Sunday, June 30, 2019

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Justin Raimondo, RIP

Justin Raimondo, RIP

Is the Ford Tremor the New Full-size Overland Benchmark? by Scott Brady

There are few surprises in the media anymore, but the new Ford Tremor full-size left our offices genuinely in awe. We have grown so accustomed to only seeing the best overland options from Toyota and Chrysler that we (and I suspect they) never saw this full-size Tremor coming. The Power Wagon has maintained the capability championship for well over a decade, unchallenged, but this new 2020 Tremor will go head-to-head on a spec sheet, and has a few options that even RAM does not make available.
For the Overlander:
Overland travel requires a few important considerations, particularly with a full-size. Once a buyer decides to invest in a vehicle that big, it is typically because they intend to install a camper or tow a larger trailer. For other capable full-size vehicles like the Raptor or Power Wagon, that has always resulted in a lower payload capacity then other models, and the notable lack of a diesel powertrain. Todd Eckert, Ford’s marketing manager shared that “A growing number of Super Duty customers use their trucks for more than work. They’re fishing, camping and towing boats on weekends and they go off-road, so we designed this truck specifically for them – more ground clearance, bigger shocks, bigger tires and more off-road capability,” and  “…Tremor balances what customers demand in terms of work with what they need in the great outdoors.” According to the specifications, the Tremor will be close to the same capacities as the other 2020 models.
For capability, the list is impressive, including class-leading 35-inch Duratrac tires, a 31.6 degree approach angle, 10.8-inches of ground clearance, a 33-inch fording depth (best in class), and a 53:1 crawl ratio (gas engine). For the differentials, there is a locking rear and a Dana limited-slip front. The front LSD will work excellent when combined with traction control, and work as well as a full locker in nearly all scenarios. I suspect a front locker was omitted due to the torque of the diesel and the general lack of experience most consumers have with driver-selectable lockers. The suspension receives attention too, with 1.7-inch twin-tube shocks, and improved articulation with a lower spring rate for the rear swaybar. The Tremor does lack the locking front differential, sway-bar disconnect, and standard winch from the Power Wagon, but it does offer the significant advantage of proper payload and the legendary Powerstroke.

The drivetrain options include the new 7.3-liter gas V8 or the 6.7-liter Power Stroke diesel, paired to a 10-speed automatic transmission. Capacity levels are also options, including both 250 and 350 ratings. We are arguably in the golden age of 4WD vehicles, something few would ever have predicted. There are more vehicles with factory-available locking differentials than in any time in history. Vehicles like the Tremor just add to this excitement and consumer interest, and now the Power Wagon has a competitor that just might leave it quaking in its 33-inch tires…

CalTopo: Sentinel Satellite Imagery

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Pelican Bay ARC Field Day 2019

Bastiat on the Nature of Government (and Why America's Was the Exception) Independence Day is an excellent time to carefully consider Frederic Bastiat’s 1848 essay, “Government,” one of the most insightful critiques ever given for understanding the problems that beset governance. by Gary M. Galles

America’s governance problems are a common topic among Americans. But each Fourth of July brings that subject to the fore. Unfortunately, however, much of the discussion and many asserted “solutions” derive from a mistaken approach to government. That is why Independence Day is an excellent time to carefully consider Frederic Bastiat’s 1848 essay, “Government,” one of the most insightful critiques ever given for understanding the problems that beset governance.
"I should be glad...if you had really discovered a beneficent and inexhaustible being, calling itself the Government...which can provide for all our wants...correct all our errors, repair all our faults, and exempt us henceforth from the necessity for foresight, prudence, judgment, sagacity, experience, order, economy, temperance, and activity."
"Nothing could be more convenient than that we should all…have within our reach an inexhaustible source of wealth and enlightenment—a universal physician, an unlimited treasure, and an infallible counselor, such as you describe Government to be."
"Man...recoils from trouble...yet he is condemned by nature to the suffering of privation, if he does not take the trouble to work...What means can he adopt to avoid both? enjoy the labor of others. [But]...our disposition to defend our property prevents direct and open plunder from being easy."
"The oppressor no longer acts directly and with his own powers upon his victim... We all therefore, put in our claim, under some pretext or other, and apply to Government. We say to it 'I should like...the possessions of others. But this would be dangerous. Could you not facilitate the thing for me?...the law will have acted for me, and I shall have all the advantages of plunder, without its risk or its disgrace.'"
"[But] Government cannot satisfy one party without adding to the labor of the others...Government is the great fiction through which everybody endeavors to live at the expense of everybody else. Everyone is, more or less, for profiting by the labors of others...Government is applied to, and every class...says, 'You, who can take justifiably and honestly, take from the public, and we will partake.'"
"Alas, Government is only too much disposed to follow this diabolical be the judge and the master of the destinies of all...But the most remarkable part of it is the astonishing blindness of the public...who never seem to suspect that reciprocal plunder is no less plunder because it is reciprocal; that it is no less criminal because it is executed legally."
"But the thing that...never will be that Government can restore more to the public than it has taken from confer a particular benefit upon any one... without inflicting a greater injury upon the community as a do more harm than good."
"Thus the public has two hopes, and Government makes two promises—many benefits and no taxes. Hopes and promises, which, being contradictory, can never be realized."
"In all times, two political systems have been in existence... According to one of them, Government ought to do much, but then it ought to take much. According to the other, this two-fold activity ought to be little felt. We have to choose between these two systems."
"Government is and ought to be nothing but the united power of the people, organized, not to be an instrument of oppression and mutual plunder among citizens, but, on the contrary, to secure to everyone his own, and to cause justice and security to reign."
When Bastiat, one of history’s most clear-eyed and ardent defenders of liberty, wrote, he cited America as an exception to his analysis of government. The reason was that here, “there is no chimerical creation, no abstraction, from which the citizens may demand everything. They expect nothing except from themselves and their own energy.”
In other words, unlike most governments, ours still largely followed its legitimate role of protecting our rights and liberties. Unfortunately, that vision of American government has been largely replaced by one of coercive intervention and redistribution whenever those “in charge” see fit, combined with ever more intense political competition to take control of ever more such power. That loss of our one-time uniqueness is our central governance problem.

QRP Guys EFHW Antenna Build by KH7AL

I recently tried to explain to a friend my perspective on the eternal "ham's" quest to find an all-purpose antenna as similar to someone searching for Bigfoot.... A futile endeavor but the search goes on. Every antenna is a compromise of function, efficiency, size and cost. Fairly recently I discovered End Fed Half-Wave (EFHW) antennas; or rather the transformers that do the magic of making a compact, multi-band radiator.

EFHWs are not to be confused with a 9:1 transformer feeding a wire at its "end." I have used an EARC 9:1 for several years and on many SOTA activations. They work but I definitely felt like I was compromising on efficiency.  First and foremost, true EFHW antennas use a half-wave length of wire to make for a more efficient radiator. I stumbled across these antennas one day while on Facebook I saw a post about the End Fed Have Wave Antennas page. Once I joined the group I felt my eyes opened to new possibilities. Could this be my Yeti? Maybe.

Basically, a wire fed at the end presents an impedance between 2,700 and 3,000 Ohms. To match the impedance a typical radio requires (50 Ohms) you need a way to transform or match the impedance. Typically a 49:1 or 64:1 transformer will put you in the operating range sweet spot needed when you use the appropriate length of antenna wire.

My new discovery convinced me to buy a MyAntennas 80-10 EFHW. It uses a 49:1 transformer for operation on those primary amateur bands. Reluctantly, I had to cut the supplied antenna wire in half due to limited space in my backyard. Set up as an inverted-L it works great with <1.5:1 on the primary bands and I can use the internal tuning unit in my KX3 to make 30 and 17 meters work. I will write another post later about my homebrew 80-10 EFHW as it was another fun project.

Back to the point of this post. I am continually looking to lighten my backpack for my SOTA adventures so I thought I would give the QRPGuys "Portable No Tune End Fed Half Wave Antenna" kit a try. I have purchased a few kits from them before and found them to be fun as I enjoy building things and soldering.

The Build

Removing insulation from the toroid wire.

This kit is an easy build if you have even modest soldering skills. It also offers the compactness I was looking for as the circuit board the components attach double as a wire winder. The longest part in the build for me was winding the toroid and making sure I had the number of winds correct. Once constructed I wasted no time in cutting some 22-gauge wire I had laying around to work on 40 meters; cut longer than prescribed in the instructions to account for any local variables.

Set up in my typical inverted-L configuration in the backyard, I initially just hooked the antenna up to my radio. To my relief I could hear a very active band. The magic of radio... When I connected my antenna analyzer I found the antenna was long for 40 meters, which I suspected as I cut it long. The dip on the meter was around 6.75 MHz. However, the SWR on 20 and 15 meters was good at <1.7:1. Not a good sign for a multi-band antenna.

I decided to make a cut to the wire length. I removed approximately 4 feet and re-tested. I was happy to see a SWR of 1.37:1 on 40 meters. Naturally, 20 and 15 were no longer in tune. I gave up for the evening as the the sun was setting and the mosquitoes were making their debut. The next morning I revisited the QRPGuys website and stumbled across an important note in the product description, "...using band specific radiator lengths." I should have seen this before. The thought of carrying different spools of wire length up a mountain to work different bands is impractical and a recipe for a tangled wire mess. I contemplated on just taking the one length of wire on my next activation but the prepper's mantra of, "two is one, one is none" quickly dissuaded me.

Final Thoughts

I definitely consider this kit field expedient for its compact size. For only $20 (US) it is an inexpensive kit to build and tinker with. Just keep in mind that QRPGuys specialize guessed it, QRP or low power.  This unit is limited to 10 Watts but it works. I will keep this around and may dedicate it for use in the shack as either a 30 or 60 meter antenna. I do plan to pack this on my next hike just to try it out, and to give me a second antenna option on a summit. After all, two is one and one is none.

Until next time, 73 and happy tinkering.

Twisting the supplied wire for the primary winding.
The antenna in my backyard as an Inverted-L.

How to Stock Your RV for Summer By Chelsea Gonzales

Summer is here, and that means it’s time to stock your RV with all the most important summer must-haves in order to ensure your summer camping goes smoothly and offers fun and relaxation for everyone.
Of course, in order to do this, you need to know what exactly qualifies as a “must-have” item. Lucky for you, we’ve been on quite a few summer travel RV adventures of our own and have learned what we absolutely must have on these warm weather getaways.
Read on to learn more about our very favorite summer and outdoor gear to load into your camper before hitting the road.

Universal Summer Vacation Essentials

Let’s begin with the essentials of any summer vacation. These are things you’d pack whether you’d be RVing or not. Unfortunately, they are also things that often get left behind by RVers—likely because campers tend to focus mostly on camping-specific supplies.
However, these things are no less important for those looking to have a good time:
  • Sunscreen — Nobody likes to be sunburned on vacation. Therefore, sunscreen may seem like a small thing, but it isn’t something you want to forget.
  • Hat and Sunglasses — Dealing with the sun in your eyes is almost as bad as getting sunburned. Fortunately, a simple hat and sunglasses combo will take care of that issue.
  • Beach Supplies — Whether you’re headed to the ocean, the lake, or just a campground with a pool, you won’t want to forget the bathing suits, beach towels, sand and water play toys, and of course, those really cute beach bags to hold it all.
  • Refillable Water Bottle — Sure, you could buy a pack of disposable water bottles. However, a refillable bottle is much better for the environment.
  • A Book — As awesome as relaxing can be alone, it can quickly and easily become a little dull. Since many camping destinations are void of any cell service or internet access, packing a good book is always a good idea.

Must-Have Summer Camping Supplies

Besides the typical summer vacation essentials, you’ll also need some camping-specific items. You will be camping, after all, and that calls for certain items you may not normally want or need on a summer vacation.
Try stocking up on the following items at any outdoor supply store and tossing them into the camper—along with your typical camping supplies—before hitting the road:
  • Citronella Candles — Summertime is when the bugs are out in full force. Keep them off of your campsite by setting up citronella candles.
  • Hiking Supplies — Hiking is great any time of year. That said, summer is peak hiking season. Therefore, if you don’t have gear such as hydration packs and hiking boots, you will want to get those before you head out.
  • Ice Chest — Sure, you could simply keep beverages cold in your RV fridge. That said, you’re going to need to stay hydrated during the hot summer months, and an outdoor ice chest makes it much easier to keep plenty of drinks cold without using up your limited fridge space.
  • Oscillating Fan — Good for use both inside and outside the RV, a fan is the perfect way to keep cool while relaxing at your campsite. As a bonus, it might even help keep bugs away.
  • Rain Gear — In some areas, summer is rainy season. However, this definitely shouldn’t keep you from having outdoor fun. Just pack ponchos, rain boots, and umbrellas, and keep having a blast!

Comfy Outdoor Furniture for Summer Camping

Some of the most important outdoor accessories to add to your summer camping checklist are the furniture items. Of course, everything you pack has to fit in your RV. That’s why we love these portable outdoor furniture options for summer camping trips:
  • Comfy Camping Chairs — Give yourself someplace comfy to sit and enjoy the great outdoors. These super comfy seats are a million times better than the traditional camping chair, and since they are made with mesh-like material, they even help keep you cool when the temps rise.
  • Portable Gazebo — In order to protect yourself from bugs and sunshine, you might consider getting a portable gazebo. These are fabulous for those who enjoy relaxing outdoors but don’t like dealing with bug bites and sunburn.

BBQ Supplies to Enhance Summer Cookouts

Everyone knows summer camping always calls for a cookout. While you might have a grill already stowed away in your RV, we doubt you have all the best accessories to go with it. Here are some of our favorites:
  • Apron and Utensils — In case you don’t have the most basic of accessories, we thought you might want to check out this awesome apron and utensils set to get you started.
  • Meat Thermometer — While a meat thermometer isn’t exactly necessary, it certainly is nice when cooking burgers, steaks, and chicken on the grill.
  • Burger Press — Obviously, burgers need to be a part of most of your summer camping adventures. For perfect burgers, and in case you’d like to make stuffed burger patties, a burger press is the ideal tool.
  • Kabob Skewers — Everyone likes kabobs. Therefore, it only makes sense that everyone should have a set of kabob skewers. Go ahead and skewer whatever you like, grill, and enjoy!

The Case for Capital Gains Indexing June 30, 2019 by Dan Mitchell

One of the worst features of the internal revenue code is the pervasive biasagainst income that is saved and invested.
People who immediately consume their after-tax income are largely untaxed (thankfully, we don’t have a value-added tax), but there are several additional layers of tax on people who set aside income to finance future economic growth.
This is a self-destructive approach since all economic theories – even Marxism and socialism – agree that capital formation is a key to long-run growth and higher living standards.
The ideal answer is fundamental tax reform. For instance, all forms of double taxation are abolished with a flat tax.
But that’s not a realistic option, so what about interim steps?
Interestingly, some progress may be possible. According to a Bloomberg report, the Trump Administration may be on the verge of getting rid of the hidden inflation tax on capital gains.
The White House is developing a plan to cut taxes by indexing capital gains to inflation, according to people familiar with the matter, in a move that…may be done in a way that bypasses Congress. Consensus is growing among White House officials to advance the proposal soon, the people said, to ensure the benefit takes effect before President Donald Trump faces re-election in 2020. Revamping capital gains taxes through a rule or executive order likely would face legal challenges, a concern that reportedly prompted former President George H.W. Bush’s administration to drop a similar plan. …Indexing capital gains would slash tax bills for investors when selling assets such as stock or real estate by adjusting the original purchase price so no tax is paid on appreciation tied to inflation. …The inflation adjustment would amount to a several percentage point tax cut for investors, depending on the type of asset and how long it’s held, according to 2018 estimates from the non-partisan Congressional Research Service. Corporate stock with dividends held for 10 years would be currently be subject to an effective tax rate of 24.3%. That same holding indexed to inflation would be subject to a 21.4% tax rate, CRS said.
Kimberley Strassel of the Wall Street Journal opines that this would be a very desirable reform.
What if President Trump had the authority—on his own—to enact a second powerful tax reform? He does. The momentum is building for him to use it. …forces are aligning behind a plan: a White House order to index capital gains for inflation. It’s a long-overdue move—one that would further unleash the economy and boost GOP election prospects. …At President Reagan’s behest, Congress in the 1980s indexed much of the federal tax code for inflation. Oddly, capital gains weren’t similarly treated. The result is that businesses and individuals pay taxes on the full nominal amount they earn on investments, even though inflation eats up a good chunk of any gain. It’s not unheard of for taxes to exceed real gains after inflation. …the Internal Revenue Code does not require that the “cost” of an asset be measured only as its original price—meaning there is no reason Treasury could not construe it in today’s dollars. …The move would set off an explosion of buying and selling—of which the government would get its cut. The lower tax on capital would also help asset prices grow. All of this would be excellent news for the economy.
This 2010 video from the Center for Freedom and Prosperity elaborates on the reasons for indexing.
I especially like the examples showing how, even with modest levels of inflation, the actual capital gains tax rate can be much higher than official rate.
Remember, it’s the effective marginal tax rate that determines incentives for additional productive activity.
This is why any form of capital gains taxation is wrong. And it’s especially wrong to impose a hidden – and higher – tax simply because of inflation.
Indeed, it’s fundamentally immoral to let the government profit from inflation.
So what would happen if the rumors are true and Trump unilaterally eliminates the tax on inflationary gains?
The Tax Foundation estimated how such a change would affect the economy and the budget. The report includes a helpful example of how this reform would protect investors.
…if an individual purchased an asset for $100 in January 1, 2000 and sold that asset for $200 on July 1, 2018, the nominal capital gain would be $100. However, inflation over that period increased the price level by 49 percent. Under an indexing proposal, the individual would be able to gross up the basis of $100 by the total inflation during that period to $149. As a result, the individual would only be taxed on $51 instead of the full $100.
Here’s a table comparing the status quo with indexing.
Here’s the estimate of the economic benefits.
…indexing capital gains to inflation would increase the long-run size of the economy by 0.11 percent, which is equivalent to about $22 billion in 2018. This provision would primarily boost output by reducing the service price of capital, which would increase the incentive to invest in the United States. We estimate that the service price of capital would be 0.15 percent lower under this proposal. The capital stock would be 0.26 percent larger and the larger capital stock would boost labor productivity leading to 0.08 percent higher wages.
And here’s the accompanying table.
The Tax Foundation also prepared an estimate of the impact on tax revenue.
On a dynamic basis, the revenue loss would be…$148.3 billion over the next ten years. The increase in output due to the lower cost of capital would boost incomes, which would boost payroll revenue and slightly offset individual income tax revenue losses.
The bottom line is that this is not a self-financing reform (that only happens in rare instances), but it is a reform that would help the economy by encouraging more jobs and growth.
And, remember, even small improvements in growth have a meaningful impactover time.
Let’s close with a video from an unlikely supporter of inflation indexing.
Notwithstanding these remarks, I don’t think Schumer will applaud if Trump indexes the capital gains tax. Instead, I suspect he’s now more likely to support measures that would exacerbate this form of double taxation. Though I think he’s still on the right side (at least behind the scenes) on the issue of “carried interest,” so maybe he’s not a totally lost cause.


My Summits On The Air (SOTA) activation of Pikes Peak (W0C/FR-004) on June 20th qualified me for Mountain Goat, using only the VHF/UHF bands. Mountain Goat requires 1000 activation points using the SOTA activation point system.
Bob/K0NR operating from Pikes Peak on 20 June 2019 to complete Mountain Goat.
I’ve been working toward this goal for quite a while. I was doing mountaintop VHF activations before SOTA was even a thing. The first contact in my SOTA log is from Mount Antero in August 2011 but I started cranking up the SOTA activations in 2013 and later. I chose Pikes Peak for my qualifying Mountain Goat activation because its always been a special summit for me: I see it almost every morning (weather permitting) from my house in Monument. It is America’s Mountain, reaching to over 14k feet in elevation, standing tall west of Colorado Springs.
My custom Mountain Goat Award certificate made by Steve/WG0AT.
Most people have to wait for the mail to receive their SOTA Mountain Goat certificate. However, Steve/WG0AT created a custom award certificate that Joyce presented to me on the summit of Pikes Peak.
Paul/W0RW captured this webcam photo of Joyce/K0JJW and me standing near the summit house on Pikes Peak.
Some statistics from my SOTA log: I made 1557 radio contacts during 164 activations. Some of these activations were repeats of the same summit and I activated 96 unique summits.  On 9 of those activations, I failed to complete the minimum of 4 radio contacts required to receive points; so I “got skunked” on those summits (zero points).
The majority of these summits were in Colorado, but I also did some operating from California, South Dakota, New Mexico, Wyoming, Utah, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Tennessee, North Carolina, Georgia, Arkansas, Texas and (last but not least) Switzerland. Almost all of them with my awesome wife and hiking partner, Joyce/K0JJW. Take a look at the various SOTA postings on my blog for trip reports and operating tips.


Any SOTA activator will tell you that nothing happens without chasers being there to make radio contacts. Chasers are always important but even more important for VHF due to the limited range. The list below shows my top chasers. Some of these folks are active SOTA enthusiasts but many of them are just friendly folks on the radio helping me achieve this goal. You’ll see that my #1 chaser is Joyce/K0JJW, who usually worked me on multiple bands after leaving the summit.
Thank you, Chasers, for your support!
Many people underestimate what is possible on the VHF/UHF bands, even under normal conditions. I’ve been trying to educate folks on what is possible with VHF from high locations. See The Myth of VHF Line of Sight.  Beefing up your station with a directional antenna and a little bit of power can make a big difference, even when just using FM. My best DX using VHF on a SOTA activation is a 2m CW contact from Capulin Mountain with W9RM near Olathe, CO for a distance of 257 miles.
The Summits On The Air program is a fantastic way to enjoy the outdoors while having fun with ham radio. Thanks to everyone that helped me reach my goal of VHF Mountain Goat.
73 Bob K0NR