Monday, June 29, 2009

Have I sinned? How?

Got an e-mail yesterday that I was held suspect by an algorithm, one that had determined that I might be a spam blog. I'm damned if I understand what I did, and I requested a review that's supposed to eliminate the problem within two business days. When I go to post, I get this message:
This blog has been locked due to possible Blogger Terms of Service violations. You may not publish new posts until your blog is reviewed and unlocked.

This blog will be deleted within 20 days unless you request a review.

But it's letting me post, now isn't it? It does have one of those distorted-letter verifications at the bottom.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Just amazing

Michael Jackson dies and draws more ink than anything for weeks. Then, in short order, both Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton show up, no doubt drawn by the rustling of money and the clicking of camera shutters. Do you reckon those two preachers ever contemplate their own sins? I been hearing from Jesse Jackson since I went to Chicago, where he originated, in 1969. A lot of the black folks I knew there didn't think too much of Jesse and said the word in their neighborhoods was that he kinda liked the boys. I haven't heard any such stories since, and a quick little Google turns up nothing.

Friday, June 26, 2009

All the chile news I have on hand + a caution

A wonderful idea from the subcontinent … never mind grapeshot, just give them a whiff of habanero. "Indian defence scientists are planning to put one of the world's hottest chilli powders into hand grenades." All of that here on the BBC Web site.
Like Pecos cantaloupes and Lower Valley Ruby Red grapefruits, the green chiles from Hatch, NM, north of Las Cruces, are the benchmark for an agricultural product. The wicked effects of globalism are showing themselves in yet another way:
Economic globalization and trade liberalization have wrought profound changes in New Mexico’s chile pepper industry. Competition from imported Mexican, Chinese and other chiles contributed greatly to the reduction of harvested chile acreage in the Land of Enchantment from about 34,500 acres in 1992 to slightly more than 11,000 in 2008.

Read it all here on the Newspaper Tree site. Not only are Mexican and Chinese chiles nipping at the Hatch jewels, the Chinese imports are crowding the Mexican-grown poblanos. 'Friends don't let friends eat imported chiles.'
We did a lightning trip up to San Antonio today to visit the Edward Gorey exhibition at the McNay museum. A little more whimsy than I want all at once, but entertaining nonetheless. Returning home, we found the roads heavily patrolled and Herself The Lead-Footed caught a nine-miles-over ticket from a constable – a constable – in one of those inkydink ugly little towns along the way. Straitened municipalities are maybe making the budget everhow they can. Be wary!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Thanks, SC

Well, the state of South Carolina has certainly provided us with some amusement of late. Gov. Mark Sanford was supposedly off hiking on the Appalachian Trail, and then he wasn't; he was off in Buenos Aires instead. Tha's cool – Buenos Aires has many attractive things, including for Sanford a little trick. Remember Fanne Foxe, the Argentine Firecracker, who put pore ol Wilbur Mills into the soup? You remember the NYTimes financial writer with the Argentine wife whose mad-dog spending habits put him into the soup a few weeks back? Guess Sanford found one of those chicks. Anyhow, we are all grateful for Rs displaying D tendencies in their screw-ups. It's quite refreshing.
Sanford, 49, spoke at a news conference today in Columbia after returning from a seven-day disappearance from the state. He said he has been involved with a person from Argentina.

Despite the nice weasel of 'a person from Argentina,' it was apparently a girl he was fooling around with, so, improving in a way the reputation of R politicians.
And then there's Sen Lindsey Graham, R-SC, who comes over as remarkably pissybitchy in his TV appearances. So, from a 2007 article in the Charleston City Paper, "Is Lindsey Graham gay?
At 52, the life-long bachelor has been fodder for such rumors for years …" Read it all here. Gotta tickle to find mean R pols who swing from the other side of the plate.

Monday, June 22, 2009

California … too big to fail, too crazy to succeed?

Amidst all the chaos and catastrophe, we could easily lose sight of the fact that California is doing a high-speed stumble toward bankruptcy or something. I'd say let 'em crash but would bet my money that they'll get the bucks when it gets down to it. Money and markets blog guy writes:
Washington and Wall Street seem to be treating California as if it were a sideshow in the financial circus of these turbulent times.
It’s not.
California is home to the largest manufacturing belt in the United States and to Silicon Valley, the nation’s largest high-tech center.

You can read all his thought here.
Noodling around, I found a site somewhere that had a picture of a guy holding up a sign in Spanish demanding free child-care for everybody. They don't seem to get it out there that it is a poor evolutionary strategy for a parasite to destroy its host. You can't support a 10-pound tapeworm in a 20-pound dog. The dog will starve to death, and then so will the tapeworm.
And the San Francisco prosecuting attorney is running for the state AG. She has a little baggage that would scotch her hopes elsewhere, maybe even get her recalled or diselected, or maybe shot by an irate constituent who'd lost kin to one of her pet felons. Of course in California the citizens are discouraged from having guns. From the LATimes:
As she runs for state attorney general, prosecutor Kamala Harris faces questions over a program that trained illegal immigrant drug felons for jobs, kept them out of jail and expunged their records.

You can read that whole sorry story here. That place is really a mess, innit?

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Newspapers and book and TV shows

I just watched the first three episodes of The Wire on DVD. Channel-impaired, we don't get HBO, so this one came from Netflix. The big cheese of production is a guy named David Simon. He wrote a book named Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets, a great piece of extended journalism that was also made into a TV series, Homicide, back in the 90s. It was an engaging show that made you believe that was how cops did business, allowing for the exigencies of drama. Simon knows this stuff because he was a cop reporter for a long time on the Baltimore paper. A few weeks ago I saw him on the Bill Moyers Friday evening show on PBS. Simon said that he had taken a buyout from the paper in the first wave of newsroom reductions back in the early 90s. At the time, he said, the profit margin at the paper was running at 38%. In other words, long before the Internet began eating up newspaper circulation, the grasping bastards that own the papers were throwing good people over the side – or bribing them to jump – even while the publications were minting money.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Water matters, sorta, and others

My friend Mike the Pilot has written a guest piece in the Vicad on the Water Safari … you can read it here. It is entertaining and I can hear his voice in the writing. He's told us most of the stories in the column as we sat out in the front yard drinking coffee or wine, depending on the time of day.
Thursday we ran over to Tivoli and bought some veggies from the estimable Frank Pagel, who runs a stand on his farm between the river and Tivoli. He has some tomatoes, variety Tycoon, grown from Israeli seed, that are really great. We also got some melons, peppers, and nice prepared stuff that they have put up by Picklesmith in Taft. Frank is on the board of the GBRA and always has something interesting to say on the water situation in Texas. We agree that San Antonio is in trouble.
Enjoyed, as always the Friday-evening thumbsucker shows on PBS. On McLaughlin Report, Pat and Eleanor actually agreed on the efficacy of BHO's actions regarding the Iranian election. Amazing.
The Iranians are out in the street chanting. The chants I remember are 'Marg bar Carter … Marg bar Shah,' the 'marg bar …' part being 'death to ____.' The Shah was our creature, and the Iranian people despised him. Need to keep that in mind when we're wondering why they do so dislike the government of the U.S.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Ok, herself says I gotta get out of gloomy groove

But, how can I with news like this, from Yahoo news site:
Sen. John Ensign of Nevada, a leading Republican mentioned as a potential presidential candidate, admitted Tuesday he had an extramarital affair with a woman who was a member of his campaign staff.

You probably know it all already, but here's the whole story. What are we to think when Rs are boinking the help, just like Ds, and Ds are fiddling legislation for the corps, just like Rs?
I just happened on a cogent quotation from H.L. Mencken: "Every decent man is ashamed of the government he lives under." I intermittently aspire to decency and constantly feel the shame.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Misc Mon miz

The Obama people came in telling us that things would be different. As near as appears to me, the same old bunch of pondscum are still running the finances of the country in the same old way. Voting is a waste of time; nothing changes.
From the WaPo:
Some of the top leaders in the U.S. House of Representatives had considerable holdings in major financial corporations that needed billions of dollars in taxpayer bailouts last year, according to annual financial disclosure reports lawmakers released today.

Read all that here.
Then a piece I happened on in the LA Times while looking for something about the impending collapse of California. Even bigger, this foreshadows the impending collapse of the world as we know it:
Though most Americans have never heard of it, Ug99 -- a type of fungus called stem rust because it produces reddish-brown flakes on plant stalks -- is the No. 1 threat to the world's most widely grown crop.
The International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center in Mexico estimates that 19% of the world's wheat, which provides food for 1 billion people in Asia and Africa, is in imminent danger. American plant breeders say $10 billion worth of wheat would be destroyed if the fungus suddenly made its way to U.S. fields.

Read all this one here.
But California is collapsing. From the WaPo, the story that sent me to the LA paper:
The Obama administration has turned back pleas for emergency aid from one of the biggest remaining threats to the economy -- the state of California.

A good decision as long as it lasts. I imagine it will last about two weeks. Read the whole story here.
And, I just tried to watch a documentary about Fox News and the pimp job they did for that rat-faced frat boy who sat in the White House for eight years, but I got so angry I quit on it. Plus, there's a shredded mockingbird in the front yard, and I wouldn't trade one mockingbird for all the cats in Calhoun County. I am afraid it was the bird who sang from the low perch in the front corner of the yard. Cats are vermin.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Great canoe race

The winning boat came in at 7:23 this morning. If I'd been a little quicker off the coffee I would've seen them come in. The winner is the boat full of Belizans and Mynars, the customary favorites in the race. One time they came in and almost immediately started playing soccer. They are really conditioned and tough.
The second boat came in while I was down at the bayfront. As I am no longer reporting, I didn't note the number of the place boat. (I would wager that the guy on the back, a blazing redhead, suffers from sun.)

Late notes: Drove past at 1 p.m., and there was one more boat up on the bank. When we came back around 6, we found three beyond that, so there was a total of six boats in by early evening Monday. Usually, there are a couple dozen boats lined up by that time. Rough year for paddling.
Later notes: Then at midnight I counted only eight boats but didn't look at the check-in sheet. There may have been more. There were a couple of lights way out on the bay that could have been incoming boats. Slow year, fer sher.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

& Sunday

The Vicad editor had a printed blog post today telling us what a nervy, edgy kinda guy he is – he had a musician stay in his house during Bach Fest. A nice thing perhaps, but not particularly courageous. His guest was, after all, a classical musician. I once knew a guy who caught clap from a violinist in the Corpus Christi orchestra, but generally classical musicians don't strike me as dangerous sorts. Nothing like, say, rock drummers.
I've known musicians who would have made iffy house guests. Some you wouldn't want to leave alone with the silver, and you clearly wouldn't want them to have your credit card numbers. Most of them you wouldn't want to let into the bathroom alone. They will rifle through the meds looking for goodies. But even with musicians like these, you aren't risking a whole lot. Our editor simply hasn't done enough crazy things to understand what a crazy thing is.
Our little mothers, guests for the weekend, brought along two kids, one a few months old, the other a cranked-up one-year-old.

Here you have a photo of the equipment they brought for a weekend. I've moved from one apartment to another with less baggage. The mommies and the babies, even though oversupplied, were a lot of fun.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Saturday night miscellany

So, there I was, noodling around on the south end of a list of transferred favorites when I noticed this site, featuring horses singing doowop. Click on various animals and put together the sound that pleases.
We went down to the bayfront this morning to cheer on the Kenneth Reese tin-boat racing team, but the start turned into a coastal deal slow to happen, so we came home and merely thought positive thoughts for Team Reese. The actual Reese grandchildren dropped out as racers in what Kenneth characterized as 'the fingernails issue.' That arose from one of the granddaughters being afraid that she would break her nails if she raced. Kenneth said that they had found Bayrat kids to drive the boats and opined that they would make more fearless competitors. What happened to the replacements I don't know, nor do I know who won. Lowe's contributed quite a bunch of boats for kids to race, but they didn't look as sleek and seaworthy as the Reese-designed craft.
Then we went back in the evening to catch Miss Bayrat, the drag beauty contest that is usually really funny. It was slated for 6:30, but when we got there, they were doing karaoke contest and had three more singers to go. Couldn't abide it, so we also came home without achieving the desired end. Possession of a karaoke setup should be an A Class misdemeanor at least.
The food was great, as usual. I supped Friday on gumbo, a brisket taco, and a big iced tea. As proof of my serious devotion to health and fitness, I would point out that I usually have a third course. Or perhaps my usual third course didn't show up this year. Late tomorrow, or more likely well into Monday morning, the racers in the Texas Water Safari will come in. Low water is gonna likely make a slow race.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

A full dance card

Mostly we go along in our lives here in paradise without much contact with others. That's pretty much OK by us. Then we get stretches with a full dance card and people just bouncing off the front door. This week is one of those crowded times. The Girl is coming down for Shrimpfest [the Mardi Gras of the Coastal Bend], bringing the world's most brilliant and beautiful baby. This baby can actually get her stuffed bunny into her mouth without outside help. I think this is universally regarded as a marker for high intelligence. Also along with the Girl will be her oldest friend, also with a new baby. An admirable baby, no doubt, and an attractive enough baby; we will try not to embarrass our guests by invidious comparisons.
And, the piratical one has been down this week house-sitting. He informed us that Sugar Magnolia, Vicad blogger and frequent commenter here, was coming down for a visit. So, I got to meet a soul who has been sort of around the fringes of life for a year or three. That's nice. Then Joe Bean, the former Vicad editorial-page editor, dropped a note that he was in Victoria for Bach Fest and was loose for a day on the coast. So, as it happened, we ate lunch with Joe and then came home to sit around with Mike Austin and Sugar Magnolia, plus Joe. With me as a Vicad ex and my wife as the paper's former book reviewer, we had quite a bunch of Advocate connections out on the lawn chairs. All agreed the paper is lamer by the day. It was all very entertaining and no doubt would do the paper more good than a phalanx of consultants if they would but listen to us. They won't.
The young mothers passed through today and dropped off Oscar the pup and will be back tomorrow after a visit a little farther down the coast. If you are lost for amusement this weekend, come on down to **Adrift for Shrimpfest Fri eve, Sat, and some Sun.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

From faraway papers

Wow, a Los Angeles female detective has been arrested in a case 25 years cold, tripped up by DNA evidence. She is accused of doing in a romantic rival. The decedent's father had tried to get investigators at the time to look at the female cop:
After Sherri Rae Rasmussen was beaten and shot to death in 1986, her father urged Los Angeles police to investigate a fellow officer who had had confrontations with his daughter in the months leading up to her death, according to attorneys for the victim's family.
Like a Michael Connelly plot. The cop was arrested Friday on a capital murder charge. Read it all here.
And from Abilene Reporter-News: "San Angelo mayor quits from Mexico, cites gay Mexican partner as reason"
The lede:
SAN ANGELO -- A day after he was to be sworn in for his fourth term as mayor, J.W. Lown resigned the position to pursue a personal relationship.
Read all of this one here. West Texas has changed some since I was a kid.


Lookie here at Qu╬▒ntcast's counts on Vicad Web site clicks.

Monday, June 8, 2009

See what happens when you leave town?

We went up to San Antonio Friday to see friends and kin. Had a fine time, ate a great meal at La Frite, a Belgian bistro on South Alamo, visited with loved ones, and enjoyed San Antonio, the best big city in Texas.
When we got home, we learned that we had missed a bizarre (Did you know that 'bizarre' is a word of Basque origin? … Hardly got any of those in English) event. Seems that our neighbors were walking down on the bayfront when a mid-teens male shucked his britches and danced around. The miscreant fled and was not apprehended by officers. Never a dull moment here in **Adrift. Kid's lucky he didn't do his little dance in front of a licensed bearer of a firearm and get hisself shot. All are very curious to know who he was. I can't imagine that a local would commit such foolishness.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Pay your support, Thomas

My wife has been chasing ancient forebears over in eastern Kentucky and found a funny entry in the 17 August 1835 (Western Kentucky court minutes:
Jeremiah Rucker produced a commission from the Governor of this Commonwealth appointing him Sheriff for this County.
Report of settlement with the administrator of the estate of Nathaniel Nichols dec’d and administrator of the estate of E.H. Clifton approved and ordered to be recorded.
On motion of Charity Lane, ordered that a summons be awarded her against Thomas Anderson, John W. Simpson and John Whitnel to shew cause why Judgment should not be rendered against them in favor of Charity for the balance due her on the Bond executed by Anderson and Simpson and Whitnel as his securities for the support of a Bastard child begotten by Anderson on the body of Charity Lane.

They may have been on to something back there for financing destitute mommies. Is Charity Lane not still a likely name for a girl in these straits? Sounds like an Austin topless dancer's nom de pole.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Decline and fall, cont.

On the premiere journalism job site the Vicad is advertising for a sports editor and a design editor for the sports pages. I dunno if there was a massacre or a rebellion, but a friend remarks that's a lot of supervising for a four-page sports section.
Guy who sends me stuff sends me a link to woeful prospects for the newspaper business:
The stats show that total newspaper ad sales dropped by an unprecedented 28.28% in the first quarter of 2009, a deep plunge that represents a loss of more than $2.6 billion in ad revenue compared year-over-year. Compared to 3 years ago - 2006 was a pretty good year for American newspapers - we’re looking at a drop of more than $4.5 billion in ad sales in just three years if you only take into account the first quarter.

Read all the bad news here.
My correspondent, who knows a thing or two about newspapers, writes, 'I don't read the vicad anymore, but I'd bet that despite plunging ad revenues, they are still standing by the company line: "We're locally owned so we'll be fine." But then in a month, at the end of the ... quarter, they'll have another round of layoffs...'
And another correspondent, long-time newspaper reader who is dismayed by the endless Fatal Funnel series, sends along the requirements for nomination for a Pulitzer Prize:
1. Newspapers generally nominate themselves for Pulitzer Prizes. The fee for each entry is $50, and the material that the newspaper wants the prize board to consider must be accompanied by an entry form. An entry has to fit into one of the 21 categories; it can't be submitted on the grounds that it is just generally good. To be eligible, a paper must be published in the U.S. at least weekly.
2. In 2009, for the first time, online-only news organizations were eligible for the Pulitzer. Before, it was restricted to print publications.

That first sentence is the key here. Don't be surprised to hear that the series has been nominated for a Pulitzer.
A really useful segment for the series would be on the effect of illegal immigration on crime rates in Victoria. Right offhand, I can think of maybe three killings in Victoria attributable to illegals. When the paper ran a story on the sentencing of one of the murderers, there was no indication of his status. When I mentioned this omission to an editor, she told me that it would not be 'helpful' to include that information.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Too damn many people dept. + more

King Hubbert is the guy who upset a bunch of people by observing that the more you use of a finite commodity the less you will have left. Seems simple enough, but when the commodity is oil, a considerable of souls want to put their hands over their ears and chant 'nyah-nyah-nyah-I-can't-hear-you.' I'm forever saying that I wish the economists of the world, believers in the goodness of growth and its infinite sustainability, would go have lunch with a biologist. I should add geophysicist to the biologist as educational companions for the economists, who live in a world where money is the only thing that matters.
From an interview with Hubbert in Leading Edge magazine, published in February, 1983:
A non-catastrophic solution is impossible, Hubbert feels, unless society is made stable. This means abandoning two axioms of our culture.. . the work ethic and the idea that growth is the normal state of affairs. Hubbert challenges the latter mathematically and concludes the exponential growth of the last two centuries is the opposite of the normal situation.
"It is an aberration. For most of human history, the population doubled only once every 32,000 years. Now it's down to 35 years. That is dangerous. No biologic population can double more than a few times without getting seriously out of bounds. I think the world is seriously overpopulated right now. There can be no possible solutions to the world's problems that do not involve stabilization of the world's population."

Read the long but informative article here. This guy, a Texan by birth, may have been one of the smarter people of the 20th Century.

Monday, June 1, 2009

**Adrift in the national prints

Perambulating the pup this morning down by the shrimp boats, we ran into Butch Hodges, a fine gentleman of many parts. He stopped and asked if I'd read the NYTimes story on the Water Safari, since I had written a few years ago about the local boys' win. I hadn't read it, but now I have and so can you:
SEADRIFT, Tex. — The rowboat was called the Delta Dawn. It measured 24 feet long by 28 inches wide by 11½ inches deep. The bow was sealed with sawdust and epoxy, and the sides were assembled from two-by-fours of clear spruce. Butch Hodges set the beams in place one by one, alternating sides the way a guitarist changes strings. But first he built a table, a platform straight and true.

Read the whole thing here. The great race is commemorated in a mural on a wall by the grocery store. Be sure to notice it when next you pass through our village. Then you might want to drive on; you wouldn't like it here, too slow for you, no major amenities. Butch's paddling partner, Robert Chatham, is a city councilman. I complain to him when they fix the potholes in our street, allowing the kids to drive faster.