Saturday, October 30, 2010

'Oh, thank you, taxpayers!' 'You're welcome, Great American Car Co'

'US automaker Chrysler inaugurated a 570-million-dollar engine plant in northern Mexico Friday, the Mexican presidency said in a statement.' Read all that one here on Yahoo News.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Happy and unhappy endings

Got word several days ago that a friend had had a heart attack. He's one of our intermittent neighbors, a civilized and cultured man of sunny mien and ebullient nature, one of those folks always a joy to encounter. He lives in southeast Kansas and had ended up finally in a hospital in Tulsa, where he had a double bypass. This is the sort of news you hate to get since it so often ends sadly, but this time everything is fine and he's been up and walking and will go home soon. That's good.
And likewise about a week ago, a dog showed up in our neighborhood, apparently without a human attachment. She was a blue heeler, well socialized, personable, and companionable. We fed and watered her, scratched her tummy when she asked, and had begun to form those attachments that dogs call up in humans. Still, feeling she must belong somewhere, we made up a little poster and put it up a couple of places in town. Very promptly a woman showed up, and she and dog were joyfully reunited. Woulda been happy enough to keep the dog, but she already had a proper pack. That's good.
Today was a thing of beauty, with the wind abated and the sun shining benignly on our low-rent paradise. I finished last week's NYTimes big crossword, ate tacos at our excellent local Mexican joint, and took a profound two-hour nap. That's good. Fall is everybody's favorite season in places with long, brutal summers.
The Vicad has carried the wonderfully goofy epic of the transferred coach of the West HS dance team. The hearing for the ejected teacher sounded like an estrogen-fest, what's with females of various ages weeping and hugging each other. Seems like droves of people worked themselves into purple froths over an essentially inconsequential event. That's a little silly. Many years ago a guy writing about business said that corporation boards will uncomplainingly vote to approve huge budget items and will then argue interminably over something like a $25 wastebasket, because they actually understand the implications of a $25 wastebasket.
I hope tomorrow is as nice as today was.
Late news: The Houston Chron's take on the drill-team dispute is here. Patrick Brendel, mentioned above, had this on Facebook.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Nil, baby, nil

A CNN story tells us that former estimates of petroleum in Alaska were off by 90% on the optimistic side:
The U.S. Geological Survey says a revised estimate for the amount of conventional, undiscovered oil in the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska is a fraction of a previous estimate.

Read it all here. We gotta grasp the nettle ... we are running out of oil. There is less oil around today than there was yesterday. No amount of mad-dog drilling will put us back where we were in the 60s. We gotta learn to conserve and use other energy sources if hope to have any kind of future. Sorry.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Vicad alum in Austin

Patrick Brendel, a St Joe and Notre Dame grad, worked for the Advocate in the mid-aughts before going off to UT-The Real One to do a Masters in communications or journalism or something. He's now editing The Texas Independent in Austin. He was a lovely writer with a quick wit and a nice sense of just the right word. Go look at what he's doing up in Babylon.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Costly but not helpful

Richard Vedder, writing in The Chronicle of Higher Education puts out some fascinating stats:
Over 317,000 waiters and waitresses have college degrees (over 8,000 of them have doctoral or professional degrees), along with over 80,000 bartenders, and over 18,000 parking lot attendants. All told, some 17,000,000 Americans with college degrees are doing jobs that the BLS says require less than the skill levels associated with a bachelor’s degree.

Read all that here. For 19 years I worked in a strange and wonderful typesetting shop in Austin. People who got to Austin at a certain point in their young lives, usually right after high school, wished nothing more than never to leave Austin, a land where it was always afternoon, a place where people go from adolescence to Social Security without ever passing through an adult phase. This type house employed a lot of proofreaders, and at various times I worked with a guy with a law degree, a guy with a PhD in botany, and more MAs than you could count. It was an astonishing place with all that talent and education working for nine or 10 dollars an hour. I often felt that those people would have done better to pocket their tuition money and go to the library and read for four years.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Now that's a blow

From a New Zealand paper, word on a Pacific blow that pretty much puts our worst Gulf hurricanes in the shade:
A typhoon that is so strong it is now classed as a "super typhoon" is roaring into the Philippines today with winds gusting to an incredible 354km [220m]/h and sustained at 290km [180m]/h.

Read all about the super-storm here. Something perverse in the human creature wants to see a storm that fierce, just to know how it is. We've been lucky this season, and I suppose it's safe to exhale and relax until next June. Oh, well, there's always the economy for worry-fodder. No off-season for economic worries.


Fascinating story on the CNN money page about the fate of this year's college grads:
... [A] whopping 85% of college seniors planned to move back home with their parents after graduation last May, according to a poll by Twentysomething Inc., a marketing and research firm based in Philadelphia. That rate has steadily risen from 67% in 2006.

Read all of that here.
And then to a law prof's blog here for some interesting comments on that disheartening stat, including, "85% of college students learn that four years studying 'american diatribes in adobe huts' has little employment value."
American education from K to PhD needs a serious reconsideration. I see today in the Vicad that the nebulous 'they' appear to be pushing for college educations for such as Down Syndrome kids. If a Down Syndromer can do it, it's not anything approaching a college education, and it's a cheat to call it that and a cheat on the Downers and their parents to make them believe in it.


Thursday, October 14, 2010

Send it in care of the Birmingham jail

Nobody writes letters these days, save for my wife and her two college roommates, who crank off neatly written, English-major letters to one another from time to time. Even they are sometimes known to e-mail. Pore ole USPS is on hard times, and a story in the Vicad today tells us that the Victoria and Corpus mail-sorting facilities may be combined. The story was interesting, and the best thing was the last three or four grafs, doing their guy-in-the-street thing. The part with the guy in the street read
Slower mail service would be annoying, however, and would affect others, too. Especially those in the prison system.
"Sometimes I'm in jail," [the random subject] said. "And the people in there want to get their mail."

There it is ... my wife, her roommates, and people incarcerated. There is a grubby little town named Tornillo down the lower end of El Paso county. Someone once remarked that the place would have no post office at all were it not for all the mail going out to prisons. Maybe fifteen years ago there was a kid from Tornillo killed in some affray, gangish, I think. He left 19 siblings. Think of that ... his mama lost 5% of her children in one fell swoop. Funky little town, Tornillo.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


OK. OK, I'm piling on the Vicad, but a blog by Thomas Martinez got me this morning. I wouldn't have read it ordinarily, but it was published in the print edition. Martinez is the managing editor. On the subject of power, he wrote this:
... Basically, information is a currency or a trade. Those with access to the latest, best and most information have a high degree of power. A pratfall of this is you can never underestimate the importance of information.

So, I gotta ask: What the hell does that mean, that highlighted part? The sentence isn't ungrammatical, simply unintelligible.

Monday, October 11, 2010

New nadirs of inanity

Vicad poll questions in last couple of days have included, 'Do you think small town festivals should stay small?' and 'Do you like Chinese food?' Beat those for dumb.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Czech Heritage Month

It was noted in the Vicad in a little two- or three-paragraph piece that this is Czech Heritage Month. Meanwhile, we are beat to death with Spanish Heritage Month stories every morning, generally featuring a vato-on-the-street interview about how the interviewee keeps alive Spanish heritage by eating tacos. A frequent correspondent writes, 'I had to go to VPL to find out October is Czech Heritage Month. I demand equal time! Where are the Czech Heritage Profiles, the kolache recipes, the Tarok instructions?' Meanwhile the paper continues to work itself into a lather about the brave new UHV being a Hispanic-serving institution and thus being eligible for some kind of gummint gravy. Is there a grant program for Slav-serving institutions? The paper notes that one of the advantages of UHV will be staffers who can speak Spanish to incoming students. I wonder if a student preparing to undertake putatively college-level work shouldn't be fluent in English?
Along the same line, Ghris Gobbler blogs that the guy who draws the Baldo cartoons was a better speaker than Jim Lehrer of the PBS News Hour. Yeah, right. Vicad's all excited about the Baldo artist being here. As I recall, when the paper's readers voted on which comic strips to cut, Baldo was voted off the island. The paper kept it on regardless and keeps it in a premier spot on the page. Don't take this republic of readers thing too seriously. If it's not what the editors have in mind, it's not happening.

COLA and inflation

If you pay attention, you've noticed all sorts of things going up in price or down in size or both. My fifty-cent can of sardines is up by eight cents, 16%. A can of tuna in water now has about two tablespoons of tuna and the rest is water. People complain that a half gallon of ice cream no longer contains a half gallon. The pic above makes the point. Someone remarks that it's deflation in things we don't buy and inflation in things we must have. Yahoo News reports that there will be no cost-of-living raise in Social Security payments in 2011. 'It would mark only the second year without an increase since automatic adjustments for inflation were adopted in 1975. The first year was this year.' And no doubt the third year will be year after next. Read the entire no-COLA story here. Of course, everyone's getting well off the stock market, so these small price rises don't matter.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

What the pols have lost sight of

Justice Louis Brandeis wrote, "The makers of our Constitution undertook to secure conditions favorable to the pursuit of happiness. They recognized the significance of man's spiritual nature, of his feelings, and of his intellect. ... They sought to protect Americans in their beliefs, their thoughts, their emotions and their sensations. They conferred, as against the government, the right to be let alone – the most comprehensive of rights, and the right most valued by civilized men. To protect that right, every unjustifiable intrusion by the government upon the privacy of the individual, whatever the means employed, must be deemed a violation of the Fourth Amendment." Left and right both seem impelled to meddle with people's personal affairs in one way or another. Not leaving people alone sins against the original intent of the writers of the Constitution. Imposing governmental will on people's religious practices, thought, speech, or personal preferences is evil.

i wanna be on his jury ...

From the LATimes: 'Police say a 45-year-old Memphis man angry over two teens' sagging pants shot one in the buttocks during an argument.' Read all here. Perhaps a little extreme, but still ... I'd do some jury nullifying.

Monday, October 4, 2010


The Girl, bless her, spent the weekend down with us, bringing, of course, granddaughter Lily Jane. This is Lily on the nice little playscape down by the seawall. She's fumbling for a twistgrip to make the thing go faster faster faster.

Your national future going down the pipes

Look at this vid on Zero Hedge of U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson questioning the Federal Reserve Bank Inspector General about auditing practices at the Fed. It's scary.
And here's Grayson on foreclosures: