucumbers being used in unnatural ways.

I couldn't help it. I said something like: "You know, there was a day when women knew how to defend themselves. It might have been a slap across the face, if warranted, a dismissal, or some come-back alluding to penis size. In other words, in these sorts of non-violent social situations, moms taught daughters how to handle themselves and daughters learned how to take it and to dish it out, when necessary."

"But not anymore. Everybody wants to be a victim. People aspire to victimhood."

Just then, it erupts, group wide:

Well, there are lots of victims.

Everybody is a victim of something.

We're all victims of big oil and gas prices. They're stealing from us.

Isn't it interesting, the philosophical differences of people. Here we have a group of left-leaners, and they sit there in one gigantic pity party actually trying to come up with ways that they and others are victims of something or the other--as if they have to be victims--or their worldview just won't reconcile.

I mentioned that I cannot recall one instance in my life where I ever considered myself, in any way, to be a victim of anything, for even a fraction of a second. I know I've had a few misfortunes, I've been wronged a few times by strangers and even some family members, and have even stupidly and irrationally felt sorry for myself at times. But to consciously consider myself a victim, for more that a micro-fraction of a split second? When there is nothing in the world preventing me from actually moving forward with my life regardless?

Don't get me wrong. I understand that there exists genuinely innocent victims, people who've been harmed a great deal. And, if their victimization in some way prevents them, long term, from realizing the potential with their lives they otherwise might have been able to attain, then all the worse. Tragic. Imagine someone put in a wheelchair for life by a drunk driver, or something equally grotesque. However, isn't it that you're more likely to find that the people who have the most claim to victimhood are the ones least likely to regard themselves as victims? Think of Chris Reeves, and his fight. Think of many others who have risen up in spite of all the rotten evil and misfortune not of their making that has landed upon their shoulders. Regarding one's self as a victim, even when one has every right to do so, is only self-defeating. It's a dead end. It gets you no thing and no where.

Perhaps this is why I'm incapable of reasoned dialog with people who maintain a perpetual chip on their shoulders with regard to racial injustice, or those who advocate same. What does this victim status get them? How is it that the sins of the past (true as they are), committed by those of the past give license to individuals of the present to do nothing with their lives? Worse than nothing, really, because in the way society is constructed, do-nothings are generally prevented from perishing by their own lack of attention to their needs. Rather, the rest of us are burdened with them, by force.

And, of course, this burden is justified on the grounds that they are "victims." Vicious circle.

As an aside, my dad and I often poke fun a bit about other members of the family who talk of their medical ailments and limitations as though they were badges of honor. Does anyone get that? Can anyone explain it to me?

Anyway, the conversation then turned more specifically to how we are all getting screwed by the oil companies. I suppose I could do a writeup on just how silly of a notion that is: especially considering that at the end of 2004, gas prices were up to the price of gas in 1950, in inflation-adjusted dollars, having risen there from an all-time low for gas prices in 1998. I could do all that, and more, but it would just bore me too much.

Besides, that's not really my argument anyway. My argument is that insofar as I don't own any property that sits over deposits of crude oil, own or lease any oil drilling rigs, tankers, pipelines, refineries, trucks, or retail outlets, then  it's just not any of my goddamned business. Those who do own some or all the above will generally work out the necessary details in establishing some price for the product they are involved in producing and bringing to market, considering what the competition might be up to, of course. Oh, and don't forget: they also have to factor in the 30% of local, state and federal taxes tacked on at the retail level. Funny how that's not stealing. The oil company's 15% profit: that's stealing.

My other argument is that my stock in Noble Energy Inc. (NBL), Petroquest Energy Inc. (PQUE), and Southwestern Energy (SWN) are all doing quite well, with two out of the three posting excellent gains yesterday.

Making Distinctions

To answer every observation of the mitigation of state evil, every instance of a good produced by the state, whether intentional or accidental, with another cry from the mountaintops of "the state is evil" is a failure to make a vitally important moral distinction. That failure leaves one blind to where evil's power comes from, what is controlling that power, and how it is controlled.

Kyle Bennett posts a thought-provoking piece, worthy of consideration, in response to a comment to one of my articles.

Marseilles, Tunisia

I've already posted today about experiences in France in the early 90s, so this is pushing it. But I note: even then, I noticed great trepidation building among the French regarding the numbers of Muslim North Africans (Tunisians, Algerians, Moroccans) immigrating to the south of France. There was an area in Toulon, where I lived, that you would swear was an an enclave of Tunis. Marseilles? Forget it; hugely Tunisian and Algerian.

On a very side note, this did make for some unbelievably interesting late-night (early morning, actually) excursions to African nightclubs frequented by the more secular Africans. The music, both Arab and African "rock", has a rhythm and beat unlike that to which we're accustomed. I can really appreciate it, though I digress.

France is getting tougher. To all those libertarians who have trouble with distinctions: if you can peremptorily kill them for issuing a verbal threat on your life (assault), you certainly can expel them from your midst and it hasn't a thing in the world to do with "free speech."

(link: McQ)

The New “Libertarian”

So, now, being a "Neo-Libertarian" involves drawing distinctions between organized labor, the state, and free enterprise solely on the basis of power?

Power corrupts, no matter who gets it. Give power to gentle, meek, God-fearing Churchmen, and the next thing you know, they're burning lonely old ladies at the stake for talking to their cats. Give power to corporations, and before you know, they're dumping gallium arsenide in open pits that soak into ground water, because it's cheaper than having the stuff hauled away to be disposed of properly, and then Lake Erie catches fire. Give it to unions, and in short order, high school dropouts will be slicing luncheon meats for $60 an hour, with options to put unlimited cocaine and hookers on their corporate expense accounts, and a head of lettuce will cost $15. Aggregations of power are bad.

Huh. Glad I distanced myself and this blog from the outset.

Look, kids, there's one reason and one reason only for the decline in union membership to 1900 levels of 8% of the private-sector workforce: they are generally unnecessary. That is, potential members don't see the benefit as against the cost. It's the market in action. Dale Franks, as the author of a book on economics, ought to be one of the first to recognize that.

Being Superior

I used to have a great time living in France in the early 90s. The French are pretty much like people everywhere: lots of good ones, a few bad ones. Et, Il aide certainement à parler la langue bien.

And of course they believe themselves superior to everyone else. Is that not a pretty normal human trait? So is honesty, when you expect it of people. I recall attending a dinner party during the initial month of the 1991 Gulf War. This was in company with fellow naval officers, except they were with the French Navy and I was a US Navy officer on exchange. I recall them talking about our round-the-clock bombing that had been going on for a couple of weeks by that time. Someone asked, "You can't keep that up for very much longer, can you?" I just looked at them. (Recall, this was during the waning days of the Cold War, when we had stockpiles sufficient to go to war with the Soviet Union). Finally, a note of pure honesty and dropping of all pretense: "You live here, and so you know there are always programs, news reports, articles in the magazines and newspapers about how America is in decay and declining. Ce n'est pas vrai."

"Nope, no. It's not true," was my reply.

Having an apartment literally on the beach road of the Mediterranean in the south of France afforded me the opportunity to interact with Europeans from all over during the summer months. They all love to talk about how superior their social systems are to America (as though we're far off). Man, did I used to laugh at them and ask them who they thought paid for their grand social systems. We did, of course, indirectly, by bearing the lion's share of the cost of the Cold War defense of Western Europe. Trillions spent keeping the Soviet's at bay in the 50s, 60s, 70s, and 80s. Forty years of defending a continent against a certain, strong, and capable force.

Integrate that teeny little factoid next time you get all moist between the legs thinking how great, sophisticated, intelligent and advanced the Europeans are. The fact is, they talk continually of their superiority because they are hopelessly overshadowed by America. Can't even defend themselves without us. How pathetic. They literally live in peace at our expense, and then pretend as though they have something over us.

Anyway, this was all a prelude to a very funny post by Lou Minatti about just how superior those Europeans really are.

Che Guevara, Murderer

Turns out the the "World's Greatest T-Shirt Salesman" is a murderer -- though anyone who puts historical fact ahead of "chic" already knew that. This, from an email from The Independent Institute:

Ernesto "Che" Guevara (1928-1967), the Argentina-born revolutionary who helped Castro come to power in Cuba, has long been lionized by the hard left. Guevara's posthumous popularity has accelerated in recent years -- especially since the 2004 release of "The Motorcycle Diaries," a feature film based on his early autobiographical writings -- making him a crossover superstar whose likeness appears on countless T-shirts, posters and tattoos, and who has been cited as an inspiration for political dissidents from Latin America to Lebanon to Hong Kong.

Yet the reality of Che Guevara's life is far different from the popular perception, as Independent Institute Senior Fellow Alvaro Vargas Llosa explains in a new article in the July 11 & 18 issue of THE NEW REPUBLIC.

It's safe to assume that many people now sporting radical-chic Che T-shirts oppose capital punishment, but Che Guevara served as an executioner for Castro, as Guevara himself admitted in some of his diary entries, notes Vargas Llosa, author of LIBERTY FOR LATIN AMERICA. Guevara, for example, admitted to shooting Eutimio Guerra in January of 1957 because he suspected him of passing on information. He also admitted to having shot a peasant named Aristidio, although he wasn't certain he could justify that execution, as well as a man named Echevarría, the brother of a comrade. On the eve of victory for the revolution, Guevara ordered the execution of a couple dozen people in the central Cuban region of Santa Clara, according to Jaime Costa Vázquez (a.k.a. "El Catalán"), a former commander in the Cuban revolutionary army whom Vargas Llosa interviewed for the article.

But Che Guevara's killing spree didn't reach its apex until after the corrupt Bautista regime collapsed and Castro put Guevara in charge of the San Carlos de La Cabaña prison.

José Vilasuso, a lawyer and professor in Puerto Rico who had served with the group in charge of the judicial process at La Cabaña prison, told Vargas Llosa that one night in 1959 he witnessed the execution of seven political prisoners. Another witness, Javier Arzuaga, a clergyman more inclined toward the liberation theology of Leonardo Boff than the conservatism of the former Cardinal Ratzinger, told Vargas Llosa that Che Guevara never overturned a sentence. He said he personally witnessed 55 executions, including that of a young boy named Ariel Lima. Estimates of the number of executions of political prisoners during the six months that Che Guevara was in charge of La Cabaña vary. Economist Armando Lago has compiled a list of 179 executions. Pedro Corzo, who is making a documentary about Che Guevara, puts the number at 200. Vilasuso told Vargas Llosa that 400 political prisoners were executed under Guevara's command.

Whether Che Guevara executed 400 political prisoners or "only" 200, it's hard to see how self-styled "progressives" can continue to justify their worship of the murderer. For those who refuse to blame the "idealistic" Che for these executions, which took place without regard for due process, Alvaro Vargas Llosa also notes Guevara's Taliban-like rule of the city of Sancti Spiritus in 1958, his ordering of his men to rob banks during the revolution, his rationalization of the Guanahacabibes labor camp, his negotiation with Khrushchev to acquire 42 Soviet missiles, half of them armed with nuclear warheads, his destruction of the Cuban economy, and his reckless revolutionary sojourns throughout Latin America and to the Congo, spreading violence and fostering only more misery.

Those in search of a genuinely heroic Latin American reformer, Vargas Llosa notes, will find one in Juan Bautista Alberdi of 19th century Argentina. Alberdi helped depose Argentina's tyrant of that era (Juan Manuel Rosas) and introduced his country to the ideas of constitutionalism, open trade, greater immigration, and secure property rights -- which when implemented brought 70 years of prosperity to Argentina and did so without staining Alberdi's hands with blood.

See "The Killing Machine: Che Guevara, from Communist Firebrand to Capitalist Brand," by Alvaro Vargas Llosa

Reform or Eradicate?

Those who believe the former simply have their heads far, far up their asses. That is to say, they neither have the slightest clue as to what the hell they're talking about, nor do they source information by others who know what the hell they are talking about. No, the pundits, often dumb themselves, but more often shrewd, serve up bromides, slogans and talking points tailor-made for a mass of know-nothings and dimwits. And so you get one massive cluster-fuck of massive ignorance and stupidity; the blind being led by the blind or by the clever, which pretty much sums up the political left in this country.

Here's one of the the very few who actually knows what the hell he's talking about?

Quite simply, Islam is not in need of a reformation, but of a civil war in the Middle East, since the jihadists cannot be reasoned with, only defeated. Only with their humiliation, will come a climate of tolerance and reform, when berated and beaten-down moderates can come out of the shadows.

The challenge for the Middle East is analogous to our own prior war with Hitler who sought to redefine Western culture along some racial notion of a pure Volk long ago unspoiled by Romanizing civilization. Proving the West was not about race or some notion of an ubermenschen ruling class did not require an “internal dialogue,” much less another religious reformation, but the complete annihilation of Nazism.

So it must be with the latest fad of radical Islamicism. Contrary to popular opinion, there has not been a single standard doctrine of hatred in the Middle East. Radical Islam is just the most recent brand of many successive pathologies, not necessarily any more embraced by a billion people than Hitler’s Nazism was characteristic of the entire West.

In the 1940s the raging -ism in the Middle East was anti-Semitic secular fascism, copycatting Hitler and Mussolini — who seemed by 1942 ascendant and victorious.

Between the 1950s and 1970s Soviet-style atheistic Baathism and tribal Pan-Arabism were deemed the waves of the future and unstoppable.

By the 1980s Islamism was the new antidote for the old bacillus of failure and inadequacy.

Each time an -ism was defeated, it was only to be followed by another — as it always is in the absence of free markets and constitutional government.

Saddam started out as a pro-Soviet Communist puppet, then fancied himself a fascistic dictator and pan-Arabist nationalist, and ended up building mosques, always in search of the most resonant strain of hatred. Arafat was once a left-wing atheistic thug. When the Soviet Union waned, he dropped the boutique socialism, and became a South-American-style caudillo. At the end of his days, he too got religion as the Arab Street turned to fundamentalism and Hamas threatened to eat away his support.

The common theme is not the Koran, but the constant pathology of the Middle East — gender apartheid, polygamy, religious intolerance, tribalism, no freedom, a censored press, an educational system of brainwashing rather than free inquiry — that lends itself to the next cult to explain away failure and blame the West, which always looms as both whore and Madonna to the Arab Street.

Iraq has inadvertently become the battleground of a long overdue reckoning, a bellwether of the future of the Middle East. If the constitutionalists win, then the jihadists will be in retreat and there will be at last a third way between radical Islam and dictatorship.

We must now step up our efforts. At home we should no more tolerate the expression of Islamic fascism on the shores of the West than Churchill would have allowed Hitler Youth to teach Aryan global racial superiority in London while it was under the Blitz.

When the extremists are repatriated to the Middle East, and understand they are never again welcome in Europe and America, millions of others will know the reason why — and decide by their own attitudes to the killers in their midst whether they themselves wish ever again to visit, work, or be educated in the West.

If the terrorists are not isolated and ostracized at home, then any Western government would have to be suicidal to admit any more young males from the Islamic Middle East. Indeed, if the Iranian public or the Saudis, or Egyptian citizenry do not begin creating a climate hostile to radical Islam, then they de facto can only become the enemies of the United States in a war that they can only lose.

[...]

Iraqi guardsmen are fighting al Qaedists as Afghans die in firefights with Taliban remnants. Note well that at the loci of American democratizing presence in Afghanistan and Iraq, there are few local Iraqis and Afghans — as there are few Turkish or Indian Muslims — who are eager for global jihad against the West. The killers instead flock from elsewhere to those new nations to stop the experiment before it spreads. Give dictatorial Pakistan or Egypt billions, and we get ever more terrorists; give the Iraqis and Afghans their freedom and their citizens are unlikely to show up in London and Madrid blowing up civilians, but rather busy at home killing jihadists.

Death to Crickets

That's right. All of them. Every last one!

Living here in the South Bay Area of California with its 300+ days of nice weather, I've never had a pressing need to have central air conditioning installed. So, for the few weeks it's hot at night, we open windows and fire up the ceiling fans throughout the house.

Can't remember  ever before in my life being bothered by crickets. Usually, it's kind of that reverberating hummmm with the up and down change in pitch. It can even be soothing.

But last night, I had the 100 lb. variety; just outside the window; taunting me. It's a higher pitch, loud as hell, and it doesn't stop. Ever. For hours. Jesus! Finally, at about 2:00 am, in complete irrational consternation, I storm through the glass sliding doors to kill me some crickets. Yea, like, right; I'm gonna find the little buggers in the dark and they're going to sit still while I crush them. To make it worse, there were at least two of them, at opposite ends of the yard. As I'd walk towards one, he (or, she: how the hell should I know?) would stop his bleating and the other one would start. I walk the opposite way, and guess what?

Jesus. Kill them all.