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...

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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)

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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)

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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...

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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...

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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.

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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...

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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...

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Cheap Shot

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

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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...

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Enjoy

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

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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?

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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...

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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.

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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)

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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...

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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...

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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,...

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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...

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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...

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