Friday, February 29, 2008

What is so rare ...

as a day in June? Well, by my calculations, February 29 is about 120 times as rare and we just had one, with the requisite silly stories in the paper. Another silly thing we had this week was the person-pumping-gas photo along with a bit of prose indicating that people don't like $3-a-gallon gasoline. NYTimes even had one of those pix on their Web site for a little bit. Must be too damn hard to think of a new approach to the high-gas story, but I do wish someone would try.

Until 2011?

Guy sends me an article by a writer on MarketWatch, writer name of Paul B. Farrell, who says this ongoing mess in the stock market and economy will not end soon.
ARROYO GRANDE, Calif. (MarketWatch) -- Remember that hot 1973 Stealer's Wheel song marking the end of the Nixon era? "'Cause I don't think that I can take anymore. Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right, here I am stuck in the middle with you!"
It's still a perfect metaphor. Testifying before Congress: Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke on the left. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson on the right. The American public stuck in the middle.
Last summer they assured us the subprime-credit crisis was "contained." We now know that was a big lie. They knew, had the facts, early warnings, lied and are still lying. More proof? They just told Congress: "America will avoid a recession." New data tells a different story.
Clowns to the left ... jokers right ... stuck in the middle ... can't take it anymore.
But we have to, we have to hang on at least 10 months more, praying they won't do too much more damage. But I'm afraid they will: more lies, blunders and incompetence will drag out this bear. Like the song says: "Got a feeling something ain't right."

Read the rest of it here. The DJIA shucked 300 points today, and this dude says it's only just begun. Good thing I hadn't planned to withdraw any IRA money before then, innit?

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Just put that on my tab

The gummint is going to give us some sum of money -- a thousand or twelve hundred dollars -- which is OK, I guess. The bad news is that they're going to borrow it to give it to us and then make us pay for it. All in all, I'd just as soon skip the whole process. Mad-dog wastrel Shrub has put us in a terrible hole of unknown depth with his stupid invasion of Iraq and his irresponsible tax cuts. A guy who knows from economics writes it up in the McClatchy papers:
Coming up on the fifth anniversary of the invasion, a Nobel laureate now estimates that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are costing America more than $3 trillion.

Read all that bad news here. And to think, th fratboy-in-chief told the more gullible sectors of the public that we would just finance the whole thing off the oil that we'd steal from those whom we have invaded. I still think we maybe oughta go on and impeach him to keep him out of mischief these last few months before the nation is delivered up.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

More bad ideas

One hears some of late about the gummint somehow stepping in on the imminent foreclosure of about a kajillion houses and making sure people don't get put out on the street. The problem with this idea is that those people probably should be put out of their houses. There have been all these heart-breaking stories in the goo-gooier papers about home-healthcare providers and janitors who are going to lose their $500,000 houses and be robbed of their American Dream, with some undertone there that we owe it to those people to take them off the hook and keep them in those houses. My American Dream doesn't include paying taxes to keep people in houses they never should have bought in the first place. Don't wanna be ugly here, but I don't have a half-million-dollar house and don't wish to pay for some other soul's big ol' house. There seems to be other predictable and justified resistance to this idea.
SEATTLE — As the Bush administration and Congress consider proposals to ease the home foreclosure crisis, local governments across the country have been lending money to imperiled homeowners and confronting some opposition.
Some of these municipal and state efforts have met resistance from people who consider the assistance undeserved and adamantly oppose anything that resembles a taxpayer bailout.

Read all that story here.

Monday, February 25, 2008


There was a news story in the Vicad yesterday telling that a couple of State Bd of Edu members are going to be drawing opponents from the Religious Right, who, should they win, will no doubt meddle in curriculum by trying to force a Creationist element in public-school biology teaching. Then, the annoying economist who writes the column in the Business section had a bit about how bioscience was the glowing future for the state of Texas. Do these people know that evolution is the rock-bottom basis of modern biology?

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Bad idea whose time has passed

In a fit of shameful newsjunkie-ing, I was watching the Sunday morning talk shows. I saw Ralph Nader announcing that he would run for president yet another time. I would think by now that the pious, pompous fool could only hope to pick up the votes of his few close blood relatives who survive, having grievously angered all the rest of his natural constituencies. He's done enough damage for three lifetimes and should retire from public life and do penance for that damage by living in the desert and going unshod on sharp stones.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Out-of-season Boo!

Guy I know sends me one of those Web sites I scoff at but enjoy anyhow. It's an indexed list of purportedly haunted places. Those in Victoria include a movie theater and apartment buildings, but also the courthouse and a murder scene. **Adrift if apparently a hant-free zone. My favorite was
McKinney - McKinney Public Library - Many books in the library are misplaced, bookcases are being knocked over, and money being taken out of the register and books not paid for being put in purses and other personal belongings.
No doubt submitted by an unhappy librarian. Lots of schools, bridges with people hanging around after death for one reason or another, murder victims, all the usual ectoplasm. The site is here

Thursday, February 21, 2008

I don't know about everyone, but I find cell-phone users can trigger in me thoughts most shameful and unworthy. That real estate twit in the next restaurant booth who's babbling about the property he's about to show, that moronic woman prattling in the check-out line as she fumbles with her merchandise and payment ... haven't you ever wished at least small plagues on those people? Well, the kharmic wheels do crank around:
Dr. Siegal Sadetzki, an epidemiologist and lecturer at Tel Aviv University recently published the results of a study in the American Journal of Epidemiology that found heavy cell phone users were subject to a higher risk of both benign and malignant tumors of the salivary gland.

Read the rest of the short article here. Aren't you a little ashamed of small thrill you felt?

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Blah blah blah

Oil closed above $100/bbl on Tuesday for the first time. The OPECers are gonna meet in a couple weeks, and there’s a good chance they’ll cut production, which should drive the price even higher. Just watched a little piece on the public TV station about how inflation’s up, as if you didn't know that from going to the store; the dollar is the peso of the First World, and George Bush is still president, though that part, at least, won't go on forever. I don't feel as relieved as I would like when I contemplate the possibilities for the next president. We might oughta impeach Shrub in a hurry to forestall last-minute mischief such as more invasions or attacks.
Algeria's oil minister Chakib Khelil, who chairs Opec, told Reuters: "Production is not going to increase. It will either decrease or be stable."

To read the entire oil piece in the UK's Guardian, go here.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008


A recent refinery explosion in Big Spring will give ammunition to those who insist they have cheap gas but build that stuff over there, not in my backyard. A friend who's from out there writes,
... My aunt and uncle live just across the wasteland to the east of the refinery - about a mile, I would guess. It blew cabinet doors open. A cousin and his wife live a half mile due south of the refinery. Blew three doors out of their casings! Doors were dead-bolted! Shattered a sliding glass door. Another cousin living in San Angelo heard the explosion.

A story in the Big Spring Herald reads, "Despite hopes to the contrary, Congressman Randy Neugebauer said today the explosion at the Big Spring Refinery could send gas prices soaring." The Herald has a 38-photo slide show that's worth a look here.

Monday, February 18, 2008

More nitpicking

Guy who works at TAMU sends along a nice goof from The Battalion, the newspaper for that place: "Ronnie McDonald has a deep-seeded love for the Aggie family. ..." I've given it some thought and decided that it is a mistake driven by a profound attachment to rural values. When I complained a little while back about a headline that involved a 'hard road to hoe,' friend pointed out that I had not doubt noticed the ladies hoing Juan Linn Street.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Cuts at NYTimes

A story in the New York Times on Friday reports that that paper will cut editorial-side jobs. This is tragic.
After years of resisting the newsroom cuts that have hit most of the industry, The New York Times will bow to growing financial strain and eliminate about 100 newsroom jobs this year, the executive editor said Thursday.

Read it all here. Annoying though the Times can be, given its frank bias that slops over into news stories, it's still the newspaper of record for the U.S. and the one that's out there covering everything important in this country. Any cut in staff is a loss for the entire country. Beneath this story was another that read that the LATimes had just named the fourth top editor in three years. The last editor quit to protest staff cuts. The greedheads who are pushing papers for more money have no respect for the proper mission of the press.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Vicad groaner for Saturday

... At the fourth annual Victoria Empty Bowls Project, $10 will get you a handmade ceramic bowl by a local potter filled with soup.

Local potters filled with soup ... gotta love the image that conjures up.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Circling the drain ...

Anyone who pays any attention to the maneuverings in Texas of large cities seeking to secure water for their golf courses and water parks understands that we have a really big problem coming with water. It won't be solved by building pipelines from the Colorado River to San Antonio, and it will be a catastrophe for all the polity if control of water continues to fall into the hands of the grasping slime who have so much influence in this poor state. The problem affects most of the United States. Maude Barlow, a Canadian, writes
I remember attending a conference in Boise, Idaho, three years ago and hearing a lot of scientists get up and say, "Read my lips, this isn't a drought, this is permanent drying out." We are overpumping the Ogallala, Lake Powell and Lake Meade. The back up systems are now being depleted. This is by no means a drought ...

To read the whole interview with Barlow on AlterNet, click here. I lifted the link from, a leftist site with a lot of stuff to read, some of it to the point. We've built unsustainable cities in the South and Southwest, particularly Phoenix and Las Vegas, and we won't be able to sustain them through some magic of technology.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Should the gummint subsidize newspapers?

Journalism is a rare business in that its product—news—has a public-service function, but unlike other public-service activities, like public education or scientific research, it is not protected from market forces by government support. So when the financial viability of the news business is threatened, so too is the press’s role as the fourth estate. “I don’t think there’s any question, legally or constitutionally or theoretically, that journalism is a necessary public good for our constitutional system to work,” says Robert McChesney, a professor of communication at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the founder and president of Free Press, a media-reform organization. “That’s the very understanding of Jefferson and Madison, all the founders, from the beginning. This was not something optional.” As many journalists and scholars point out, it is no accident that the press is the only business explicitly protected by the Constitution.

Read the rest of the story here in the Columbia Journalism Review.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Bye bye, 'burbs

Sunday's NYTimes, in the Style section yet, had a piece on the untenability of suburbs. I'm sure millions of people read it, nodded sagely, and said to themselves, "Yeah, I can see this can't last." Not one in ten really believes that. Somehow, from somewhere, something will be invented that will allow them to continue to live as they have.
But the problem with suburbs, many environmentalists say, is not an issue of light bulbs. In the end, the very things that make suburban life attractive — the lush lawns, spacious houses and three-car garages — also disproportionally contribute to global warming. Suburban life, these environmentalists argue, is simply not sustainable.

Read it all here. Remember: there's less oil today than there was yesterday.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Welfare reform for ADM & Cargill

Matt Danko, writing on the American Thinker Web site on farm subsidies:
... 60 percent of real farmers receive no subsidies at all. This is due to industry lobbying for specific crops. The winners are corn, soybeans, wheat, cotton, and rice, of which many are processed into unhealthy foods for consumers and feed for livestock. These crops are grown primarily by corporate mega-farms. The losers, of course, are fruits and vegetables, which are often grown by smaller farms. The disproportionate rise in the price of fruits and vegetables versus that of fast food is a red flag suggesting that perhaps we're subsidizing the wrong crops.

Read entire piece here.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Sic, sic, sick

The mayor of Palacios, quoted in the Friday Vicad in a story about nuke plants, scored the coveted Double Doofus award for mistreating the language twice over in a short sentence or two. He was quoted as saying, “They have not made a mistake since they were incepted. I put my decedents’ futures in their hands.” So, one for the gnarly neologism 'incepted,' a real cringer, and another for 'decedents' when he meant -- I hope -- 'descendants.'

Friday, February 8, 2008

& a new on-line publication

In a move that corresponds with the trends mentioned in the post below, former Vicad farm-and-ranch reporter and ace journalist Marsha Moulder has moved her ag-mag efforts from a print publication to an on-line site. If agriculture is important to you, MM's Web site will tell you things you can use. If you don't care about ag but like Texas-flavored writing that's guaranteed to entertain, you need to read Robert Shuford's stories about cowboying. The site is

A little newspaper G&D

From a story on declining newspaper advertising and circulation, published in the NYTimes business pages:
The paradox is that more people than ever read newspapers, now that some major papers have several times as many readers online as in print. And papers sell more ads than ever, when online ads are included.
But for every dollar advertisers pay to reach a print reader, they pay about 5 cents, on average, to reach an Internet reader. Newspapers need to narrow that gap, but the rise in Internet revenue slowed sharply last year.

Easy enough to gloat about the decline and say that you get all your news from the Net, but how does that underwrite the costs of gathering news on a large scale? Read the whole sorry story here.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Reed on U.S. leadership

From his one-man think tank down in Jalisco, Fred Reed, eminent public intellectual and deep thinker, has some pithy comments on the country's leadership. In part:
An advantage of getting older, or at least an effect, is that you cease believing that adults know what they are doing. Finally you cease to believe that there are any adults. If I were sixteen, I might see Dick Cheney as a statesman who knew all sorts of things hidden from me. Daddy knows best. But I am of his age. He looks to be a puffed-up bureaucratic bully hiding behind an extensive array of character disorders. I think, “This wingnut is running a country, for God’s sake? I need a drink.”

Read all of ol' Fred here. We need more clear-thinking people like Reed.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Cops capped

The Cd. Juárez drug wars continue, bloodily. And of course the everyday rate of homicide is sky high in the border town. From the World's Worst Newspaper:
Two Juárez police officers were shot to death inside a car Tuesday morning, making it 10 homicides in the first five days of February, Juárez police said.
Tuesday's killings were at least the 53rd and 54th homicides of the year in what appears to be an increasingly violent drug war in Juárez. Last month, two police officials lost their lives in street ambushes, and one is still recovering at Thomason Hospital in El Paso from an attempt on his life.

Read it all here.

The guy in the American hospital is under heavy guard. He was a Wazoo police commander with -- get this -- dual citizenship. He was brought to the Thomason facility because of the hospital's good trauma department.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

National well-being

With both of the likely D candidates espousing some sort of reform in health insurance, and the presidency the Ds to lose [they could do that, too], we're likely to recapitulate the intellectual dishonesty of the last attempt to do something about the horrible American system of delivering medical care. Look to see Harry and Louise and their pestilential lies again. A writer on OurFuture, a woman with experience with both American and Canadian health-care practices, posts a long and cogent article on the pros and cons of the Canadian system, beginning with the canard that it's socialized medicine:
... In socialized medical systems, the doctors work directly for the state. In Canada (and many other countries with universal care), doctors run their own private practices, just like they do in the US. The only difference is that every doctor deals with one insurer, instead of 150. And that insurer is the provincial government, which is accountable to the legislature and the voters if the quality of coverage is allowed to slide.

The proper term for this is "single-payer insurance." In talking to Americans about it, the better phrase is "Medicare for all."

Read the whole thing here. Almost every weekend, someone is holding a benefit in my village to help raise money for someone in a medical crisis. I admire that people pitch in to help, but that wouldn't happen in any other First-World country, and it is to our great shame.

Monday, February 4, 2008

A pleasant evening

We spent Sunday evening in a quintessentially American activity. No, not watching the Super Bowl, but rather eating meatloaf, mashed potatoes, and green beans. Can't get more American than that. Our host carefully described it as supper, not dinner, a nice distinction. It was a great meal. A lot of the talk was of the odious Trans-Texas Corridor, which all seemed to regard, for various reasons, as a profoundly stupid idea. My biggest objection to the TTC is that it isn't expected to be completed for many decades. By the time it is done, I strongly believe that highway traffic as presently constituted will not exist -- no 18-wheelers moving Wal-Mart merchandise, no huge SUVs with one tiny little yuppie mother sitting at the wheel, no carloads of teens riding around for fun, no Houston sports in monster trucks pulling monster boats 200 miles to spend a day tearing from fishing hole to fishing hole. No monster boats, no monster trucks. There's not gonna be any miracle that will permit us to continue to live as we have -- no switchgrass, no tar sands, no corn ethanol [especially no corn ethanol], no Alaskan bonanza. We'll need fewer highways and more public transportation. Poor ol' Pendejo Rick Perry might genuinely have gained a legacy if he had pressed for a great public transportation system in Texas instead of pursuing this ill-advised project.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Winter's duration

The Pennsylvania groundhog has delivered his augury for the year, and it's more winter, according to an AP story in the NYTimes.
Brace yourself for more wintry weather. Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow Saturday, leading the groundhog to forecast six more weeks of winter.

Read it all here. Based on the fact that I saw some boy cardinals putting on the style for a girl bird, I'd venture that spring's damnear here. We have jasmine blooming on the front doorstep, and there are honeybees and butterflies feasting on the flowers. My friend who lives in Evilopolis is down and says he may take his boat out for a jaunt this afternoon and do I want to come? Yes, I believe I do ... a fine day for it and no political coverage out there in the bay. A little later: Or not ... looks like a good afternoon for a nap.

Friday, February 1, 2008

A little G&D

One Michael Klare, writing on, has some cogent reflections on the tangled web of cheap energy and funky mortgages that is even now falling apart to the great distress of the American economy. We may never be the same again.
The economic bubble that lifted the stock market to dizzying heights was sustained as much by cheap oil as by cheap (often fraudulent) mortgages. Likewise, the collapse of the bubble was caused as much by costly (often imported) oil as by record defaults on those improvident mortgages. Oil, in fact, has played a critical, if little commented upon, role in America's current economic enfeeblement -- and it will continue to drain the economy of wealth and vigor for years to come.

Read it all here. This guy makes more or less the same points as Jim Kunstler about how things cannot continue as they are but without the glee that sometimes mars Kunstler's posts on the doom of the suburban pattern of living in this country.