Saturday, December 25, 2010

Tom Mullen's Blog: Jesus Christ, Libertarian

Great post from Tom Mullen.

Tom Mullen's Blog: Jesus Christ, Libertarian

Following are some of the passages I particularly like.

The freedom to follow the dictates of one’s conscience was the first inalienable right recognized by the founders of our nation...

However, no one has a right to use violence against those who engage in behavior that does not harm another person...

With the exception of cases in which one human being has done injury to another, the right to punish human behavior is reserved for God.

With flawless libertarian reasoning, Jesus teaches us the true meaning of freedom: that God grants us the liberty to do as we wish, even to reject him and his laws, but that we also bear the full consequences of our actions. If we harm another person, then we are subject to the laws of men. However, it is otherwise left to each individual to determine the will of God according to his conscience and to choose whether to act accordingly or not...

By attempting to use the law to enforce their morality, social conservatives violate the very principles that they say that they cherish most. Social conservatives decry Islam because it attempts to “propagate the faith by the sword.” However, there is only a cosmetic difference between promoting your religious views through acts of terrorism and doing likewise through passing unjust laws against minorities who have no recourse but to obey or suffer violence. In both cases, it is the sword that compels the victim rather than the mind or the heart. Neither can social conservatives rely on the argument that their laws are passed by an elected body representing the people. If that justifies socially conservative laws, then what is their objection to the welfare state? ...

If we are truly a free country and we meant what we said in the first amendment to our Constitution, then every individual, whether the most fundamentalist Christian or the most libertine atheist, should have the right to speak freely, even if what they say offends another person. For many devout Christians, it is their sacred duty to try to persuade their fellow man to repent of his sins and embrace Jesus as his savior.

However, there is an ocean of difference between persuasion and coercion. The minute that we say, “there ought to be a law,” we are picking up the sword. If we do so in defense of the inalienable human rights of life, liberty, and property, we are within our rightful authority. If we do so to supplant the authority of God, we become the very type of people that Jesus spent his life fighting against. To truly be Christian, we must recognize the need for “a wall of separation between church and state.” ...

Salvation must be chosen; God did not create a race of slaves.

As we celebrate the birth of this great libertarian, let us not forget the lesson of his life and death... Let us follow his example of speaking our minds according to our consciences but never raising our hand to save our brothers’ souls. Each one of us will ultimately find that our understanding of the will of God is imperfect, as we are imperfect. Therefore, we must follow Jesus’ example of tolerance and forgiveness, lest we find that we ourselves have mistakenly punished the innocent. Our laws should keep us from harming each other, and leave each person’s soul to the judgment of God.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Trying to see just how deep the rabbit hole goes

Some days it feels as if I am living two lives.

In one life, I'm William G. Starr, program writer for a _respectable_ company... The other life is lived in computers... in wonderland... trying to see just how deep the rabbit hole goes.

The Matrix -- Wikipedia

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

How to change Washington's culture of spending

I just submitted the following idea to Republican Whip Eric Cantor, to assist Congress in identifying which program and spending cuts will help change Washington's culture of spending into a culture of savings.

Eric Cantor || Republican Whip || YouCut

Cut the defense budget. Get our per-capita spending on national defense in line with the rest of the world's developed nations. Close the overseas U.S. bases and bring our troops home and let them get to work in the private sector, providing goods and services that people are willing to pay for voluntarily.

Remember the wise counsel of John Quincy Adams:

"Wherever the standard of freedom and Independence has been or shall be unfurled, there will her heart, her benedictions and her prayers be. But she goes not abroad, in search of monsters to destroy. She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all. She is the champion and vindicator only of her own."

"She will commend the general cause by the countenance of her voice, and the benignant sympathy of her example. She well knows that by once enlisting under other banners than her own, were they even the banners of foreign independence, she would involve herself beyond the power of extrication, in all the wars of interest and intrigue, of individual avarice, envy, and ambition, which assume the colors and usurp the standard of freedom."

John Quincy Adams on U.S. Foreign Policy (1821)

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Help restore Indiana to central time zone

I just sent the following message to my Indiana legislators and encourage others who would like to see Indiana restored to its natural time zone to do likewise.

From: Bill Starr
To: Senator Greg Walker; Representative Sean Eberhart
Cc: Representative Eric Allan Koch; Representative Milo Smith; Representative Phil Hinkle; BCSC Superintendent John Quick
Sent: Sun, September 5, 2010 6:14:20 PM
Subject: Help restore Indiana to central time zone

I want to encourage you to support measures to help restore Indiana to the central time zone.

One practical way to do this would be to support the resolution which Representative Phil Hinkle plans to introduce in the 2011 session to request the U.S. DOT to restore Indiana to its geographically correct time zone, as we were until 1961.

While a handful of sparsely-populated counties in southeast Indiana will probably continue observing the same time as Cincinnati and Louisville no matter what the rest of the state does, we could at least see the remaining 95% of the state restored to a single time zone once again.

Besides more equitably balancing the available daylight between those who prefer more light in the evenings and those who prefer more in the mornings, returning to central time also has the potential to improve morning safety and alertness for school children.

I noticed last Tuesday (August 31) that the school bus goes by our house at 6:37 am. Sunrise in Columbus that day was 7:11 am, so pickup time was prior to civil twilight and it was already quite dark out, and only getting worse as the fall progresses.

With DST, the natural sunrise time at Columbus latitude that day is about 6:28 am (e.g., see Philadelphia or St. Louis at the middle of the eastern and central time zones respectively).

On central time, the sunrise in Columbus Tuesday would have been 6:11 am, a lot closer to 6:28 am than 7:11 am is.

Central time would give Indiana school children a lot more days of waiting for the bus and walking to school in daylight rather than darkness.

And as long as Indiana continues observing DST with the rest of the country, the impact on business of switching from eastern back to central time is likely to be minimal, if not actually positive.

Thank you for your service to the citizens of Indiana.

Bill Starr
Columbus, Indiana
Sun, 5 Sep 2010, 6:14 pm EDT

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Indiana time zone battle back in spotlight

Mark Ambrogi has a nice article at on the statewide meeting of the Central Time Coalition (CTC) at Monon Center in Carmel on Saturday, 28 August 2010.

Indiana time zone battle back in spotlight --

Judging by the quick posting of over 300 comments already since the article went up this morning, the time zone is still a matter of much interest to many Hoosiers.

In skimming through some of the comments, I see that there is still some misunderstanding over the difference between the separate, but related, issues of Daylight Saving Time (DST) and the time zone.

Just to be very clear, the CTC proposes continuing to observe DST along with most of the rest of the country and world, but restoring most of all of the state to the central time zone (with individual counties able to request continuing to observe eastern time, such as those in the Cincinnati and Louisville metropolitan areas).

The geographic center of the central time zone is 90 degrees west longitude, running north-south nearly through Peoria, Illinois -- about 215 miles due west of Indianapolis.

The geographic center of eastern time is 75 degrees west longitude, running through Philadelphia -- about 645 miles due east of Indy.

The natural dividing line between eastern and central time is 82.5 degrees, running through the middle of Ohio and down the eastern borders of Michigan, Kentucky, and Tennessee.

Geographically, there is not a square inch of Indiana anywhere near the eastern time zone, the natural western edge of which lies near Columbus, Ohio -- about 175 miles east of Indy and about 100 miles east of Indiana's eastern border.

Before observing DST, Hoosiers on eastern standard time already had about 45 minutes of daylight shifted from morning to evening year-round. During the 7.8 months of DST, those Hoosiers on eastern time now have an additional 60 minutes of daylight shifted from morning to evening, resulting in unnaturally late sunrises and sunsets compared to most other locations at our latitude.

Some folks talk about wanting to put a time zone referendum on the Indiana ballot. According to the following IndyStar article, a non-binding statewide referendum was conducted in 1956, asking voters their preference on Eastern versus Central time and whether to use daylight-saving time in the summer months.

A Brief History of Time (in Indiana)

"The only clear consensus that emerges is that most oppose the 'double-fast time' that would result from being on Eastern Standard Time and switching to Eastern Daylight Time in the summer."

Ironically, this is exactly what we ended up with some 50 years later.

Some who favor staying on eastern time are concerned about the early winter darkness we would have with central time. On central time, the earliest sunset in Indy would be 4:20 pm for the first two weeks of December. When it actually gets dark is around civil twilight, which is about 4:45 pm.

This only seems earlier than normal because the eastern time zone Indiana counties have not experienced "normal" winter sunsets since about 1961. "Normal" for Indiana's latitude is what you see at the middle of any time zone due east or west of us. At those locations, the "normal" early December sunset time is about 4:30 to 4:35 pm (Philadelphia, Peoria, Denver, Reno). So a 4:20 sunset on central time is more nearly normal for our latitude than 5:20.

The problem with eastern time for farmers is not the farming itself, but the evening activities such as childrens' sports, school board meetings, etc. that cut into the farmer's work day an hour more on eastern time than they would on central time.

On the 23rd page of comments, josefK wrote (perhaps tongue in cheek) that he supports Newfoundland time. Ironically, everyone whose clocks are set to Eastern Daylight Time (UTC - 4 hours) is observing the natural clock time (Local Mean Time) of Goose Bay, Labrador, Canada (60 degrees longitude).

One thing never much mentioned is that many people have the schedule flexibility to shift more of their daylight to the end of the day regardless of what time the government tells us to set our clocks to. For example, the city of Columbus, Indiana has an 8 am to 5 pm schedule during the school year and switches to a 7-to-4 schedule during the summer break. Many businesses could do the same thing, effectively doing the same thing DST does, but on a voluntary, local basis, for those that want less daylight in the morning and more in the evening.

If or when Indiana is restored to its natural time zone of Central, any business whose employees want to have the same amount of evening daylight as they have now can simply move their day shift schedule an hour earlier. So instead of working 8 to 5 eastern daylight time, they can work 7 to 4 central daylight time and employees can have the exact same amount of daylight after work as they have now.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Musings on old books, bookstores, and phone numbers

Wow. Way too long since I've been here. Twitter and Facebook seem to capture most of my online writing efforts recently.

I was just making a note in a Facebook comment about thinking that I have a copy of "The Law" by Frédéric Bastiat when I got up to check my bookshelf.

I didn't find "The Law", but realized that I have two paperback copies of "None Dare Call it Treason" by John Stormer (1964).

The covers look identical. One is a used copy I bought somewhere (probably online) on 19 October 2002. It was the 20th printing, one of a run of 1,000,000 in October 1964.

The other is more interesting. It has my dad's name inside the front cover, in his own hand. It is the 11th printing, one of 400,000 in the third printing of July 1964. I see by my penciled notation that I finished reading it on 3 December 1995.

The faded inked stamps on the title page indicate it was distributed by American Opinion Library at 1514 North Pennsylvania Street, Indianapolis, Indiana. I believe that American Opinion libraries and bookstores were an early distribution method for John Birch Society materials.

The phone number was MElrose 5-2891 = ME 5-2891. Today, we would know it as 635-3891, but that was back in the days when the first two characters were letters that stood for some recognizable geographical feature of the neighborhood with those phone numbers. Maybe this was associated with Melrose Avenue not far away.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

"Princess Bride" and Obama's press conference on oil spill cleanup

The following parallel came to mind today while listening to the President's press conference on the Gulf oil spill.

Princess Bride excerpt

Prince Humperdinck: Every ship in my armada waits to accompany us on our honeymoon.
Buttercup: Every ship but your four fastest, you mean. Every ship but the four you sent.
Humperdinck: Yes. Yes, of course. Naturally not those four.
Buttercup:  You never sent the ships. Don't bother lying. Doesn't matter.

Thu, 27 May 2010 Obama press conference excerpt

President Obama: We will hold BP accountable for every last penny of damages.
Injured parties: Every penny except for the billions of dollars that exceed the $75 million cap on liability the U.S. government grants to oil companies, you mean. Every penny but the ones you excluded.
Obama: Yes. Yes, of course. Naturally not the billions of dollars we excluded by the federal cap on liability.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Dr. Brester and the value of professional licensing

Following is a letter to the editor I just submitted.

For additional background, the following Google search links to a handful of current news articles on this story.

brester "bean blossom" OR "brown co OR county" incompetence - Google Search

From:  Bill Starr
To: Bob Gustin;
Sent: Sun, May 23, 2010 8:40:04 PM
Subject: Letter to the editor: Brester and professional licensing

From a pro-liberty perspective, most of the recent articles I have read about the beleaguered Brown County veterinarian, Dr. Brester, have served to reinforce questions I have about the role of professional licensing in today's society.

Specifically, why have we as a society vested so much weight on professional licensing?

In the practice of veterinary medicine, as with just about any other business venture, the power of word-of-mouth referrals and complaints is about as powerful a form of business regulation as one could imagine or hope for.

The businesses that provide a useful and desirable product or service at a reasonable price quickly enjoy new and repeat business, as long as they continue to please their customers. Conversely, those which are perceived to provide an inferior or overpriced service are apt to receive less new and repeat business. This voluntary, free-market form of regulation is a great alternative to that which government proposes to furnish us at our expense.

As have many animal owners, our family has made use of Dr. Brester's services for our pet cats and dog on multiple occasions. Based on word-of-mouth referrals from friends, and then on our own experience, we have voluntarily exchanged payment for services that we have found to be worth our money.

It seems odd that, as a society, we would place more weight on the opinion of a handful of people working on behalf of the government than we would on the cumulative opinion of all of the past and present satisfied customers who have been very pleased with the value they have received in exchange for the money they voluntarily exchanged for Dr. Brester's service.

A simple Google search reveals a number of convincing articles that show that state regulation, licensing, and certification is often as much about protecting established businesses from competition as about genuine concern for the welfare of customers of would-be new, competing businesses.

As just one example, the following article points out, "while the promise of occupational regulation is great, research shows that it is rarely fulfilled... These regulations typically raise the price of services without significantly raising service quality... One of the most well-known effects of occupational licensing and regulation is reduced competition."

Does Occupational Licensing Protect Consumers? | The Freeman | Ideas On Liberty

The closing line from this article expresses my convictions on the matter quite well.

"The best way to protect consumer health and safety would be to let them choose their own services in a free market."

It's time to ask our state legislators to consider rolling back overzealous occupational licensing.

Bill Starr
Columbus, Indiana
Sun, 23 May 2010, 8:40 pm EDT

You have my permission and encouragement to publish this as a letter to the editor.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

My input to the Indiana GOP 2010 platform committee

The Indiana Republican Party is soliciting input from Hoosiers on the content of their 2010 platform, at the following web page (up to 10,000 characters).

Online Platform Committee Testimony

Following is the testimony I just submitted.

Following are my recommendations of things that would be worthwhile to consider keeping, dropping, adding, or modifying in the 2010 Indiana Republican Party platform.

It would make the platform more consistent from one election year to the next to focus less on specific Republican candidates and officeholders and more on issues.

Put in a plank calling for the general assembly and governor to petition the U.S. DOT to return Indiana to the central time zone. This would align well with Governor Daniels' efforts to protect children, by reducing the number of fall, winter, and spring days our state's children have to walk to school or wait for school buses in the morning darkness.

Urge the state government to get out of picking winners and losers in the energy business through tax incentives and subsidies. Let the free market lead the way to the best solutions, as directed by consumers, and private entrepreneurs and investors. Let ethanol and other biofuels stand or fall on their own merits in the free market.

It may be time to recognize that stiff laws against private adult use of recreational drugs has been a great waste of taxpayer money and otherwise productive lives. Let's look back to our country's failed history with prohibition of the recreational drug of alcohol and follow the lead of our forefathers who made peace with the peaceful, private, adult use of this drug.

Let's acknowledge that our country can ill afford the costs of global empire, and urge our federal government to follow the foreign policy advice of John Quincy Adams:

"Wherever the standard of freedom and Independence has been or shall be unfurled, there will her heart, her benedictions and her prayers be. But she goes not abroad, in search of monsters to destroy. She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all. She is the champion and vindicator only of her own." --John Quincy Adams (1821)

It seems time to start floating the concept of separation of marriage and state. Government approval and licensure of marriage is a relatively recent development, with a somewhat sordid history of being instituted to try to prohibit interracial marriages by the force of government. If government started getting itself out of the business of dictating who can and cannot marry, and returned the responsibility of authorizing marriage back to God and the church, this could help to defuse the present divisive discourse over whose definition of marriage gets official government approval.

Ensure that all Indiana citizens serving on criminal juries are reminded that Article 1, Section 19 of the Indiana constitution provides that "in all criminal cases whatever, the jury shall have the right to determine the law and the facts."

It would be good to add support for the concept of free markets.

It might be worthwhile to consider expanding the Indiana platform to address some of the following issues addressed by the 2008 Texas GOP platform. This would help provide more detailed guidance to local, state, and national elected officials and candidates on the expectations Hoosier Republicans have for them.

We respect and cherish the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and our Founders’ intent to restrict the power of the federal government over the states and the people.

We believe that a well-educated population is fundamental to the continued success of our Republic; and that parents have the right, as well as the duty, to direct their children’s education. This right should include choices among public, private, home and religious schools. Competition improves education. We support choice in public education and believe that quality education is best achieved by encouraging parental involvement, protecting parental rights, and maximizing local control.

We encourage the Governor and the Legislature to enact child-centered school funding options – which fund the student, not schools or districts – to allow maximum freedom of choice in public, private or parochial education for all children.

The Federal Government has no constitutional jurisdiction over education. We call for abolition of the U. S. Department of Education and prohibition of transfer of any of its functions to any other agency.

We urge the Legislature to require cities and counties to exempt private school students from daytime curfew ordinances. We oppose Juvenile Daytime Curfew which puts undue stress on students who have a legitimate reason to be out of school and their parents.

We support objective teaching and equal treatment of strengths and weaknesses of scientific theories, including Intelligent Design. We believe theories of life origins and environmental theories should be taught as scientific theory, not scientific law. Teachers and students should be able to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of these theories openly and without fear of retribution or discrimination of any kind.

We support state sovereignty reserved under the Tenth Amendment and oppose mandates beyond the scope of federal authority. We further support abolition of federal agencies involved in activities not originally delegated to the federal government under a strict interpretation of the Constitution.

We understand most crime is local, and the states reserve law enforcement authority under the Tenth Amendment.

We oppose any constitutional convention [ aka con-con ] to rewrite the United States Constitution. We demand the Legislature rescind its 1977 call for such a convention. We call upon other states to rescind their votes for such a convention. [ Indiana’s call for a con-con may have been a different year. ]

The Republican Party believes in equal opportunity for all American citizens without regard to race or gender. To that end, we oppose affirmative action.

We support limiting the definition of eminent domain to exclude seizing private property for public or private economic development or for increased tax revenues.

We oppose a mandatory national animal identification system requiring registration of all animals, of animal owners and their properties, including GPS coordinates. We urge repeal of HB 1361.

We urge change of the Internal Revenue Code to allow a religious organization to address issues without fear of losing its tax-exempt status. We call for repeal of requirements that religious organizations send government any personal information about their contributors.

We support judges who strictly interpret the law based on its original intent. We oppose judges who assume for themselves legislative powers.

We support the Electoral College.

We urge immediate repeal of the McCain-Feingold [campaign finance "reform"] Act.

We support reducing the time, bureaucratic interference and cost of adoption.

We support market-based, private sector initiatives to improve the portability, quality and affordability of healthcare. We support consumer choice of providers. Free market principles and competition shall be encouraged in health care, especially allowing each trained health care professional to practice to the extent of their education.

We deplore any efforts to mandate that vitamins and other natural supplements be on a prescription–only basis, and we oppose any efforts to remove vitamins and other nutritional supplements from public sale. We support the rights of all adults to their choice of nutritional products.

All adult citizens should have the legal right to conscientiously choose which vaccines are administered to themselves or their minor children without penalty for refusing a vaccine. We oppose any effort by any authority to mandate such vaccines or any medical database that would contain personal records of citizens without their consent.

We urge repeal of the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Law. Those who assault peaceful protesters acting under the Constitution should be vigorously prosecuted. Picketing and literature distribution do not fall under the RICO Act.

We oppose seizure of private property without due process. Neither law enforcement agencies nor their parent organizations should be allowed to benefit from such seizures.

We support downsizing of the federal government in order to re-establish states’ rights. We further support abolishing agencies whose activities are not delegated to them under original intent of the Constitution.

We oppose taxes levied and regulations imposed based on the alleged threat of global warming.

Every worker should have freedom to work in their preferred job without being forced to join or pay dues to any organization.

We believe the Minimum Wage Law should be repealed.

We support having only local control over our police forces.

We favor fair international trade. We oppose taxation and regulation of American industry that makes American products uncompetitive. We oppose free trade expansion at the expense of national security and sovereignty. We call for withdrawal from agreements that compromise our sovereignty and security.

We believe it is in the best interest of the citizens of the United States that we immediately rescind our membership in, as well as all financial and military contributions to, the United Nations.

Respectfully submitted,
Bill Starr
Bartholomew County
Columbus, Indiana
Sun, 25 Apr 2010, 9:58 pm EDT

For reference, following are pages which have links to the 2008 Indiana and Texas GOP platforms.

The Indiana Republican Party - Documents

Republican Party of Texas - Strength. Freedom. Prosperity.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

What's on my Sony e-book reader so far

Perhaps some might find it of interest to know which 244 free e-books I have found it worthwhile so far to load onto my Sony PRS-300 digital book reader since Christmas 2009.

I have often renamed the original file. Sometimes the author's name is before the title and sometimes after.

If anyone is interested in tracking down the source of any of these free e-books, just let me know and I'll try to remember.

dir /s /b f:\*.epub f:\*.pdf | sort | perl -lpe " s{^.*\\}{}; "

Adams - The Education of Henry Adams.epub
Bastiat - The Law.epub
Cooper - The Last of the Mohicans.epub
Franklin - The Articles of Confederation.epub
Jefferson - Declaration of Independence.epub
Madison - The United States Constitution.epub
Marx - Manifesto of the Communist Party.epub
Mill - On Liberty.epub
Mill - Utilitarianism.epub
Paine - Common Sense.epub
Publius - The Federalist Papers.epub
Rand - Anthem.epub
Raymond - The Cathedral and the Bazaar.epub
Smith - An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations.epub
Sun Tzu - The Art of War.epub
Thoreau - On the Duty of Civil Disobedience.epub
Thoreau - Walden.epub
Williams - Free As In Freedom.epub

04/08/2010, 18:20:39.98 

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Common Core State Standards Initiative

If you have any thoughts on the Common Core State [educational] Standards initiative, they are open for public comment until Friday, 2 April 2010.

Common Core State Standards Initiative

Here are the comments I provided.

I am opposed to national standards for education, no matter how well thought out, from a couple of perspectives.

From a Constitutional perspective, education is not one of the enumerated powers of the federal government, and is clearly one of the many areas for which the entire responsibility falls to the states and the people.

Second, in any area, including education, in which the federal government sets standards, we lose some of the benefit of having 50 or more varying approaches in a real-life laboratory, so to speak, competing with each other to see which best serves the educational needs of students.

Third, and perhaps related to the second, the more that school curricula are driven by the people who are the primary stakeholders in all education -- the parents and the local communities -- the better.

The Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) also has some thoughts here:

HSLDA: Common Core State Standards Initiative

and here:

HSLDA—Is Congress Moving Toward Nationalized Standards?

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Letter to Wal-Mart regarding employee firing for medical marijuana use

I just submitted the following message to Wal-Mart via their corporate website ( Feedback).


My family and I are very regular customers of your store at 735 Whitfield Drive in Columbus, Indiana.

I was disappointed to read the following stories of your firing of Joseph Casias, 2008 Associate of the Year at your store in Battle Creek, Michigan, because he used medical marijuana for the relief of pain from his sinus cancer and brain tumor.

Wal-Mart Fires Associate Of Year, Cancer Patient For Medical Marijuana

Let’s Teach Wal-Mart A Lesson About Medical Marijuana

It would not surprise me if there is more to this situation than was reported in those stories, but the following points nevertheless apply.

I have never used marijuana in my life, but it bothers me no more to hear that one of your associates uses marijuana for pain relief than it would to hear that they were on any other form of prescription pain medicine.

As long as they serve me safely, courteously, and efficiently while at work, I care about as little whether Wal-Mart associates use marijuana in the privacy of their own home as I do about whether they have a glass of wine with their dinner or smoke a cigarette on their break.

I urge you to consider re-evaluating your corporate policies on this matter.

Bill Starr
Sat, 27 Mar 2010, 4:04 pm EDT

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Letter to the editor: Time to consider central time again

I just submitted the following letter to the editor of "The Republic" in Columbus, Indiana.

Exclusive extra online example at the end.

By the way, I see that this is my 1,800th blog post.

Published Tuesday, 16 March 2010.

Solar transit reveals DST problems (bottom of page; subscription may be required to view)

To: Bob Gustin
Sent: Sun, March 14, 2010 3:07:34 PM
Subject: Letter to the editor: Time to consider central time again

It would be interesting to have the solar transit listed with the daily sun/moon times in the daily paper.

The transit occurs at midday, when the sun is most directly overhead. Half the daylight for the day is behind and half remains.

This time also represents the amount of additional evening daylight that day due to the combined effect of daylight saving time and observing eastern time.

For example, on the first day of eastern DST (Sunday, 14 March 2010), the solar transit [ for Columbus, Indiana ] is at 1:53 pm. That's one hour and 53 minutes daylight shifted from morning to evening. 60 minutes is the nominal amount of daylight shifted by DST from morning to evening.

If we were back on central time with DST (which Indiana observed till the early 1960s), we'd still have 53 minutes of daylight shifted from morning to evening today. I'm among those who feel that 53 minutes of extra evening daylight is quite close enough to 60, without having to give up almost a second hour of daylight in the mornings.

If you feel likewise, I encourage you to join me in urging Indiana's legislators and governor to petition the USDOT to put Indiana back on central time.

If the paper decides not to add the midday time to its daily stats, here is a link to the U.S. Naval Observatory page where you can check the transit time for yourself.
Complete Sun and Moon Data for One Day: U.S. Cities and Towns — Naval Oceanography Portal

Bill Starr
Columbus, Indiana

Extra example for the online edition.

There are 11 hours 52 minutes from sunrise to sunset in Indianapolis today (Sun, 14 Mar 2010).

Dividing that in half would give 5 hours 56 minutes before midday and the same after.

If midday were at noon, that would give a sunrise time of 6:04 am and a sunset time of 5:56 pm.

If one hour of sun were shifted from morning to evening, that would give Indy a sunrise time of 7:04 am, transit (sun overhead) at 1:00 pm and sunset at 6:56 pm.

Now let's see which time zone puts us closer to these figures.

On central daylight time, the sun would rise and set at 6:58 am and 6:50 pm, only 6 minutes short of the nominal shift of 60 minutes of daylight from morning to evening.

On eastern daylight time, the sun rises and sets at 7:58 am and 7:50 pm. This is nearly two hours of daylight shifted from morning to evening. No wonder our grandparents called EDT "double-fast time".

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Perspective on the RNC and MA Ron Paul Delegation | Ron Paul 2012 | Campaign for Liberty at the Daily Paul

"For virtually every Congressman, there is not even a pause before he plunges into the trough." Lew Rockwell

"After seeing the tremendous pressure put on people in real politics, live and in person, it puts me in flat out awe that Dr. Paul ever made it this far. He talks a tough game but he walks it courageously and unwaveringly." Michael Nystrom

Perspective on the RNC and MA Ron Paul Delegation | Ron Paul 2012 | Campaign for Liberty at the Daily Paul

Monday, February 15, 2010

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Are the Polar Ice Caps Melting?

Good rebuttal to the polar ice melting hysteria.

Are the Polar Ice Caps Melting?

Paramilitary Thugs Steal Private Arms Collection « Blog

Since it is unacceptable for people to believe that government agents will carry out paramilitary raids to confiscate firearms, a paramilitary force was sent to Girard’s home to confiscate his firearms. William Grigg

Paramilitary Thugs Steal Private Arms Collection « Blog

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Is blogging a slog? Some young people think so - Yahoo! News

Seems to be true for me.

Social networking & the quick status update have "kind of sucked the life out of long-form blogging" says Amanda Lenhart, a Pew senior researcher.

Is blogging a slog? Some young people think so - Yahoo! News

NO on ban of cell phone use while driving -- good article

I just sent the following message to my state legislators.

From: Bill Starr
To: Senator Greg Walker; Representative Sean Eberhart
Cc: Representative Eric Allan Koch; Representative Milo Smith
Sent: Sat, 6 Feb 2010, 8:39 am EST
Subject: NO on ban of cell phone use while driving -- good article

Thank you for your service to the citizens of Indiana.

As I wrote you on January 27, I still urge you to vote NO on any measure to criminalize the use of cell phones or other electronic devices while driving.

I recently came across a good article on this subject by Caleb Allen, a student at Rose-Hulman from Fort Wayne. Caleb does a very good job of explaining my objections to this sort of bill.

Caleb's iBlogger: Why There Should Be No Ban On Texting-and-driving

I encourage you to read the whole article, but here are a few of Caleb's thoughts that I liked and agree with, and that help to explain my objections as well.

"Law enforcement officers (LEOs) have no legal way of determining if you are texting.... There are legal reasons to be looking at your phone and pressing buttons (or touching the screen) while driving.... If the officer asks you if you were texting, the Constitution protects you from answering. If the officer asks (or even "orders") you to produce your phone for inspection, the same Constitution protects you from unreasonable search and seizure without 1) a warrant or 2) probable cause."

"The exercise of your Fifth Amendment right is not an admission of guilt and cannot be used as such.... Since there are legal reasons to be pushing buttons (or touching the screen) of a phone, the fact that you were doing so does not provide probable cause for a search or seizure of your phone, and neither does refusing to tell the LEO if you were texting develop probable cause.... So, without probable cause or a warrant to search your wireless phone (or a subpoena for your phone records), there is no legal way for an officer of the law to determine if a driver was to be in violation of the "Texting While Driving Law"."

"The real cause of accidents is not texting or even using a wireless phone; it is driver negligence.... No matter what causes that distraction, it is the responsibility of the driver to make sure that his vehicle does not hit anything. Most accidents result from driver negligence -- neglecting to fulfill his responsibility to keep his vehicle from hitting something."

"Regulating distractions doesn't work. Regulating driving will.... The percentage of car accidents attributed to dialing a cell phone is nearly identical to the number associated with talking or listening on a cell phone or bluetooth headset."

"Let us create a "Distracted Driving Law" that is based on your driving, not what you're doing.... Behavior that is generally indicative of being an impaired driver should be banned rather than each and every single little thing which could possibly contribute to impaired driving.... The LEO can clearly observe if the vehicle is being operated in a reckless manner. This is much easier to enforce..."

"Finally, this approach lets us stop writing laws about it!"

"Don't let your legislature enact another "feel good" law with demonstrably little effect on stemming the real problem. Instead, let us encourage them to use some common sense and write a better law.... Tell your Indiana legislators you oppose this bill, and all others like it, not because you think texting and driving is safe, but because it is a foolhardy approach to establishing roadway safety."

Bill Starr
Columbus, Indiana

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

I urge NO on any ban on cell phone use while driving

I just sent the following message to my state legislators.

To: Senator Greg Walker; Representative Sean Eberhart
Cc: Representative Eric Allan Koch; Representative Milo Smith
Sent: Wed, 27 Jan 2010, 1:32 pm EST
Subject: I urge NO on any ban on cell phone use while driving

Thank you for your service to the citizens of Indiana.

I urge you to vote NO on any measure to criminalize the use of cell phones or other electronic devices while driving.

I am all for holding each driver in Indiana accountable for controlling his vehicle in as safe a manner as possible, and punishing any who carelessly or recklessly cause personal or property damage while operating a motor vehicle.

I am opposed to trying to micromanage the Indiana driver by criminalizing, before the fact, specific types of potentially-risky driving behavior.

I know this is a somewhat trendy and politically-popular form of legislation, but I urge you to resist it.

As the following link points out, distracted drivers are a leading cause of motor vehicle accidents.

Distracted Drivers Cause Motor Vehicle Accidents - Smart Motorist

Many of the factors contributing to driver distraction and accidents which are listed in this article have been around a lot longer than the cell phone.

To be consistent in micromanaging our state's drivers, the legislature would need to start working their way through the list of risky behaviors. E.g., drinking, eating, adjusting the radio, picking up something that has fallen on the floor, having an argument with a passenger, driving with too little rest, checking the map, looking at the GPS screen, using a laptop computer (i.e., police officers), adjusting the climate control, reading, shaving, applying make-up, combing hair, anger at other drivers or traffic conditions.

It would be inconsistent to skip any of these that are as risky as responsible cell phone use, but a number of items on this list would be politically quite a bit less popular to be prohibited than cell phone use.

I urge you to stay away from this slippery slope.

Just hold drivers accountable for their results and leave it to each driver to determine the most practical means of arriving safely at his destination.

Bill Starr
Columbus, Indiana

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Man uses stun gun during downtown Columbus fight

The local paper reports today that a local man was arrested for using a stun gun during a fight.

He was charged with battery with a deadly weapon, a Class C felony.

Funny how it's a "deadly weapon" in "civilian" hands, but law enforcement and the manufacturer promote the stun gun as being in the "less than lethal" category.

Man uses stun gun during downtown Columbus fight

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Why Indiana children wait for the school bus in the dark

After reading a couple of recent letters to the editor from fellow Hoosiers, I remembered that I wanted to do an update corresponding to my "earliest sunset of the year" post on December 7.

In the South Bend Tribune on January 12 (When will Indiana students see the light?), Angela Warren-Manns wrote:

"I am concerned for my son who has to be out in the dark to go to school in the morning. This is bizarre for us because where we are from in New Jersey, it is light outside around 7 a.m. We have also lived in Texas, California and Maryland and they are also the same as New Jersey: light around 7 a.m. It just doesn't make sense to me that Indiana is on Eastern time. The sun certainly does not agree with it."

Ms. Warren-Manns is quite correct. The average sunrise time for places due east and west of South Bend on January 12 is 7:25 am. Civil twilight (when there is sufficient natural light for terrestrial objects to be clearly distinguished) is about 7 am this time of year for places in the geographically correct time zone.

In the Montgomery County (Crawfordsville) newspaper (Who makes decision on delays, closing?), Buddy Posthauer writes:

"My daughter has not had very much experience driving under these conditions... She could have taken the bus which picks her up about one hour earlier than when she drives, which it is pitch dark, and although this is not the schools fault, thanks to the time change, no child should be standing along side a busy and dangerous highway in the dark, even if the weather is good. It was just a few years ago I could not leave for work on time because a gentleman lost his life after a head on collision right where the kids have to stand in the dark to wait on the bus, which is much more dangerous in bad weather."

What both of these letters have in common is that they highlight the increased risk to Indiana children on their way to school this time of year because of observing eastern time.

Except for a few counties in the northwest and southwest corners, all of Indiana has been in the geographically incorrect eastern time zone since the 1960s.

January 4 marks the latest sunrise of the year.

The natural clock time (aka Local Mean Time) for sunrise in Indianapolis on January 4 is 7:22 am. This would be the sunrise time on January 4 if Indianapolis had ended up at the middle of a time zone like Philadelphia or Peoria did.

The table below compares the sunrise time on January 4 in Indianapolis with other United States cities located in their geographically-correct time zone.

On eastern time, Indy sticks out from the pack like a sore thumb. It will be back in the normal range again whenever Indiana goes back to central time.

Sunrise times on Monday, 4 January 2010

8:06, Indianapolis (eastern time)

7:23, Philadelphia (middle of eastern time zone)
7:23, Peoria (middle of central time zone)
7:21, Denver (middle of mountain time zone)
7:20, Reno (middle of Pacific time zone)
7:20, New York City
7:18, Chicago
7:14, Boston
7:06, Indianapolis (if returned back to central time)
6:59, Nashville TN (nearly due south of Indy)
6:52, Las Vegas