Skip to content

Running Away From Reality

February 8, 2014
In a society that’s incessantly pulling all sorts of rights out of its hat, the right to not suffer is the father of them all. We feel entitled to keep our jobs, our health, our home and our leisure, demanding in fact to be carefree. We don’t want our lifestyle to depend on how hard we work or how much we save, and neither do we want our wrong decisions to have any consequences. In our delirium, we feel we have the right to know the future or even to decide when life should start (that of others, of course) and also when death should come (usually that of others as well). In brief, we want the security that we will be able to avoid pain. The problem is that, in life, pain is as undesirable as it is inevitable, and security, in the words of Helen Keller, is “a superstition that does not exist in nature”. However, man persists in his chimerical search for the security that will keep him free from suffering. Citizens demand that from their ruling classes, who promise ever more extravagant rights and certainties, constantly fleeing reality and truth. And in this hysterical, unbridled race to reach an evanescent security, liberty is thrown into the dust like a bothersome burden.
The free man must be responsible for his behavior without being able to blame anyone else when things go wrong. He must live in discomfort and uncertainty and accept the authorship of all his decisions. This is hard. That’s why as soon as the sweet illusion of freedom gives way for the bitter taste of responsibility and effort which that very freedom bears with it, man revolts against the latter. Some 3500 years ago, the Jewish people, having been oppressed for generations by slavery, was freed by Moses, who took them out of Egypt in order to lead them to the Promised Land. But just a few short days after their last minute’s escape from Pharaoh’s claws in the Red Sea, as the harshness of the desert started to put a dent in their spirit, the Jews forgot the humiliations, whippings, hardships and indignity of their slavery, cursed their freedom and blamed their liberator for freeing them, to the extent that Moses was nearly stoned: “Why did we not die at Yahweh’s hand in Egypt, where we used to sit round the flesh pots and could eat to our heart’s content!”. The security of a hot meal and a loaf of bread seemed worth more than the recently recovered freedom.
It goes without saying that throughout History all power seekers and power holders have taken good note of this story. They have come to realize that all they need to have the people surrender their liberty is to promise them security: a certainty – liberty – in exchange for a promise – security; an extremely valuable good in exchange for a chimera. And over and over again, the people have fallen into the same trap.
Today, under the disguise of a promise of physical security, governments treat each of us as if we were suspected criminals and not free citizens with rights: they record our conversations, intercept our mails, take our fingerprints and as many pictures as they deem necessary, do body searches and leave us half naked when we travel as if it were business as usual, and ruthlessly hunt down as traitors those who uncover these practices.
As far as economic security is concerned, totalitarian communism was an extreme of this barter: the people lost their liberty and never found any security, except for the certainty of being poor under a merciless tyranny. The fraudulent Welfare State proposed something similar (do you believe that the wording of Social “Security” is casual?): it promised a paradise of “free” pensions, healthcare and education in exchange for giving up our freedom to save (thus relieving us off the uncomfortable responsibility of doing so). We surrendered our savings to the politicians, those incurable squanderers, well known for anything but respecting either their word or other people’s money! And now that, even after burying us under a mountain of taxes and perpetual debts, public money is scarce and nearing extinction, where is the promised security to be found? We must understand once and forever more that security is not only liberty’s enemy, but an impediment to prosperity. In fact, security and prosperity are antonyms.
The 2008 financial crisis was mostly caused by politicians and central bankers wanting to avoid the suffering caused by economic cycles. Due to the irritating fact that pained voters tend not to reelect incumbent governments, what better promise could they make than that of trying to end recessions and live in a plateau of permanent prosperity? We still believe the charlatans who, in politics or in central banking, assure us that they can get rid of the uncertainty that terrifies us so much. We long for a control that simply does not exist, and these are the consequences: perversely, the chimeric search for security brings much more suffering than what it pretended to avoid in the first place.
In 1891, Pope Leo XIII prophetically forewarned us in his wise Encyclical Rerum Novarum about the evils that are now upon us: “To suffer and to endure, therefore, is the lot of humanity; let them strive as they may, no strength and no artifice will ever succeed in banishing from human life the ills and troubles which beset it. If any there are who pretend differently – who hold out to a hard-pressed people the boon of freedom from pain and trouble, an undisturbed repose, and constant enjoyment – they delude the people and impose upon them, and their lying promises will only one day bring forth evils worse than the present”.
We have to accept insecurity and pain as something inherent to human nature and promptly mistrust anyone promising the opposite, in the conviction that that promise only seeks to fool the unsuspecting. An economic and political system focused on avoiding the inevitable, promising an inexistent security, is due to fail and headed for poverty. That’s why we should make peace with the reality of uncertainty and suffering and not try to escape from both. Only from the deep acceptance of these realities, will the trembling, fragile ember of hope that has always raised the human being up from his falls catch fire again. The history of man is the successful story of a flexible adaptation to an ever changing, ever insecure environment. As a country, we should look suffering in the eye, without fear, and dedicate all our energies to adapting to the new reality instead of continuously running away from it.
 
From Fernando del Pino Calvo-Sotelo, published originally in Expansion
Running away from reality (pdf) http://www.fpcs.es/wp-content/plugins/down-as-pdf/generate.php?id=362&lang=en

Sacramento Unification Rally

January 9, 2014

Sacramento Unification Rally

California bikers should know that if the police allow it, there will be a “Unification Rally” in Sacramento this Saturday from ten in the morning until two in the afternoon.

The pack will assemble at 9:15 a.m. in the large parking lot of Cycle Gear at 5400 Date Avenue in Sacramento. If you miss the pack, you can still attend the rally at the California Capitol Building at 1400 Tenth Street in Sacramento

So far, the event appears to be an unusual episode of inter-club solidarity. The rally is officially sponsored by the Biker Rights Organization, California ABATE, the Modified Motorcycle Association and the regional Confederations of Clubs in California.

Hanging Together

Club support for the event is at least partly the result of widespread alarm over two recent events.

As part of the global war on the dangerous idea of motorcycle clubs, the government of the Australian state of Queensland implemented a series of totalitarian decrees that effectively outlaw membership in 25 motorcycle clubs there. The laws mandate that members of clubs and persons suspected of belonging to motorcycle clubs be forbidden the most basic legal rights and be singled out for humiliation and persecution. Implementation of the laws is wholeheartedly and blatantly supported by the United States Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security.

Most of the Australian measures would be unconstitutional in the United States although there is no Constitution without politicians, lawyers and writers who will speak up for it. Since October 2008, the Justice Department has been seeking a strategy that would be narrowly and technically constitutional yet would still allow prosecutors to effectively outlaw membership in targeted motorcycle clubs. The Mongols MC has been the target of most of this legal strategy. In 2008, without a legal justification, federal prosecutors claimed and most journalist reported that policemen could rip the patch off the back of any member of the Mongols without due process. Eager ATF agents soon applied the ban to all Mongols indicia including coffee mugs and calendars.

The government is still at it with the Mongols in a racketeering case titled United States versus Mongol Nation, an Unincorporated Association. The trial is currently scheduled for March 25 before Judge Otis Wright who seems to have already made up his mind that the Mongols can be outlawed. In a hearing last October, Wright said: “We do now have the owner of the marks indicted;” the Mongols insignia proclaims “to all, you do not (fuck) with the Mongols. They are operating under the banner of the Mongols.” “Forfeiture (of the Mongols patch) will be part of the eventual sentence.”

Everybody Invited

Every motorcyclist in the state, including sport bike riders, is urged to attend. The organizers’ published agenda includes: Motorcycle rider profiling, motorcycle modification laws, harassment of bikers riding in groups of three or more, exhaust pipe noise reduction, reflectors on sport bikes and license plate placement on sport bikes.

Phillip Heneghan wrote on the Bikers of America blog, “Come defend your ancient right of unhindered movement and your God given unalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It is not society nor any social right that forbids you – but the unalienable right of another man to live life. Any group, any gang, any nation, any “safety for your own good group” that attempts to negate a man’s rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is wrong and therefore could be deemed evil.”

Hang together or hang separately.

How much do motorcycle-only checkpoints cost you, the taxpayer?

August 6, 2013

For the past two years, the cost to federal taxpayers to fund motorcycle-only checkpoints in just three states is well over $500,000!

Specifically, the fiscal 2012 and 2013 state highway safety plans indicate that New York and the District of Columbia have earmarked federal grants for MOCs.

New York budgeted $490,000 in the past two years alone! Even more troubling, the state used motorcycle safety funds from Section 402 of Title 23. Funds from this section should promote strategies to prevent motorcycle crashes from occurring and not be used to arbitrarily pull over riders and randomly subjecting them to roadside inspections.

And this is just for two years. New York stated in its highway safety plans that it has conducted MOCs “officially” since fiscal year 2009, but fails to mention its costs for fiscal years 2009-11.

Additionally, the District of Columbia stated in its highway safety plans that it conducts two motorcycle-only checkpoints each year and uses federal grants to fund a $25,000 enforcement budget to help pay for it.

You may also remember that Georgia was the only state to receive a federal grant in the amount of $70,000 from a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration program to create MOCs. The grant was used to conduct one or more roadside MOCs, including one by the Georgia State Patrol on I-95 on March 9, 2011 to single out motorcyclists on their way to Bike Week at Daytona Beach.

Help us get additional cosponsors for H.R. 1861, the Stop Motorcycle Checkpoint Funding Act. The bill, introduced by U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.), will protect motorcyclists’ rights and promote crash prevention as the most effective use of taxpayer money to save motorcyclists’ lives. It will also prohibit federal funds being used by states to conduct MOCs.

Police Biker Clubs Draw Scrutiny in Wake of Bar Brawl

July 23, 2013

Police Biker Clubs Draw Scrutiny in Wake of Bar Brawl

Gang Investigators Fear Motorcycle Groups Hurt Credibility of Law Enforcement

 

Prosecutors are considering criminal charges against four members of the Iron Brotherhood motorcycle club for their roles in a Christmastime bar brawl in Prescott, Ariz., that sent one man to the hospital.

Their nicknames are Tarzan, Mongo, Guido and Top Gun. They rode Harley Davidson motorcycles, wore vests decorated with skulls and some allegedly carried knives and brass knuckles.

 

image

 

image

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Moctezuma’s Bar in Prescott, Ariz., where a brawl took place last December involving members of the Iron Brotherhood Motorcycle Club.

And their day jobs were police chief, county sheriff’s sergeant, police officer and paramedic.

An increasing number of police officers are forming motorcycle clubs, and hundreds now exist nationwide, according to experts on motorcycle gangs. Gang investigators fear that such clubs, some of which have the trappings of outlaw biker groups, can hurt the credibility of law enforcement and undermine criminal cases brought against traditional gangs.

“In the last 15 years I would say that we’ve probably seen a tenfold increase in these clubs,” said Terry Katz, vice president of the International Outlaw Motorcycle Gang Investigators Association, who works for the Maryland State Police. “The first ones were pretty straightforward—they were family-oriented clubs. What we see now as a trend is biker by night and cop by day.”

Bikers Gather for ‘Mountain Thunder’

 

[SB10001424127887323297504578579833869037180]

David Walter Banks for The Wall Street Journal

Anna Alkire, in red, Matt Staples of the Guns of Justice law enforcement motorcycle club, and Jody Kosterlitz, in white, posed as Kenny Stults snapped a portrait at the Classy Shots booth.

 

The growth of such groups worries some law-enforcement officials because of the rowdy and violent behavior that sometimes goes on. In South Dakota, for instance, prosecutors charged a Seattle police detective who was a member of a group called the Iron Pigs with shooting and injuring a Hells Angels biker in a 2008 brawl between the clubs. The charges were later dropped. This year, the police chief in Melrose Park, Ill., a Chicago suburb, disbanded a police motorcycle club called the Reapers whose members had allegedly been in a bar fight.

“If this is not addressed, you’re going to continue to have these issues like you have in Arizona,” said David “Vito” Bertocchini, a retired detective who investigated motorcycle gangs in California. “If these guys were dressing as street-gang members and they had red rags hanging out their pockets, would this be tolerated? Absolutely not.”

In the courts, defense attorneys seek to torpedo charges against alleged gang members by arguing they are no different than police motorcycle clubs. Jorge Gil-Blanco, a retired San Jose police officer and expert witness, said the issue “muddies the water for juries.” He adds, “I shouldn’t have to sit there and justify this type of behavior.”

 

Members of police clubs say the concern is overblown. The Blue Knights, a law-enforcement club with more than 20,000 members around the world, was formed to raise money for charities and ride bikes with fellow officers and families, said D.J. Alvarez, international vice president. “We try to maintain a positive appearance,” he said. “We promote motorcycle safety, we involve families and we’re not discriminative,” he added.

The national board of directors for the Iron Brotherhood didn’t respond to requests for comment, but on its website appeared to distance itself from the Arizona bar fight, denouncing “any behavior by its members that would reflect negatively on our club or our profession as law-enforcement officers.” The board said what was known as the Whiskey Row Chapter in Prescott no longer exists.

The fight broke out Dec. 22 last year at Moctezuma’s Bar in Prescott, where members of the Iron Brotherhood had gathered for their Christmas party. A patron approached Bill “Tarzan” Fessler, president of the Iron Brotherhood chapter and the police chief of neighboring Prescott Valley, and either grabbed his vest or asked about the club’s patch, according to witness accounts in a report released by the Arizona Department of Public Safety. A melee ensued and a security guard observed an Iron Brotherhood member “pounding” someone’s face, the report said. Investigators concluded that the man, who was treated for a possible broken nose, and another patron were hit.

State investigators recommended assault charges against two Iron Brotherhood members, obstruction-of-justice charges against Mr. Fessler and another member of the club, and disorderly conduct charges against the patron. A spokesman for the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office said prosecutors were reviewing the recommendations, but have yet to decide on filing criminal charges.

 

image

 

image

Arizona Department of Public Safety

Security-camera footage shows the altercation during a Christmas party.

The men have denied the allegations. Mr. Fessler called them “absolutely absurd.”

“I still don’t know to this day who hit who,” Mr. Fessler said. “This whole thing is a witch hunt for police officers belonging to motorcycle clubs that wear a three-piece patch”—a patch sometimes associated with outlaw biker gangs. Mr. Fessler,who retired from the Prescott Valley Police Department in March, said he joined a police club to avoid hanging out with the “wrong crowd” at some biker events. The Iron Brotherhood’s activities consisted of weekend rides and get-togethers with families, he said.

The Yavapai County Sheriff’s personnel board recently recommended terminating three employees who were members of the club. “I know the badge has been tarnished, and we will work relentlessly to regain the community’s full trust and confidence,” said Yavapai County Sheriff Scott Mascher.

The Hells Angels—which has been labeled a dangerous criminal organization by federal authorities, though its members dispute the characterization—also weighed in on the incident. The local chapter expressed its disapproval to a local news site and challenged the Iron Brotherhood to a boxing match. The Brotherhood didn’t take up the offer.

“[The boxing challenge] was really kind of to stand up to these guys,” said Michael Koepke, vice president of the Yavapai County Hells Angels chapter, who last year had charges stemming from a 2010 shootout dismissed. “They give a bad name to motorcycle clubs.”

Write to Zusha Elinson at zusha.elinson@wsj.com

After the crash

June 26, 2013

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a common feature of life around the world, causing some 60,000 deaths each year in the US alone. The primary causes of TBI include shootings, falls, and traffic accidents. Overall, about 20 percent of TBI lead to death within a month, with many others resulting in permanent brain dysfunction.

Physicians believe many of these negative outcomes could be prevented by earlier diagnosis and treatment, ideally in the so-called “golden hour” immediately following the injury which offers the greatest chance of minimizing brain damage. Unfortunately, when injuries occur in the field, or are not clearly seen as serious conditions, evaluation by CAT scan is often delayed far beyond the golden hour.

Dr. Cesar Gonzales, of Mexico’s Instituto Politécnico Nacional, Escuela Superior de Medicina, was particularly concerned about the lack of medical imaging in rural areas and economically disadvantaged areas of the world. He wanted to develop an inexpensive sensor with which medics in the field and ambulance paramedics could diagnose, with the help of remote physicians, situations that require some form of immediate treatment, and to provide notice of critical cases arriving at a hospital.

Noting that brain injuries usually produce characteristic changes in, for example, the amount of fluid in the brain, Dr. Gonzales, together with Professor of Bioengineering at UC Berkeley Boris Rubinsky, developed a method to measure the associated changes in the brain’s electromagnetic properties. The result is a prototype Volumatic Electromagnetic Phase-shift Spectrometer (VEPS).

More about this at these sites. http://newscenter.berkeley.edu/2013/05/14/wireless-signals-for-brain-trauma-diagnostics/ and http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0063223#close

 

IIHS proposes death to motorcycling

May 30, 2013

IIHS petition requires ABS on new motorcycles
http://www.iihs.org/laws/petitions/pdf/petition%202013-05-30.pdf

This one will, over time, take motorcycles out of the picture.  No way
that you can CHEAPLY put ABS on a two wheel tiddler.  Then there is
the question, just how well does it work when leaned over….

IIHS Michigan helmet law study
http://www.iihs.org/news/rss/pr053013.html

The brand new study is showing that “at the areas we looked at, it costs more.

http://www.iihs.org/externaldata/srdata/docs/sr4804.pdf

New York Federal Appeals Court upholds motorcycle only stops

December 7, 2012

11-5277-cv Wagner v. Sprague UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE SECOND CIRCUIT SUMMARY ORDER RULINGS BY SUMMARY ORDER DO NOT HAVE PRECEDENTIAL EFFECT. CITATION TO A SUMMARY ORDER FILED ON OR AFTER JANUARY 1, 2007, IS PERMITTED AND IS GOVERNED BY FEDERAL RULE OF APPELLATE PROCEDURE 32.1 AND THIS COURT’S LOCAL RULE 32.1.1. WHEN CITING A SUMMARY ORDER IN A DOCUMENT FILED WITH THIS COURT, A PARTY MUST CITE EITHER THE FEDERAL APPENDIX OR AN ELECTRONIC DATABASE (WITH THE NOTATION “SUMMARY ORDER”). A PARTY CITING A SUMMARY ORDER MUST SERVE A COPY OF IT ON ANY PARTY NOT REPRESENTED BY COUNSEL. At a stated Term of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, held at the Daniel Patrick Moynihan United States Courthouse, 500 Pearl Street, in the City of New York, on the 29 th day of November, two thousand twelve, Present: AMALYA L. KEARSE, CHESTER J. STRAUB, ROSEMARY S. POOLER, Circuit Judges. _____________________________________________________ MICHAEL WAGNER, LEVI INGERSOLL, KEN FENWICK, SIDNEY ALPAUGH, Plaintiffs-Appellants, -v- 11-5277-cv WILLIAM SPRAGUE, both individually and in his capacity as a Major in the New York State Police, DAVID J. SWARTS, both individually and in his capacity as the Chair of the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee, DANIEL LARKIN, both individually and in his capacity as a lieutenant in the New York State Police, JIM HALVORSEN, both individually and in his capacity as a lieutenant in the New York State Police, Defendants-Appellees. * _____________________________________________________ Appearing for Appellants: Tobi Rochford Salottolo (Mitchell Proner, on the brief), Proner & Proner, New York, NY Appearing for Appellees: Frank Brady, Assistant Solicitor General, (Barbara D. Underwood, Solicitor General, Nancy A. Spiegel, Senior Assistant Solicitor General, on the brief), for Eric T. Schneiderman, Attorney General of the State of New York, Albany, NY Appeal from a judgment of the United States District Court for the Northern District of New York (Sharpe, J.). ON CONSIDERATION WHEREOF, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED, ADJUDGED, AND DECREED that the judgment of said District Court be and it hereby is AFFIRMED. Plaintiffs-Appellants appeal from the district court’s grant of summary judgment, dated November 17, 2011, dismissing their claims that the motorcycle checkpoint program violated the Fourth Amendment. We assume the parties’ familiarity with the underlying facts, procedural history, and specification of issues for review. “We review a district court’s grant of summary judgment de novo, construing the evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party and drawing all reasonable inferences in that party’s favor.” Kuebel v. Black & Decker, Inc., 643 F.3d 352, 358 (2d. Cir. 2011). “Summary judgment is appropriate only if the moving party shows that there are no genuine issues of material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Miller v. Wolpoff & Abramson, L.L.P., 321 F.3d 292, 300 (2d Cir. 2003). While a “search or seizure is ordinarily unreasonable in the absence of individualized suspicion of wrongdoing[,] . . . certain regimes of suspicionless searches” have been upheld “where the program was designed to serve ‘special needs, beyond the normal need for law enforcement.’” City of Indianapolis v. Edmond, 531 U.S. 32, 37 (2000). The motorcycle checkpoint program in this case is exactly this sort of suspicionless search. Defendants advanced proof that the primary purpose of the program was to increase motorcycle safety. Plaintiffs have not proffered evidence sufficient to show that there is a genuine issue to be tried as to that fact. As we have previously noted, “the special needs doctrine applies to any program of searches whose ‘primary purpose’ is a government interest other than crime control, and the mere fact that crime control is one purpose—but not the primary purpose—of a program of searches does not bar the application of the special needs doctrine.” Lynch v. City of New York, 589 F.3d 94, 102 (2d Cir. 2009) (internal citation omitted). Thus, we apply the special needs balancing test outlined in Brown v. Texas, which “involves a weighing of the gravity of the public concerns served by the seizure, the degree to which the seizure advances the public interest, and the severity of the interference with individual liberty.” Brown v. Texas, 443 U.S. 47, 50-51 (1979). Applying this balancing test, we conclude that the well catalogued public interest in highway safety, see, e.g., Delaware v. Prouse, 440 U.S. 648, 658 (1979), is well served by the safety checkpoint program and outweighs the interference with individual liberty in this case. Accordingly, the district court did not err in concluding that there was no constitutional violation. We find the Appellants’ remaining arguments to be without merit. Accordingly, the judgment of the district court hereby is AFFIRMED. FOR THE COURT: Catherine O’Hagan Wolfe, Clerk.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 532 other followers