McCain on "The Draft"

McCain says only World War III would justify draft

It’s astonishing to see how brazenly incoherent John McCain is on the campaign trail. He says that only World War III would justify a military draft. Yet one of his campaign planks is mandatory government service for all young adults. He can’t abide taking the freedom of young Americans for minor wars, but it’s fine if it’s to help out a soup kitchen? (By all means, people should help out soup kitchens, the issue is taking somebody’s freedom to do it.)

Does John McCain have any principles at all? His policies look like a random conglomeration of half-baked ideas pulled from a schizophrenic mind and stuck together with poll-tested duct tape.

Property Taxes, Eminent Domain, and Allodial Title

Who owns your property (real estate)? You do, right? Or maybe your bank does if you have a mortgage.

Nope, the State does. It’s held in a feudal-style system where the State may tax your property or take it at will. You’ve paid for a title to it, that is an exclusive use of the land, but that title is granted by the State.

This is why the State may tax your land, and if it so pleases them, take it for other uses. We have a guarantee of restitution for such takings, by the Constitution, but not a guarantee against such takings.

So, be careful to say, “I hold title to this property”, not “I own this land”.

There is another option, that’s called Allodial title. Allodial is from “without a Lord”, a reference to the feudal system where the Lord owned all the land, and merely leased it out to those who would work it. With an Allodial title, you own the land. It’s yours. Nobody can take it away with force. Nobody can tax it, it’s yours. Certainly the State may attempt to ply the land from you with an offer of cash sufficient to convince you to leave, but they can’t serve you papers and cut a check of their choosing.

Many NH Citizens equate a property tax with increased freedom, but in this light, it’s really a drain on Liberty. Now converting all NH properties to allodial title overnight wouldn’t work at all, there’s still some area that’s undefined. It’s argued that an allodial title can’t be mortgaged and it can’t be subdivided, yet I’ve seen no justification for this (do try to explain it to me). There’s also the issue of replacing the property tax with a just, fair tax. So far the best option I’ve seen is a head-tax, where each citizen is assessed an equal fee to support the services of the government. Setting this use-fee at a rate that every citizen can afford (how’s $500/yr?) would ensure a government that is as lean as it can be, and largess by the Legislature would be felt directly in the next yearly bill, which ought to encourage proper behavior by a legislators who wish to retain their seats. The current system of ‘sticking it to the other guy’ that the politicians play is ultimately destructive, as some day you’re going to be the other guy (only they’ll only pander to other people about that one).

The Fallacy of a Tight Border

Here’s a video from the US GAO showing some unpatrolled areas of the Canadian-US Border. The implication of the reporting around this video is that we’re not doing enough to secure our borders. That’s crazy, we can’t secure 6,000 miles of land border – plus patrol the oceanic borders – it’s an insurmountable task for humans.

We need to treat our country more like a house. Everybody knows that a home’s #1 enemy is water. Yet, we don’t wrap our homes in plastic bubbles, we build our homes so that when water is put upon it or in it, that water can be effectively removed, without additional worry. Any water that does get in drains away and dries up quickly. If there are areas which are likely to hold standing water without being noticed, we put in a water alarm ($15 at Home Depot – good investment!)

Similarly, the US needs to have a method for fast and efficient removal of aliens. The current excuse for not doing this is that the house is currently flooded due to neglect. Sorry, but we can’t ask an insurance company to declare the country a total loss – we’re going to have to effect repairs, and that starts with drying out the carpets.

It should go without saying that none of us could live without lots of water in our homes – but we need it to be properly piped into the correct place, filtered perhaps, and delivered with appropriate pressure.

Putting the Science in Climate Science

I’d like to compile a list of prominent climate scientists on every side of the global warming debate, and ask them to each provide a description of the data they would require to admit that their current position is invalid.

Falsifying a hypothesis is an important part of the Scientific Method, and I’m not sure if it’s just bad reporting or not, but I usually only hear from folks who resemble tenacious pit bulls when it comes to their theories. A notable exception is Bastardi from Accuweather who was on the Dennis Miller Show the other day, talking about data being collected and how he’d form conclusions based on incoming data, and what data he’d need to see to be convinced. It’s good to see that some sensible ones are actually out there.

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

Emma and I went to see Indy 4 last night.

I got Phantom Menace‘d again. Drat. I’m not surprised anymore that Lucas would do this, but I am surprised Spielberg let him. It’s not just a Star Wars thing anymore then, Lucas is off my list.

There are some interesting scenes, and as a collection of vignettes the movie has some moments. But the plot is absurd on all kinds of levels. Now, this is Indiana Jones – of course it’s absurd, but the absurdity is in its internal inconsistency. You’re not asked to suspend your disbelief, you’re asked to stop thinking and ignore what just happened for the sake of… what? So they wouldn’t have to write a sensible plot? Twenty-ish years was too short a time to come up with clever plot elements?

The SciFi channel’s special on the crystal skulls was frankly more interesting, and that was as good as you’d expect it to be.

Thankfully this was a double-feature at the Fairlee Drive-In, and Iron Man was up next. Emma and I first saw it on opening night on a huge digital screen in CT with our friends Andy and Robin and two things can be said about seeing it a second time: 1) It stands up well to repeated viewings, improves even and 2) Big digital theatres are really the way to see this kind of movie. Oh, and 3) this time I stayed for the Nick Fury scene. The corn dogs were great, but visuals like Iron Man’s are more enthralling when they’re bright, crisp, and big. And loud (our window speaker was the last on the cable run and rather low).

If I were going to buy a BluRay player for a movie it would be Iron Man. That’ll have to wait for the projector.

Also of note is the cost of gas as a factor in going to the Drive-In. It takes about four gallons round-trip. Last night’s bill: $8 for admission, $12 for two corn dogs, fries, and drinks. $16 for gas. $36 for Indy 4 just isn’t a good deal, I could have bought the DVD for half of that. $36 for an evening out with Emma is of course well worth it.

The Great Geek Takeover

The geeks are taking over society, re-making it in their own image.

“How’s this then?” you may ask.

Consider that reality is what you perceive. What you perceive is based on what you know.

So then, what is it that we know? It’s either what we’ve derived ourselves or what we’ve been told or read. Most of us learn far more from others than we figure out on our own.

These days, if an average person wants to know something, where do they turn? Some people go to the library, but most go to Google, or someplace more specific, like Wikipedia.

Now, to add to Wikipedia, you need to learn MediaWiki markup. Most people don’t want to learn this. Geeks have no problem diving in, so they do it. They build an encyclopedia based on their perceptions and biases. Consumers of Wikipedia believe it to be true. Not that Wikipedia is usually incorrect, but perceptions are formed based on what is included or not included.

How about Google? Google tells you what’s out there, and it’s ranked primarily by how many links are pointing to a particular article. Who makes links? The geeks do. Google is a ranking of what geeks think is important, to a large degree.

And, again, users of Google generally accept its rankings to be ‘good enough’ for their needs. They don’t usually ask, “but what else is true that Google hasn’t told me?”

From the blogosphere to major media, to presidential campaigns, much of what “true” is based on what is found online. And what is found online is what the geeks feel like putting there.

If the industrialists shaped the last century, the geeks are going to shape this one. Sit back, enjoy, and go have a look at what’s popular on YouTube today.

Al Gore Proves Conservation Is the Wrong Strategy?

Thomas Lifson points out that after Al Gore’s green refit of his Tennessee mansion, a deserving target of prior scorn, his home is now using 10% more electricity than before the refit and that this might be seen as a demonstration that energy conservation isn’t a viable national policy goal. The thought is, “if Al Gore can’t do it, how the heck is everybody else supposed to do better?”

Good point, but there’s one small problem – the data is incomplete. From the source press release:

Since the release of An Inconvenient Truth, Gore’s energy consumption has increased from an average of 16,200 kWh per month in 2005, to 18,400 kWh per month in 2006.

Gore’s extravagant energy use does not stop at his electric bill. Natural gas bills for Gore’s mansion and guest house averaged $1,080 per month last year.

OK, so his electricity has increased 10% but what of his total energy usage? How have his natural gas bills changed over the same time period, if at all? If he was getting all of his energy via electricity via safe, necessary nuclear energy then his carbon load would be close to zero, even if his electricity was up by 10%.

So, if Al Gore’s gas bills have gone up or stayed consistent then the truth belies his agenda. However, if they’ve fallen dramatically (we can calculate BTU’s from kilowatts and cubic feet of gas) then the Tennessee Center loses credibility. I’ve sent them an e-mail for clarification.

B2 Crash Video and Analysis

Somehow I missed the news that a B2 crashed in Guam in February. The Spirit of Kansas had a sensor failure and the plane pitched unexpectedly. Watch the video, and notice how soon after the wing hits the ground the pilots eject. No time for a second thought – I wonder if this is an automated system?

Also surprising is the photo of wreckage showing interior construction details. I guess this isn’t a secret anymore. Or it’s misinformation…