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October - December 2010

The Fire Pelosi Bus Tour

TSA - The Stupid Agency

Getting to Kolb Natural Bridge

Sunday, October 3, 2010

   The Fire Pelosi Bus Tour - Republicans are, I think, holding their breath in regard to the upcoming election.  That they will do well is not in doubt.  But, with control of both the House and the Senate, the stakes are pretty high.  So, GOP chairman, Michael Steele, is on a cross-country bus trip (which is all the rage these days!) to "Fire Pelosi."  That is, to take control of the House and get a Republican Speaker.  And, once again, our location at the intersection of two interstate highways puts us on their itinerary.  [We had visits by the Ending Earmarks Express a few years back, and the Tea Party Express a year ago.]

     So, on a pleasant October day - a bit cool in the shade, but still t-shirt weather - the "Fire Pelosi" bus tour rolled into our fair burg, sometimes derisively referred to as "The People's Republic of Flagstaff."  But, this blue island is surrounded by a decidedly red state.  And, the GOP candidate for the House - Paul Gosar - has, I think, a decent chance of winning this November.

     The event was held at Gosar's headquarters.  There was a BBQ from noon until 2 p.m.  I pulled in around 1:15, and got one of the last burgers, and still had to wait about a half hour until the bus arrived.  It was a small, but decent crowd.  There were some protesting Dems on the street, but they kept their distance.  Well, except for one person, but so it goes.  Steele worked the crowd, shaking hands, taking pictures with folks, and autographing protest signs.  He was quite personable and gave a pretty good pep talk.  Here's a snippet I got on my phone video:


     I was able to snap a few photos as well . . .

Click on any photo to see a larger image. 
The crowd wasn't enormous, but big enough in the People's Republic!  GOP Chairman Steele felt right at home meeting the folks in the crowd. Lots of the people here wanted to get a photo in front of the bus. 

     I'm thinking that the days of Flagstaff being on these itineraries is not likely to last.  Someday, the highway from Phoenix to Kingman (US 93) will be expanded into a four lane divided highway.  In fact, I am quite sure I read that there is some effort to make this a part of the interstate system.  Then, going from Phoenix to Las Vegas will pass us by.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

   TSA - The Stupid Agency - The recent hullabaloo over the full body scanners and the invasive pat downs at airports is a classic example of the insanity we should come to expect from government bureaucrats who are given the power to make decisions that affect our lives.  They refuse to see the situation in its entirety.  They want to frame the issue only in a way that allows them to exert more power over us.  There are at least these three important points to make in this "debate:"

We know how to defeat terrorists.  When faced with a new threat, we learn and adapt.  Following the plane hijacking of 9/11, the passengers on Flight 93 acted to prevent a recurrence of what had happened in New York and in Washington.  It didn't take years of study to come up with a plan of action.  The lesson here is to rely on the individual action of the passengers themselves to prevent terrorist actions.  Given a suitable level of screening, to detect guns and knives, it is virtually impossible today for a group of men to take over an airplane "armed" with box cutters.  Indeed, the threat today is not that someone will find a way to take over a plane and use it as a weapon.  Instead, it is that a terrorist will do something to blow up the plane.  So, how do we stop that?  Simple - rely on the passengers to self-monitor their own behavior.  That is how the shoe bomber was stopped.  That's how the underwear bomber was stopped as well.  The solution to this problem is not to waste ever-growing amounts of money on these ridiculous scanners and a bloated government agency.  Instead, it is to scan for the big stuff, keep the pilots safe, and let the passengers and flight attendants use common sense curb any hostile actions.

Market solutions are better.  This is yet another example of why markets are better than government.  There have been plenty of people saying that they'd rather be safe than sorry (or, dead!).  That, of course, ignores the relative danger we'd face in the absence of these so-called security measures.  Let's keep the procedures in place to avoid a repeat of 9/11 style attack.  But, since only the individual plane is now at risk, let individual airlines decide on whether to use "enhanced" screening techniques.  If passengers demand these procedures, airlines will provide them.  If they don't, then airlines won't.  The market can better cater to our wide variety of tastes and preferences (even for risk) than can the government with its one-size-fits-all solution.

Why only airline passengers?  Noting that it is only the planes that are at risk, why is it that only airline passengers are subject to these searches?  Well, simply because they can, even if it creates an obvious disparity in how different people are treated differently.  That is, why not do similar screenings for people boarding a subway, or a bus, or a train?  Clearly, the inconvenience far outweighs the benefit.  Does anybody remember the Madrid bombings or the bombings in LondonThese terrorist actions show that targets are fungible.  Who, after all, could possibly stop a suicide bomber from running into an elementary school and wreaking havoc?  Well, when it happens I am sure that we will then spend an inordinate amount of time, energy, and money on turning schools into fortresses.  [Although, mass shootings on college campuses hasn't resulted in that outcome . . .  yet.]  There are an almost infinite supply of terrorist targets.  We can't body scan everyone engaged in everyday activities.  Let's just do more to allow for individuals to act rationally.  And, get rid of these scanners, pat downs, and, while we're at it, the TSA!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

   Getting to Kolb Natural Bridge In the fall of 2010, I had the good fortune of participating in the fourth Grand Canyon Hikers & Backpackers Association hikers' symposium, titled, "Echoes & Reflections."  I had chosen to tell the story of a day hike I took up to Kolb Natural Bridge while on a six day solo loop hike through Nankoweap and Kwagunt canyons, at the eastern/northern corner of the main part of Grand Canyon.  Since I have pulled together photos from that trip and scanned them into my computer, I figure I should add a hiking page to my site with this story...

Read the full story:
Getting to Kolb Natural Bridge
in the Hiking Grand Canyon section of the Kaibab Journal

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