Wednesday, September 29, 2010

New nadirs

Pore ole Vicad ... you think a paper couldn't possibly get any worse, but then they astonish by finding new depths. This morning they ran a story headed, 'Police shoot, kill family dog.' From reading the story, it would have been more truthful to write 'Police defend selves against dog attack.' Dumbutts at the paper went to some people who'd let their menacing dog loose on the cops and then raised a stink when the cops did what they had to do – shot the dog. I am told that editors complain the cops won't talk to reporters, but who can blame the police? The paper just runs whatever reporters hear as if it were established truth and evidence of bad police behavior. There seems to be an attitude in the newsroom that the cops are evil and people who tangle with them are the good guys. Cops aren't always right, but they're sure not always wrong.
They ran a story this weekend about a hoohah with the high school dance team. I remarked to herself that it would draw a world of attention because it's at the level that the locals get excited about. In the interest of open dialogue, the paper knocked out almost all the comments on the story, but Edith Ann has an informative post and open discussion on it.
Pore ole Vicad. It once was a pretty good little provincial paper.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Flat world

India hosts the Commonwealth Games, athletic competitions for former Brit colonies. It was their chance to show off. Look at these pix to see how that worked out. From the public prints, it sounds as if all was chaos, and athletes complained mightily. I'm not sure these are the people who can beat us on any kind of fair playing field.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Waddle, waddle, quack, quack

Well, waddling is sort of the natural gait for us porky sorts, but the quacking is a more recent thing. Too much water for too long. It's kept me inordinately indolent. So a catch-up of misc.
From a blog comment: "Tea Parties are for little girls with imaginary friends.”
And a headline that might fret conspiracy buffs: 'The Associated Press: SUV hits, kills Md. Green Party Senate candidate'

A story linked from DA Confidential,, a fascinating blog by a Travis County prosecutor. He tried a murder case and the guilty verdict roused strong emotions in the court:
The verdict capped a tense week in state District Judge Mike Lynch’s courtroom, where on Tuesday a witness and friend of murder victim Francisco “Pancho” Iruegas attacked Hernandez in court after testifying.

The witness was then attacked by someone in the courtroom gallery. Read all here in the Austin American-Statesman.
A story in Yahoo Finance talks about a looming monster, the imminent default of public pension plans:
Since 2008, New Jersey and at least 19 other states from Wyoming to Rhode Island have rolled back pension benefits or seriously considered doing do -- and not just for new hires, but for current employees and people already retired.
After telegraphing his intentions for months, [N.J. Gov. Chris] Christie spelled out the details of his proposal Tuesday. They include: repealing an increase in benefits approved years ago; eliminating automatic cost-of-living adjustments; raising the retirement age to 65 from 60 in many cases; reducing pension payouts for many future retirees; and requiring some employees to contribute more to their pensions.

Read all of that here on Yahoo Finance.
And more of the same, from Bloomberg:
U.S. state pensions such as Illinois, Kansas and New Jersey are in a “death spiral,” with assets at many insufficient to cover benefits, payouts consuming a growing portion of resources and costs rising twice as fast as investment gains.

Read all of that one here. Texas is not proof against this mess. When we speak of fixed incomes, we may be saying 'fixed' like that cat you took to the vet.
One morning recently, the pore ole Vicad had a front page with a story at the top about the trial of a couple of Mexican Mafia thugs and a plug at the bottom for Hispanic Heritage or History Month or whatever's going on now. Guess the layout editor didn't consider the possibilities there. The Mexican Mafia used to have its constitution posted on a Web site. Can't imagine the Sicilians doing that.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Sept. 11

Today is the ninth anniversary of the tearist attack on America, and things are aboil. First, a Muslim group wants to build what they call a cultural center, the Cordoba House, very near the site of the World Trade Center. A bunch of people are virulently opposed to the center for various good reasons. There is no doubt that the Muslims have a legal right to put the center up if they want to. Now 'Cordoba' draws a blank for the average American, but you'd better believe it means something to Muslims. Cordoba – that's in Spain – was a center of Al Andaluz, the Moorish territory in Spain. Muslims still speak longingly about the days when Islam ran up to the Pyrenees. Cordoba means nothing to those who know nothing of Spanish history, but it symbolizes a lot to Muslims who wish for dominion over non-Muslim territories. We would probably do well to eliminate completely Muslim immigration to the U.S. Friction is inevitable and undesirable.
Then some crackerninny preacher down in Florida has picked up oceans of ink by saying that he was gonna incinerate a copy of the Koran. [Aside: This guy has whiskers of the sort I've always thought should bring enhanced time in sentencing.] I despise book-burners of any stripe, but if it's his book, there is no doubt that he has a legal right to burn it. It's the First Amendment freedom of expression. Guy has been given vastly more publicity than he merits, and I blame the doofus media for giving it to him. Also, the fearless leaders of our society have wrenched their backs bending over to propitiate Muslim opinion over this, saying to Americans, in effect, 'Please don't make them mad, or they'll hurt us.' Seems to me that they're already pretty well set on hurting us, and piling on to deny this preacher his constitutional right to be an idiot is contrary to the intent of the elemental law of the land. The source of concern is what is called the Arab street, i.e., the masses. Why does nobody ever worry about the American street? I suppose because the American street is too weak to offer up much resistance to the mauling it's taken for the last 35 or 40 years.


We went to the Victoria Master Gardeners big plant sale this morning ... bought four tomatoes, a hibiscus, a rosemary [why does rosemary die in our soil?], and a Cuban oregano, a fragrant plant that looks like a decorative sissy and provides a real oregano flavor. Next best thing I could ask after the pork-chop bush that I long for.
Monday is the first public day for the Friends of the Victoria Public Library sale. There's never a better sale for filling the shelves with books you didn't know you needed until you saw them. Plus, it benefits the library, my favorite socialist service from government. It's there in the Bronte Room of the library. I'm gonna drive into town to shop there.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Mon night stuff

A fine idea written up in the Guardian of Great Britain, on a plan in Belgium to sterilize all cats but purebred breeding stock:
"A cat can have one pregnancy every six months and 36 offspring in less than 16 months," said [an environmentalist].
The new project is the first to propose compulsory sterilisation nationally. It will be watched closely in other countries wrestling with ballooning cat populations.

Hear, hear ... here and petition your pol reps to follow suit on this idea whose time has come. I say this because we just got rid of a personable orange volunteer kitty, then had another feral feline show up immediately to chow down at the buffet on the front porch.

Q: How many lawyers does it take to change a lightbulb?
A: How many can you afford?

One of Admiral Hyman Rickover's principles:
9. Optimism and stupidity are nearly synonymous.

Other misc: 'The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it' -- GB Shaw
And multi-level dumb-butt comment of the week, from I don't remember where: 'The Internet is the Doom's Day Machine, Plane and simble!!!' We all know he meant 'cymbal,' right?

On Labor Day, the condition of the American worker remains most distressful, but no need to tell you that. In The Vicad, we learn that the Caterpillar plant that may happen may be a big tourist draw. Will visitors come in steel-toed boots? Tone of the paper's been painfully rah-rah of late, beyond the reasonable boosterism of a provincial rag.

Friday, September 3, 2010

& now for a change from doom, a dog having a good time

A Chilean dog dancing merengue [disregard the title of the vid; meringue is what's atop lemon pie]

Road, radio, &c

I just did several days on the road, running through a pretty good swath of the middle of the country, from South Texas to southeast Kansas and then back by another route. In East Texas I once hit three radio stations in a row that featured voices with pompadours, oleaginous voices – pompous, pious, and portentous – nattering on about Gawd and the divine wishes, which are mostly unconsidered conservative. There seems to be some enthusiasm for Sarah Palin in that country, and it's disturbing. A guy named Michael Joseph Gross has done a nice piece on Palin for Vanity Fair magzine that reveals her as a vile-tempered harridan. From the story:
The intensity of Palin’s temper was first described to me in such extreme terms that I couldn’t help but wonder if it might be exaggerated, until I heard corroborating tales of outbursts dating back to her days as mayor of Wasilla and before. One friend of the Palins’ remembers an argument between Sarah and Todd: “They took all the canned goods out of the pantry, then proceeded to throw them at each other. By the time they got done, the stainless-steel fridge looked like it had got shot up with a shotgun. Todd said, ‘I don’t know why I even waste my time trying to get nice things for you if you’re just going to ruin them.’ ” This friend adds, “As soon as she enters her property and the door closes, even the insects in that house cringe. She has a horrible temper, but she has gotten away with it because she is a pretty woman.” (The friend elaborated on this last point: “Once, while Sarah was preparing for a city-council meeting, she said, ‘I’m gonna put on one of my push-up bras so I can get what I want tonight.’ That’s how she rolls.”) When Palin was mayor, she made life for one low-level municipal employee so miserable that the woman quit her job, sought psychiatric counseling, and then left the state altogether to escape Palin’s sphere of influence ...

You can read the longish piece here. For about thirty seconds in '08 I thought Palin was a breath of fresh air, a woman with a life trajectory that paralleled a lot of people I've known. I quickly concluded that she was coarse, trashy, vulgar, vain, and stupid. I've had no occasion since to change that conclusion. I really get the willies on behalf of the republic to see that a lot of people seem to think that she is fit for public office

Wednesday, September 1, 2010


Been on the road since last Friday, covering a lot of country. Last Sat we went out to the Gillespie County Fair in Fritztown. Country fair exhibits are always entertaining, if a little disconcerting these days. New-to-me stuff included dates [they grow dates in the Hill Country?] and samples of alpaca wool amongst the wool and mohair. A reliable oldie was the quilts, as always lovely.

This one was a prize-winner and a bit unusual for its colors and the way that design elements break the frame of the pattern. Sorry it's but a cellphone pic, but you get the idea.
I had a terrible day on the horses, but herself was hitting them and got to buy dinner.