Thursday, January 31, 2008

Pick a candidate

Guy who sends me stuff sends me this little test, posted by a Midwestern TV station. It purports to show which candidate most closely aligns on one's principal issues. It says Barack Obama is my boy. I'm not yet convinced. Take it and see what you learn.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Spectacular sunsets

We got 'em in the winter. I shot this one a week or so ago. Was gonna send it in a gloating nyah-nyah note to a friend in Kansas, but before I could do that, this sorry series of fronts started and I didn't feel the weather here was good enough to justify a nyah-nyah note.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

What's the matter with kids today?

Guy out in San Francisco has a piece on the remarkably stupid young people produced by our public schools today.
...[T]he dystopian evidence seems overwhelming indeed, to the point where it might be no stretch at all to say the biggest threat facing America is perhaps not global warming, not perpetual warmongering, not garbage food or low-level radiation or way too much Lindsay Lohan, but a populace far too ignorant to know how to properly manage any of it, much less change it all for the better.

Read it all here. I keep reading about how much kids know today but find them generally ignorant and incurious, though with an attitude of superiority because they can manipulate technology. Baaah.

Wintry world

Guy I know who sends me pictures sends me this picture. He lives up in New Mexico, so maybe it was taken there.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Really bad ideas - food dept.

I noticed somewhere that some enterprising soul was making a product called soyrizo -- chorizo sausage but made with soy protein instead of pork. Chorizo is supposed to be nasty and greasy; it is properly made with the cast-off parts of a pig and is delicious. It has no claim to healthfulness and is not part of a good diet. Its transgressiveness is its charm. The idea of Mexican health food is unnatural.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Recoleta Cemetery-ii

A crypt in Recoleta can cost as much as an apartment and have nicer detail work. People whose forebears are parked there are not unmindful of the prestige factor and, though some crypts are obviously beyond anyone's memory, some are visited by family retainers with liquid wax and rags to shine up the woodwork. All in all, Recoleta Cemetery is an interesting manifestation of conspicuous consumption.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Some malapropisms I've liked lately

Someone writing about dumping an undesirable: "Good ridden"
Someone calling for high standards of debate: "Don't scoop as low as he does"
Someone complaining of lack of enthusiasm: "I've been in the dulldrums lately"
I love that last one and may adopt it myownself.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Those damn immigrants

There's a state out west where some legislators are whining about all the Mexican immigrants putting a burden on public services such as schools and upsetting the equilibrium of civil life. The state is Sonora, Mexico.
At a news conference, the legislators said Sonora - Arizona's southern neighbor, made up of mostly small towns - cannot handle the demand for housing, jobs and schools it will face as illegal Mexican workers here return to their hometowns without jobs or money.

Read more here in the Tucson paper. Heavens, the temerity ... expecting Mexico to take responsibility for educating the children of her citizens.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Nice dicho

Dichos are proverbs and Spanish has a million of them, more than English. People will whip out the apropos dicho for any occasion, and there is one for every occasion. I'm reading a cool book, a travel book published in 1917 called Vagabonding Down the Andes, written by a guy named Franck who worked as a Canal Zone policeman and then took his savings and walked south through South America. When he was preparing to leave a town, the lady at his hotel said to him "Perro que anda hueso encuentra," poetically translated "The dog that roams will find the bones." I love it.

More captious niggling

One of the Vicad's Roving Roaming Rangers, writing about the Tivoli-Austwell metro area, has something about 'tracks' of land. Poor child doesn't know the difference between tracks and tracts. More chilling yet, consider that the story was vetted by a copy editor who apparently didn't know the distinction either. Small wonder that newspapers are dying, produced as they are by such ignorant souls. Course for what newspapers pay it's pretty hard to hire literates.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Niggle, quibble, nitpick

Today there was a blurb in the NYTimes on-line that read blah blah blah "... the media has given him." "Media has," singular verb. Used to be one medium, 2+ media, medium is, media are, or medium has, media have in the instant example. Everyone took media to be a plural form. Apparently that usage has become, even for the usually punctilious Times, another relic of a picky past.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Strike at Cananea, Sonora, copper mine

The big copper mine at Cananea, just south of Arizona, was the site of a big copper strike in 1906, a foreshadowing of the Mexican Revolution that broke out just a few years later. The strikers were influenced by the anarchosyndicalist Flores Magón brothers, and the philosophy on the workers' side had a strong tinge of IWW-style idealism. American mine owners led Arizona state troops into Sonora to break the strike. Now, more than a century later, there is another strike going on at Cananea.
Mexican labor authorities seized on technicalities to order an end to the strike at the country's largest copper mine in Cananea, Sonora, on Friday. The Mexican press reports that over 700 heavily armed agents of the Sonora state police arrived in Cananea just hours before the decision was announced, and agents of the Federal Preventative Police were sent to this tiny mountain town as well. Strikers report that the streets were filled with rocks and teargas, and 20 miners have been injured - some seriously - in the ensuing conflict. The union says that five strikers are missing.

Read the entire story here. Can we be setting up to recapitulate the bloodshed of the last century? The mine owners are now Mexican, but the complaints haven't really changed.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Wise counsel

“Before you criticize a man, walk a mile in his shoes. That way, when you do criticize him, you’ll be a mile away and have his shoes.”… Anon

Saturday, January 19, 2008

[Disgusted grunt]

On pretty complete returns, Clinton and Romney are running ahead in their respective caucuses in Nevada. A Clinton v. Romney election in November would be enough to make me wonder if live bait will be available on election day so I can go fishing or if there might be a third-party candidate a guy could stand to vote for. Both parties could replace their totemic animal with weasels if those two go.
Interesting aside: when I looked last, Ron Paul was running second -- a distant second, but second nonetheless -- to Romney. McCain was just a few votes behind Paul.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Most ill-considered tourism slogan of the century

"El Paso: You have no idea!"
What can you do with that?
Hot? You have no idea ...
Backward? you have no idea ...
Dirty? You have no idea ...
You can see all the possibilities there.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

More big road projects?

There's been a bit of hooha lately in the paper about proposed routes for the megamajormonster road project that will purportedly, someday, far in the future, decades from now, run up from Mexico, whence it will come bearing trailerloads of money for corporations and of illegal immigrants for the rest of us. Nobody has asked about what all those cars and trucks on that road are going to be running on. People just can't grasp the prickly nettle of rapidly disappearing oil supplies and the ever-more-costly petroleum that will come with the disappearance. There was a little side note in a TV news show this evening that six days of OPEC income would suffice to buy up all the extant stock of General Motors. The frat-boy-in-chief is waltzing around the Middle East holding hands with A-rab princes and waving a sword [he looked silly in a flight suit, but dancing around with a sword ... new nadirs of silliness], apparently in the hope that those people will pump more oil for us. It's kinda humiliating to see the president of this country shuffling his feet and begging from a bunch of gibbering savages. We're gonna run out of oil, folks, and have to change the way we live ... really change.
The world's biggest car maker, General Motors, believes the global oil supply has peaked and a switch to electric cars is inevitable.

You can read GM's hopes and dreams about that situation here. We'd do much better to start crash programs right now, tomorrow, to provide public transportation and alternative ways to move freight.

Fraser's last testament

Before he died, George McDonald Fraser wrote in Britain's Daily Mail a litany of his complaints about the modern world. I can see most of his points.
Political correctness is about denial, usually in the weasel circumlocutory jargon which distorts and evades and seldom stands up to honest analysis.
It comes in many guises, some of them so effective that the PC can be difficult to detect. The silly euphemisms, apparently harmless, but forever dripping to wear away common sense - the naivete of the phrase "a caring force for the future" on Remembrance poppy trays, which suggests that the army is some kind of peace corps, when in fact its true function is killing.

Read the whole thing here.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

My sentiments exactly

I purloined the link to cafe press from the Evil HR Lady blog, a favorite at our house and well worth visiting.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Speaking of airports

From the International Herald-Tribune:
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina: Stranded travelers attacked ticketing counters at Buenos Aires' Ezeiza international airport on Saturday, tossing computers in the air and shoving security guards after Aerolineas Argentinas suspended most of its flights there.

For the whole thing, here.
I read on some travel Web site last night that a couple of U.S. air carriers have begun adding a $50 surcharge on domestic round-trip flights. Haven't noodled around to verify it, but it sounds plausible, given the price of petrol. Those glorious spur-of-the-moment short trips may be doomed.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

That's a wrap

Airports have some singularity, some defining characteristics. There is a certain sameness but also some idiosyncracies that distinguish different places. I can remember flying through DFW in the early 70s and being one of the weirdest-looking people in the place, and I really, truly wasn't a particularly freaky guy for the time and place. It's just that DFW was full of the damnedest stiffs ever congregated in one place. A strange thing about Ezeiza, the Bs.As. airport: they have concessions before check-in where you can have your suitcases wrapped in plastic film, Saran stuff. They put the bag on a rotating platform and some tens of yards of film go around the bag. This would obviously make it pretty hard to pilfer from the bag unless you were willing to unravel the film or cut it. The jarring thing about this service is that the people who use it are the locals. I saw no tourists getting their bags Saraned, but many Argentines were cocooning their luggage. Guess that tells you how the folks there rate security in the baggage-handling area. I've never seen that service anywhere else, though it may well be common all over South America.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Matchmaking proposition

Maybe it's an indication that I'm spending too much time staring at the tube, but I find myself lately wishing that Larry King and Barbara Walters would elope to some faraway place agreeable to aging narcissists and never be seen again on the screen. Both manage to annoy on sight and then exacerbate the annoyance with sound ...

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Recoleta Cemetery-i

The cemetery at Recoleta in Buenos Aires is one of the most famous in the world, and the statuary is impressive. The boats are on the grave of a guy who drowned. You can take a Sunday outing there and then shop in a nice trade fair outside. The most famous occupant is probably Eva Duarte de Perón, Evita to you and the world, but her crypt with the Duarte family is of no particular distinction beyond the large groups of sightseers, or maybe worshipers, who gather to put flowers there.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

George McG calls for impeachment of Bush, Cheney

Bush and Cheney are clearly guilty of numerous impeachable offenses. They have repeatedly violated the Constitution. They have transgressed national and international law. They have lied to the American people time after time. Their conduct and their barbaric policies have reduced our beloved country to a historic low in the eyes of people around the world. These are truly "high crimes and misdemeanors," to use the constitutional standard.

Read all here. Hear, hear.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

[Choke, sniffle]

Hillary did a little emotional moment yesterday, all about how she's doing all this because she just feels so personally obliged to. My primo opined that a close examination of the outburst revealed a rehearsed quality. I opined that when Hillary breathes in and out it's a rehearsed action, that some consultant pointed out to her that humans do that and she should also. It's fascinating to watch her smug sense of her inevitability collapse and a delight to read that that her campaign warchest, the one that all the hotshots kept telling us made her invincible, is running dry as people jump ship for the next inevitable thing. Hillary is left to sulk over how she maybe won't be appointed hall monitor, despite the fact that she's the smartest girl in class and really, really knows what to tell the rest of us to do. Come on Edwards! I'll waste the evening watching news shows. I despise myself for it ...

Monday, January 7, 2008

Literature's loss

Discovering George MacDonald Fraser's Flashman series is one of those magical moments for a reader. Harry Flashman, a character lifted from Tom Brown's Schooldays, is a cowardly, lecherous, mendacious, avaricious charmer, a man with a constant eye out for the main chance and a willing woman and ever alert to the safety of his own hide. Fraser has just died and we lose. Though recent books have lacked the snap of the earlier ones, Flashman is a wonderfully realized comic character, an antihero who, like Zelig, was there for some of the most important moments of his era's history. You can learn a lot of 19th-Century history reading Flashman, along with enjoying a lot of laugh-out-loud moments. From the UK Telegraph:
... [T]he first novel took as its background the First Afghan War - for Flashman an odyssey of self-preservation justified by his being the sole survivor of the Retreat from Kabul. In Royal Flash (1970), which was later made into a film, he floundered his way through the Schleswig-Holstein Question, engaging Bismarck in fisticuffs and dallying with Lola Montez. Flashman at the Charge (1973) saw him accidentally lead the Light Brigade into the "Valley of Death".

To read the entire Telegraph article, click here.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

This doesn't pass mustard

Big headline on Vicad sports section today reads 'Rough Road to Hoe.' Just to make sure we get it, there's an underscore of stylized two-lane blacktop beneath the words 'Rough Road.' I expect any road would be pretty rough to hoe, being at least caliche, or, worse yet, concrete or asphalt. Tough hoeing, roads. What we have here is a copy editor using a cliché and misunderstanding the cliché. They've also been know to pass mustard and tow the line. The only excuse for a cliché is its familiarity. If you get it wrong, you really embarrass yourself. In this case, someone had never looked down a garden row that needed weeding and thought 'That's a rough row to hoe.' Well, as herself remarked, at least they got the 'e' on 'hoe.'
An outtake quote on a recent front page consisted of maybe a dozen words, with two or three rendered in red ink instead of black and a couple, three in a larger type size. No apparent reason for any of that except the intellectual limitations of graphics people, who incline to regard words as just another element to be manipulated in any manner that the graphics person finds visually appealing. For graphics people, words have no inherent meaning or value; that's why you'll find text scattered across photos, completely unreadable.

Thursday, January 3, 2008


I'm always annoyed by the idea that Iowa draws so much water in the presidential nominating process. The caucus system is goofy, the state is representative of nothing but maybe Nebraska, if it weren't for Iowa we might not be tied to the goofy idea of corn ethanol as some sort of replacement for petroleum, and no matter how earnest they are -- and I can testify that Iowans are earnest -- I don't think they should have so much influence on the nominating process.
According to a national survey conducted for The Associated Press and Yahoo News, just over half of all voters said New Hampshire and Iowa have an extraordinary amount of influence over who wins the two parties nominations.

Read the rest of the story here.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008


One of the most entertaining things afoot in a season of profoundly tiresome and evasive pols of both parties is our congressman, Ron Paul, and his insurgency attack for the R presidential nomination. The Big Boys of journalism mostly ignore him or dismiss him as a wackawacka, which he kinda is, but still ... One of the NYTimes blogs bobs a head in Paul's direction; comments are interesting.
The Comeback Kid of 2008? Sometimes a candidate doesn’t have to win the New Hampshire primary to get a boost out if it (ask Bill Clinton in 1992). Will the surprise of 2008 be Ron Paul and his rabid legion of online and offline fans ... ?

The whole thing is here. If Paul did no more than knock Giuliani out, he would deserve a Hero of the Republic commendation. Rudy's creepy. The blogs and forums are full of posts from people who love Paul for various reasons, many pretty good. Reasons, I mean. Paul supporters are prone to a large number of grammatical errors, ill-chosen words, and garbled syntax. Just an observation, not a condemnation.