Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Joke just came in ...

One line summary of Obama's speech yesterday: "I did not have pastoral relations with that man."

Tuesday, April 29, 2008


It's the 29th of the month and, thus, the day that restaurants in Buenos Aires have gnocchi on the menu, though the word is often spelled in the Spanish manner, ñoquis. The population of BsAs is more than half of Italian descent, and the great food reflects it. Gnocchi are a kind of potato dumpling, in texture very like pasta and served with pasta sauce. They're right tasty. The 29th of the month is a day or two from payday when people are likely to be running a little short; the tradition of serving gnocchi on the 29th came from that. If you have ñoquis on the 29th, you are obliged to leave a few small coins under the plate to show you aren't broke and improvident, but simply like the dish. It's the custom.

Oh, noooooo, Barack

Just saw a clip from Obama's repudiation of his pastor. The candidate said that Wright "married Michelle and I." No, Barack, please not this kind of pronoun blunder ... that could cost you my vote.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Health insurance

From, a liberal Web site that I find sympathetic about half the time, a piece on single-payer health care, written by Amy Goodman for King Features:
As the media coverage of the Democratic presidential race continues to focus on lapel pins and pastors, America is ailing. As I travel around the country, I find people are angry and motivated. Like Dr. Rocky White, a physician from a conservative, evangelical background who practices in rural Alamosa, Colo. A tall, gray-haired Westerner in black jeans, a crisp white shirt and a bolo tie, Dr. White is a leading advocate for single-payer health care. He wasn't always.

Read it all here. When even doctors are plumping for single-payer insurance, you have to hope that it's finally arrived as a genuine possibility. It's a testimonial to the power of the insurance corps and big pharma that we are the only major industrial nation without a national health insurance.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Little things I've liked lately [in a horrified way]

A writer complaining in the World's Worst Newspaper about 'eye sours' in El Paso. That's actually poetic, though I'm not certain it's what the writer was reaching for.
Late addition, from a border Web site: "... you were faberglasted by this statement ..."
A decedent in the Vicad obits described as a 'jack of all traits.'
Another decedent in the same place whose survivors included 'his fiancée of 17 years.' Talk about long engagements ...
And a poster on a Cali board mentioning 'selfasteam,' just so, all one word. No doubt written by a product of California public schools, which concern themselves much with self-esteem and little with literacy.
Fellow Romans, the barbarians overwhelm us. If you don't believe it, just flick down the channels on your TV, sound off, and seriously consider the images you see on that screen.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

More fauna

These evil-looking birds are all over the place down here. Someone killed a pig and threw the guts and head and skin into the bay by the public boat launch. Needless to say, the scavengers showed up in a hurry. Between the vultures and other carrion-eaters, the pile of death disappeared pretty quick. The delicious aroma drove the pup nuts.

And this little rascal is perched on the outside of the windowpane by the computer. There've been a lot of frogs around lately, but we really need a big rain to have them all singing, make the night vibrate. Also, I'd like to avoid watering this soon in the warm season.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Newspaper G&D ... carnage continues

From the Pegasus news blog up in the Metroplex, word of layoffs at the Fort Worth Startlegram, a good paper:
FORT WORTH — If you hear screaming from the West, it's probably because a round of surprise layoffs is currently underway at the Fort Worth Star Telegram; 15 employees were called into Human Resources on Thursday morning to be let go.

Read it all here. The Startlegram is owned by McClatchy, a California-based outfit. During the Depression, my mother read proof for Miz McClatchy at the Fresno Bee. The day I was born, Honey Corsier, an old Linotype operator at the Bee, died. Maybe I got to be Honey in his next incarnation.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Earth Day

A worldwide polling outfit finds some interesting data about peak oil in public opinion. In part:
In the United States, the world's biggest oil consumer and among the biggest emitters of climate-warming pollution from fossil fuel use, 76 percent of respondents said oil is running out, but most believed the U.S. government mistakenly assumes there would be enough to keep oil a main source of fuel.

The whole thing here. Far as I can see, nobody in gummint is getting too excited about promoting mass transit, or high-speed rail, or anything but the amazing delusion that somehow a technological marvel or ecological outrage is gonna save our SUVs and far-flung 'burbs. Ol' Rick persists in the madness of the superhighway through the state with no apparent consideration of what will be rolling on it and no thought for land removed from agricultural production, entirely another concern. Anybody read about food riots in foreign lands?

Monday, April 21, 2008

Patriotic holiday

It's San Jacinto Day, Texians. Celebrate the triumph of the republic over Santa Anna, an event that has led to many things. Would you rather be a province of Mexico? We'd be gathering in Grayson County, hoping to get across the Red River to the prosperity of Oklahoma.

Adrift ... no, really adrift

Reports in the news about Haitians lost in the seas off Florida. One of my favorite paintings is on that theme.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

**Adrift fauna

Week ago Sunday we had an flotilla of jellyfish, something we only see occasionally in any numbers. They're kinda cool. Yesterday, our neighbors saw dolphins off the seawall, but we missed them. Maybe next time.

**Adrift flora

We have amaryllis [bottom pic] in the front yard that just sits around 50 weeks of the year being green, but then for a couple weeks in the spring it busts out all over in red and white glory. Some of the other flowers last longer, but nothing works as hard when it is working.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Craig's List-Victoria & the world

I'm a CL fan, regularly looking in on San Diego, San Francisco, and Austin, and sometimes peeking at other cities, including Phoenix, Mexico City, San Antonio, El Paso, &c. Rants and Raves is always an illuminating insight into the subjects that concern other places. The free for-sale ads have devastated newspaper class-ad sections around the country. Now Victoria has its own CL site. RnR seems like a natural home for some of the obsessed wackawacks who spend their days on the Vicad discussion boards, but perhaps the locals will prefer the familiar local site. A link from the Newspaper Death Watch Web site to blogger Roy Greenslade on the Guardian in the UK finds Greenslade writing:
The web empire that has wrecked newspaper business models across the world, Craigslist, has just got bigger. Its founder, Craig Newmark, quietly announced two days ago on his blog: "Well, we just added what looks like 120 new cities, bringing it to 570, I think. (gotta confirm) This includes Ramallah." I love those trademark Newmark touches - gotta confirm... choosing to mention Ramallah.

One of Greenslade's commenters touches the crux of the problem that Craig's List presents to papers, writing, in part:
... The number of people willing to pay the historically high rates for classified advertising of all kinds (cars jobs, property and general sales) is now vastly diminished. Online ads of this kind are either very much cheaper than their print cousins if not free already - and if they're not free yet, they soon will be - say five years.
But the really scary aspect of Craigslist is that the owners don't want to cash in. It employs very few staff and the founders are happy making quite modest returns - which means that traditional media businesses have no idea what to do against them.

Read the whole thing here.
{Parenthetically, one thing about CL that's likely to anger Victorians is a policy of not allowing gun sales on the listings. Sorry, folks, site's out of NoCal, and they don't believe in guns there in the People's Republic.}

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Feral lives

The women from the schismatic polygamous Mormon sect in West Texas have been much on TV this week. They all look like 1938 pictures of our ancestresses -- the hairdos, the dresses. Though they don't have much experience of television, they are pretty effective when they are on camera; mothers bereft of their children, even flaky mothers, resonate with most of us. The adults seem well indoctrinated into life in their peculiar beliefs. One of the early Catholic theologians said something like 'Give me a child until he is five and I'll have him for life.' [That's an approximation from memory.] I suspect there's something similar at work here. We have an old cat who freeloads off our food but is completely unapproachable. I believe he's of the feline lineage that lives in cane patches and bayou bottoms around here, cats that come out and play in the sun but disappear into the underbrush when you get close, unwilling to engage with people. I think these poor people from Eldorado are kind of like feral cats, in that they will never fit smoothly into the larger world after growing up with that odd-wad society of cultivated alienation from the world.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Another reason to move to Uruguay

Joanne Jacobs, who runs a useful blog on education, posts about an incident in a Denver suburb, an incident where a guy came in and tore up the store where his girlfriend worked.
[Joseph Manzanares’s] girlfriend told police that they had been arguing about the upbringing of their son and which gang he should belong to. The teen mother, who is black, told authorities she is a member of the Crips, police said. Manzanares is Hispanic and belongs to the Westside Ballers gang, the woman told police.

These are teenagers with this little disagreement about family traditions. Read the whole story here. Jacobs also mentions a school administrator who tells her that sometimes kindergartens are asked not to seat together children who claim different gangs. Get that ... kindergarten!
I covered a trial once where a video of a kid's fifth birthday party was entered into evidence. The birthday cake was decorated with a representation of a 1911 Colt pistol, the emblem of the Hermandad de Pistoleros Latinos. The kid's father was an HPL member.

Monday, April 14, 2008

News gone away

Speaking of a loss of coverage of real news as the Internet keeps crowding print ... a guy who sends me stuff sends me this from an AP story:
As people turn increasingly to the Internet for their news, there is concern whether they are learning enough about what goes on in their communities.

There's a think-tank commission looking into it all -- not that there's much to be done about it -- and you can read all about it here.
There's this bogus 'citizen journalism' thing afoot in the land, an idea that people out there will just gather and disseminate the news as it happens. Publishers love it because it costs little or nothing, but a writing staff that works for beer money or the ego satisfaction of a byline or from ideological impetus is not one I want to rely on for my info about what happened at the city council meeting. Writers are notoriously considered as an annoying expense at most publications. Y'all are gonna miss reporters when they're all gone and the paper is nothing but itty-bitty pie charts and reader-submitted pix of the pup or the grandkids. I read somewhere that three out of five stories in the British press are from press releases. Do you want the subjects of stories being the ones to tell you what the story is?

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Bloodied newsrooms elsewhere

From The Guardian of the UK:
Staff at Le Monde, France's newspaper of record, will go on strike on Monday to protest against savage job cutting plans, threatening publication of the paper for only the second time in its 64-year history.

Read the whole story here. There is glee afoot in many circles over the idea that the newspapers are going extinct. If it really happens, we will all suffer. No matter how self-satisfied the blog world might be, it is newspapers that are equipped to gather and synthesize the information about complicated stories and to sustain bureaus in distant places. Bloggers are not going to do that in any constant and consistent way. It is sad.


Herself went with the Garden Goddess to put a load of brush at a place out in the country. She says she enjoys riding around out there because it reminds her of being a girl on the ranch, riding a pickup across a pasture. She came back with six dewberries, or at least got home with six, which she put ceremoniously by my mouse when she got in. It's a good omen for the year ... hope there are millions more out there. Dewberry cobbler is another pleasant little event in the annual calendar. We have a couple of volunteer dewberry bushes out in the back yard, under the bird feeder. I take it that the birds deposited seeds there in the course of hitting our buffet. Some reward for running the avian foodbank out back.

Saturday, April 12, 2008


While we fret over oil, another liquid is even more precious to life and is likewise running low. That would be water, of course, and the lack of it will be felt more and more as America pursues growth in places that shouldn't be growing -- Las Vegas, Phoenix, Albuquerque, El Paso, Los Angeles, Denver, like that. An economist named David Zetland has a blog,, that is devoted to the topic. In general, I feel that economists are one of the plagues of modern life, but there's a lot of fascinating stuff on this site. [Guy should have married an English major, so his posts would get vetted for usage and spelling before they go up.] Watch for San Antonio to grab up Guadalupe River water to put on the golf courses and lawns.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Debacle watch

The coastal housing crashes are a source of some fascination to me, likely because we're not suffering here, and train wrecks involving other people are a lot more interesting. The San Diego Craig's List has a band of people who post about losses in house value and a band of people who flag the posts for removal, not wishing to talk about the true and obvious. I found this site by accident. It's SoCal based and rather interesting. There are a lot of houses that have been on the market a long time here in **Adrift.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Immigration costs

One Eunice Moscoso, on an Austin American-Statesman blog, The Border Line, writes
Immigrants — both legal and illegal — cost every American taxpayer more than $9,000, according to a study released Tuesday
Read the rest here. The comments are likewise interesting, if generally predictable. The Girl's fiancé is a Travis County deputy sheriff. His patrol area is in the south part of the county -- Del Valle, Bergstrom, like that -- and illegal aliens pretty much assure his continued employment.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Oil up

A little bit ago, we were all exercised about oil at $100/bbl. That's so last week.
April 9 (Bloomberg) -- Oil rose more than $2 a barrel, after touching a record $112.21, and gasoline jumped to the highest ever following an unexpected decline in U.S. crude supplies.

Story says gasoline prices are following the crude-oil price on up. Read the whole story here. Makes you think twice about a trip to town, dunnit? You just don't want to spend six or eight bucks to pick up a half gallon of milk.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008


A headline in today's paper: 'Earthquake chatters Karnes County'
I could see 'shatters' if it did a lot of harm or 'rattles' if it just shook things around but ... chatters? Come on. Is chatters a transitive verb? Teeth chatter, loquacious types chatter, but neither takes an object. Just being picky again ... you might say I'm niggling this.

Monday, April 7, 2008

They don't need no stinking warrants

The Mexican president has recently sent thousands of Mexican federal police and soldiers to Cd. Juárez to contest with narcos for control of the city. Apparently, the govt guys decided to deal a little misery to an PRD opponent of the current regime. Lady activists are easier arrests than dopers with full-automatic weapons.
Cipriana Jurado, a prominent Ciudad Juarez women’s rights activist, is now free after posting a $700 bond. The director of the Worker Research and Solidarity Center, Jurado was arrested by Mexican federal police outside her home on Wednesday, April 2. The veteran activist was charged with blocking a public roadway during an October 2005 protest sponsored by the binational Southwest Network for Environmental and Economic Justice and other organizations at one of the international bridges that link Ciudad Juarez with El Paso, Texas.

The story comes from a Website, Newspaper Tree, a dandy source of border news. Blocking bridges is a favorite tactic along the border, as it really gets attention in a hurry.

W takes the lead for dead last

W is now in contention for historians' ultimate disesteem as worst American president. His only competition is Buchanan. A nobly named writer on Andrew Sullivan’s blog for The Atlantic writes:
A Pew Research Center poll of 109 leading historians found that 61 percent of them rank Bush as “worst ever” among U.S. presidents.

Read the rest of the short post here. Scroll down a bit for the April 6 post and on your way stop and read 'The Guilty Men' post on torture memo. We didn't used to do this sort of thing, we Americans, or at least we used to feel shame if we did them. We are now officially shameless.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Of matters canine

The Girl is visiting this weekend and comes accompanied by her wee dog, Oscar. You can guess Oscar's ethnicity if you think Oscar Mayer. Oscar and our pup are both learning canine manners, a crucial element to having coöperative dogs. It's just like making a kid say 'please' and 'thank you,' a matter of repetition until the habit is acquired. The house echoes with Good dog, good boy, good girl, sit, stay, bed, heel , all delivered in that cooing singsong that people use with dogs. They are good dogs, though a little giddy. After all, they're just kids.

In a serendipitous coincidence, a friend sends along one of those things that people send along:

To be posted VERY LOW on the refrigerator door - pet nose height.
Dear Dogs and Cats:

The dishes with the paw prints are yours and contain your food. The other dishes are mine and contain my food. Please note, placing a paw print in the middle of my plate and food does not stake a claim for it becoming your food and dish, nor do I find that aesthetically pleasing in the slightest.

The stairway was not designed by NASCAR and is not a racetrack. Beating me to the bottom is not the object. Tripping me doesn't help because I fall faster than you can run.

I cannot buy anything bigger than a king sized bed. I am very sorry about this. Do not think I will continue sleeping on the couch to ensure your comfort. Dogs and cats can actually curl up in a ball when they sleep. It is not necessary to sleep perpendicular to each other stretched out to the fullest extent possible. I also know that sticking tails straight out and having tongues hanging out the other end to maximize space is nothing but sarcasm.

For the last time, there is no secret exit from the bathroom. If by some miracle I beat you there and manage to get the door shut, it is not necessary to claw, whine, meow, try to turn the knob or get your paw under the edge and try to pull the door open. I must exit through the same door I entered. Also, I have been using the bathroom for years --canine or feline attendance is not required.

The proper order is kiss me, then go smell the other dog or cat's butt. I cannot stress this enough!

To pacify you, my dear pets, I have posted the following message on our front door:
To All Non-Pet Owners Who Visit & Like to Complain About Our Pets:
1. They live here. You don't.
2. If you don't want their hair on your clothes, stay off the furniture. That's why they call it "fur"niture.
3. I like my pets a lot better than I like most people.
4. To you, they are an animal. To me, he/she is an adopted son/daughter who is short, hairy, walks on all fours and doesn't speak clearly.

Remember: Dogs and cats are better than kids because they:
1. Eat less
2. Don't ask for money all the time
3 Are easier to train
4. Normally come when called
5. Never ask to drive the car
6. Don't hang out with drug-using friends
7. Don't smoke or drink
8. Don't have to buy the latest fashions
9. Don't want to wear your clothes
10. Don't need a gazillion dollars for college, and..
11. If they get pregnant, you can sell their children!!!!&

Thursday, April 3, 2008

More newspaper G&D

The downward spiral of the newspaper business just seems to swirl ever faster. Here in **Adrift, we've apparently lost any chance to buy any major metro paper. A Monday inquiry for the NYT at a Victoria Starbucks seems to indicate that that experiment is gone. Barista there told my wife they didn't get the paper. I don't know if the Times is still available in Rockport, but with gas at $3+/gal we won't be making that run for a paper. A March 17 posting on read:
A study released Monday by the Project for Excellence in Journalism raises concerns the bottom is about to drop out for the industry. The media research specialist says in its annual State of the News Media report that already ill newspapers got sicker in 2007 with no hope for a cure in 2008.

Read it all here ... or spare yourself. Papers all over the country are laying off and buying out. A simple-minded segment of America believes that blogs are a real replacement for papers, but most blogs just glean copy from newspapers and synthesize it and link to it. If there are no papers to kite from, there won't be anything to post.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

In the midst of life ...

Walking around my village, you will see constant reminders of the great cycle of things. Herself caught this reminder a week or past.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

What's wrong with this picture?

On page B-6 of today's Vicad is an in-house ad I found unsettling on first glance. I couldn't immediately snap to the reason for my unease ... it's a just a couple dozen words with a generic picture -- two businesslike hands, suit-coat sleeves, crisp dress shirts -- doing a we-have-a-deal clasp. I finally figured it out. Those are left hands in the firm and businesslike grip. I don't know if there's a subtext there, an allusion to sinister times.

Reign, reign, go away

In the last few years writers in the popular prints have lost the distinction between 'rein' and 'reign.' Something to do, I suspect, with never having read anything much and writing by ear instead of eye, an artifact of the new culture. A recent story in the NYT has someone reigning in something, I forget what. When the ignoramusosity slides past the hotdog copy editors at the Times, the disease may be beyond cure. A reign is the administration of a king. You can see the king word in there, like a rey. 'During the reign of King George, the American people were ill used.' A rein is the lines that control the movement of a horse. When you rein the beast in, you stop it. [In Spanish you can dar rienda suelta to give free rein, and freno, the word for a bridle bit is also the word for a brake. Anyhow, nothing to do with kings in either language.] We know too well that a word misused long enough becomes accepted usage. Or, maybe younger writers are simply totally ignorant of horse words.