What a Riot

I just don’t quite know what to make of this. I mean, it’s as though I’m reading about U.S. Representative "My Great Grandmother." While she was indeed the sweetest person I ever knew, and I loved her bunches and bunches, she had something like a 4th grade education, and though she could garden and cook up a storm — and competently do lots of other things — she was simply, utterly ignorant about most things beyond that.

It’s not a crime. It’s not even necessarily bad. Then again, she wasn’t a U.S. Representative.

I will say that Katherine Harris discharged her narrow and specific set of duties, such as they were, competently back in the Florida election debacle. I don’t vote, and I’ve got less than nothing for GWB, but Big Fat Lies are something else entirely.

Your Amerika

More antics from public enemy number one, the cops.

You think I jest?

Listen: any parent not instilling disrespect, loathing, and an acute sense of caution as regards police officers (in this day and age) just isn’t doing their proper job as a parent. The entire police apparatus is now nothing more than a club of predators, and it’s the good people that are more often then not the prey — and only because that’s the kind of animals we’re dealing with. You don’t believe me? Yea? Really? REALLY? Y’sure? Perhaps that’s what it will take: kids cowering in fear and apprehension when they see cops, before the tide turns and the few marginally "good ones" that remain, quit.

Yes, quit. The entire institution is wholly irredeemable and it is impossible to be in its employ, anywhere, and retain the slightest degree of intrinsic honor as a human being.

My disgust knows no bounds. To hell with all of them. Every one.

Count Me In

Redeeming Themselves?

Watch this tale of redemption. You know, I don’t know any real way for these guys to ever make right the wrong they’ve actively caused and contributed to. One man goes so far as to admit putting 7,000 people in jail who weren’t hurting anyone. Yes, I suppose you could say that no redemption is possible. That, in a rational world foremost in love with honesty and justice, the man could never make adequate repayment.

Actually, I’m not sure how I come down on that. But I do know that I respect these men for admitting to what they’ve done, and what they’re doing to try and change things going forward.

(via Bill, again)

Raining and Pouring

No sooner had I completed the entry below this, and, well…

On May 28, 2003, a
Nebraska state trooper signaled Gonzolez to pull over his rented Ford
Taurus on Interstate 80. The trooper intended to issue a speeding
ticket, but noticed the Gonzolez’s name was not on the rental contract.
The trooper then proceeded to question Gonzolez — who did not speak
English well — and search the car. The trooper found a cooler
containing $124,700 in cash, which he confiscated. A trained drug
sniffing dog barked at the rental car and the cash. For the police,
this was all the evidence needed to establish a drug crime that allows
the force to keep the seized money.

Associates of Gonzolez
testified in court that they had pooled their life savings to purchase
a refrigerated truck to start a produce business. Gonzolez flew on a
one-way ticket to Chicago to buy a truck, but it had sold by the time
he had arrived. Without a credit card of his own, he had a third-party
rent one for him. Gonzolez hid the money in a cooler to keep it from
being noticed and stolen. He was scared when the troopers began
questioning him about it. There was no evidence disputing Gonzolez’s

Now, of course, since this is America, Mr. Gonzolez may rest safe in the assurances offered by our culture of freedom, our founding principle of government submission to certain natural laws, and our peaceful, deliberative, and predominately fair legal process to fall back on. Naturally, in spite of all the hassle and likely expense, Mr. Gonzolez was able to prevail and at very least to win a moral victory, right?

You would be wrong.

At least there’s one of the three judges on the 8th Circuit whom I don’t hope soon dies of a long, painful and awful disease.

"Notwithstanding the fact that claimants seemingly suspicious activities were reasoned away with plausible, and thus presumptively trustworthy, explanations which the government failed to contradict or rebut, I note that no drugs, drug paraphernalia, or drug records were recovered in connection with the seized money," Judge Lay wrote. "There is no evidence claimants were ever convicted of any drug-related crime, nor is there any indication the manner in which the currency was bundled was indicative of
drug use or distribution."

"Finally, the mere fact that the canine alerted officers to the presence of drug residue in a rental car, no doubt driven by dozens, perhaps scores, of patrons during the course of a given year, coupled with the fact that the alert came from the same location where the currency was discovered, does little to connect the money to a controlled substance offense," Judge Lay Concluded.

Yea, the emphasis on "rental car" is original in the dissenting opinion.

Alright, sorry for the false allowance in the last entry. Now you can turn over and go back to sleep.

(Bill St. Clair, again)

“This is our new America”

"Having witnessed her father being violently arrested, my 8-year old
daughter was distraught and crying. The police told my wife to take her

"My wife consoled our daughter, but since the
Bollyn children have seen much of the world, and witnessed major
political events, she allowed our daughter to watch it, saying, ‘This
is our new America

When you read this "unbelievable" account in its entirety (really, you should) take note: I had planned to copy/paste the whole thing here and then edit it to make time, place and nationality ambiguous. But I just don’t have the time, right now. But if I had…well, read that and just go ahead and tell me you’d have though this happened in America. Just go right ahead.

Then turn over and go back to sleep. It’s just the idle rantings and ravings of a malcontent, after all.

(via Bill St. Clair)

Small Pendulum Swings

A few months ago, I attended a retirement dinner for a longtime teacher friend of my wife. I knew most everyone there, and, let me indicate from the outset that I like all of these people, in spite of their awful, hard-leftist politics which I normally characterize as "commie." Due to demographics around here, these folks are all fortunate to have parents of their students who are highly involved, concerned, and supportive of their kid’s educations. I’ve taught in my wife’s classroom, and observed others. This is a special environment of excellent teachers and students alike.

So we’re dining at one of those big round tables that sit about 8 or 10 people and I was chatting with one longtime friend of my wife who’s been a school principal now for a few years. She was relating a recent experience to us where she negotiated with the school district on behalf of the union in order to secure a new contract (that presumably included higher pay and benefits, combined with fewer responsibilities). I offered her the bait: "So, is the end result of your negotiations that every teacher at the various seniority levels receives exactly the same pay and benefits?" I asked wide-eyed and enthusiastically. She took it, along with the hook: "Oh yes," she exclaimed with a smile of deep satisfaction and accomplishment. "Exactly the same." Then I reeled ‘er in: "Well, that’s really unfortunate for all of you really excellent teachers now, isn’t it? I’d sure hate to work in a place where the most I can make is what the worst employee makes."

Oh, yes, you could have cut the air with a knife, as everyone looked down at their plates. But they all know what I’m like, so it all quickly moved on. I never expect that my jabbing points are going to have any lasting effect, but I still just can’t help myself when such juicy opportunities present themselves.

Likewise, I was at my parents-in-law’s house the other night for a family get-together when a conversation arose concerning who will be San Jose’s next mayor. One of my wife’s nephews asked who I would vote for, and I gave my standard answer: "I don’t vote. That would involve me trying to force my values on you and others who may not share them, and I’d never do that to you."

You’ve never seen the subject of conversation change so quickly, but Bea’s brother did mention that he missed my emails, since about a year or so ago when the family kicked me off their email list.

But all of that is just a round-about way of getting to what I wanted to get at in the first place. Now, I’m by no means talking about any sea change, or light at the end of the tunnel. More precisely, I’m talking about the joy in watching people get squeezed by their own political views — hoist, by their own petard, if you will. It seems that even a lot of the lefties who toil at city hall are supporting "the other guy" over the one who was supposed to have been the shoo-in. And why? Because he’s less beholden to labor unions.

Now, stop and consider what that means. Begin by asking: what unions? Well, public-sector unions, of course. You see, the private sector has gradually been undermining labor unions for three decades. Membership reached its peak if about 17 million in 1970, had fallen to 12%, or 10.9 million, by 1990, and is now at about 7% of the private workforce and continues to decline. All the while, guess what has been increasing? Public-sector union membership, i.e., membership amongst your employees, if you’ll pardon the collectivist reference for purposes of making a distinction.  Whereas, private-sector membership has reached a 100-year low of 7%, public-sector membership is at an all-time high of 27%, and at the local government level? It’s 42% — nearly half of all public employees. (see The Library of Economics and Liberty, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics)

To understand the dynamics involved, read this. It’s the competitive global marketplace that has been instrumental in undermining private-sector unions, because in spite of all the legal protections that unions "enjoy," employees increasingly have other choices and they have been making them. In short, the best employees migrate to where they are not limited to receiving only what the worst guy on the job gets. But no such dynamics exist in government. It’s a monopoly. There’s no competitor to go to. You’re a union employee, or you’re not an employee at all.

And so, the administrators and commissars of local government, who are not union members themselves, are feeling the pinch once felt by the captains of industry. One wonders where it will lead.

(Inspiration for this post began here, at Kim’s place; and do make sure to watch these short videos.)

Laughing Stock

With the company I keep, it’s no surprise at all, to in one moment, read this Proudhon quote from Jay:

To be GOVERNED is to be watched, inspected, spied upon, directed,
law-driven, numbered, regulated, enrolled, indoctrinated, preached at,
controlled, checked, estimated, valued, censured, commanded, by
creatures who have neither the right nor the wisdom nor the virtue to
do so. To be GOVERNED is to be at every operation, at every transaction
noted, registered, counted, taxed, stamped, measured, numbered,
assessed, licensed, authorized, admonished, prevented, forbidden,
reformed, corrected, punished. It is, under pretext of public utility,
and in the name of the general interest, to be placed under
contribution, drilled, fleeced, exploited, monopolized, extorted from,
squeezed, hoaxed, robbed; then at the slightest resistance, the first
word of complaint, to be repressed, fined, vilified, harrassed, hunted
down, abused, clubbed, disarmed, bound, choked, imprisoned, judged,
condemned, shot, deported, sacrificed, sold, betrayed, and to crown
all, mocked, ridiculed, derided, outraged, dishonored. That is
government; that is its justice; that is its morality."

…and not but a moment later, this accounting of what likely will happen to you if you accidentally drop your iPod into an airplane toilet.

No, it’s not a joke. But I can imagine a lot of Islamic primitives just laughing their asses off when they read stuff like this. Imagine that. All of you safety-at-any-cost morons are the laughing stock of certain elements of a culture that has not produced a single original advance for the modern world since the 14th century.

(tip: Brad)

Plan B

I see Plan B is in the news, again.

Just a short note. I observe that deaths related to use of this pill is generously tallied at 5 people. Unacceptable, right? Well, that derives a rate of under 1 in 100,000 pregnancies. The mortality rate for induced abortions is .7 per 100,000 (also under 1 in 100,000 for you math challenged).

Awful, you say? Perhaps, but then what does that make God, who kills 11.5 women per 100,000 who carry pregnancies to term?

Look it up, if you care to.


You know what? I’m tired. Whereas, I was willing, grudgingly, to give Republicans the benefit of the doubt in recent times (though I don’t vote: I’d never do that to you), I just smell a rotting rat, recently.

Look, if they were reducing the size and scope of government all the while killing as many radicalized Muslims as quickly as possible (in the hundreds of thousands — with glee, and with righteous and celebratory blood-lust), I’d just be quiet.

But that’s not what’s going on. Increasingly, the threat is being overblown for the clear and shameless sake of political power (not to say there aren’t equally Bullshit "arguments" from the commies). I mean: what do we have, anymore?…high fat, high carbohydrates, cigarette smoke, violent video games, SUVs, terrorists, big corporations. All of those and more: hobgoblins.

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed and
hence, clamorous to be led to safety — by menacing it with an endless
series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.

H. L. Mencken

Have you ever considered, on an individual level, just taking your chances with those of pure faith — by which I mean: those with the misplaced "virtue" to take the "Word of God" literally and uncompromisingly? Sure, they all want you dead, and burning in hell, but do you stand a reasonable chance of escaping their crusade?

I’d just as soon give it a shot, and henceforth board airplanes at my leisure and pleasure. as I used to.

Incidentally, have you ever wondered why these monkeys strike at symbols like the World Trade Center and modern commercial airliners? Simple. Because monkeys don’t and can’t create World Trade Centers and airliners. Jesus. It’s sixty-sumthing years later, and they still can’t explode a nuke. What a laughable and moronic world of God-loving monkeys.

My contempt for that sphere of the world knows few bounds. At the same time, I sincerely hope every non-monkey can extricate themselves from the insanity over there.

Oshkosh 2006

With little opportunity to blog, lately, and even less enthusiasm for it, this is something I just must pass along. Enjoy.

(via Davis)

Everybody Agrees

Beck has up a treatment of an irrelevant and unimportant article heralding "the end of libertarian politics." It’s a dumb idea, of course, for all the reasons Billy mentions; as does Tucker, whom he quotes.

Go ahead and take a look at that, then drop back by.

I’ve been spending a lot if time lately watching, studying, and trading in the markets. Do you know what I really like about them? Their fundamental nature is so pure, with a balance so fine that in spite of the general notion that entities like the SEC "regulates" the market is sheer nonsense in any really meaningful way. Sure, they have books of regs and throw someone in jail every now and then (I’m not making light of that), but the very plain fact is that they are virtually powerless to regulate the daily buy and sell grind that goes on to the tune of billions and billions of dollars over millions and millions of trades.

To attempt any sort of direct regulation would be to tank the market in an instant. Even when they (or the exchanges) exercise their power to halt trading, what generally happens the moment trading resumes (check the charts about a week after 9/11, when the markets reopened)?

Do you know what else? The markets are a byproduct of human behavior. What do I mean by that? Trends reverse the moment the last person gets on the trend bus. Go back to 1995 through 1999 (click on the image for the large view).


One of the greatest sustained bull markets in history. Look at the bar graph below, representing volume. The more it goes up, the more people are jumping on the bull bus. I can recall during that time receiving an increasing number of mailers from "financial experts" admonishing me to buy their "whatever" in order to take advantage of the crash that was certain to come. Then, in 1998, I began receiving fewer and fewer of those, so that in 1999 and on to 2000, it was increasingly hard to find a bear. Technology had changed everything. Companies no longer needed to generate profits — hell, revenues — for the stock to just keep rising.

The last bear got on the bus going up sometime after we managed to survive the Y2K (remember that?) bug that was going to grind the modern technological world to a halt.

My point? Well, I’m not sure I really have one, other than to observe that I don’t find it the least bit surprising that "libertarians" might be throwing in the towel, at least those who think of themselves as libertarian. Perhaps it won’t be until the last libertarian (so-called) declares that the statists were right all along that someone will come along, or something will happen that changes everything.

Of course, that’s a long-term view, which means it could happen next month, or in 250 or 10,000 years. And that’s why you’ll never find me jumping on that bus.

No Way!

So, first thing this morning, I get an email from my buddy Greg Swann (here too) with regard to my last entry.

Can you believe it? A $500 price drop (20%) less than two days after I buy it? To add insult, Apple apparently gives discounts to teachers, so I could have received an additional $200.

I’m not sure yet about the teacher discount, and I emphasize they have absolutely no obligation to reimburse me for the price reduction, but I called to very politely inquire and they indicated that when it’s within two weeks they will honor any reduced price. Very reasonable and good business.

4,096,000 Pixels

If you’re running a nice 18, 19, or even 20-inch display, you’re probably at 1280×1024 resolution, or 1,310,720 pixels. Or, maybe you run three of them to get to nearly 4 million pixels. Or, you can go to your local Apple store and spend a day futzing to get this 30-incher to work with your PC, finally, at 2 a.m., which is when this was taken (click on it for the large version). This is running at a screen resolution of 2560×1600 pixels, just over 4 mil.


What you can’t see is the absolute carnage all around, which I’ll get to the reason for a bit later. See, I’d been toying with the idea of getting another display or two at home, where I now do a lot of my work (especially trading, in the morning hours). I’ve become accustomed to the three-display setup at the office. So, first thing Saturday morning, I announced to Bea that I was headed out to shop. The problem is that our loft is kinda artsy-fartsy, you see, and just any ‘ol thing simply isn’t gonna do it. Style — for style’s sake — is called for. And there just isn’t any locally off-shelf, multiple-display configuration that cuts it. There’s this option, of course, but I kind of like to see and feel and such before I buy something like that.

Down at the local Fry’s Electronics there was a very nice Samsung 24" coming in around 1600xSumthin’, but there was no way you were going to get anything more than two decent-sized windows on it, and I need three to four at one time. I could get two of them, but then I’m at $3,200 for the set, and then I’ve got two displays, i.e., two of everything — power, video cable, etc.

Then I take a look at the Apple 30" Cinema HD Display. Because of the single cord that comes into the back of the thing, I’d always, at a glance, assumed it was one of their typically proprietary things that can only be used on certain Macs — let alone any PCs. But this time I looked closer; and I was immediately able to tell that the connection into the computer was just standard DVI — which I already have on my Sony Vaio Digital Studio. The power is actually spliced into the single cord — along with a USB and Firewire connection that provides a hub for both so you can plug cameras, iPods, Mp3 players and such right into the display.

$2,500. You know, it was 1999 or 2000 that I purchased my first flat-screen display — a 17-incher — for $1,300. I got right on the phone with one of the two local Apple stores and confirmed that it will indeed work with a PC, under appropriate conditions.

Hey, in this case, Apple clearly has the superior, more suitable product; and I’m perfectly happy to give them the business. This does not hold for computer hardware and software, for the sorts of stuff I and — mostly — my company does, but I’d probably consider making the switch if I was working stand-alone, or had a very small office of employees without multiple enterprise-level server requirements. Their (Apple’s) stuff is pretty, and that’s just undeniable. Go into a local Apple store if there’s one near you. If you can get over the overwhelming sense that you’re amongst nothing but leftie commies with mostly stupid ideas, then you might have a good time.

So here was the shot this morning, after a bit of cleanup and organization (click it for Big).


But it was quite an ordeal to get the thing working. At least in the PC-world, you have some flexibility. If you’re a Mac user, then you can’t use this display unless you have "a Power Mac G5, a 17-inch PowerBook G4, or the 1.67 GHz 15-inch PowerBook G4, so long as it has the optional 128MB graphic memory and dual-link DVI functionality."

In the PC world, just about every machine sold in the last five years can easily accommodate this display by upgrading the video card to any of about a dozen models designed primarily for 3-D HD gaming and such.

But I did have quite an experience, nonetheless. First, I didn’t pay attention to the bus interface. I needed AGP; but I got PCIx. Went back to the store to get the right board, came back, and then realized it needed auxiliary power in addition to the power supplied through the bus. I had a spare 4-pronger in the box, but it wouldn’t reach, so I had to go back for an extension. Back to the store. By this time, it’s after 7 p.m., and I’m an hour late to join Bea at her parent’s house for an informal dinner and family get-together. I get it all put together and… whoa, the OS can’t find the boot sector on the hard drive. This is serious, and it’s something that hasn’t happened to me in years and years. Back to the computer store — nunber three — to get an actual copy of XP, as the "recovery" shit that ships with manufacturers is worthless for troubleshooting. By now, dinner is off. I’ve problems to attend, and there will be no sleep — and no stopping — until I can compute again.

Long story short: looks like the drive is toast. Man, that hasn’t happened to me in over 10 years. That machine was getting on, at about four years old. The drive was probably getting ready to go and all the jostling around to swap hardware sent it over the edge. But thanks to Connected Online Backup, all the critical stuff was safe. It looks like the machine I bought my wife a bit over a year ago now has new duties. It took about 15 minutes to re-establish my backup account and download all my critical data safe & sound and current. Mostly financial stuff. Whew!

So then I popped open "the wife’s" HP, swapped out the video card, tapped power from an unused removable-drive bay, booted up, installed video drivers, and got this 30-inch baby fired up. All in all, a very satisfying day. I take the drive crash in stride. I may have lost some photos if we ultimately can’t recover them, but on balance, I live with the trade-off. At the end of many days, backing up anything but the essential and critical is just a big pain in the ass. Preserving a few photos that I hadn’t had time to upload to the net yet isn’t worth the hassle and expense of backing up everything all the time. And, anyway, all the Euro-photos are still on my notebook.

…Quick check… Yep, they’re there. While I have it open, let’s take another pic so I can address something else.


That’s the notebook that weighs in at 3 lbs., has a 6-hour battery life, and in addition to excellent WiFi reception and transmission (it can really sort out a signal when the WiFi on my wife’s iBook, for instance, can’t even get a single bar), it’s got built-in GPRS/EDGE, so I can be connected almost everywhere that’s anywhere when there’s no hot spot to be found.

Look at that photo; what is the essential attribute? I’ll tell you: minimum-compromise suitability. When you’re mobile, you need something only big enough to get a job done reasonably well. This machine is ideal because it’s so convenient that it goes with me everywhere, and I actually use it. Just recently, I realized that I had forgotten to turn on some pay-per-click advertising campaigns after a weekend pause. I stopped along the road, fired up, and had the job done in a few minutes. That salvaged what would have been a significant loss of opportunity and the consequent revenue.

But when I’m at my desk working, not going anywhere, then I need something as large as I can possibly get within practical limitations, because those seconds spent switching back-&-forth between overlapping applications adds up to days, weeks, and eventually months worth of productive time.

You know, people will spend maybe $1,500 to $2,000 on a good machine, and perhaps another few hundred for software and other peripherals, and then skimp on the display. You know what? I’d rather have a $600-special and put the real money into the primary machine-human interface, i.e., the display, so that I can make the most out of the time I spend computing.

And I spent a lot of time computing.

Flying Videos

Here’s a couple of videos of me flying hang-gliders that I’ve posted before. Now I’ve uploaded them to YouTube.

I’ll give you the links to watch them over at the Tube, in case you want to watch other HG videos it’s going to list for you. And because I really think embedding is cool, see below.

See here for an ATOS flight at Ed Levin county park and then here for bits from two flights last year at Hat Creek Rim. We’ll be heading to Hat Creek next week for our umpteenth annual camp & fly, so this has all been on my mind lately.

Ed Levin

Hat Creek Rim