Saturday, May 31, 2008


I consider economists one of the ugly plagues on modern society, people who reduce every human exchange to the bucks. It's a great pity that they evoke so much deference when they start their chart twirling and patronizing reductions. I'm tickled to find a conservative site that sums up a lot of my objections.
The economists’ most basic problem is anthropological, in the philosophical sense of that word—the “logos” (reasoned principle or nature) of “anthropos” (man). A number of erroneous claims about human nature are accepted with more or less enthusiasm by almost all professional economists. These bad ideas both limit and distort their vision.

You can read the entire essay here.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Whom comes up with this stuff?

A certain daily newspaper published in the largest city in Victoria County has a help-wanted ad on a journalism job site, to-wit:
The Victoria Advocate is holding auditions for a talented digital designer to join our motivated team. This person will work along with the companies cool people to help design professional looking online solutions for Victoria Publishing Co.

Emphasis mine there on 'companies.' The author thereof was apparently stabbing at 'company's' and hit 'companies.' They sound the same, so clearly either spelling serves. I actually expect no better than than from the poor ol' Vicad.
Another oddment of verbal malpractice that's been showing up lately and galling me is the way people use 'whom' on postings.
A couple I've randomly copied lately included, "There is not one single topix thread that is not full of bashings. This is the new entertainment for idle hands, the housebound, the jobless, those whom are retired ..." and “I have noticed people here in El Paso whom post on CL ...” Must be some groundswell to simplify by abolishing the word 'who,' which is what you want for a subject in a clause.


Scott McClellan, former press sec to the Frat Boy in Chief, has written a book telling us he is feeling ill used by the administration and aggrieved about all those lies he was duped into feeding the public. Little Scotty, apparently, was driven by nothing more than the wish to be of public service ... he was shocked to learn that the driving force of the administration as personified by Karl Rove [may the porky puddle of puke do time] was to maintain political advantage at all costs. Also, that W came into office thinking a war with Iraq would be a good thing for him to do. A bright relative of mine who worries more over politics than do I insists that W came into office with two aims -- invade Iraq and remove every tax possible on the very rich. By his lights, he has had complete success, which may account for the fact that he seems often baffled by the outcomes of his actions and the general consensus that he is the worst president of American history.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

More Kunstler G&D

James Kunstler, one of our foremost purveyors of gloom and doom on the energy front, has an op-ed in Sunday's WaPo:
As the world passes the all-time oil production high and watches as the price of a barrel of oil busts another record, as it did last week, these systems will run into trouble. Instability in one sector will bleed into another. Shocks to the oil markets will hurt trucking, which will slow commerce and food distribution, manufacturing and the tourist industry in a chain of cascading effects. Problems in finance will squeeze any enterprise that requires capital, including oil exploration and production, as well as government spending. These systems are all interrelated. They all face a crisis. ...

I just watched a piece on the News Hour about all those Chinese moving up to cars. They're gonna be requiring fuel for those cars, and they will buy it in competition with us. Someday, we'll look back to four-buck gasoline with nostalgic yearning. Read all Kunstler's piece here. NB: There are twice too many people in the world.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Outdoor fauna indoors

Once upon a midnight dreary while I pondered weak and weary over many a quaint and curious Becker rerun, I caught a little flash of movement out of the corner of my eye. I assumed it was one of those monster outdoor flying cockroaches that everyone insists on calling waterbugs or something. Those are roaches and I know it and you know it but don't want to admit you have roaches that big. Anyhow, investigation revealed that it was a wee green frog sitting on a TV cable where he'd landed. He was just as long as the last joint of my thumb, about an inch. When he blasted off from the cable, he easy leapt two and a half or three feet. I really like the minor beasties around here. Wish the damn cats didn't murder them so gleefully.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Memorial Day weekend

Our little fishing village in the South of Texas was filled with people from afar this three-day weekend. On Friday there must have been 30 or 35 trucks and boat trailers parked down at the boat launch. Lady at the grocery store said one of the people there had stood out front and counted 11 rigs headed for Port O'C in a short time. He got tired and quit counting. I guess you could've walked across the bay on the boats. Today it got so windy that there were only about a dozen trailers parked. You can tell the Evilopolitans when they come by ... if you wave they snap their heads around to break the eye contact. Everyone in the village waves to all passersby, but for the denizens of Evilopolis exchanges with others are apparently an invitation to undesirable things -- time-wasting pleasantries that generate no profit, the possibility of defilement by contact with lower castes, something like that.
Gave a moment of thought to my heroic hillbilly forebears, who fought the hard campaign in the middle colonies during our revolt against the mother country. Battles such as Eutaw Springs and Cow Pens and King's Mountain don't get the glory accorded battles farther north, but they were crucial in the revolution.
For a couple dozen Juarenses it turned out to be a bad weekend:
At least 25 people -- including two police officers -- were found dead during the weekend in Juárez, after an e-mail warning people that this weekend would be the "bloodiest and deadliest" surfaced.

Get the details on the carnage in the world's worst newspaper. Poor Juárez.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

G&D for NM

As a kid, I lived through the drought of the 1950s in West Texas and New Mexico. I can remember the day going dark as night when dust storms blew in. You couldn't see across the street. Agriculture suffered terribly. The fine dust would sneak in through tiny cracks and settle on window sills or along the wall. From the World's Worst Newspaper, a story about portents of a rerun:
Environmental experts predict catastrophic drought conditions for Texas and warmer temperatures in New Mexico unless something drastic is done to slow climate change.
"In Texas, we're talking about a dust bowl that will be 20 times more intense and widespread than the one we had (in the United States) in the 1930s," said Jere Locke, outreach coordinator for Environment Texas, an advocacy organization in Austin.

Read the whole thing here. Of course, we can season our understanding of this with the well-known grain of salt, but still ...

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Cruisin' up the river

Herself took a three-hour cruise last Sunday. They ran up the Guadalupe for a few miles, up into that place where it looks like something from a '50s flick about the African upcountry. She caught a pic of this big lizard, lying by the bank, just like in the movie, maybe waiting for a careless gazelle. Walking the dog day before yesterday, I saw a gator's head, perhaps 14 or 15 inches long, floating by the seawall by the public boat launch.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Happy birthday to binomial nomenclature

According to The Writer's Almanac [and why would they lie to me?], today was the birthday of Carolus -- or Carl in his native Swedish -- Linnaeus. He's the guy who concocted the scientific system of naming things -- two names, a genus and a species name, and sometimes a subspecies tag on it. Like Homo sapiens for humans. We're the only current member of the genus Homo, and the sapiens part means something like 'knowing.' The system saves the confusion that arises from local names for plants and animals. A Crotalus atrox here is a Crotalus atrox there. I had a wonderful biology teacher in high school, took two years of it and learned many things that are still with me. He's the first person I ever heard use the word 'ecology.' I am indebted to him these many years later.

There will be blood

A bizarre and telling story in the World's Worst Newspaper about ever gorier developments in the war for control of drug traffic in Cd. Juárez.
As the death count in Juárez mounts, residents on both sides of the border now are wondering how seriously they should take an e-mail warning predicting that this weekend will be the "bloodiest and deadliest" in the city's history.

Poor Juárez ... it's such a hopeful place in some ways. People from all over the republic go there for the opportunities, but it's hopelessly messed up and corrupt. Read the whole story here.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

‘Top 5 Lame Things Lame Bosses Do to Increase Readership’

That's the headline on a fascinating post on TellZell, a site started by insurgent LA Times people. The LAT is part of Tribune Corp., which was bought by a non-newspaper guy named Sam Zell. The five lame things included Redesign, Community Journalism, News You Can Use, Local local, local, and The Utes! [That means the 18-y-o and slightly older crowd, people who couldn't read if they wanted to and who don't want to.]
Perhaps the saddest spectacle of all. This occurs when a group of paunchy, fiftyish news executives gets together and realizes that the kids are not reading. Thereupon follows some embarrassing effort to appeal to the 18-25 demo: a free tabloid (Pink Eye!), boosted coverage of Hannah Montana, the use of rock/pop/rave/hip hop terms in copy, i.e., “City councilmembers kicked it old school Thursday night, approving $18 million in bonds for educational facility improvements.’’

Look at the blog site here. Any of those lame dodges sounds like any paper you know?

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

More awl

It hit $133/bbl today, and I think edged up a bit more on after-hours trading. We went in to town today about 10:30 and gas was up a dime when we came back through Bloomington about 1:30. [Just noticed today that on the TxDOT sign in Bloomington indicating distances, both Port O'Connor and Seadrift are misspelled. Is that a Bloomington thing?] Back in the '80 election, we heard a lot about something called the Misery Index, the inflation rate added to the unemployment rate. It was around 20 when Carter was crushed in the election. Using Phillips's estimates from the previous post, the Misery Index now lies somewhere between 16 and 22. Hmmmmmmm ...

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

You know they're lying, I know they're lying, they know they're lying

Guy who sends me stuff sends me an interesting link on the pitfalls and snares awaiting us a few steps up the road. Been feeling a little irked about the gov’s stats on unemployment and inflation? [I see oil hit $129/bbl this morning.] Well, you’re right ... the bastards are lying to us. Paul Farrell, writing on MarketWatch about a new book by Kevin Phillips on the manipulations way up the economic food chain:
How bad is it? "The real numbers ... would be a face full of cold water," says Phillips. "Based on the criteria in place a quarter century ago, today's U.S. unemployment rate is somewhere between 9% and 12%; the inflation rate is as high as 7% or even 10%; economics growth since the recession of 2001 has been mediocre, despite the surge in wealth and incomes of the superrich, and we are falling back into recession."

Farrell concludes
Phillips warned us that "most great nations, at the peak of their economic power, become arrogant and wage great world wars at great cost, wasting vast resources, taking on huge debt, and ultimately burning themselves out." Slowly, fade to black ....

For the entire Farrell column, go here.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Speed traps ... or maybe 'Poor Refugio'

A Web site that catalogs speed traps has this comment on the seat of our neighboring county:
Being passed by local traffic but with an out of state tag they got me. This is a dying little town who needs the money and they can not get it local. I looked at the front tires on the police car and they were worn out, would not pass inspection in any state. So just follow the locals and donate your money to this town.

To see the site, click here.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Enough already

I speak only for myself, but I'm puking tired of politics, and we're not even through the primary season yet. Hillary, with her sense of entitlement, drives me nuts, and nutser yet when she pretends to be anything but an upper-middle class girl who's managed to accumulate a hundred mil and a raft of power, all on the basis of being willing to put up with Bill. A shot-and-a-beer chick she's not and never has been. I'm annoyed that the press has piled on Obama for calling some reporter 'Sweetie.' If that's the greatest offense we can find against him -- and I'm pretty sure it's not even close -- then maybe he should be president. This stink is in a class with the great flag-pin fuss. Any moron can put a pin in the lapel of his coat ... it doesn't necessarily indicate patriotism on the part of the wearer. It could be the evidence of a nice, honest, simple patriotism, but I think mostly on politicians it's opportunistic pandering. I admired him for not wearing one and am sorry that he's started. I'm not cheering for Obama, just booing the press. It's a long way to the general elections in November, and we still have to make it through the Olympics this summer.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Beasts of the field

We stopped by the little Catholic cemetery in Yeso, N.M., just to see what was there and because we like cemeteries. The onlooking cows obviously expected us to come up with some cake or hay or something and stood by the fenceline looking expectant for the whole time we were there.
We saw lots of animals, mostly wild, along the way -- pronghorn antelope in N.M. and in the Panhandle, north of Dumas, a big tom turkey on the road to Lake Maloya outside Raton, coveys of quail in several cemeteries, cottontails and black-tail jackrabbits, and deer in several places. Up in the New Mexico mountains, a pair of deer stood quiet for a time and then took off, one lightly hopping over a fence and the other dropping to her knees and slipping under the fence. Stopped right before cresting the hill for one last look back.
I grew up in a county with fewer than one person per square mile, which meets the old definition of frontier land. It has fewer yet today as almost all the young people leave the minute they finish school. If you don't inherit agricultural land or a business, there's little opportunity in a place like that, a pity as there are some advantages to life lived in small, isolated places.

Thursday, May 15, 2008


Gas prices continue to be a big story, with every day bringing dreary interviews with people at the pump complaining and saying we gotta do this or that to ameliorate the misery of $40 fill-ups. Some are convinced that the solution is to drill up every place left in the country. Guy who sends me stuff sends me a link to a good Web site on oil, run by a person who actually knows something about oil.
Q: I think the U.S. should produce more oil, such as from ANWAR and elsewhere so that we can achieve energy independence and not import oil from the Middle East. How do you think we should go about this?
A: Sorry to say this, but I think the idea of "energy independence" for the United States is a completely fictional concept, at least in terms of petroleum independence. We currently (2007) import around 63% of our requirements — and we do not do that because there is a bazillion barrels of oil hidden somewhere in the US just waiting to be produced. The US is probably the most thoroughly explored large nation on Earth, and all the ANWRs and other possibles out there are tiny drops in the bucket of our gas-guzzling habits. ...

The site is here. It's worth nosing around on. The current shortage may be driven to some extent by speculation, but the fact is that we have less oil today than we did yesterday. The proposed gasoline-tax holiday is as bogus as as the corn ethanol dodge.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Second best view of Lubbock

The best view, of course, is in the rear-view mirror, as the song has it.

Monday, May 12, 2008


We came east out of Raton, through Folsom, N.M., site of the Folsom Man find, and on to Kenton, Okla., in the Oklahoma Panhandle. The drive took us way up for altitude and showed this fine prospect across to snow-covered mountains far to the west.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

... on the lone praireeee

We ended up looking at four or five cemeteries along the way. This one is outside of Yeso, N.M., where my friend's family homesteaded almost a century past. They still bury out there some. He maintains it is the very definition of the lone prairie mentioned in the song. New Mexico space and sky are the best.

Cost of wandering

We got home yesterday from the Great Road Trip. Went up through San Antonio for Ky Derby day, on up by way of Lubbock to Fort Sumner, where I visited one of my oldest and dearest, thence to Trinidad, Colo., to see wife's WWII-vintage uncle. We came back across the Okie Panhandle and Amarillo, Abilene, and like that. The cost of gasoline was $277. Makes one take pause before proposing one of those jaunts that run twelve or fourteen hundred miles.

Mexichaos continues

The news from south of the border this week included the murders of two top federal police officials, including the commandant of the federal police force. Think of it as offing the director of the FBI, though that's not a precise analogy. Still ...
And from the World's Worst Newspaper, more of carnage on the border:
A gunbattle on the Avenida Juárez tourist strip left two men dead and wounded five others, including three bicycle police officers, as part of a resurgence of violence in Juárez.

Avenida Juarez is the continuation of the street that crosses the big downtown bridge. People used to duck over the old, low bridge for lunch, but the new one and the hassles of getting through customs have long since ended that pleasant custom. Read all here. And, I saw somewhere that Chapo Guzman's son had been shot to ribbons in Culiacán, big doper city in Sinaloa, in the northwest of Mexico. Chapo's one of the biggest of the big-dog dope dealers in the republic.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

We're in Lubbock ...

& it's easy to see why so many people have striven so diligently to get out of Lubbock. Nebraska seems like a state-sized Lubbock, a place that is so terrible that intelligent and imaginative people spend their early years plotting strategies to escape. Just ate what herself characterized as one of the ten worst meals of a lifetime. Tomorrow: onward to NM and glad of it.

Friday, May 2, 2008


We're off in a few minutes for a religious pilgrimage to Retama racetrack for observance of the Kentucky Derby. I'm kinda liking Pyro, a horse Jerry Bailey is high on, but we'll have to examine the sacred texts of the Racing Form before I get committed to a bet. It's an always entertaining day, though I seldom get the winner, maybe twice in 20 years. Sunday we're off for the north and west, to see an old and dear in eastern New Mexico and then onward to Trinidad, Colo., to visit with my wife's Uncle Charles, a rancher and writer. An old Aggie, Charles was captured by the Germans in Italy during WWII. He has some stories to write. We'll come back home through some alleged scenic country in the Okie Panhandle. Given the price of gasoline, it's hard to see a lot of road trips in our future. And lodging has got dear, even though we did get a Radisson in Lubbock for $45 on Priceline. My economical coup for the trip. Plus, we're too old to enjoy long drives these days. No more tucking a six pack under the legs on the floorboards and taking off for 700-mile days of driving. Actually, I guess that's been gone for quite some time ...

Thursday, May 1, 2008

The end is near ...

James Howard Kunstler, a blogger I enjoy reading, was on the Colbert Report tonight to shill for his latest book, A World Made by Hand, a dystopian story of life after the oil runs out. I haven't read it, but it is published by Atlantic Monthly Books, and that has to be a respectable house. He didn't do so well with Colbert, but not many do unless Colbert gives them a pass. Kunstler is deadly earnest, always a disadvantage with Stephen, and perhaps essentially humorless excepting sarcasm, and he's gracelessly gleeful at the prospect of the indignities that await us after the oil is gone. It's not, though, that I think he's wrong in his conviction that our current way of life is unsustainable in a world without cheap energy. There won't be any magical formula to make the 50s and 20¢ gasoline come back, and we will have to do some things differently.


We walked down to the corner for lunch today [fried shrimp sandwiches ... right tasty]. On our way back, my wife pointed up to the sky just offshore. 'Look, frigate birds.' And so there were, two of them, just hanging up there like something from the age of dinosaurs. Our neighbor said that they blow in on strong south winds such as we've had lately. Last Sunday while I was doing my daily power amble, I spotted an osprey, the big fish hawk, between the harbor and The Hole. Herself saw the same bird the next morning. Ospreys are magnificent birds and always a buzz to spot. Last evening, a spoonbill cruising over the bay was a moving spot of shocking pink, unmistakable and arresting. Life in **Adrift has many interesting moments.