Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day

The hillbilly campaigns, like most things Appalachian, are underappreciated in histories of the American Revolution. They really mattered. King's Mountain really really mattered, and Cow Pens [or Cowpens] was not insignificant. I had kin there, and at Eutaw Springs. I don't know about King's Mountain, but I wouldn't be surprised. Read here about Cow Pens. So I pay homage to Thomas Ponder, a Continental soldier who was there.
And equal homage to my uncle, Russell Ponder, U.S. Army Air Corps, who covered a lot of ground in WWII. He was always my hero, though he was never the hero in the war stories he told. Those stories were mostly funny or poignant.
And honor to my neighbor, who was at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7 and is the man I hope to be when I grow up.
And to my wife's uncle, Vernon Vaughn, who was not only at Pearl Harbor, but who had a ship sunk from under him, and then was at Bikini Atoll during the A-tests. He had a drink today with the boys at the VFW, bless him.
The News Hour ran twenty pictures this evening of dead soldiers from our Mid-Eastern adventures. It just breaks your heart to see those young guys, all alive and full of possibilities in their photos and now dead and gone.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Sarah Barracuda protects her lair

Anyone who breathed a sigh of relief when Sarah Palin, that obnoxious narcissist, got beat in the election has had to fill the old lungs again, as the woman won't go away and shows no possibility of learning any humility or decency. That said, here's more outrage from that trashy family.

Drill, baby, drill

Been watching the Sun a.m. thumb-sucker shows, usually a contraindicated treatment for my chronic disgust at the state of the republic. James Carville was on Candy Crowley's show and did another beautiful blast at the slow reaction from all parties to the big leak. Couple days ago, he thumped the Obama admin for its lack of urgency in dealing with the leak. There also has come to my hand this interesting tidbit from Bloomberg:
May 20 (Bloomberg) -- Anadarko Petroleum Corp., the U.S. oil company that owns a stake in BP Plc’s leaking Gulf of Mexico well, got government permission to drill at another deep-water prospect hours after the explosion that triggered the spill.

Read it all here. She'll be right, mate. No worry. No problemo. Yeah …

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Got doom?

And for a little dollop of extra fret, we also have an inauspicious weather augury for the months ahead:
William Gray, the hurricane forecast pioneer who founded Colorado State University's respected storm research team, said CSU would ramp up its predictions for the 2010 season in a report due out on June 2.
"The numbers are going to go up quite high," Gray said. "This looks like a hell of a year."

Read all that Reuters story here. About this time every year, we go into a state of constant, low-level anxiety punctuated by terror, unworthy wishes for evil stuff to go to Florida [they're used to it], dread of the prospect of boarding up, and worries about where to run to.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Public schools

A UT/Texas Tribune poll indicates that public confidence in the state's schools is pretty damn low:
About a quarter of the respondents — 26 percent — express "complete" or "a great deal" of confidence in the public schools. Almost a third — 31 percent — say they have "hardly any" or "very little" confidence. The other 42 percent say they have "only some confidence" in the primary system for educating the state's children.

Read the whole thing here. This after the state has once again embarrassed itself with standards dictated by ideology and sect rather than scholarship and intellectual honesty. Poor Texas.
A young friend has completed a home-school education recently. A few years back, her father noticed she was more and more reluctant to go to school, asking to be dropped off at the last possible minute. Turned out she had become the target of thugettes who threatened to beat her up. We were talking to The Girl about the situation at the time. She asked, 'Is she pretty? Is she smart?' Yes and yes. Girl just shrugged as if the situation were self-explanatory. How could a smart and pretty girl, and a petite girl at that, expect not to be menaced in public school? Our friends pulled their daughter out of VISD schools and educated her at home, no doubt to much better effect than the public schools would have done, and also spared their child daily fear from unrestrained delinquents. It is telling that so many public-school teachers homeschool their children or put them in private schools.

Friday, May 21, 2010


Pipe this site, a panoramic view of Rio de Janeiro from the Christ the Redeemer statue. Give it time to move full circle. Never been to Rio, but maybe someday … I'd like to see the southeast coast of Brazil across the line from Uruguay.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Advances and outrages

From a site named New Ledger, this headline and brief story: Computer Algorithm Can Recognize Sarcasm. That's good, because literal-minded people are a bane of my life, and any little bit of help they can get is welcome.
And a link from that site to a story in the Carolina Journal about the obnoxious overreaching of the damn gummint:
RALEIGH — If the food police get their way, North Carolinians can kiss their country hams, bacon, and fresh Bright Leaf hot dogs goodbye. These Southern specialties might not disappear altogether, but, if the health agency’s crusade against salt is successful, they never will taste the same again.

Read all that one here. The gummint can mess with my Wright's bacon, plain or peppered, when they secure the borders and enforce the immigration laws. Bacon is one of life's perfect commodities, at once crisp, salty, and fatty for a trifecta of delightful sensations. It is not the place of the meddling feds to mess about with my bacon.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Elena Kagan

Well, Barry O's got to pick his second SC justice. He's gonna nominate a lady from back East, Ivy League, Jewish. My primo says she will be a very good judge, and he knows a lot more about that than I do, but … there are now six Roman Catholic justices and three Jewish justices. All of those people are Ivy Leaguers by education, establishment types, northeastern. The closest thing on the court to what I think of as a traditional American upbringing is Clarence Thomas. I'd feel better about the court if there were a couple of people on it who grew up with a .22 in the closet, who had put a worm on a fish hook, who could sing along with some of the songs in the Broadman Hymnal. And, I'd think it kinda nice if there were maybe three people on the court who could qualify for membership in the Daughters/Sons of the American Revolution or at least were descended from people who've been here more than a hundred years. Fifty percent of Americans are Protestants, and if any other group constituting half of the population were completely unrepresented on the court, I suspect we'd be hearing loud and shrill whining.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Too damn many thirsty people

Guess water's been on my mind since the sweep through the semi-arid High Plains country. Anyhow, came upon a stashed article by Chip Ward, writing in TomDispatch:
If the Colorado River shut down tomorrow, there might be two, at most three, years of stored water in its massive reservoirs to keep Los Angeles, San Diego, Phoenix, Las Vegas, and dozens of other cities that depend on it alive. That margin for survival gets thinner with each passing year and with each rise in the average temperature. Imagine a day in the not so distant future when the water finally runs out in one of those cities -- a kind of slow-motion Katrina in reverse, a city not flooded but parched, baked, blistered, and abandoned. If the Colorado River system failed to deliver, the impact on the nation's agriculture and economy would be comparable to an asteroid strike.

Read all here. Water supply for the nation is another of those things made simpler if we make a real effort to limit population, even though the Chambers of Commerce want to see growth growth growth. Las Vegas, Phoenix, and LA are all built on the bogus proposition that somehow the water for the golf courses will appear.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Archer City

After Bent's Fort, we fell south across the Panhandles and stayed at Childress, a city that seems to be in the hands of some kind of Wahabi Christian fundamentalists who are ready to go marching as to war. The radio programs out there are a little scary. The next day, we made a stop in Archer City, where Larry McMurtry grew up and later put together a monster bookstore. I believe the store is in new hands now but remains an amazing place. Sprawling across four good-sized buildings near the courthouse square – former retail establishments and a car dealership – the store would be a place to waste a day or two. The catch is that there is no organization to the lash-up beyond general classifications being together. So Texana was lumped in a big old room, but there's no system beyond the simple idea of things Texas associated – no alphabetizing, no separation by time or subject. Shelves go up to high ceilings. If you find what you want, it will be by happy chance and nothing more. My wife aptly described it as a folly, though an enjoyable folly. Complaints notwithstanding, I'd go back in a red-hot minute. Found a book published on the 80th birthday of the Chicago Tribune.

Sun nite

David Frum writing on Slate has some strong words on the effect of our immigration policies on the future of the U.S.:
Since 1970, America's largest source of immigrants has been Latin America, especially Mexico. More than half of these Latino immigrants lack a high school diploma.
Compare the U.S. experience with Canada's. More than half of all immigrants to Canada possess a university degree. Half of all Canada's Ph.D.s are foreign-born.

Read the rest here. The Chamber of Commerce cheap-labor capitalists and the googoo Left insist we need to embrace the unknown number of illegals already present in our country. Every year the U.S. graduates from high schools many thousands of people who have approximately tenth-grade educations. Why should we let more in?
Little schoolkids in Mexico look at maps on the wall that label the Southwest of our country as usurped from Mexico. We may not think a lot about the consequences of the Mexican War, but believe me, the Mexicans obsess on it, and some Mexican-Americans do too.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Out the window this week

**Adrift offers so many little incidental beauties.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Bent's Fort on the Arkansas River, Eastern Colorado

On our great sweep of the Great Plains, one corner of the trip was a visit to Bent's Fort. It's a reproduction of a big adobe fort that was a hingepoint of history in the first half of the 19th Century, figuring in the fur trade, the Santa Fe Trail, and the Mexican War. When I was a little kid, I used to take a bus to the Capitol building in downtown Denver and go to a museum just across the street. In the museum was a wonderful model of Bent's Fort. At the time I was seriously considering pursuing a career as a mountain man, guide, and explorer. Found that was a trade not in demand, and not a long, long time after that I became a Linotype operator. Should have lit out for the Shining Mountains, as I can't see how computers could've messed up the mountain man trade. I always wanted to see the reproduction built on the site of the fort. It was wonderful.

The fort was built of adobe and sat near the Arkansas River.

The interior is as near original as possible. Like a lot of things historical, the reproduced fort was essentially the product of a bunch of old ladies with an interest in history. Without old ladies, we'd have lost half our history.

Oxen were used as draft animals to pull carts and wagons on the Santa Fe Trail, and they keep a couple on hand so visitors can get an idea about them. Strictly speaking, oxen are simply steers, but this one must stand nearly as tall as me at the shoulder, so it's easy to imagine him pulling a wagon.

An intrepid mountain man stands ready to handle a gun to repel attackers if necessary … or work a crossword during the long, dreary hours of standing watch. Note clothing made from fibers of native plants. Countless hours of staring into the relentless sun of the plains have left this rugged old frontiersman with a network of small wrinkles around the eyes.
It was a really cool thing to see, and I'm glad we went. It was the idea of my wife, bless her, who underestimated the distance.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Ayyyy, Califa

I pilfered this vidlink from the comments on Calculated Risk:

Girl talking is like some Saturday Night Live character, but I fear she's for real.

Funny thing happened

to my wife this morning. In the comments section of this story on the Vicad site, she posted to ask the immigration status of the principals in the shooting. The victim has a Nahuatl-sounding name, Caltzontzin, and the little gem pictured in the story, the one accused of doing the shooting, has facial tats like those you see on Mara Salvatrucha gangsters. So, her question, respectfully put, seemed worth asking. She was zapped from the site with a note that she had violated terms.
In this time when the racialist pressure groups are working themselves into a purple frenzy about the new Arizona law and the big papers are damning proponents of the law as evil racists, it seems a reasonable question to ask and bears directly on current events, maybe even illustrating some reasons for a wish for stricter border enforcement. Too bad the Vicad management didn't think so. Maybe the two were born right here in DeTar and went to school at Memorial, right? Truth is, most newspapers will twist themselves into pretzels to avoid telling us details that show immigrants, papered or unpapered, as anything but hard-working saints, just toiling away in their vibrant neighborhoods but ever fearful of the wicked and oppressive immigration enforcers. The story has a new little tag in a short graf telling us that more info will be coming later. The comments section seems to be closed. They really, really, truly want to foster an open discussion of current questions, but don't ever say anything they don't like in this open discussion.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Road trip, road trip - I

We just made a pretty good one-week run – from **Adrift almost due north for 860 miles to Cuba, Kan., to look at a house that had captured my interest. Little house has around 40 fruit trees, garden beds, and a total of almost an acre and a half of land appended, as documented in the pictures above. Cuba, Kan., is a little bitty town, a Czech and German village, like so many around here, but right up on the Nebraska line. Things are cheap there.
In the spirit of a road trip, we slid on across the Nebraska line to tack on another state.
We spent our first night in Guthrie, Okla., a right pretty place for Okielandia, with lots of old houses and some nice old buildings. Guthrie is worth another look someday.