August 2001

2 Aug 2001[link to here]

This pisses me off. Not long ago, a Peruvian/US fighter plane shot down a small plane in Peru, thinking the plane was carrying drugs toward the US. It turned out it wasn't, and therefore the loss of life was a tragedy.

The US is trying to evade blame on this. They supplied the armed attack plane, the training, and ongoing support surveillance. Granted, they did tell the fighter pilot not to shoot in this case, but that hardly absolves them of responsibility.

What annoys me more than this one mistake is the pervasive notion that if only the plane had been carrying drugs, shooting it down and killing the pilot would have been a fine thing to do.

The drug trade is not a war, it's a business. It can be a violent business, but this comes from two factors, both of which are entirely the fault of our own government.

The US created powerful, violent, organized crime when it banned alcohol, and it did the same thing by banning various other drugs. It also created powerful, violent, government resistance (at the cost of over 26 billion dollars per year).

I could go on and on about this. It's one more reason I dislike living in a republic. My existence and money are being used to support immoral violence and oppression, and because our legislators are elected by a plurality (who generally have to choose from among a seemingly identical set of idiots), they pretend to have some sort of mandate. Will the madness ever end?

Anyone who wants a more complete and less passionate introduction to why the ban on some drugs is stupid should read last week's edition of The Economist, which is available free online.

11 Aug 2001[link to here]

"Gravity is a harsh mistress."
- The Tick

Although gravity always wins, toying with it can be lots of fun. Today I jumped out of a plane at 18000 feet. That's about 3.4 miles, or 5.5km. That's a long way to fall. I spent 90 seconds just falling, which was tons of fun. The canopy ride was also a lot of fun, much more than I had expected.

It was a tandem jump, which means I had someone experienced strapped to my back. He told me, some before and mostly during, what I needed to do. He also took care of most things himself, like watching our altitude and opening our chute. Having an expert strapped to your back presumably could be useful in a wide variety of situations. Skydiving without any training is certainly one of them. I had thought that having a monkey on my back would be distracting, but most of the time I didn't even notice him.

The company running the operation required me to waive a large number of rights before providing this service. I basically had to agree that they were not liable for anything. They could give me a sack of dirty laundry instead of a chute, and that would be my problem. It would be my problem regardless of legal liability, but when I'm putting that much at stake, I like to think that the people in control have something at stake too. That was true anyway in this case, since it was a tandem jump. But it's a little unsettling to be responsible for my own life in a dangerous situation in which I'm completely inexperienced and unskilled. Luckily, everyone there acted responsibly, despite the legal garbage.