We again gratefully contemplate the terrible price paid by those who gave their all so that America may remain the land of opportunity and the home of the free. The words and photo from Memorial Day - 30 May 2011 still apply.
Thought I’d inject a little braggadocio for some of our county’s STEM elite young people. This morning we celebrated the winners of the TechTest2015 at the annual TechTest Survivors’ Breakfast held at Tofanelli’s in Grass Valley. TT2015 was the ninth presentation of this grueling four-hour merit scholarship exam (which you can inspect or try your hand at here) given on 11 April 2015. The test sponsored by the Sierra Economics and Science Foundation with its scholarship fund counting among its contributors Nevada City Rotary Club, Telestream, Riskalyze, Nevada County Republican Women Federated, and various private individuals.
SESF ED Russ Steele opened our little feast attended by test takers and their parents. Director Mike McDaniel was the master of ceremonies, and NUHS physics teacher John McDaniel, who heads the TechTest Academic Committee that administers and grades the test, gave some pithy insights as to how this year's test takers attacked various problems. As SESF Director of Research, it is my privilege to write the test and conduct the winter preparatory seminars for test takers. The top three scores were earned by Casper Hendrickson, Aaron Van Doren, and Ryan Crenshaw pictured on the right. On the left wearing their Survivors’ t-shirts are the other scholarship winners attending the breakfast (save the chubby old guy on the end). Again it was a lively and festive affair with everyone sharing their plans for further study and careers. Hats go off to the parents for raising this outstanding crop of arrows that we now launch into our country’s future.
And for completeness, TechTestJr2015 will be given tomorrow at NUHS to eighth graders from various county middle schools. This exam intends to motivate the younger students to take STEM subjects in high school. Also sponsored by SESF, it is now in its fourth year. It awards prizes for high scorers consisting of electronics and other technology related kits for assembly and study.
This afternoon the Nevada County Supervisors heard a presentation on the State of Jefferson by the movement's local steering committee. It was followed by public comment from both pro and con residents of our county. I made the following statement during the public comment segment.
I too want to thank you for hearing from the State of Jefferson steering committee. I am a proponent of advancing this historical experiment in constitutional self-government. It is indisputable that the voices and values of rural counties have been largely ignored in many state houses. Until recently these counties have been resigned to their second class status by staying the same ol’ same ol’ course. But to more of us, continuing to follow Rodney King’s appeal to ‘just get along’ brings to mind a famous man’s definition of insanity.
We realize that today the SoJ movement is still new, not well understood, and therefore opposed by more than the usual collectivists whose historical aim has always been to increase the size of Leviathan under which we labor today. For them the creation of smaller and more like-minded jurisdictions such as SoJ is counter to the global unification goal they hold dear.
It also appears that our Nevada County government staff has taken a strong stand against SoJ by suggesting that when compared to other so-called SoJ counties in northern California, our county stands out as the best while still ‘working together with’ Sacramento. However, to me the staff’s data tables tell a different and more illuminating tale. Historically these rural counties have enjoyed productive economies based on agriculture, timber, mining, and recreation. But that was before Washington and Sacramento unleashed their massive bureaucratic assault, enforcing on them versions of dubious and scientifically unsupported bromides that promise to save the environment and stop manmade global warming.
Today the years of buckling under diktats from the likes of the EPA, CARB, Water Resources Board, and other government agencies have devastated the region’s economies and resulted in the dire statistics that our county staff has assembled. Nevada County’s placement at the top of that sorry heap has less to do with any bounty from Sacramento, than with our fortunate proximity to a large urban corridor, and our historical but now diminishing industrial base. In short, the data you have been presented is simply a detailed epitaph in the making for rural counties that have gone along to get along with Leviathan, only to reap a dismal reward for their cooperation.
To my mind the only remaining viable alternative to SoJ is our joining or even leading the growing national movement to restore ‘permissionless innovation’ by simply adopting ‘Just Say NO!’ as a response to insane and inane regulations. As a fortuitous coincidence, today is the release date of By the People: Rebuilding Liberty Without Permission from the celebrated political scientist and sociologist Charles Murray. This book is a ‘how to’ manual for America’s small businesses and political jurisdictions going viral to effectively resist and turn back regulations which are “pointless, stupid, and tyrannical”. It contains a detailed plan of how Americans can start saying NO!, one regulation at a time. And in the event you missed Murray’s nationally published essay on the subject this weekend, I will gladly email you the link. Gentlemen, I suggest that change for the better is afoot across this land.
Finally, all the arguments against SoJ rest on stasist projections. Stasism is the belief that we can see tomorrow only through the lens of current practices kept rigidly unchanged. Its corollary is ‘if it hasn't been done, it can't be done’. But proponents of the State of Jefferson believe that in this most exceptional country the world has ever seen, the new and the never-been-tried has always served as a beacon to innovation, enterprise, and in the end, a better life. Thank you.
Gov Jerry Brown demonstrated to many of us that he has entered his dotage. The man called Sen Ted Cruz “unfit for office” for no other reason than the senator’s rejecting the politicized consensus of manmade global warming to which Moonbeam added that the same scientists now blame current weather events on a roundly rejected long-term prediction that clearly contradicts what we observe daily.
Sgt Bergdahl has been found culpable of desertion in an investigation headed by a two-star general conducted over the last year. A three-star next in line has reviewed the findings and has found them to be sufficient to indict a man who spent five years with the Taliban, and then was retrieved through the release of five raghead combat commanders. We expect him to be court-martialed and sent to Leavenworth for the rest of his life. However, there will be no reprieve for those who gave their lives searching for Bergdahl, and those yet to sacrifice theirs when these commanders are repatriated by the Taliban. The shame of the whole affair lies with our leadership who should have left Bergdahl with his new Muslim comrades to demonstrate his allegiance by either joining their fight or making good his escape.
Well, we have finally led the Saudis from behindto take the initiative and assemble a coalition of ten nations (excluding the US) to strike the Houthi rebels in Yemen. The Houthi have driven out the legitimate Yemeni government backed by both the Saudis and touted by Obama as proof positive that his anti-terror policies were working. But when his latest of big lies was exposed by the rapid and unexpected rebel attacks, our Community Organizer in Chief ordered the Marines guarding our embassy in San’a to lay down their weapons in exchange for safe passage high-tailing it out of the country with our diplomatic staff. In days gone by the Marines would have fought to hold the embassy until one of our nearby assault task force units got there to explain the matter to the Houthis. But those days are gone at least until January 2017.
[26mar15 update]Growing hundreds of dollars of almonds for thousands of dollars of water. That is another quiet result of government’s misallocation of water subsidies. That data is presented in Mother Jones (more here). It turns out that in more open and competitive markets resources are automatically allocated so that the cost of the finished products is minimized. But even small subsidies tend to cause major misallocations of such input resources – water in California is an example of that in spades. H/T to reader for this.
The wonders of smartphones. Fred and Margie Buhler make up part of our ‘road warriors’ party. They are known to Nevada County residents for their long years of supporting community causes. Fewer know that they are also expert photogs, and take marvelous pictures on their many travels. Last night Fred emailed me the nearby photo he took a few hours before on a walk here in the Arizona desert. He took it with his new iPhone6, and I was blown away by the result. The actual picture is even better than what you see here since I decimated the resolution for this post, but you get the idea what can be done with the smartphone in your pocket, especially if you know ‘how to paint with light’.
IWD was launched in 1917 by the American Socialist Party to oppose the war and support nascent communist movements across Europe. Their message of ‘bread and peace' was later attributed by Leon Trotsky as the real start of the communist and socialist revolutions. The underlying message to attract ideologically vanilla people was social justice for women, it’s upshot being that under socialism women would do better and be more equal than under capitalism.
Well, it hasn’t turned out to be that way despite that the IWD celebrations to this day continue spreading the lies that launched the movement. A. Davies and J. Harrigan write (‘For Gender Equality, You Can’t Beat Capitalism’) that “socialist leaders used International Women’s Day ostensibly to highlight their commitment to gender equity. Yet contrary to its socialist origins, more than 100 years of evidence since the first International Women’s Day suggests that free markets are the single best solution to inequity, gender or otherwise.”
Yesterday afternoon and evening I, along with various board members of the Sierra Economics and Science Foundation, joined with several hundred other Nevada County residents at the Grass Valley Veterans Center to hear nationally known economics commentator and urban studies pundit Joel Kotkin, along with an invited panel of economic development professionals, to learn about factors that will impact economic development in smaller rural counties. Board members Russ Steele, Fred Buhler, Barry Pruett, Gil Mathew, and I represented SESF which was a co-sponsor of the event.
This report will contain reflections on the occasion and economic development in NC from the above which will be appended here below as I receive them.
Judi Caler of the NCTP asked me to let RR readers know about this 28jan15 event at the NC fairgrounds. Come and meet the local crowd of the kind of Americans that scares the crap out of the Dept of Homeland Security. According to Team Obama, these are the real terrorists about whom the country should be on guard. And this is why this administration claims that we cannot just call out Islamic terrorists - no, no, no! - because there exist all these other kinds of terrorists. Scary stuff.
Reports from Sydney (here) are the latest addition to a new dimension of threats from the world of Islam. We have seen in Canada, the UK, the US, and now Australia how self-radicalized Muslims are emerging from the commonly viewed ‘moderate Islamic communities’ to plan and commit acts of jihadic terror in their adopted countries. These terrorists have no formal relationship to established jihadist organizations that are publicly sworn to the destruction of our civilization, and its replacement with a most severe form of global Islam.
This class of lone wolf Muslim terrorist is always the hardest to detect and stop, especially in liberal societies of the west where today there is present an almost insane imperative to deny history and current evidence. The delivered public wisdom is that the largely silent Muslim communities, already established in such host countries, share our horror and condemnation of the growing litany of ongoing terror that Islamists have spread to multiple continents worldwide. Unfortunately, that is not the case.
One of the leading and more constructive voices in the west who warns us about the real mindset of Islam is Dr Tawfik Hamid, himself a former jihadist. He has written and spoken extensively in the west’s leading media outlets such the WSJ and the NYT. Years ago Dr Hamid started warning us about Islam and the dangerous politicized use of ‘Islamophobia’ (e.g. here). Besides his own experience with radicalized Islam and its broadly accepted geo-strategic objectives, Hamid has brought forth evidence from Islam itself citing numerous surveys of Muslim attitudes (e.g. from Pew Research) both in the west and from ‘the Arab street’.
Hamid, along with other tolerant Muslim intellectuals, continue to paint a realistic picture of Islam’s relationship with the west. An accessible compendium of such commentaries that seeks to inform us is available from ‘A symposium: What is Moderate Islam?’
I bring these reports to your attention not only in connection with the newly emerging ‘Islamist threat vector’, but also to remind some readers who have been critical of RR’s interpretation of what has really been going on between Islam and the west during the recent decades. We are closer than ever to identifying the real geo-strategic threat to the west from radicalizing Islam (see also Kissinger’s World Order) without which we have been flailing ineffectively in what we mistakenly call our “war against terror”. I believe we can begin winning again only after we realize the true nature of the conflict in which we are engaged.
[30dec14 update] And one of the west’s greatest statesmen, historians, and wartime leaders Sir Winston Churchill penned and delivered these words in an 1899 history book when he was already a decorated veteran and journalist. His prophetic insights about Islam (then Mohammedanism) - "No stronger retrograde force exists in the world" - echo stronger than ever across the intervening century. (H/T to correspondent)
How dreadful are the curses which Mohammedanism lays on its votaries! Besides the fanatical frenzy, which is as dangerous in a man as hydrophobia in a dog, there is this fearful fatalistic apathy. The effects are apparent in many countries, improvident habits, slovenly systems of agriculture, sluggish methods of commerce, and insecurity of property exist wherever the followers of the Prophet rule or live.
A degraded sensualism deprives this life of its grace and refinement, the next of its dignity and sanctity. The fact that in Mohammedan law every woman must belong to some man as his absolute property, either as a child, a wife, or a concubine, must delay the final extinction of slavery until the faith of Islam has ceased to be a great power among men. Individual Muslims may show splendid qualities, but the influence of the religion paralyses the social development of those who follow it.
No stronger retrograde force exists in the world. Far from being moribund, Mohammedanism is a militant and proselytizing faith. It has already spread throughout Central Africa, raising fearless warriors at every step; and were it not that Christianity is sheltered in the strong arms of science, the science against which it had vainly struggled, the civilization of modern Europe might fall, as fell the civilization of ancient Rome.
(Churchill W., The River War (First Edition,Vol II, pgs 248-250), London)
[4jan15 update] For more on what moderate Islamic leaders are saying about Islam's support of its radical factions, please see 'Scattershots - 4jan15'.
The Berlin Wall came down 25 years ago today. Many people are celebrating that milestone in human history, but Vladimir Putin rues the day as the beginning of greatest human tragedy of the 20th century which ended the horrors of the USSR and its spreading of international communism. As a young lieutenant stationed in Germany in the early 1960s I took a weekend leave with Jo Ann to visit a divided and tense Berlin. Because of my job and security clearances – at the time the S-2 (intelligence officer) of our only STRAC nuclear capability artillery battalion in Europe – we had to travel on the daily diplomatic train from Frankfurt to Berlin. By the Potsdam treaty the train was a rolling piece of US sovereign territory that was sealed before entering East Germany and again unsealed in the western zone of Berlin. The trip across the leading exemplar of communism’s workers’ paradise (the USSR and other places were much worse) was an eye-opener for those who had just read about what communism does to a people. In Berlin we went to the Brandenburg Gate and stood looking across The Wall; the difference between the two sides of the same city was stunning. (It would be another 25 years until from the same spot President Reagan would demand, “Mr Gorbachov, tear down this wall!”) While most visitors to West Berlin were allowed to tour East Berlin on busses; because of my status, I was not. The most chilling part of the visit was Checkpoint Charlie where a platoon of our mainline battle tanks faced their equivalents in the Red Army, separated by about 100 yards with their leveled main guns pointed at each other. WW3 was literally a trigger pull away in those days. It was quite a weekend.
Today President Obama finally admits to a very peculiar responsibility of his administration in the Democrats’ devastating loss last Tuesday. On ‘Face the Nation’ he finally acknowledged that his party had taken a drubbing, and as its leader he was culpable, saying, “… the buck stops right here at my desk.” But the problem for the nation is that the man doesn’t understand that his demonstrated policies were rejected on their substance. Instead he believes it has only been a problem in communicating his “good ideas” to the American people – in other words, he didn’t put enough lipstick on that herd of pigs that he and his let loose on the country.
[update] Congressman Xavier Becerra (D-CA) on Fox News Sunday demonstrated the utter contempt in which Democrats hold their own constituents’ intellectual capacity. Reporting on Friday’s lunch at the White House, Becerra was asked about what topics were discussed around the table. He said that because Speaker Boehner raised the comprehensive immigration issue with regards to Obama’s threatened executive order to end-run of Congress, that there was no time for the President to talk about anything else – Obama took the entire allocated time to talk about immigration reform.
‘Allocated time’??!! Yes, you see according to Becerra their lunch had a time limit because Obama had a scheduled Pentagon presentation by high ranking military officers for right after the lunch. Utter bullshit! When you have the newly and historically elected leaderships of a heretofore multi-year dysfunctional Congress assembled specifically to come together and talk about the way forward for the next two years, the Commander-in-Chief can and should have his row of four-star generals standing at parade rest outside the dining room door with their pocketed powerpoints for as long as it takes – even if the meeting needs to go on until 1AM the next morning. To tell the nation’s Democrat voters – no Republican would be dumb enough to swallow such crap – that this important meeting was time limited because of a previously scheduled military briefing simply boggles any reasonable mind so exposed (which, of course, excludes the sheeple who voted for and continue to worship their messiah).
Given these shaky beginnings, I don’t see anything possible for the next two years except for the Repubs to do everything they can to stop the business-as-usual from the White House as soon as possible.
[10nov14 update] Harvey Silvergate in ‘Liberals Are Killing the Liberal Arts’ brings us up to date on the latest efforts to shut down free speech and discussion of issues in our universities have become little more than conclaves of collectivist thought and socialist propaganda. Silvergate opens with –
On campuses across the country, hostility toward unpopular ideas has become so irrational that many students, and some faculty members, now openly oppose freedom of speech. The hypersensitive consider the mere discussion of the topic of censorship to be potentially traumatic. Those who try to protect academic freedom and the ability of the academy to discuss the world as it is are swimming against the current. In such an atmosphere, liberal-arts education can’t survive.
He then goes into some detail on a truly unbelievable albeit fully documented conference at Smith College named “Challenging the Ideological Echo Chamber: Free Speech, Civil Discourse and the Liberal Arts”. The principal exchanges (including the now de rigueur use of ‘Trigger Warnings’) and their aftermath at both Smith and Holyoke illustrate the long-known ‘freedom and liberty are only one generation deep’, and could have taken place at any of the party educational meetings that workers were required to attend in the USSR. Silvergate concludes –
Hypersensitivity to the trauma allegedly inflicted by listening to controversial ideas approaches a strange form of derangement—a disorder whose lethal spread in academia grows by the day. What should be the object of derision, a focus for satire, is instead the subject of serious faux academic discussion and precautionary warnings. For this disorder there is no effective quarantine. A whole generation of students soon will have imbibed the warped notions of justice and entitlement now handed down as dogma in the universities.
[11nov14 update] Gas prices are down, and guess who wants to assign credit to whom? It's the lamebrained lackeys of the same Messiah who promised to raise energy prices through the roof, worked his tail off to accomplish same, continues to impede developments to lower energy costs, and promises to also transform that part of our economy. But fracking on private lands (government lands are a no-no) has produced a surfeit of gas and oil to the extent that huge tankers now lie at anchor in bays across the world, used as floating storage tanks because the land-based ones are full. Isn't central planning wonderful?
[12nov14 update] Germans land instrumented probe on comet. This is a big deal that has been ten years in the making. Mission controllers in Darmstadt announced that the spacecraft Rosetta, orbiting in formation with comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, had successfully launched and now landed its probe Philae on the comet's surface. We are now in great anticipation awaiting the first picture taken by Philae from the comet's surface. As a lifelong worker in the control & estimation field (I am a California professional engineer in the Control Theory field, and a former DoD 'missile scientist'), my hat is off to the engineers who calculated and controlled the very complex sun-orbital maneuvers Rosetta executed during its ten-journey to 'sync up' with the comet, and then precisely aim, release, and control Philae to a soft landing in a 500m diameter area. The last worry is that Philae will land on the edge of a boulder and tip over, thereby screwing up the lander part of the Rosetta mission. Realtime control is not possible since the whole thing is taking place about 26 light-minutes from earth, so the problem is being solved locally by an onboard Bayesian brain. (more here)