Thursday, July 30, 2009

More Palin-bashing

As long as I'm on a roll with that poor moron Sarah P., there is this from big-time conservative Peggy Noonan in the Wall Street Journal:
In television interviews [Palin] was out of her depth in a shallow pool. She was limited in her ability to explain and defend her positions, and sometimes in knowing them. She couldn't say what she read because she didn't read anything. She was utterly unconcerned by all this and seemed in fact rather proud of it: It was evidence of her authenticity. She experienced criticism as both partisan and cruel because she could see no truth in any of it. She wasn't thoughtful enough to know she wasn't thoughtful enough. Her presentation up to the end has been scattered, illogical, manipulative and self-referential to the point of self-reverence. "I'm not wired that way," "I'm not a quitter," "I'm standing up for our values." I'm, I'm, I'm
Read it all here.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Politics, sorta

The Mudflats, an Alaska political Web site has a funny riff on their quitter guv with 'The Big Kodiak Kiss Off' here. I am indebted by a friend who used to live in Sarah's own Wasilla for this one. Then, cartoonist Jeff Danziger takes a nice swipehere on Huffpo at her make-stuff-up blather during her Farewell Address. Every not-a-Republican journalist and blogger in the country is quivering with joy at the prospect of having her publicly displayed idiocy to beat up on. Poor Rs … such a long way down from Ike or Goldwater to an obese junkie and the Twit of the Tundra.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Later for Robert Parker, you need

For a discussion of the merits of such labels as Cisco Red, MD 20/20. Night Train, T'bird, and Wild Irish Rose, your source is
As majestic as the cascading waters of a drain pipe, MD 20/20 is bottled by the 20/20 wine company in Westfield, New York. This is a good place to start for the street wine rookie, but beware; this dog has a bite to back up its bark.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Saturday night miscellany

Stuff I've noticed around and tucked back for just such an occasion as this:
From an entry on the Mexico forum on Dave's ESL Cafe: 'They said that they just felt like another number, a clog in the machine as it were.' That's an English teacher writing there, folks. Would being a clog in the machine be, literally, sabotage? Oh, hell, it's late and I'm half addled. I'll just pass to the next outrage.
From comment on a MarketWatch blog: 'I midas well not even answer them as I know already what their decision will be.' Maybe all that talk of money led to thoughts of a golden touch.
And, finally, the lede of a bit this week by Little Me, Vicad arts reporter:
When doing a review, there are many different ways to approach it. For me, I go the simple route.
How do I feel right after walking out of the theater?

Hope you didn't have any idea that this review was gonna be about anything other than that little old arts reporter [as she actually referred to herself once in print, where the public could read it] treating us to a little old puddle of self-referential drool.
I despair for the republic. All is lost. Chaos has triumphed.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Another country heard from

There is a blog, FeministX, that I sometimes read, partly just to enjoy being annoyed, partly because sometimes it is engaging. The poster is a Harvard grad of Indian descent. She has some interesting observations on her own dealings with James Crowley, the Cambridge, Mass., cop who got into the hassle with the Harvard prof. Read her take on Crowley here.
I would bet about $10 that Prof. Gates said to the cop, 'Do you know who I am?' I would also wager a small sum that that may be a cop's least favorite sentence.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Money-saver for straitened states

While California was flailing around trying to come up with a budget, cuts in the higher-education funding got a lot of attention, with predictable screams. You wanna hear anguish, talk to a bunch of professors about derailing their gravy train. We are so hellbent on seeing every kid go to college that it never occurs to us to question the value of college education. I remember reading somewhere that we had on hand an 8,000-year supply of anthropologists at current rates of employment. Now obviously we can't stockpile anthropologists against future need, but we could close down a bunch of anthropology departments and save some money and not harm anything but the employment rate for anthropology profs.
Another over-funded field is journalism. Every college around seems to feel obliged to offer courses, but anybody knows that the employment prospects are grim. Education blogger Joanne Jacobs makes some points:
Many of my former San Jose Mercury News colleagues are teaching journalism courses; one is a j-school dean. I’ve wondered: What do you tell students about their job prospects? The reality is: Dim and dimmer.
Blacksmithing is a better bet.

Read all of Jacobs's piece here. It's several posts down by now. Jacobs also leads us to a Huffpo post along the same lines:
If I asked you to pay $70,000 to get ahead in some other glamorous, extremely competitive, fairly non-technical profession — say, modeling — you might call me a charlatan. But journalism has become ensconced as an academic discipline at otherwise respectable institutions. Journalism is connected to a social mission. These are good things for J-school deans. Now that the industry is headed off a cliff — leaving them in charge of vocational schools without a vocation — all they have left is the school's imprimatur, the social mission, and — oh yeah — the glamour that keeps students coming through the door.

You can read the rest of that here.
and then there's an article by Lauren Streib in Forbes:
The Pew Research Center estimates 5,000 newspaper jobs were lost in 2008. Since 2001, more than 10,000 newspaper journalists have lost work, leaving the total count of those still employed at 47,000 nationwide. It's getting worse, fast. Erica Smith, who runs the online layoff tracker Paper Cuts, counts nearly 7,500 newsroom jobs lost so far this year.

And you can read all of that here.
The Vicad mgmt announced a little while back that they were underwriting a professor at UH-V in – get this – print journalism and some kind of ethnic studies. Have you ever heard of any jobs in __________ studies? I suppose there are a few every year for people to teach more __________ studies at some other school. And print journalism … well, the Advocate laid off and cut pay just a couple months ago. Wonder how people feel about having their pay cut and then learning that the paper was giving money to ostensibly educate more print journalists? Tsk, tsk, seems profoundly goofy to me.

Hallowed ground?

I remember reading a little while back about developers wanting to put up some kind of construction that encroached on the battleground at Gettysburg, site of one of the most important events in American history. Now, apparently Walmart wants to build in a spot that crowds in on some other historic territory:
Walmart is planning on building a 138,000 sq. ft. Superstore next to the Wilderness and Chancellorsville Battlefields.

Read a bit about it here. It is sad to consider how much regard for our history we lost in the latter part of the 20th Century.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Blood blood blood

The killing goes on in Cd. Juárez. They nailed three early Monday morning. A lot of this stuff is happening right around the place I used to teach. I drove through the ProNaf on my way to work.One of the weekend incidents included finding a machine gun and a grenade in the prison. From the world's worst newspaper:
The Chihuahua state prosecutor's spokesman Vladimir Tuexi told The Associated Press police found (five) bodies in the Amsterdam bar in the Pronaf zone, a popular area with U.S. tourists.
In another shooting, two men were shot to death in a popular gymnasium at the intersection of Avenidas Tecnológico and Ejército Nacional.

Read all here.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Patron saint of yuppies?

And I always thought Chad was one of those goofy names that come from nowhere and find favor with the pretentious. Turns out that St Chad is a historical personage of the British church, Chad of Lichfield, A.D. 672, Feast Day: March 2.
… Chad preferred walking to riding. Again, this may seem a trivial issue to us, but it represented a deep commitment to the common people. Horses were the privilege of the nobility, a sign of wealth and position. Aidan[']s tradition of humility and simplicity found little sympathy in the continental church for it failed to maintain the dignity and honor of a ruling bishop. Archbishop Theodore would not hear Chad[']s protestations and went so far as to physically place him on a horse in order to travel around the kingdom.

Read this, and you'll know more about Chad of Lichfield than anyone but a church historian.

Raiders of the lost bark



We had a couple bad moments last week. Twice when herself went out back to pick up the paper off the driveway, there was no paper there. It may not be much of a paper, the Vicad, but we are hidebound traditionalists and want to feel cellulose in one hand and coffee in the other in the morning, so the lack of a paper deranged the order of our home. Our first thoughts were that we had wicked neighbors who were beating us to the paper. A seasoned citizen of the village snortingly dismissed the idea. 'There's not nobody in this town would steal a paper.' Then a guy on the next corner down reported to a friend that he had found shredded newspapers in his yard two mornings in a row. That's when we snapped that the miscreants were a band of good dogs gone slightly astray. We asked our esteemed paper-thrower to throw the paper in the front yard, and the problem is solved. Apparently the pups were hearing her car when she turned the corner and hotfooting it down the block to pick up the paper.
We often see the boys out on canine commando, trotting along in tight formation looking for targets of opportunity. They make lightning raids on our front-porch catfood and pick up bones carelessly left about by our pup. We really like them and fear that they will come to some bad end wandering the streets. It says something about us that we can walk down the street and know the name of every dog and almost none of their owners.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Asian herbs

This morning, on a lark, we zipped down to Rockport/Fulton and ate lunch at Hu Dat, a Vietnamese joint near the docks. It is run by the family of Dat Nguyen, and has always been a pleasant experience. I had a soup with chicken, pork, shrimp, and two kinds of noodles, while herself had her customary noodles with eggrolls and a glass of cafe su da, a kind of street-legal speed based on strong coffee and laced with Eagle brand milk or something similarly sweet. It keeps her cranked for the entire afternoon. The food comes with nice dishes of various things to toss in; a big splat of Sri Racha mskes it zing and sing. The Southeast Asians around here have a gorgeous palette of their own beloved herbs to use in cooking. Look somewhere near the door of a Vietnamese abode and you will see a little herb garden. They often throw the cooking water from their crabs and shrimp on the herbs.
So, we got home and I went to the LA Times Web site and found this by Andrea Nguyen.
At this time of year, like many cooks, I'm obsessed with fresh herbs. But you can keep your Genovese basil, French tarragon and Italian parsley; for me the magic is in the leafy aromatics of the Vietnamese table -- red perilla, garlic chives and rice paddy herb, to name just a few. I grow the herbs in my garden as well as purchase them by the bunch at farmers markets and Asian markets to ensure that I savor as much as I can during their peak hot-weather season.

Read it all here. There's a recipe there to click through on, and it sounds great. I wish there were somewhere to buy the herbs that are grown for Southeast Asian cuisine. The flavors are amazing.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

I read it in El Diario de Cd. Juárez

My primo mentioned to me that he saw a story on the front page of El Diario that these days people in Wazoo are sending money to kinfolks on the other side who have lost work. I found it on the Diario Web site:
Ciudad Juárez— El desempleo en Estados Unidos provocó que los paisanos ya no sólo no manden dólares a México, sino que sus familiares en este país tengan que enviarles dinero para que sobrevivan mientras consiguen otro trabajo allá, dijo Demetrio Sotomayor Cuéllar, delegado de Turismo de Gobierno del Estado en Ciudad Juárez.

If you happen to read some Spanish, read it all here. Mostly it's just that U.S. unemployment is having a big effect on the usual flow of bucks into Mexico, people aren't sending money home, people visiting home down, such as that. Remittances are among the top three sources of money to Mexico, so a long-lasting downturn here will straiten many family budgets on that side of the river. Interesting times …

Sunday, July 12, 2009

I read it in The Rolling Stone

Seems like practically all the big dogs in the economics part of the Obama admin are Goldman Sachs alums, and it looks like many regard GS in the same way Dick Cheney saw halliburton. Matt Taibbi, writing on Goldman Sachs in Rolling Stone:
The first thing you need to know about Goldman Sachs is that it's everywhere. The world's most powerful investment bank is a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money.
Any attempt to construct a narrative around all the former Goldmanites in influential positions quickly becomes an absurd and pointless exercise, like trying to make a list of everything. …

Read all of the story here, and then contemplate this, from Sunday's NYT:
Up and down Wall Street, analysts and traders are buzzing that Goldman, which only recently paid back its government bailout money, will report blowout profits from trading on Tuesday.

Read the rest of that here. Are we Americans so befuddled and discouraged that we will accept anything from the banksters and big-money guys? Is there nothing that will trigger righteous anger? What does it take to get an uprising rolling?
The class war must be over, and the rich won it going away. I still think among all these billions of bail-out bucks floating around, there should be a billion for a special prosecutor to look into financial operations that led us here. I want to see footage of the eviscerated, emasculated corpses of bankers dangling from the light standards of Wall Street.

Palin pales

We had a dear friend down for an overnighter Friday. Had a fine time eating and drinking wine and talking about this and that. She used to live in Wasilla, Alaska, and has some pungent things to say about fleeing-Gov. Sarah Palin. More interesting yet for public consumption is an editorial that ran Saturday in the Wall Street Journal, no bunch on lib softies, on why Palin shouldn't even think it:
Here are a few examples of what we may face in the next 10 years: a profound and prolonged American crash, with the admission of bankruptcy and the spread of deep social unrest; one or more American cities getting hit with weapons of mass destruction from an unknown source; faint glimmers of actual secessionist movements as Americans for various reasons and in various areas decide the burdens and assumptions of the federal government are no longer attractive or legitimate.

Given that array of impending miseries, would we want a half-bright narcissist running things? Sarah's life trajectory traces that of a lot of people in this world, but it doesn't qualify her for high office. Read the entire editorial here.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Border catch-up

Of late I've neglected the action to our south, but things are still happening apace. Charles Bowden, a man with considerable insight into how things operate in Mexico, has written a jarring piece for Mother Jones about the experiences of a Mexican reporter who has applied for asylum in the U.S. after having given offense to the army in Mexico. He stands in mortal danger for having done so.
To gain political asylum, applicants must prove they have been persecuted or have a well-founded fear of persecution because of their political opinion or an "immutable characteristic" such as race, religion, or nationality. When it comes to people fleeing Mexico, the United States has quibbled with claims of immutability, telling Mexican cops running from the cartels that they should just stop being a cop, move to another part of Mexico, become a plumber. But (the reporter) can't hide from the Army. Those three stories he filed in 2005, the opinions therein, they created an immutable impression on the Army. After that he apologized. He ceased writing anything bad about the Army even when he witnessed them killing people in his town in February 2008. None of this helped. When the Army swept the area again a few months later, they came after him.
(The reporter's American lawyer) says, "The concept of revenge is part of the Mexican political system. Emilio has insulted the institution and it has an incredible memory. The only thing worse he could do, he has done also—to leave the country and denounce it from the US side of the border."

Read all the story here.
A couple years back, Newspaper Tree in El Paso wrote up a guy named Géminis Ochoa who was a leader of the street vendors scuffling in Ciudad Juarez:
When Géminis got to Juárez, he didn't have a cent to his name. He started selling newspapers on the street, specifically the afternoon paper “El Mexicano,” in order to eat. While doing this, he got to know many street vendors Downtown, and became fed up with seeing how the cops constantly abused them, confiscating their merchandise, extorting money from them, and even beating them from time to time.
Thinking that if they were organized they wouldn't be so abused, Géminis started recruiting some of the street vendors to create a union
The whole of that fascinating story here.
And, then, from the July 1 edition of the World's Worst Newspaper, passing mention of Ochoa's fate:
The killing continued Tuesday, including the fatal shooting of Geminis Ochoa, a leader of downtown street vendors during riots years ago, Juárez media reported.
They don't believe in letting guys like Ochoa gain too much traction in Mexico, as they can upset the proper order of things. Read all the EPTimes story here.
Things are hot outside of the big city of Wazoo. From the LATimes on killing out in the hinterlands of Chihuahua:
Anti-crime activists today decried the slaying of a protest leader in northern Mexico who went public after his brother was kidnapped in May.
Benjamin LeBaron, 32, and a brother-in-law were shot to death Tuesday after they were seized by gunmen in Galeana, a farming town in the border state of Chihuahua.

Read all of that one here.
i know some nice people who are ranchers down that direction. The big-time media would do well to pay more attention to things going on across the street while they're getting all exercised about the Uighurs in western China.

A better class of scam spam

I was pleased to receive the following scam note, as it reassures me that a better grade of person is going into scamming these days.
The Scottish Investment Trust PLC
6 Albyn Place
Edinburgh EH2 4NL,
United Kingdom.

Dear Friend,
I am Mr. John Kennedy, the Fund Manager of Scottish Investment International. The World Largest Fund Management Company with over £1.2Trillion Capital Investment Fund.
Nevertheless, as The Scottish Fund Manager, I handle all our Investor's Direct Capital Funds. As a routine, every investor gets the percentage profit or dividend from the total cash he or she invested into the company annually. Last year it was announced that the profit margin was 20% after calculating carefully I found out that the profit margin was 21.1% that is an excess of 1.2% on each investor so I secretly extracted 1.2% Excess Maximum Return Capital Profit (EMRCP) per annum on each of the Investor's Marginal Capital Fund. As an expert, I have made over £45, 745, 000. 00 from the Investor's EMRCP and hereby looking for someone to trust who will stand as an Investor to receive the fund as Annual Investment Proceeds from Scottish Marginal Capital Fund.
All confirmable documents to back up the claims will be made available to you prior to your acceptance.
Meanwhile, I have worked out the modalities and technicalities whereby the funds can be claimed in any of our 6 clearing Houses without any hitches. Our sharing ratio will be 70-30. If you are interested, you should send your direct phone number so we could discuss more on phone as regard the transaction.

Best Regards,

Mr. John Kennedy
Fund Manager Scottish Investment Trust Plc

Isn't that an improvement from African names writing from Hotmail addresses?

Saturday, July 4, 2009

The Glorious Fourth

One of my favorite observances. Wife said we should read something special as homage to the day, but we couldn't think of what it would be, beyond the Declaration of Independence itself. The signers stand yet as exemplars of moral courage, willing to risk all for an ideal. Bet nobody there checked a poll before signing on. We are lucky to live in a political system that sorta descends from such vision. Not sure what they'd make of Goldman Sachs, et al., though.
We're off this evening to eat shrimp in the country with Mike the Pirate and his crew. That should put a fine cap on the day. A happy Fourth to all.
End note: And for a grand finale, after eating shrimp and drinking white wine, we went out to Swan Point with a 6th-grade boy and shot off fireworks. Who could ask for anything more? How long's it been since you held a roman candle?

Friday, July 3, 2009

Dark Friday & light

We had a power outage of several hours duration this afternoon and early evening. Electric company told a neighbor that it ran as far as Edna and left 1,000 customers without power. We sat out front and enjoyed such breeze as we had off the bay, even ate our dinner out on the front sidewalk. It wasn't as hot as it could have been, but still it was nice to get the power back on and the AC ginning again. It is only air conditioning that permits comfortable living here six months of the year. Older houses are built to catch prevailing breezes, but new ones are built to be air conditioned.
On a bizarre note, Sarah Palin is resigning as governor of Alaska. I watch that silly, vain, and vapid woman and feel that she believes she can be president of this country. It's sorta sweet that the 'Yes-I-can' philosophy has so triumphed, but I don't think so. She will be an embarrassment to the Rs, unless her intentions are to lead Alaska in an independence movement. She should nurse no ambition larger than to be the leading real-estate broker in Wasilla, Alaska, and an esteemed member of her church. Anything beyond that is beyond her.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The second wave ashore

D-Day slipped past quietly a few weeks ago. People are a little more aware of it since the Tom Hanks movie, but it doesn't loom as it did when I was a kid and everybody's daddy was a WWII vet. Maybe forty years ago when life still ran in Technicolor instead of grays and muted pastels, I used to hang around some with a D-Day veteran. I see no harm in writing his name, as I doubt much of anyone remembers him today. Henry Page was a rangy, ropy kind of guy, maybe 5'10" and 165 or so. If I characterize him as you would a fighter, it's because I think he'd done some boxing. He would occasionally get into scuffles if he had a drop taken, and he would a drop take. People were a little wary of him, but I always liked him. Henry was a lantern-jawed guy with snaggly teeth and looked like an Amerind, but not a Southwestern tribe … maybe a Sioux or someone from up north. What he was was an Hispano from up in New Mexico, gringo name notwithstanding. Everyone called him Kiki, short for Enrique. We were printers and union brothers together on the El Paso Times. I gambled and drank with Henry, got into that foolishness that happens when you're young and frisky.
Henry was a terrible gambler, the kind of guy who'd play a 29-to-one horse in the last race because he needed 60 bucks to get even on the day, or who'd draw to an inside straight or take two cards to a flush. He always said, "I went ashore in the second wave on D-Day, and I figure it's all gravy since then. Why not take a chance?" He hit those longshots about as often as you'd expect, but when he did, it was to him some sort of celestial payback for the second-wave experience.
I wandered off into the bigger world and lost of track of Henry, and then maybe 20 or 25 years later slipped back onto old stomping grounds and asked a friend about Henry. He told me that a few years before, Henry had been sitting at the dinner table and his daughter had said, "Why don't you just go away and leave us alone." Henry had driven out onto a country road there in Anthony and blown his brains out with a pistol.