Archive for November, 2019

Viva Delano!

Sunday, November 24th, 2019

One of the joys of a private pilot’s license is finding and visiting the unusual businesses sited at small airports. Today I had lunch at The Aviator Casino in Delano, CA. Delano is an interesting place – Caesar Chavez lived there when he began his unionization efforts in the 1960’s – but a small one. From what little I’ve seen of Delano, it’s an agricultural center that supports a lot of packaging and shipping. I wasn’t expecting a casino at the airport. Having a plane means I can go have a look.

Off we go!

The flight is fairly short at 150 kts cruise. Conditions were beautiful and clear, and not a lot of folks were out in the Central Valley. There was a fellow in the Delano pattern the whole time I was there, though.

I always like to see local aviators enshrined at their stomping grounds. Delano so honors Gerald Massey.

The casino itself is very much a casino. Inside there is a bar and small restaurant/grill and a bunch of tables. Even a gambling hub is quieter on a Sunday shortly after 11 AM, and The Aviator was no exception. There were two or three at a gaming table and another 3 at the bar. There are always a few people at the bar.

The staff was super friendly, and I chose to have a breakfast sitting at the bar. When I did stick my head into the eating area, it looked more like the cafe at a sports arena or skating ring than a restaurant. That’s not surprising.

The breakfast itself was decent, but again, the focus of the place is gaming, not food. The woman behind the bar was extremely friendly, putting up with my questions and coffee intake cheerfully.

The trip back was similarly pretty but uneventful. A cool day out.

Brush With Tragedy

Saturday, November 23rd, 2019

I was horrified to see that a motorist had hit and killed a cyclist along my daily commuting route on Thursday morning. I was further surprised when I realized that I had passed the scene soon enough after the collision that the police were still on the scene and had the street shut down.

I didn’t see the accident, so all I can do is give my sympathies and a few impressions of that area. I’m just going to post those here to contribute what I can to understanding and sympathy.

The Scene

The intersection in question is somewhat challenging, but far from the worst I see on a regular basis. The intersection is treacherous because of the fork and joining of Olive and Manchester. There’s no good way for northbound bike traffic to continue up Manchester without northbound Olive traffic posing a risk. I wasn’t there, so I have no idea if that contributed.

Most of the people I see on bikes in that area are riding simple cruiser kinds of bikes. They look like folks who are making short trips from a bus stop to work or between some of the dispersed work locations – lots of car lots/parking lots there. That also means there are come car carriers and other commercial vehicles in the area regularly that can make it hard to see what’s happening.

Again, my sympathies to the families and friends. Thanks to the indispensable Biking In LA blog for keeping us all aware.

Review: The Retreat of Western Liberalism

Sunday, November 17th, 2019

Edward Luce is one of the co-conspirators over at Deep State Radio, a concern I support with some reservations. I picked this up reluctantly. Luce is not my favorite speaker on DSR – that’s probably Rosa Brooks or Kori Schake – and I was concerned that his book would be similarly dry to me. I’m delighted to find him much more sparkling on the page.

Retreat illuminates the state of the world for me in two ways I find useful. It is a powerful and intelligible summation of facts and motivations of liberal ideas in the sense of the sorts of ideas that motivated the creation of the United Nations and other national cooperative bodies (NATO, Marshall Plan). Western leaders planted these after World War II to promote specific values. Luce explicates what these institutions are and what specific ideals the leaders tried to embody in them. The ideals are key to me. We can and should argue about the details of these institutions and how they are implemented, but holding up the motivations and principles that they are intended to promote lets one focus on whether those are worthwhile outside the details of who is behind on their UN dues.

Luce presents those institutions and ideas in the world outside our window, full of mistakes, compromise, and players who don’t believe in either the institutions or the ideals. People who believe in a simplistic world of simple good and evil are woefully unprepared to deal with those very real forces and people. Luce is persuasively and clearly realistic about how the ideas that the WWII winners tried to plant in the ground operate and fail to. He lives in a world where outcomes are not inevitable and invites us to join him.

Beyond that, he writes with clarity, wit, and charm that I was not expecting. While I’m happy to defend that evaluation of his writing, I suspect readers who are less sympathetic to his support of the international institutions will find his style more grating.