Category Archives: Ethics

Constitutional Freedoms

I spent some time today watching several YouTube videos relating to the “constitutional education” of law enforcement, particularly federal law enforcement.

When it comes to these kinds of exercises, I find myself at odds internally. On the one hand, nothing educates better than experience and dealing with someone very educated on what their rights are, and how they may exercise them can be very educational for an ill-informed law enforcement officer. The flip side, there is a potential for a rapidly escalating situation that may become very dangerous, even life-threatening.

The benefit of these actions is that the word is spreading socially among the populous and among law enforcement agencies. It is paramountly important for the people to understand their rights, and to safeguard them to the fullest extent possible. To do this, the population needs to educate themselves. Law enforcement likewise, needs to step up their game in understanding their responsibilities in their role to “protect and serve.”

Now for the “on the other hand” part. Testing, “auditing,” probing, or whatever you choose to call it, while necessary, needs to be done respectfully, and without goading law enforcement, baiting them for an aggressive response. If we are respectful and allow the LEOs to de-escalate the situation we have accomplished the goal. Picking a fight for a clickbait video is no better than the mainstream media sensationalizing non-stories for the ratings.

Any way you slice it, our constitutional protections are constantly under attack. Whether intentionally, by misguided agency administrators, poor interpretation of policy by field supervisors, or just plain old ignorance of the law, on a regular basis our civil rights are infringed, and they will continue to be if we do not hold the infringers heels to the fires of scrutiny and continue to draw attention to their misdeeds.

I support law enforcement, local, state, and federal, but I demand that they respect the constitution they swore to defend and treat the individuals they encounter respectfully. I don’t suggest that they put themselves unduly in harm’s way, I do suggest that they tone down the attitude a bit and approach people less aggressively.

With the apparent prevailing attitude in law enforcement as it is, I must admit I am leaning more to the side of carefully reminding LEOs what the boundaries are.

Until next time,
~FlyBoyJon

What I want from a product

I want…

title on payment, infinite tinkerability, and anonymity. Three little things. That should be easy, right?

Title On Payment

Technology has crossed many lines as it’s development has accelerated, but none so egregiously as title.

When a writer produces a book they hold a copyright on that intellectual property as does an artist with a work of art. These are reasonable expectations by in large. Software becomes a bit sketchy. When I “buy” a piece of software I understand that modifying it would relieve the producer of any liability in its use, and reselling it or a derivation would be in poor form, but why go after someone for modifying something for their own use? Software may be a bit gray for some, I will easily concede to that.

When I BUY something made by someone else the transaction should be complete. If some warranty was included in the purchase, upon the end of that term then the transaction should be truly complete. What is more likely the case, we are bound to a long list of obligations to the “proper” use of a product and inherit a slew of exceptions and controls from the manufacturers of component parts and assemblies.

The true nature if our “purchase” is most likely never completely revealed even by the fine print in that service agreement. You read yours, right? How about that TV you just bought? That TV busts all three of these. The manufacturer retains rights in perpetuity, including watching you and tracking your location and usage their product. Same thing goes for phones and computers along with many other new consumer electronics. The trend is to carry similar conditions of use on just about everything, this includes the largest consumer electronics device you own, that car has a computer in it. It also likely has a GPS, even if you don’t have access to it directly.

Oh, by the way, disabling or interfering with the devices ability to phone home to mamma is also not allowed. Not being a “criminal” in the eyes of these Orwellian manufactures is virtually, no pun intended, impossible.

There are ways to insist on title, but they are more difficult to attain as technology moves forward. Going back to older tech, before the Big-Brother attitude took hold is the easiest. Next would be to build your own equipment but that isn’t an option for many people. Until industry is forced by the consumer market to stop such practices the only other alternative is to not adhere to the terms of service, and these days, unless you exist in a SCIF it is unlikely you can prevent some devices from transmitting data back to the factory.

Infinitely Tinkerable

There once was a time when products were made to be repaired. I know, amazing isn’t it. What changed the world was industrialized manufacturing. Yes, it goes all the way back to the 1850s. It started with textiles and progressed into other trades ultimately reaching basic housewares.

With the advent of electrical appliances, things were still put together on assembly lines so a human had to actually assemble it meaning a human could ostensibly disassemble it or repair it. These days things are ether made by a robot, assembled from non-durable materials, or integrated into little Black Boxes that completely preclude even figuring out how the darn thing works at all. There is also the likelihood that more than one of these methods is used.

So what? You may ask. The problem is that it divorces us entirely form understanding how the products we use work, how it was made, what it “does,” it’s all just magic. The danger is that when power isn’t available for whatever reason or the device, haven forefend, stops working you are truly S.O.L. And if that dreaded experience happens at an inopportune time what will you do?

My first thought would be “No big, it’s just tech. Go old school.” But how many of us are ready to go old school for realsies. I recently found out they don’t make Thomas Guides anymore, they haven’t for years. If you had to travel 200 miles and didn’t have your GPS or Google maps how would you get there? Do you know the route? If a known route is blocked can you navigate around the disruption? Have you ever used a compass? Recently? Do you own one? How about a map? Seriously, I almost cried when I found out about the Thomas Guides I loved them, but I didn’t NEED them so I stopped buying them, apparently like everyone else.

So what does this have to do with tinkerability? It’s just one aspect of a device we use daily. Sure, I could replace a SIM card, battery, or even a damaged screen, but I haven’t got a clue about anything else in fixing my cell phone. It’s a magic Black Box. Consumer devices aren’t made to be tinkered with. If you can’t tinker how do you learn about how a device works, improve it, fix it, or diagnose when something goes wrong, or truly know what it is capable of.

Okay, most of the things a “smart” phone does you can be done without for a while, with a little planning. What about your car? Do the phrases “backyard mechanic” or “shade-tree mechanic” sound vaguely familiar? If not, well… buy some really good walking/hiking shoes. I aspire to working on my own vehicle regularly. Unfortunately I was recently reminded that my old ride isn’t old enough.

Any car with a computer is a pile of problems waiting to happen. The manufacturers of today have all conspired to make it very difficult for backyard mechanics, not just in repairing problems but in diagnosing them. There are so many sensors, many for “SMOG control,” that alter how your vehicle runs, without specialized diagnostic equipment there are things you just cannot do.

Case and point: My ride was having a problem with the Camshaft Position Sensor. It was replaced at Shop A. The check engine light persisted even with the new part. I have an OBD II reader to see, theoretically, what the problem is and what engine code is keeping the check engine light on. What that tool doesn’t tell you is when the mechanic that replace the part didn’t follow the proper procedure.

After months and lots of money at Shop B who had not reached a successful conclusion, they accidentally fixed the problem and had not realized and returned the vehicle to me and told me to go to the dealership because only the dealership had the right computer equipment to do everything required to fix the problem. All of this headache to get a PASS on a SMOG Check. It passed emissions, it was just the check engine light that prevented it from passing. (Gotta love California! NOT!)

If it requires a $20,000 diagnostic computer, it ain’t tinkerable. If you can’t buy a part for less than the original product cost to fix it, it ain’t tinkerable. If it’s not physically possible to open it up, AND put it back together without breaking it (assuming you are inclined to such things and there by skilled at said task), it ain’t tinkerable.

Anonymity

I more than alluded to this earlier on. When I buy a product I don’t want it spying on me in any way, shape, or form, for anyone. It’s bad enough with browsers and the internet. I do not want my TV telling Amazon what movies or TV shows I watch on Netflix. Is a little privacy too much to ask for? Unfortunately, there is so much going on in the background of everything internet related you don’t really know who’s connected to who. Sadly, you can assume that everyone is connected to everyone else.

There are steps you can take to anonymize yourself, at least to some degree, but the philosophy of governing bodies, even those who purport to support freedom and democracy, take a dim view of people who value their privacy. Online, with encryption, and even improving your own firewalling and network security, which of course is a breach of your terms of service as well, so you must be a law breaker.

Conclusion

All three of these overlap back and forth in varying ways depending on the product, and they are all things that manufacturers are actively working to take away from you, the consumer. It’s all too easy to wax romantic of days gone by, but the fact is we live in a different time, and we have allowed companies and governments to get to this point. As they say, it’s easier to never give up a freedom than it is to reacquire it.

The more we all work to improve our title rights, demand tinkerability (and use it), and press for or impose anonymity, the market will have to give way. But it is up to us the consumer to make these demands.

I for one am in the market for a truck made before 1976.

Something weird happened today

My unread magazine pile was building up so I figured it was time to get caught up on several areas of interest. I was getting to some recent additions to my reading list 1st Freedom, American Rifleman, and Guns & Ammo when I was smacked in the face with an unwelcome personal reality… I was overtly conscious of whether or not someone might see what I was reading and how they might react. WHOA!

I never had a second thought about having on the table an issue of Sport Aviation, Vintage, Warbirds, Home Machinist, Mother Earth News, QST, or anything else for that matter. Why did my interest in firearms somehow make me overly concerned about other peoples opinions? What the hell was that all about?

In part, I think it has to do with living in a state that abhors guns. Its okay if I like, and own swords, bows, staves, or a wide range of other weapons, but if it even looks like a gun the P.C. wing-nuts are gonna’ rip you a new one for being some kind of anti-social, homicidal, gun-toatn’ maniac.

Sadly it’s not just the California P.C. wing-nuts that seem to have this attitude. A growing voice across the country is hell bent on taking away your and my second amendment rights. Keep in mind that this group is growing in volume, not numbers. A few people with lots of money, a platform, and personal interest (Obama & Bloomberg) are trying to rewrite the Constitution to suit their own agendas.

New rules, policies, and laws keep rolling out all over California and elsewhere, sponsored and funded by these wing-nuts, to restrict access and ownership of firearms. None of them do anything to advance safety, or protect people from stupidity, ignorance, or criminals mind you. What they do have going for them is lots of spin that make complete B.S. sound like it will save us from all the evil in the world. Many of these new rules and laws are being overturned in court because they are in fact unconstitutional.

It’s not just the unconstitutional nature of these rules and laws that frustrate me so much. It’s fact that they accomplish absolutely nothing their proponents are saying they want to accomplish. It’s all and agendized scam that has nothing to do with safety or security. They do however produce copious amounts of fear mongering and misinformation. Two examples are what has been happening with “High Capacity” magazines for handguns, and Concealed Carry permits.

The proponents of the various bans on “High Capacity” magazines for handguns want you to believe that by limiting the number of rounds in a handgun magazine to ten, rather than the eleven or thirteen, or some other arbitrary number, which are standard from the manufacturer, will some how miraculously prevent gun violence. Like the thought will cross a bad guy’s mind “I only have 10 rounds in this magazine, that’s not enough to rob that liquor store. If only I had a 13 round magazine. Oh well, I guess I’ll go play chess instead.”

One of the effects of these bans are having is that they make criminals out of otherwise law abiding citizens by not providing enough time to surrender the now illegal magazines that came with the gun, or if they forgot about a spare magazine in a box in the attic. It then adds further insult by making them go out and buy a compliant magazine, which the gun was not originally designed to hold. By the way, do you think the criminals will be surrendering their eleven or thirteen round magazines? How about postponing criminal activities while they wait for a compliant replacement magazine? Ya, didn’t think so.

Result: Criminals keep their magazines. Honest law abiding citizens surrender their magazines and wait for a back ordered replacement effectively rendering the gun useless. How does this reduce gun violence? How does this do anything beyond wasting tax dollars in surrender operations and enforcement of a ridiculous law that does nothing to improve public safety? It doesn’t.

As for Carry permits… The demands of some municipalities that a law abiding citizen provide extreme reasons why they should be allowed to apply for a Carry permit is not only unconstitutional, it is just plane dumb.

Anyone who applies for a carry permit is outright telling local law enforcement who they are, where they live, that they own weapons, they have been trained to safely carry and use them, and they wish to exercise their constitutional right to bear arms in a responsible manner. They are registering themselves with the local authorities voluntarily.

How many scoff-laws do you think apply for a Carry permit? There are always exceptions, but I have difficulty imagining a gang-banger or career criminal walking into a sheriffs office expecting to get a carry permit.

Result: Criminals do what they were going to do anyway. They illegally carry a concealed gun and local law enforcement is none the wiser. Qualified law abiding citizens are run through the ringer and denied their constitutional right to bear arms because they don’t have an extreme need to protect themselves or their families. Does this make anyone safer? Does this reduce gun violence? Absolutely not.

Right to keep and bear arms - Franklin2I am not a gun-toatn’ homicidal maniac or a paranoid zealot. I am someone who is fascinated with the mechanics of firearms. I enjoy target shooting. I enjoy hunting for sustenance. I enjoy having the right to defend myself and my family if the need arises. These are all part of the pursuit of Life, Liberty, and Happiness. These are also part of a desire to protect and defend the Constitution from enemies, both foreign and domestic. If I choose to own or carry a gun, I am choosing to be a responsible and safe gun owner, and I am choosing to exercise my second amendment rights.

Not everyone chooses to own firearms. Not everyone chooses to vote. These are personal decisions. These decisions should not be dictated by anyone other than the individual unless these right have been suspended by due process for criminal acts of violence.

And yes, I do hold the right to vote and the right to keep and bear arms on the same level of importance. The founding fathers did too, they are a complementary set along with the freedom of speech, each protects the other. Any agenda or policy that seeks to suspend one, should be held suspect of trying to suspend the others and cast out. 

The first two rights enumerated in the Bill of Rights are the right to speak out against usurpations and the right to defend ourselves from those usurpations if the need arises. These two rights alone provide the means of ensuring that none of our rights are diminished or taken away.

This is not paranoia, it has been born out repeatedly throughout history on every continent. When people lose their right to speak out or to defend themselves effectively they are soon terrorized and subjugated.

I have always been honest about who I am, and what my position is on most subjects. Now I have expressed myself on the matter of firearms. I am passionate about this issue but I am also willing to listen to other opinions. I continue to respect others opinions even though I may fervently disagree with their position. I ask only that they respect mine in kind.

If you see an issue of Guns & Ammo on the coffee table and want to make a comment, you know where I’m coming from.

No Industrial Arts, No Industry

I was reading an article from The American Thresherman (December, 1907) Every boy ought to know how to drive a nail and saw a board,  okay, I wasn’t reading the article in the journal, I was reading a copy of it on Lost Art Press’s blog http://blog.lostartpress.com/2014/01/31/how-to-fit-up-a-boys-workshop/ and a few thoughts came up at several levels that I felt compelled to share.

shop classOn the surface, there is the gender point. I firmly believe that this article is very relevant to today’s youth and this absolutely includes girls as well as boys. When I was in Jr. High shop class I don’t recall seeing more than one girl in any shop class, if any at all, and I always thought it was odd. I knew many girls who would have liked, and excelled in the different shop classes. I do recall being informed later, and on more than one occasion, by female friends that they would have taken shop classes but were ether told they couldn’t, or where strongly discouraged to by school staff. I believe unequivocally that girls should be in shop classes of all kinds if they want to be there, and they should be encouraged at an early age to pursue whatever interests them. I may be a cranky old fart, but gender bias in education is just ignorant.

In Jr. High I took a different shop class every semester. Wood Shop, Mechanical Drawing, Plastic and Metal Fabrication, and Wood Shop II, and in High School I took of Auto Shop. I learned a lot from those classes and not just the basics of manipulating tools and materials. They taught me the importance of method and procedure, analytical skills, situational awareness, and of course tool use; by tool use I am not just talking about how to swing a hammer, I am talking about finding the right tool for the job, making the right tool if you don’t have it, and understanding how using the right tool affects outcomes. These are life skills not just shop skills.

Industrial Arts, as it was known before its virtual disappearance from primary public education, was one of those rare PC, aggrandizing terms that was actually well chosen. As school budgets decrease and programs are cut there are outcries of “save the arts,” and there should be, the arts are a very important part of development. Each student benefits from some form of the arts in their own way developmentally. Many studies have been done exclaiming the benefits of art programs; visual arts, musical arts, theatrical arts… but what about Industrial Arts, the same benefits come from taking Industrial Arts classes.

Shop class has often been the butt of jokes and used as a derogatory reference much like jock by the academically adept. Sadly, “Shop Guy” didn’t get the alternative peer respect that jock did, even though historically, and somewhat ironically, jocks often relied on shop classes to keep afloat as far as grades were concerned. Now we are in the Information Age, the Poindexter’s are calling the shots. For the record I was both a shop guy and a psudo-poindexter, I was in chess club, the Domino Club, the D&D club, and an AV guy, I just didn’t have the 4.0 GPA. 

So what happened to Shop Guy/Gal after the programs shut down? In short, they didn’t seem to get much of a chance to learn those skills, or discover that’s what they are good at, or who they are. There is something out there for Shop Guy/Gal, but they will be hard pressed to find it in traditional channels before college and even then it is very limited.

Industrial Education or Career Technical/Technology Education (CTE) as it is known in community college circles, is very limited and focuses mostly on nursing and cosmetology with few resources for other shop-type programs. Most community colleges have only one shop-type program and it is usually tied to a certificate program. Examples would be Automotive Repair, Welding, Machine Tool Operator or CNC Machine Operator, and Aviation Maintenance Technology.  These are, as the department title indicates, Career Technology types of programs so they are not particularly useful for the average person unless they are planning on that specific career path. So in reality these are not shop classes in the primary education sense and that’s what I’m focusing on here.

I can’t think of one local community college that offers anything comparable to the shop classes found in primary education only a few decades ago. This decline of shop classes occurred rapidly beginning in the late 80s with the introduction of personal computers and by the early 2000s shop class was pretty much a goner, technology had overrun Industrial Arts. As shop classes went away other things happened as well. Those kids who relied on shop class for a grade, they didn’t have a resource or outlet anymore and many dropped out. Those entering school after shop class was gone, they never had the opportunity or resource to learn the skills a shop class would have provided, skills that are practical, transferable, and social. Technology took over the job-skills classes and programs and if you weren’t interested in computer science or up to the challenge, there really wasn’t much else for you.

There are no studies that I am aware of that show a direct correlation between the demise of shop class and an increase in crime or dropout rates but I believe there is some connection. Certainly the loss of shop classes is not responsible for all of society’s ills, but like other arts, there are important skills that are being lost to our society as a whole. In just one or two generations those once common basic tool-use skills have declined dramatically. Ask the average teen today how to use a basic hand tool and you get an odd look, ask them how to use a shop tool and, well, they just look puzzled because they have no idea what language you are speaking or what the object is you are pointing at.

At present the DIY and Maker movements are where basic tool-use skills are being acquired. YouTube contributes more to basic tool-use education than all traditional education institutions at all levels combined. While this is great from the perspective of keeping these skills alive, there is little if any feedback on how well those skills are being understood and applied. Without feedback it becomes difficult to develop skills further, errors begin to compound, and at some level the wheel keeps getting re-invented, frequently. Mr. Stumpy the three fingered shop teacher may not have been the most congenial guy in the world, but he did know the importance of the guide bar on a band saw and its proper adjustment, from personal experience no less, and he would most definitely give you feedback.

I am all for keeping music programs, art classes, and theater programs I just think industrial arts, and more importantly the individuals likely to have been in shop class as well as society as a whole have been short changed by the loss of Industrial Arts programs in primary education. If we as a nation want to reclaim some of our manufacturing prowess, restore “Made In USA” to its former status around the world, and improve our import/export ratio, we better start thinking about how the next generation is going to learn  basic tool use and those important underlying lessons shop class can provide.

Yes, education with strong math and science skills is very important for the nation to remain competitive in the world market as a whole, but let’s face it folks, not every kid is suited for a job in science or technology. The system is trying to push every kid down that road with “no child left behind” even if that is not where he/she is best suited. We can’t all be Rhodes Scholars, and that’s fine. It wouldn’t mean much if we all where now would it? Everyone can benefit from shop skills, not everyone has that shop-gene. Some people are good at shop, some aren’t. Some are good at science, some aren’t. Let people be good at what they are good at. Give them the chance to find what they are good at. That’s what High School is supposed to be about, finding something you are good at or at least interested in. If not in High School, then Community College. Industrial Arts needs to reemerge from the darkness in early education for everyone’s benefit. By Industrial Arts I’m talking about basic shop-skills classes, general tool-user classes, not career specific classes, the kind of class that has deeper life lessons.

To those who don’t know me personally, even to some who do, this may come as a shock, but I didn’t take a single math class in High School. The highest level math I had in primary schooling was in Jr. High and in shop class. It was relevant and had a purpose. Over the course of my life I have had to add to my math knowledge as I acquired new skill sets that relied on mathematical operations or concepts I wasn’t familiar with, I had to learn them on my own. Fortunately I have not had issues understanding math in practical applications. In fact, I understand the mathematical relationships in many areas very well. I credit the basics I learned in shop class along with the shop skill of seeking out the right tool for the job. I would not be who I am today without the benefits of having taken shop classes; not just having the tool-user skills, but deep down who I am.

Please forgive a little sappy self-reflection here, but I think this is important, at least it is to me. This post has become something more reflective than I expected.

It is said that we develop our basic personal identity early in our formative years. For me, I can trace a vast majority of who I am today, what is relevant to me as the person I am now, the beliefs I hold, and the major aspects of my character, to three associations outside of my family. First and second were tied closely together, the church I grew up in, and scouting. The third, and I mean this in all honesty was shop class; not the class itself but the deeper level of things I learned in shop. Church and scouts gave me the “moral compass” to guide me. Scouts and shop gave me an ethical, practical, and physical sense of the world and how to approach it, to function in it.

I don’t expect that others will feel as strongly as I do about the importance of Industrial Arts education, but I sincerely hope that if you benefitted from shop class, any shop class, and you have tool-user skills at any level, pass those skills on.

If you are a parent, mentor, or teacher encourage your charges to explore shop-type skills when they show an interest in them.

If by chance, you are involved in curriculum development or program development for primary education or community college education, think about the case for providing basic Industrial Arts programs and help bringing them back to public education. Everyone benefits from basic tool-use skills and more importantly the deeper level of skills that can come from shop class.

~FlyBoyJon

GA Hypocrisy: John & Martha King Detained

The other day aviation notables John and Martha King had a run in with federal authorities. I listened to the AvWeb podcast that had a phone interview with Martha King. By all accounts so far, it was an unfortunate mistake that caused distress, rightfully so, and a relativity short detention for the Kings.

The federal authorities acted on a security alert that originated from a confused set of data. Eight years ago (less than a year since the terrorist attack on the United States) an airplane was stolen it Texas; that state by the U.S. Mexico border. The information about the aircraft theft was entered into several databases. After a period of time the Federal Aviation Administration removes old un-maintained aircraft registration data and re-issues the identification number. Unfortunately for the Kings the airplane they were flying was a leased airplane from Cessna that had been assigned one of these re-assigned registration numbers, the one that belonged to the stolen aircraft previously mentioned.

This all lead to a rough day for John and Martha and they were rightfully upset about the whole thing. This event, one that could have been learned from, has begun taunting the aviation media hounds into an uproar. A comment from Martha struck me in particular as a very bad choice of words. In her AvWeb interview she said the she felt she was the victim of civil rights violations. Now before you jump on your keyboard and send me a flurry of hate-mail, I am paraphrasing Martha’s statement; if you want the verbatim text please listen to the AvWeb interview.

The Kings were unwittingly caught up in a criminal investigation which, if the information had been accurate, could have presented significant risk to the field agents involved and many civilians. With that in mind, the field agents acted as the should have. The whole thing was wrapped up in less than an hour and aside from sore wrists from the handcuffs, the Kings said they were not injured. The field agents listened to the Kings once the scene was contained, the information was verified, and everything checked out.

Having been through a similar situation myself, I understand the frustration and the feeling of being violated. The fact is, the agents did what was correct. The data collection and processing organization is not as blameless, but I don’t want them crucified over this, ether. A failure in data processing was what created the mistaken identity. What people in the aviation community don’t seem to understand is that intelligence (don’t go there) has to be evaluated quickly when there is urgency. The fact checking comes in a little late some times. The King’s short Southern California IFR flight did not give officials the time to verify all of the data before acting. It happens. Had the flight originated in Kansas or anywhere that would give authorities several hours to follow up, the flight would have been monitored in progress and authorities would have had the time to find the data inconsistencies and scale down their response.

That takes care of the basic details and gives you, I hope, some perspective on some of the possibilities about the events that unfolded. Now for the part that has me frustrated and prompted the use of ‘hypocrisy’ in the title of this post.

The General Aviation community is frequently up in arms about how the media sensationalizes non-news and gets the general public agitated and angry with GA. Why are we doing the exact same thing? Aviation media people across the web are pounding away on their keyboards at the federal agencies involve for being incompetent liars and brutes, and headlines about aviation icons having their civil rights abused. Could we be any more like the mainstream media we seem to hate so much? STOP WITH THE SPIN ALREADY!

While I expect this from some sources, the last source I expected it from was AOPA, the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association. “King Schools owners mistakenly detained, AOPA president outraged” read a news release. Really Mr. Fuller? Outraged? Please tell me you have been misquoted or were misinformed. If this is truly your response to this incident, I am asking you as one of your constituents and a long time member of AOPA to please step down and let someone with a little common sense and self-control take over. I thought you had spent time in Washington; I would expect you to do at least a little research before expressing “outrage.” Or are you just playing the media game your opposition plays? Ether way, stop. You are not helping us, or anyone else for that matter.

How can we expect mainstream media to tone it down and view us fairly when we jump at the chance to lower ourselves to their level? GA has failed in this test of taking the moral high-ground, utterly and completely. Even if it comes out later when things are scrutinized more closely that there were big mistakes made, don’t feel like you have been vindicated, you haven’t. This is about reactionary responses and spinning the story to make your “news” more appealing, not about outcomes. I am disappointed with the aviation media as a whole but my disappointment with AOPA and Craig Fuller in particular goes much deeper.

I doubt Mr. Fuller will ever read my little blog entry, and that is fine. I don’t expect that these comments will reach all that many readers, but I will be happy if just one person reads this and at some point in the future they stop and think, research, and take multiple points of view in consideration before jumping on the slam-wagon of sensationalize and spin.

Political Activism At Its Worst

Today I took my son to get a couple of books at the local Barns & Noble. I was not aware that a prominent political figure, who is also a writer, was signing copies of their book at the same store. I should have turned away from the bookstore when we saw the huge crowd of protesters outside. But I am curious by nature so we went in anyway.

Driving up to the intersection of Stevens Creek Boulevard and San Tomas Expressway in San Jose where the bookstore is located, we saw hundreds people waving protest signs and making a huge commotion on all four corners of the intersection, as well as down the Stevens Creek in both directions. Most of them were carrying signs, many were misspelled or illegible. Just about all of the signs were about the Obama health care plan. Some of the signs were outright incendiary and violent. As we got to the driveway, there were dozens of people crowding it on ether side and in the entry to the parking lot. We finally parked – it took a while because the protesters had almost filled the store’s parking lot – and went in. There were 4 or 5 security people at each door and many more roaming around throughout the store. We found a couple dozen people in line for a book signing in the children’s section, which was cordoned off with more security people. I asked who was there and I was told it was Senator Barbara Boxer, there to read from her political novel, “Blind Trust,” and sign copies of the book. So, we had a couple hundred people outside, and about one hundred in the store of which half at most were there for the book signing. My son and I were there to buy a couple Garfield books.

Now I want you to keep in mind that I strongly support the right of freedom of speech, which is one of our fundamental rights here in the United States; I also strongly support the right to peaceful assembly, again as a foundational right. What was going on outside the bookstore was just barely a ‘peaceful assembly.’ Getting out of the parking lot was an ordeal in and of itself, but nothing compared to being yelled at by protesters as we approached the street.

The people outside the Barns & Noble bookstore on Stevens Creek Boulevard in San Jose today are MORONS. This is the part where I get angry, in case you didn’t catch on.

I went to a local book store to get my kid a book or two, completely unaware of the book signing that was taking place inside, and on the way out I am labeled a communist, a baby killer and several other things that were completely unintelligible, along with a few I refuse to repeat. Just in case you were wondering, yes, those were some of the things that were actually shouted out at me as I pulled towards the driveway with two Garfield books. I never thought that buying a Garfield book would mean I was a communist. Who knew!? Oh and by the way, to the idiot that shouted that out… The word you were looking for is Socialist, not Communist. Get your political ideologies straight.

The crowd was very much like the fanatical fundamentalist protesters outside Planned Parenthood clinics. I would assume that more than one participant in today’s semi-controlled riot has attended at least one of those ‘social gatherings’ before; they certainly exhibited the same mob mentality. It is events such as this one that are going on all over the country showing how today’s political climate has swung the right and the left so far apart that when the inevitable inertial return swing comes, the impact is going to be very messy.

To say that my opinion about the political subject matter or opinions of the people involved will be changed due to this incident would be completely untrue. My personal convictions are based on my own sense of right and wrong and my own pragmatic sensibilities, and have very little to do with public opinion and I am certainly never swayed by a mob. I can say, however, that I am disgusted by the display of outright ignorance, intolerance and unabashed rage that I saw. I have no idea who organized the protest but by the look of the lemming herd they’d gathered I am sure they had an agenda of their own that is projected on to others by instilling fear and hate.

I can now say comfortably that I am thoroughly and completely disenfranchised by the current ‘two party’ system, including the ‘other’ parties that are currently playing the ‘party politics’ game. Several years ago I realized that I no longer identified with any of the political parties in California or on the national level in any meaningful way, so I changed my voter registration to ‘Undeclared.’ All of the parties have lost their way, and their respective minds. It seems as though it is no longer about what is good for the nation and it’s people; it’s about how to shut down or embarrass the other guy. In my play-book that’s completely unethical.

Where is he going with this?

Taking NoteA fair question, indeed.

When I started this iteration of the website as a blog in March of 2008, the idea was to use it as a personal site only. Later it migrated to an idea of a purely commercial/organizational site, and has morphed into several variations since. In the most recent morph, I closed down a couple of other sites, redirected them to this site and cross-posted the entries from those sites here. Sounds like a mess, doesn’t it? I spent a lot of time on this site planing and preparing for this grand Aviation Adventure program (which I have not given up on, by the way) that was to become my primary focus professionally. Due to many circumstances, that plan has not born any fruit.

This post is a “clear the air” article, more for me than anyone else, though it may contain tidbits useful to others. I wanted to put the new plans out there for the universe to see, and to be a personal motivator and reference point.

Shortcomings in personality have much to do with the lack of forward motion on several plans for the site. I am a born puppeteer leader. I lead from the wings, not on stage. Getting things done is much easier for me if there is a “face man” to motivate the masses and sell the product. I am a skilled sales person and I do have the interpersonal skills to get the job done, I just don’t like to be the face man. I can do the jobs of a good sized team in the background; just don’t throw me out on stage and things will work out fine. This is my biggest hurdle in getting projects moving forward. This is also a contributing factor in this most recent change of direction.

The last few posts have been about me, not just in the subject sense but in the personal sense, and this is part of the new direction I am moving to with this site. It is a change of perspective and attitude, to view the adventures more the way I see them. The plan then is to do the adventure stuff but approach it from the back stage perspective. Go through the planing, plotting and set up, then into the training phase, on to the execution, and the grand finale, the post production documentation phase. With this perspective I will be able to do and share all of the things I love, the planing, training, adventure, and production.

As much as I would love to start building that Nieuport right away, that just aint gonna happen. As a kid I was never in shape; I was an active person, I was just an active fat person. Over the years, I have abused my body with long hours, little sleep and lots of burst activities. The kinds of things that put high strain on the body. Now, as I reach for middle age, I realize there are a lot of things I miss doing that are adventures in and of themselves. I want to get myself in better physical condition to do some of the more infrequently done adventures. One thing I have wanted to do most of my life is fly around the world as pilot in command (PIC). To do that I need to be in good physical condition, certainly better condition than I am now.

So, this is where the adventures begin. I am embarking on a physical fitness program, still in development, that is my first adventure. This change in direction began with the 5k my wife and I participated in a week ago, and moved forward in the preparation of yesterdays article on shoes. Last night I plotted out a 5k through my neighborhood and that is my new training ground, until I bump it up to a 10k.

This is the beginning of my basic fitness program. As I put together more of a program I will put up a Basic Fitness page to elaborate on what I am doing in that arena. At present, the first Adventure, with a capital A, will most likely be the Skyline To The Sea trail, from Skyline down into Big Basin State Park. As soon as I get more on the planing of that trip I will start the Adventure page. As I accumulate more Adventures, I will sort them out a bit, but the blog will contain posts about all.

Monetization is where the biggest change in plan for the site takes place. I had always planned for the site to be monetized, it was originally intended to be very early in the game. Now that element is taking a back seat. I plan on acquiring sponsors and selling advertising at some point. For now that is an incidental, not a driving factor. This is a huge shift in the sites initial concept. Where it was originally money driven, it is now a personal thing. Don’t get me wrong, I will be pimping the site in short order, it just wont be the driving force. I think that this change in attitude about the site will help to over come my personal obstacles about being the face man.

Faireness and Entitlement

6a00d8341bf7f753ef00e550404e3d8834-800wiIt has become clearer each day of this election season that America, as a society, is determined to believe that the world is a fair place, or that we can make it one, and that there is an inherent entitlement to this fairness.

I am inclined to point out that fairness and entitlement are illusions. Nether exists in nature. Nature is a system of balance. The strong survive, the weak die. Natural Selection exists in nature as the equalizer and pressure valve for life on this planet, it maintains the balance. The great irony is that some of the most outspoken lobbyists for fairness and entitlement are the “warm and fuzzes”.

This false scenes of fairness and entitlement has been boosted into over-drive in the last two generations, it is interesting that the problem has grown proportionally with the proselytizing of Political Correctness doctrine. These practices have also corresponded with another trend, the dramatic decline of nationalism in the United States.

For the United States to escape the current situation of economic decline and foreign dependence, the country must once again find itself. Nationalism must once again be important to the population, the scene of pride in “American Made”, pride in the flag, and a belief in the principles of government the founding fathers gave birth to is a just form of government for its citizens. It is Nationalism that can save the United States not religion or extremism to the right or the left. Nationalism from the population and practicality from the government.

A recent email spam went out enumerating a political platform. Some of the points are interesting and are worth looking at:

(1) Press 1 for English is immediately banned. English is the official language; speak it or wait at the border until you can.

The money saved in printing and postage of oversize documents would be substantial and it would encourage English literacy. Private sector use of multiple languages is entirely up to the company, government use is an unnecessary taxpayer expense.

(2) We will immediately go into a two year isolationist posture to straighten out the country’s attitude. NO imports, no exports. We will use the ‘Wal-mart’ policy, ‘If we ain’t got it, you don’t need it.’

Though not entirely possible, stopping foreign aid, and calling in old debts is long over due. It’s time to close the checkbook.

(3) When imports are allowed, there will be a 100% import tax on it.

The areas this would effect include returning outsourced jobs, making American manufactured goods competitive in the market place, returning tens of thousands Americans to work. On the down side, there would be a short period of increased costs of goods to consumers. The increase in costs of goods would be shortly off-set by the increase in employed persons and increased salaries.

Yes, this is a painful growth process. This would not have happened in the first place if politicians had not tried to increase foreign imports at a “fair market price”. Again a false scene of fairness. Just look at the ratio of imported goods to manufactured goods. Does that look “fair” to you?

(4) All retired military personnel will be required to man one of our many observation towers on the southern border. (six month tour) They will be under strict orders not to fire on SOUTHBOUND aliens.

This one just plays on frustration with the immigration system in place. Retired military personnel have served their country, there are other solutions.

(5) Social security will immediately return to its original state. If you didn’t put nuttin in, you ain’t gettin nuttin out. The president nor any other politician will not be able to touch it.

There are many areas in social services that need to be covered. This should be one of the biggies covered in the period of isolationism. There should be an element of deserving involved; “nothin’ in, nothin’ out”.

(6) Welfare – Checks will be handed out on Fridays at the end of the 40 hour school week and the successful completion of urinalysis and a passing grade.

Though not literally as stated, this is a big one. Education and job training are elements that should be required for participation in welfare. Clean and Sober initiatives should also be required, treatment if necessary. Citizenship should absolutely be mandatory. I do not have a problem with social services per se’. I do have problems with welfare breeders and people who play the system because they know they can, and it’s easier than working.

(7) Professional Athletes –Steroids – The FIRST time you check positive you’re banned for life.

This is a private sector matter and does not belong in political discussion.

(8) Crime – We will adopt the Turkish method, the first time you steal, you lose your right hand. There is no more life sentences. If convicted, you will be put to death by the same method you chose for your victim; gun, knife, strangulation, etc.

OK, just nonsense. Yes, there are justice system needs. Those should be longer term evaluations and changes. Most of what I am talking about are one or two term initiatives.

(9) One export will be allowed; Wheat, The world needs to eat. A bushel of wheat will be the exact price of a barrel of oil.

Hadn’t thought of this one myself. I like it.

(10) All foreign aid using American taxpayer money will immediately cease, and the saved money will pay off the national debt and ultimately lower taxes. When disasters occur around the world, we’ll ask the American people if they want to donate to a disaster fund, and each citizen can make the decision whether it’s a worthy cause.

This goes hand-in-hand with number 2. I do like the added element of options as to what I want my tax dollars to go toward.

(11) The Pledge of Allegiance will be said every day at school and every day in Congress.

(12) The National Anthem will be played at all appropriate ceremonies, sporting events, outings, etc.

Both 11 and 12 are elements of nationalism. In general practice I agree with. (I will leave out the God issue for now)

~FBJ

An email I received

The Atlantic - The Overprotected Kid
The Atlantic – The Overprotected Kid

I got this email today. It reiterates many things I have been saying for years. But towards the end really cuts to the heart of one of my writing projects.

TO ALL THE KIDS WHO SURVIVED THE

1930’s, 40’s, 50’s, 60’s and 70’s!!

First, we survived being born to mothers who smoked and/or drank while they were pregnant.

They took aspirin, ate blue cheese dressing, tuna from a can and didn’t get tested for diabetes.

Then after that trauma, we were put to sleep on our tummies in baby cribs covered with bright colored lead-base paints.

We had no childproof lids on medicine bottles, locks on doors or cabinets and when we rode our bikes, we had baseball caps not helmets on our heads.

As infants & children, we would ride in cars with no car seats, booster seats, seat belts or air bags.

Riding in the back of a pick up truck on a warm day was always a special treat.

We drank water from the garden hose and not from a bottle.

We shared one soft drink with four friends, from one bottle and no one actually died from this.

We ate cupcakes, white bread, real butter and bacon. We drank Kool-aid made with real white sugar. And, we weren’t overweight. WHY?

Because we were always outside, playing…that’s why!

We would leave home in the morning and play all day, as long as we were back when the streetlights came on.

No one was able to reach us all day. And, we were O.K.

We would spend hours building our go-carts out of scraps and then ride down the hill, only to find out we forgot the brakes. After running into the bushes a few times,we learned to solve the problem.

We did not have Playstations, Nintendo’s and X-boxes. There were no video games, no 150 channels on cable, no video movies or DVD’s, no surround-sound or CD’s, no cell phones, no personal computers, no Internet and no chat rooms.

WE HAD FRIENDS and we went outside and found them!

We fell out of trees, got cut, broke bones and teeth and there were no lawsuits from these accidents.

We ate worms and mud pies made from dirt, and the worms did not live in us forever.

We were given BB guns for our 10th birthdays, made up games with sticks and tennis balls and, although we were told it would happen, we did not put out very many eyes.

We rode bikes or walked to a friend’s house and knocked on the door or rang the bell, or just walked in and talked to them.

Little League had tryouts and not everyone made the team. Those who didn’t had to learn to deal with disappointment.

Imagine that!!

The idea of a parent bailing us out if we broke the law was unheard of. They actually sided with the law!

These generations have produced some of the best risk-takers problem solvers and inventors problem solvers and inventors ever.

The past 50 years have been an explosion of innovation and new ideas.

We had freedom, failure, success and responsibility, and we learned how to deal with it all.
If YOU are one of them? CONGRATULATIONS!

You might want to share this with others who have had the luck to grow up as kids, before the lawyers and the government regulated so much of our lives for our own good.

While you are at it, forward it to your kids so they will know how brave and lucky their parents were.

Kind of makes you want to run through the house with scissors, doesn’t it ?

I guess the parts that ring most true to me are taking responsibility, developing a spine, and not suing people when you don’t get your way

~FBJ