Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Too damn many people dept., revisited

Have I mentioned lately that there are too damn many people in the world? Well, I'll just take care of that right now. Paul B. Farrell at MarketWatch and a bunch of rich guys have noticed, too:
So what's the biggest time-bomb for Obama, America, capitalism, the world? No, not global warming. Not poverty. Not even peak oil. What is the absolute biggest, one like the trigger mechanism on a nuclear bomb, one that'll throw a wrench in global economic growth, ending capitalism, even destroying modern civilization?

The answer, of course, would be overpopulation, and especially an overage of population that wants a high-consuming way of life. Read the whole column here. Guy seems a little overbesotted with Jared Diamond but realizes what a horrible problem we face with the overpopulation of the world. Wonder how many of these worried billionaires cited in the piece are staunch against more immigration? We have the resources in this country to thrive if we don't turn ourselves into the Third World by inviting a bunch of Third-Worlders in as cheap labor. Billionaires loooove them some cheap labor.
And then a Reuters story:
[A British researcher's] study of climate change adaptation plans by governments in the world's 40 poorest countries showed that almost all of them link rapid population growth to environmental impact, but only six had proposed steps to tackle it.

Read all that one here. We have a right to protect ourselves from the fecund peasants of the globe.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Wilson Mizner

Wilson Mizner was one of those wonderful American characters, though he is now mostly forgotten. Once when he was in court accused of some kind of illegality he said something like 'Last night I won $____' and then pointed out to the judge that a professional gambler would have said "Last night I win $____,' so he, Mizner, must not be a professional gambler.
Mizner is author of one of the great quotes: “I respect faith but doubt is what gets you an education.”
Per Wiki:
In 1897, Addison and Wilson, with brothers William and Edgar, travelled north to the Alaska Gold Rush, which they spent bilking miners rather than looking for gold. Wilson operated badger games, managed fighters, robbed a restaurant to get chocolate for his girlfriend "Nellie the Pig" Lamore (saying "Your chocolates or your life!"), and grub-staked prospector Sid Grauman, later of Grauman's Chinese Theatre. He also met Wyatt Earp, who became a lifelong friend.

Read all the Wiki entry here and feel a pang of regret that we don't grow 'em like that these days.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

I > U

That being one of the T-shirt mottoes available from Despairwear, a site I stumbled on this morning. The house specialty is an all-is-lost hipness that resonates in the Zeitgeist currently operative. They have a Venn-Euler diagram of the Twitter phenomenon that is laugh-out-loud funny. If I had any occasion to wear shirts with writing, I'd go to Despairware and pick up some grins.

Mexican food of all sorts

Pore ole El Paso has very little to recommend it, but the sunsets and the Mexican food are beyond compare. El Paso lies at the intersection of three culinary biotic provinces, Tex-Mex, New Mex-Mex, and Mex. Little nondescript joints down on an El Paso corner would be the greatest Mexican food in town in most of the U.S.
Beth Kracklauer, writing in Saveur mag:
This is border food, and in this far western elbow of Texas, at the state's intersection with New Mexico and "Old Mexico", as some people out this way refer to it, that means a very specific convergence of traditions. There's the hearty, rustic cuisine of the cattle ranches and wheat farms founded in the northern Mexican state of Chihuahua when the Spanish still claimed this territory. There's the Texan penchant for living large—an extra ladleful of chile gravy on your scrambled eggs, a thick blanket of melted cheddar on your nachos. And there's the abundance of chiles grown in the fertile valley just over the New Mexico border, which are stuffed with cheese and then deep-fried to make chiles rellenos at the beginning of the season, when they're still green; later, once they're ripe and red, they're dried, pulverized, and simmered to make piquant chile colorado sauce. It all adds up to an honest, spicy, intensely flavorful cuisine that's at once earthy and bright, spare and effusive, Mexican and Texan, Southwestern and norteño—food that makes borders seem like nothing more than lines on a map.

Read all of Kracklauer's piece here.

Monday, September 21, 2009


Yesterday was 'Respect for the Aged' Day in Japan. Just send cigars, corona size, maduro wrappers. Thanks for your respect.
Today was the autumn equinox, and tomorrow promises rain behind a front. Things could be worse … and they will.

Hey, congressman, wanna improve your approval rating?

Get a job in journalism. Journalists have a 43% favorable rating in the public eye; that's way better than members of Congress. Rasmussen Reports is a running source of stats from polls, and a recent poll from that firm indicates that members of Congress rate rock-bottom with the public:
With the health care debate raging in Washington, D.C., there’s one change Americans clearly believe in: Members of Congress have now surpassed corporate CEOs to hold the least favorably regarded profession in the country.

Read it all here. Hard to be sanguine about a country run by a group held in massive contempt by their constituents. Probably the right thing would be to vote against incumbents. Unfortunately, my U.S. Rep is goofy Ron Paul. I think he's right on two or three important things, and his constituent services are admired by all. I just shake my head at my own goofiness and vote for him.

Sunday, September 20, 2009


The weather has been milder lately, the time of the year when you can honestly believe that summer will end this year, evidence to the contrary. When I lived in Chicago, I was tickled by the way the people would run out on the first slightly springlike day, carrying blankets and wearing bathing suits, to pretend that winter was done. That's because a Midwest winter is as long as a South Texas summer. I've gone to the closet and fingered a couple of tweed coats against the day I can put them on again. We've had things going on outdoors. The birds, bless 'em for their perseverance and optimism, are passing through to the jumping-off spot of the island for the flight to Yucatán and points south. We have a lot of bright little ones hanging around in our trees. A couple days ago, the bayfront was all aboil with bait, maybe a half acre of little fish churning up the surface, while the brown pelicans dive-bombed them and the gulls hung around looking for opportunities. Herself said she saw small skates, flounder, and drum lying underneath the schools. A waterfront resident told her that the porpoises had been whuffing and blowing all night long. Everything ends eventually, even South Texas summers. But not yet, I think.

Here's an idea

From a post by Michael O'Brien in The Hill:
The president said he is "happy to look at" bills before Congress that would give struggling news organizations tax breaks if they were to restructure as nonprofit businesses.

Read it all here. The comments are not in favor of this idea.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Jes noodling around

The Pilot, marooned from his old ship, hit a lick on his blog that reminded me of this Siegfried Sassoon poem, one with some nice images:

In me, past, present, future meet
In me, past, present, future meet
To hold long chiding conference.
My lusts usurp the present tense
And strangle Reason in his seat.
My loves leap through the future’s fence
To dance with dream-enfranchised feet.

In me the cave-man clasps the seer,
And garlanded Apollo goes
Chanting to Abraham’s deaf ear.
In me the tiger sniffs the rose.
Look in my heart, kind friends, and tremble,
Since there your elements assemble.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Balking on the border

For years, it's been one of those things that everyone knows and nobody mentions that bordertown school districts end up educating a lot of students from Mexico who aren't legitimately resident in the district. Generally the offense is ignored for reasons of carnalismo or for the extra money the outsiders represent. The schools in Deming, NM, used to just invite in the kids from Palomas, Chih. That deal is probably off now, what's with Paloma having moved into the medium time for doper crime. When I was working in Cd Juárez, I'd sometimes pass a yellow EPISD bus letting students off at the downtown bridge so they could walk on home to Mexico. A nervy school supe in Del Rio is resisting, no doubt to the relief of Val Verde Co taxpayers. It costs several thousand a year to educate a kid. From a CNN story:
For years, children from Ciudad Acuna, Mexico, have attended schools across the border in Del Rio, Texas, but this week that changed for students who cannot prove residency.
The local school superintendent imposed new regulations to stem what he said is a long-standing problem for the district.

Read it all here.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Dog's life

Did you ever watch a dog's nostrils flapping and wonder what it would be like to know what he knows about the world? A writer named Alexandra Horowitz has done a book on the dog's way of knowing, and it sounds like a fun read. From a review in the Sun NYTimes:
Dogs do not just detect odors better than we can. This sniffing “gaze” also gives them a very different experience of the world than our visual one gives us. One of Horowitz’s most startling insights, for me, was how even a dog’s sense of time differs from ours. For dogs, “smell tells time,” she writes. “Perspective, scale and distance are, after a fashion, in olfaction — but olfaction is fleeting. . . . Odors are less strong over time, so strength indicates newness; weakness, age. The future is smelled on the breeze that brings air from the place you’re headed.” While we mainly look at the present, the dog’s “olfactory window” onto the present is wider than our visual window, “including not just the scene currently happening, but also a snatch of the just-happened and the up-ahead. The present has a shadow of the past and a ring of the future about it.”

Read all the review here. I'd love to know what the dogs know, just for a few minutes.

Monday, September 14, 2009

A national debt of thousands

I was struck by the mainstream papers' characterization of the crowd at the Tea Partiers in DC this weekend – a couple of the national papers I looked at and the Vicad said something about 'thousands' of people gathering to protest. I looked at the pix that ran with the story and it looked to me like more than thousands, if you figure 'thousands' as being from 1,000 to 9,999. I think the big papers don't approve of the crowd's politics and so short-counted them to undercut their credibility. I don't agree with some of these people either, but giving them a fair count would be the right thing. Stuff like this is the reason that nobody trusts the big coastal papers to report the truth.
The cousins put a different slant on it. From the Daily Mail of the UK:
As many as one million people flooded into Washington for a massive rally organised by conservatives claiming that President Obama is driving America towards socialism.

Read more here. I very much doubt that there were anything like a million people there but feel pretty sure there were tens of thousands at least. I noticed this evening that Gwen Ifill on the News Hour said 'tens of thousands' were present.
I'm glad to see ordinary people angry enough to go tell the gummint, even if I'm not in sympathy with some of the motivations. On the other hand, anyone who was there to complain about the wicked bailouts of Wall Street has my complete approval. Apparently protesters were working from a Chinese menu of grievances.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Still life …

is how herself styles this pic. Those two are seldom still, so she's caught a rare moment. The smaller dog has failed two auditions for placement elsewhere and is getting rather comfortable here. In the whole world there is nothing better in its way than a puppy. All puppies are cute or endearing or something good. I'm sure he does more good for the blood pressure than Norvasc does. When I hold this one, he climbs up my chest to my shoulder and gnaws on my earlobe. I suspect he was taken too young from his mommy and is looking for a pap rather than Pappy. As I am a symphony of sagging flesh, he finds a lot of promising pendulous protuberances to try out; none avails. He does pretty well on puppy chow and has learned that activity in the kitchen often produces treats.
A week or so past, it came to me as I was wobbling on the edge of sleep that his name was Moose, playing on the tradition that calls a fat guy Tiny or a swarthy one Blondie. Or perhaps it was Mus, Mus musculus being the proper scientific name of the house mouse and he being mousy in color and almost in size, not to mention those beady black eyes. Or perhaps it was Mousse, as we have a thing of sometimes naming animals for food. My wife tried to trick me into a gratuitous cat by naming it Brisket, but the ruse didn't work.
The larger pup is named Roux, also a food word. Or perhaps Rue, because she was a little street dog when she applied for a position in our pack [or maybe Rue because I sometimes rue the day we took the crazy, yapping monster in]. Or it could be Roo, as a bow to her obviously Australian heritage.
Dogs are the best.

Rebellions and defections

Well, the Pilot and the Advocate have parted ways. He is now operating as he damn well pleases at http://apirateagroundinthecity.blogspot.com/.
And the estimable Sugar Magnolia has bolted along with him and has set up shop at http://texasugarmagnolia.blogspot.com She starts off with a nice shot in the chops of the Vicad. Both are entertaining and merit a visit. I have long since found the Advocate blogs insufferable, too many and too shrill.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Oh, hell …

I was gonna make fun of the Vicad for putting 16 of septiembre on Page 1 while relegating the 9-11 anniversary back in the paper, but there's been such a furore about it on their Web site that I'll just pass.
Instead, I'll just pass along a cool link, a Plane Spotter site that you can use to find planes in the air around your location. They even show the flight #s of some commercial flights and their origin and destination. Fun.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Jobs Americans reject?

From the Christian Science Monitor, a rebuttal of the idea that we need our millions of illegals because they take on jobs that native-born Americans won't fill:
Maybe it's a myth that Americans won't take certain jobs. In fact, a study by the Center for Immigration Studies used 2005-07 data to look at 465 occupations. Only four had a majority of immigrants in them: plasterers and stucco masons, agricultural graders and sorters, personal appliance workers, and tailors and dressmakers.

Read it all here. In a horrible economy like our present one, Americans will take the jobs they must to survive. We don't need the illegal aliens, though the Chamber of Commerce types do love cheap labor better than anything, even their country, and the googoo Dems love cheap votes better than anything, even their native working class.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Why we had to step carefully

Our floor has been full of small, scurrying, noisy creatures all weekend. Entertaining but exhausting.
Another Labor Day and a worse one for working people than we've had in quite a time. Official unemployment is almost 10% and with the underlying underemployed, discouraged, &c. is probably more like 15% or 16%. As a symptom of the times, I read a lot of econ blogs and discussions of the situation. It seems like a certain sort of begrudging pinhead can be calm about multi-million dollar bonuses for Wall Street types but get their knickers all in a twist because a few thousands of auto workers managed to make very good livings. Relax, folks, it's all over. The only unions with any prospects these are the government employees, and they seem to me bogus unions for a bunch of petite-bourgeois clerks and functionaries. Reagan's war on the working class is a complete rout in the favor of the big bucks, the rent-seekers, and the low-wage employers. We once had about the best proletariat in the world – intelligent, industrious, and ingenious. People now can't even sort out the difference between lumpers and real working people.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Coastal languor

We have The Girl down for the holiday, plus the Excellent Grandbaby, a very paragon of a baby, and a thoroughly charming 8-year-old boy who was a bonus from The Girl's marriage. He's full of vim and vigor, but the rest of us are mostly given over to languor, long naps, slow walks, and generally enjoyment of the slight break in the beastly heat. Tonight we had the classic coastal dinner – a big Cajun boil, with corn-on-the-cob, little potatoes, Janak's sausage, and two pounds of nice brown shrimp. To our credit, we ate every bite and then tamped it down with some very good watermelon, maybe the best we've had this year. Everyone is now ticking over at about 1,000rpm, even the disgustingly energetic boy, who went beachcombing this morning and fishing this afternoon. Even caught a little croaker, making the fishing expedition a success for him. For all of us, an almost perfect day in a very low-key way. Even the dogs have worn each other out.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Poor picked-on Kennedys

Well, some dastard of a journalist dares to question the drool about the purported oppression of the Kennedy forebears in Boston.
A Kennedy is dead: reach for the RTE cliché-bag, darling, revealing once again the national addiction for a tale of oppression.
So the usual journalistic, self-pitying fatuities have been freely pitch-forked over our airwaves, starting with the founding father of the Kennedys, Patrick -- "one of our own" (yawn, yawn) -- "fleeing poverty and famine on a coffin-ship". Only he didn't. Patrick's father was a prosperous grain farmer with 80 acres near New Ross, where there was no blight, and Patrick emigrated on a normal transatlantic vessel.

The author's name is Kevin Myers. His paper? The Irish Independent in Dublin. Read it all here. Everyone, Kennedy enthusiast or no, should read Seymour Hersh's book on the family. It'll get you over the mooshy ideas about the clan.

Econ reports

In a recent story dated, the San Antonio Business Journal dispenses some cold news about Texas employment: 'So far this year, the state’s oil and gas sector has shed more than 32,000 jobs through July 2009. And thousands of more jobs are expected to be lost before the year is up.' Read all here. Texas has been relatively lucky in the recent misery, but we aren't protected by some mysterious magic just because the state is doing OK so far. job losses in oil and gas will hit home around here.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Is this your dog?

Well, it could be.
This tiny pup showed up in the **Adrift Post Office, apparently abandoned. He's obviously a Chihuahua x something-else mix, smart and companionable, not house-trained as yet, but his trangressive exudations are measurable in scant tablespoons and he'll learn. A prideful and unafraid little dog with a nice style to him. Herself took him for first puppy shots; vet says he weighs 3½ lbs, and his feet are tiny, so he's not gonna be one of those cute puppies that end up weighing 50 or 60 lbs. Interesting coat, almost like a calico cat. Drop a line on comments if you're interested. [We thought the vet tech was gonna take him, but it turns out her kid was frightened of him.]