Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Mothershead for sheriff or president or something

This story restores faith in the American way:
HENDERSONVILLE, N.C. -- A clerk at a business in Western North Carolina punched a would-be robber and knocked him out cold just minutes after the man barged in with a gun and demanded money.

Read it all and watch short vid here.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Our cherub

The girl yesterday texted her mother that Lily Jane had called her father a wretch. We were at once pleased and a little concerned. 'Wretch' does beat hell out of 'poopyhead' [or most any other insult you'd get from most two-year-old kids], and we're a word-besotted lot, admiring verbal verve. Plus, 'wretch' will come up in discussions around our house and is unlikely at nursery school, so she may have acquired it at our hearth. Nonetheless, it's probably what they designate inappropriate for her to call her father a wretch. On the other hand, father and daughter share a certain spring-loaded temperament, and it might be well that she grow up to demonstrate her anger with Shakespearean invective rather than by throwing down on 'em with a .380. Kid's something. I can report that she has perfected the golden phrase, 'Pappy is a saint,' followed by a mad giggle.
The whole crew's descending upon us for Christmas dinner, and we'll be joined by a couple more of our regulars, folks you might style parafamily. Some are staying through Wednesday and some through Saturday. Damn but that's a lot of human contact.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Pipe this tango

The Brothers Macana do a beautiful tango.

Monday, December 19, 2011

How about this, Tom Friedman?

Tom Friedman, sycophantic lackey of any rich Indian who will talk to him, keeps on telling us how the Indians are gonna bury us because they are all so smart and hard working and we are all so stupid and sorry.
Look at this stuff, posted by a Chinese visiting India. These are people who incinerate daughters-in-law who come up short on dowry money and who abort female fetuses.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Sunday miscellany

A tour of Southern barbecue styles, delivered musically. Aesthetically satisfying and educational.

An amusing comment from a blog I fancy:
'As Claire Wolfe said: "America is at that awkward stage. It's too late to work within the system, but too early to shoot the bastards."'
And a nearby citizen from my parents' page on a 1938 voters' roll: 'Gunderson, Hendrick A. —Body Builder.' How about that? A body builder by profession. Of course, that was in California, but Fresno, at that time pretty much an annex of Oklahoma.

And the odd joke that tickled:
Subject: Donations Needed!
A driver was stuck in a traffic jam on the highway outside Washington DC. Nothing was moving.
Suddenly, a man knocks on the window. The driver rolls down the window and asks, "What's going on?"
"Terrorists have kidnapped Congress, and they're asking for a $100 million dollar ransom. Otherwise, they are going to douse them all in gasoline and set them on fire.
"We are going from car to car, collecting donations."
"How much is everyone giving, on average?" the driver asks.
The man replies, "Roughly, a gallon."

"To be stupid, selfish, & have good health are three requirements for happiness, though if stupidity is lacking, all is lost." — Gustave Flaubert

And that's all I know tonight.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Ay, El Paso

From the World's Worst Newspaper, an appalling list of local dignitaries run afoul of the law. List of people named in public corruption case. Go there and be amazed that any American city can have such a top-to-bottom culture of corruption. El Paso is like a city in Chihuahua where, occasionally, office holders are expected to hew to American standards of ethics. When I went to Chicago in 1969 from El Paso I was at first taken aback by the way things are done there, and then I understood: Chicago runs on Mexico rules. Anything could be sorted out with a mordida, a bit of baksheesh, some sugar. It offended; I expected better. These days I am less optimistic, or maybe less deluded.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Friday, December 9, 2011

A hoot

I offer without editorial comment this note from a way-back friend:

"If you have a few minutes to kill, by all means go to Amazon.com and search on the book How to Avoid Huge Ships. It's out of print, but there are two copies available starting at $999. The fun thing, though, just as much fun as reading all 156 reviews, is looking at Customers Who Viewed This Item Also Viewed (scroll to view all of 'em):

Go on; do it.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Post offices, banks, and tiny towns

It's sad to watch the little towns of America disappear. The place in New Mexico where I spent much of my childhood has gone from 2,000 or so to something around 900 now. And many tiny towns are frightened that they will lose their post offices, the last little dab of glue that allows towns a distinct identity.
As businesses flee, towns die. From the Hutchinson, Kan., newspaper, a little story about a business going away in a place that can't spare any commerce:
On Feb. 3, the Citizens Bank of Kansas in Turon, one of the town's only two remaining downtown business and a staple in the community for nearly 125 years, will close.

Read the whole thing here. It seems to me that when I was a kid you could buy savings stamps, kinda like low-denomination bonds, at the post office. Why not let post offices in tiny towns take on some banking functions? If customers could cash checks [lots of old or poor people don't want any truck with big banks and have no internet access or savvy], maybe pay bills, maintain savings accts, that kind of small-time financial transaction, it would give the post offices a little boost and provide a useful service to tiny-town denizens. I can't imagine that even the sleaziest bank would profess that the government was stealing business and socializing a private function. After all, the idea of the post office is to serve the public, isn't it?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Only in California

Headline from LATimes:
Warren Beatty's transgender son Stephen Ira slams Chaz Bono

Get the whole story here. And people always say that Cali is America's future. Maybe I'll manage to die before the future ambushes me here.

Friday, November 25, 2011


I filched this from another blog and don't know its provenance. It should stifle any passing ingratitude. We're still lucky to be Americans, relatively prosperous, stable, and well nourished in a world mostly poor, shaky, and hungry.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Mamawing & Pappying

Just see what you can do with trimmings from the neighbor's garden and a little fashion savvy.
Lily's been with us since late last week. She's generally an entertaining addition to the household. She's quick enough with language that you can actually hold a conversation with her, real exchanges of information delivered in words. Being in the presence of that much vigor is enervating for people our age, though. Even when she's not being obstinately two years old, she runs at pretty high rpms.
We're working up to the Thanksgiving holiday, my favorite of the year, it being dedicated to excessive eating and little corrupted by commerce beyond the selling of a lot of food. [The opening of the Christmas season is another thing altogether.]
We started expecting just three of us to eat here, but it seems to have grown into maybe eight or nine. I'll make cornbread dressing tomorrow, maybe put the capon in to brine [a small innovation this year], piddle at such things as I can do ahead.
We have a distinguished guest list this year and after-dinner conversation should be first rate ... and a generous hand has given a jug of aged Puerto Rican rum that sips almost like brandy ... and I have some pretty good cigars on hand. It's not hard to find things that merit gratitude in this life.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Fred on Ron

Fred Reed, my favorite public intellectual, writes on Republican candidates:
After all, Ron Paul is tiresomely predictable. He would say hateful anti-American things. You know, we should get out of damn-fool wars, pick the military leech off the back of the republic, dismantle an empire that bankrupts the US, and end our perpetual state of martial priapism against Iran. Completely unelectable. A commie, I figure.

Ron Paul is the only gentleman in anybody's party these days. Too bad that his gentility is read as weakness by those who prefer bluster and braggadocio. My wife threatens to send the Paul campaign a contribution. The big-time press continues to ignore or low-rate him, but I'd love to see an audit of the Fed and a pullback to Fortress America – a couple of things Paul espouses – and I suspect a lot of other people feel the same way. How can they take seriously Newt's logorrhea and ignore all of Ron's ideas, even the good ones?

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Dry, hot, and crowded

Lots of fuss a few days back about the seven billionth soul to arrive on this earth. Perhaps even some economists will have the wit to be scared, as there's no way we can begin to provide for that many people. The rebalancing is likely to be unpleasant and may, at worst, be violent.
I made a trip to see an old friend last weekend, drove out on I10 to Fort Stockton and up the east side of New Mexico. The only crops I noticed in southeast New Mexico were cotton, pecans, and alfalfa, three great water suckers. Guy at the motel where I stayed told me that they'd only had three inches of rain all year. Coming back, between Muleshoe and Lubbock, I saw a tumbleweed the size of a Buick rolling down the median. Soil from plowed fields darkened up the air, and there was scarcely a bit of vegetation. I lived in that country during the big drought of the 50s, and it looked a lot like what I saw out on the road.
From The Economist:
This year Texas had the hottest summer ever recorded in any state. In September wildfires swept through the town of Bastrop, outside Austin, destroying more than 1,000 homes. Thousands of cattle have been sold. The town of Big Spring, up the road from the oil hub of Midland, is planning to recycle wastewater for drinking; two of the reservoirs that supply the city are almost empty. The severe drought that has parched most of the state this year shows no signs of abating. The state climatologist reckons that it could last for the rest of the decade.

Read all that here. Nonetheless, people speak of growth as if it were desirable. Too damn many people in the world.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Pipe this ... percussion by tractor

If this doesn't make you smile, there's something wrong with you.

Friday, November 11, 2011


We got lots of owls this year for some reason. Neighbor lady says that the big ones get right beside her boys' bedroom and make owly noises in the night. We walked across the street tonight to try to see one and finally caught it silhouetted against the moon. Pretty neat. We came home to establish which owl it was and found a perfect duplication of its song here. Click it and hear the thing talking.

Thursday, November 3, 2011


Guy who sends me graphic stuff sends me a graphic of pain-reliever choices:
The graphic is really funny in a painful way. The painkiller thing is interesting, since I do a little more pain every damn day. One of the stranger conversation I've had in the last few years was at a poker game with a bunch of old pirates - shrimpers, gamblers, commercial fishermen, an oil well driller, poachers - tough old birds all. The subject of painkillers came up, and all went on for some time about their preferred analgesic. Everyone engaged with the topic.
The natterers do natter on about choices in life, how wonderful it is that we have such variety available. As with most purported progress, it ain't necessarily so. I eat only two kinds of cereal – Grape Nuts and raisin bran – and my wife pretty much eats only one. The cereal selection at the grocery store is five or six shelves high and runs the complete length of a aisle. I'm not convinced that this selection of cereal is essential to an orderly and happy society. I'd feel happier with a better selection of politicians and about a quarter of the available cereals and nothing more than ibuprofen, acetaminophen, and aspirin for the aching bones.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Halloween in the Land of the Lotos Eaters

In the Republic of Peter Pan, Halloween's maybe the biggest holiday of the year. The Halloween parties in Austin are pretty much the nearest that the city gets to Mardi Gras. Look here for photos of H'ween on Sixth Street. No country for old men but a hell of a lot of fun for the young.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Dia de los Deados

A greeting from our own witch's familiar, that limb of Satan, Verminella. We kinda keep the black cats close to home on Halloween.

And from the World's Worst Newspaper, an AP story by a woman returning to Mexico after a long absence:
The Mexico that I enjoyed so freely before has shrunk by as much as half if measured in territory no longer considered safe: The states of Durango and Tamaulipas, off limits, as is most of Michoacan. The cities of Monterrey and Guadalajara, the resort of Acapulco, and most recently, the port of Veracruz, bad and getting worse. Bodies are hung from bridges or dumped by truckloads in the street. Many victims are beheaded, and heads are put on display like Aztec trophies - or Day of the Dead candies.

Read it all here. It's a sad story, written by someone who obviously knows and loves Mexico. One reads little these days about the PRD, the breakaway leftist party, but I expect that we will hear from them on the next presidential elections. Bad economic times will make the old-time leftist message attractive in Mexico.

Sunday, October 30, 2011


One blessing for a newspaper is having editors on the desk who have the wit to pick up entertaining news off the wire ... stuff that's not local and maybe inconsequential but anyhow fun to read. So, this from the LATimes:
Who among us hasn’t barbecued a raccoon in a Tennessee parking lot and then gotten caught up in a meth bust?

Read it all here, and who could resist that lede?

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Maybe there's hope for the 4th Amendment

as it appears that more Americans have come to appreciate the intent of the 2nd. An interesting result from a recent Gallup poll:
A record-low 26% of Americans favor a legal ban on the possession of handguns in the United States other than by police and other authorized people. When Gallup first asked Americans this question in 1959, 60% favored banning handguns. But since 1975, the majority of Americans have opposed such a measure, with opposition around 70% in recent years.

Read it all That's gonna make the NYTimes ed page crazy. Snicker. Now if we'd just reclaim the 4th Amendment from the thugs at Homeland Security. And then there's the 1st, with its guaranteed right to peaceably assemble to seek redress of grievances, like maybe a grievance against crony capitalism and bought politicians. Buy a pistol, paint a protest sign.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Ron rebels

My U.S. rep, Ron Paul, said in an interview that he found the exchanges disgusting in Tuesday's Republican debate. Paul's problem is that he is a gentleman in a scrum of ugly careerists and people ambitious far beyond their capacities. His gentility is likely to be mistaken for weakness by the pig-ignernt watcher used to seeing argument framed in a Jerry-Springer setting of unreal reality where the most overbearing participant prevails. Read all of Paul's comments here on Yahoo.

Reign, reign, go away

One of those annoying little aggressions on decent usage is 'free reign,' most often found in stupider comments on blogs but popping up today on the NYTimes, a paper – annoying PC quirks and crotchets notwithstanding – that purports to hold the highest standards of usage. The offending headline, 'Free Reign to Play Free Spirits,' is in some movie column today.
What they want is, of course, 'free rein,' as when a rider lets the reins go slack and allows the horse to go as it will. The Rants and Raves section in Spanish-language Craig's Lists is 'rienda suelta,' meaning the same thing – running free – and it's a good equivalent for RnR. It's easy to see how the idea of 'reign' in a sense of governance, of control, got this meaning in the minds of marginally bright Websters, but still, folks ...

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


We're whining lately about the amount of money we spend on groceries. About once a month, we have beef liver ... we both like it, and I cook it by a Marcella Hazan recipe that consists in simply flouring it and cooking it very quickly in a mixture of oil and butter, then squeezing a lemon into the pan. Lemon subdues the livery whang. I'ts delicious and cheap. But thereby hangs a tale. Maybe a year ago, the little one-lb carton of liver would cost one tiny American dollar. Such a deal for a bunch of protein for two people. Then a little while back, the price started showing up at $1.50. That's a 50% rise. The last carton was priced at $2. The gummint keeps on saying that inflation is minimal, but they don't count food, the thing we use every day and buy most frequently. We're supposed to get a little raise in SocSec in Jan, but it'll be all gobbled up by raise in Medicare premium. According to the HuffPo, we, collectively, aren't too happy with all this.
The misery index -- which is simply the sum of the country's inflation and unemployment rates -- rose to 13.0, pushed up by higher price data the government reported on Wednesday.

Read all that here.
And from CNBC, more of the same:
Think life is not as good as it used to be, at least in terms of your wallet? You'd be right about that. The standard of living for Americans has fallen longer and more steeply over the past three years than at any time since the US government began recording it five decades ago.

Read all that here.

Thursday, October 13, 2011


There appears to be a another movie I won't see, this one called 'The Thing.' That will resonate with those of an age to have achieved perspective – a flick of the same name came out in the early 50s, starring Marshal Dillon in the title role of The Thing. May have been Arness's breakthrough part. Nothing new under the sun.
And another thing that came to mind with the announcement of the new movie:

This song was all over the radio when I was seven years old, but I find I can still sing along with Phil Harris. It was roughly concurrent with Hadacol jokes. You'll remember those, of course. Phil Harris was a funny guy and a good musician.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Too-damn-many-people dept

It has seemed to me for years that almost every problem in the world today – immigration problems, water shortages, unemployment, peak oil – is a function of overpopulation. Economists and industrialists love population growth ... pinheads boast about population growth, chambers of commerce encourage it, real estate people thrill to it, and it will destroy us all before we're done. Paul B. Farrell, a MarketWatch writer is one of the few people around who will engage with the subject. He writes that the Great God Gates has taken notice:
Overpopulation. That was the consensus “biggest problem” when a group of billionaires that included Gates got together at a secret meeting in Manhattan a couple of years ago.
Get it? Out-of-control population is the world’s No. 1 problem. Yet, governments with their $65 trillion global GDP aren’t even trying to solve the world’s overpopulation problem. They’re clueless. Can these philanthropists and their billions stop the coming disaster? No. In fact, their billions are accelerating the problem.

Read it all here and go write a check to Planned Parenthood, or by nastier second choice, hope for plagues and pestilence. Nature will assert her balance if we refuse to face the problem rationally.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Steve Jobs

Go here and read a wonderful address that Jobs gave at Stanford a few years ago.

Drier, more desperate

I read that Boone Pickens is manipulating to get access to large amounts of water out on the Plains, intending to sell the precious stuff to parched Texans. Atlantic Cities has a recent piece on the drought here.
As Texas struggles through the worst single-year drought in its recorded history, the state is looking uneasily toward its future. Rainfall is down, groundwater sources are being depleted, and the state is growing. All these conditions combine to envision a not-so-distant future in which Texas won’t be able to meet its water needs, according to warnings in a draft of the 2012 state water plan.

Read the whole thing I thought the dipstick on your doom tank might be showing a little low.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

I'm an older man, so you can trust what I say ...

The Onion is so funny because it catches the inanity of the journalism we suffer under every single day, as when the nets focus on a fairly insignificant trial in Italy. Pipe this, with the proviso that it may bring a piddling blush of shame to the innocent cheek.

And, while I'm lagging the news biz, I gotta share this little gem by Gheni Platenburg from Page One of the Sept. 28 Vicad:
Tongue titillating smells of carne guisada filled the air as men on the Golden Gecko dance floor sensually and rhythmically turned and dipped women with flowers in their hair and high heels on their feet to the pulsating bongo beats, ardent guitar rifts and sultry lyrics of Enrique Iglesias' "Bailamos."

There is a category in the Bulwer-Lytton 'dark-and-stormy-night' contest for actual egregious journalism. I thought of entering this passage. Them little rifts'll get you every time.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Never dis the other guy's bbq

Pore ole Rick. Venturing out of the friendly confines of the Lone Star Republic, he's found many ways to alienate people whose goodwill he wishes most devoutly. The latest faux pas was a resurrected disparagement of Carolina barbecue that he made almost 20 years ago. The LATimes reports the story here. I'm pretty sure he was kidding, but it's funny nonetheless.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Wanna go 'Awwwwww'?

Then check out this vid of an Irish Lab swimming with his porpoise buddy:

A guaranteed Awwwwwwww.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Monday, September 26, 2011

Goldman Sachs rules the world

If you had any illusions about the govts of the world having any traction to save things, pipe this trader on BBC.

We can but hope this arrogant bastard is wrong. If that vid doesn't give you the jim-jams, here is a study in Der Spiegel that says traders are wilder than psychopaths. Such a world. Death to Goldman Sachs.

Worldwide G & D

A fascinating site replaces Weekly World News as my source for astonishing global misery – storms, earthquakes, subsidence, solar storms, &c, &c. Go here for the Extinction Protocol site, in case you are feeling unexplained waves of optimism.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Spontaneous Human Combustion

Since the departure of the Weekly World News from the American journalism scene, it's hard to get the straight skinny on such phenomena as SHC. The Brits are blessed with the Daily Mail to provide them with this sort of inside scientific reporting.
A baffled coroner has ruled that a man who burned to death in his home died as a result of spontaneous human combustion.
Dr Ciaran McLoughlin, the coroner for West Galway in Ireland, said that although Michael Faherty, 76, had been found lying on his back close to a fire in an open fireplace, that blaze had NOT caused his death.

Read more here. The Brit tabloids are wonderfully entertaining.

Saturday, September 17, 2011


An astonishing, at least to me, datum from the Los Angeles Times:
Drugs exceeded motor vehicle accidents as a cause of death in 2009, killing at least 37,485 people nationwide, according to preliminary data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
While most major causes of preventable death are declining, drugs are an exception. The death toll has doubled in the last decade, now claiming a life every 14 minutes. By contrast, traffic accidents have been dropping for decades because of huge investments in auto safety.

Read it all here. I am aware that prescription drugs are the top pick of your younger junkie crowd here by the bay, but I had no idea that they were killing people at such a rate nationwide. Reasons for the rash of overdose deaths are interesting and include heavy advertising and doctors who are quick on the script pad.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The republic is doomed

This summer has had about it the feeling of doom. Things fall apart. The center cannot hold. I keep reading economists blathering about how Americans must retool themselves for a brighter day under globalism. People who can't count to fifteen are not likely to become script writers, or video-game designers, or rap producers, or even economists [though editor is a possibility, as I have known more than one editor to brag, 'I don't do numbers.' ... Not a shamefaced admission but a proud boast], and these appear to be the trades that the economists believe we will use to save ourselves in a time of global wage arbitrage.
I knew a guy whose family ranched down by Del Rio. He told me that had an old Mexican pastor whom they'd set to counting sheep when they were gathering for shearing. He could count only to ten; when he had counted ten, he would drop a pebble in his shirt pocket. For the final count, he would take out the pebbles and show them and say, 'I have this many and six more.'

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Moving day

Shot these through the window by the computer. I liked the little guy drinking from the bird bath, partially hidden behind the bronze bird in the bath. The metal bird sometimes leads my wife's murderous cats to a fruitless stalk ending in that thing cats do when they're embarrassed. You know, that look that says, 'I knew that wasn't really a bird.'

The annual fall migration has started, and we have a lot of pretty and out-of-the-ordinary visitors out the window, including a few orioles who've been hanging around for a couple days. There appear to be a couple of pairs, but this one was without his lady friend when he dined this afternoon. One of the really fun things about life here in this non-fatal bird funnel is the traffic through here in fall and spring.
And, culture-vulture bonus but still on-topic, William Cullen Bryant's 'To a Waterfowl':
To A Waterfowl

by William Cullen Bryant

Whither, midst falling dew,
While glow the heavens with the last steps of day,
Far, through their rosy depths, dost thou pursue
Thy solitary way?

Vainly the fowler's eye
Might mark thy distant flight to do thee wrong,
As, darkly seen against the crimson sky,
Thy figure floats along.

Seek'st thou the plashy brink
Of weedy lake, or mlarge of river wide,
Or where the rocking billows rise and sink
On the chafed ocean-side?

There is a Power whose care
Teaches thy way along that pathless coast --
The desert and illimlitable air --
Lone wandering, but not lost.

All day thy wings have fanned,
At that far height, the cold, thin atmosphere,
Yet stoop not, weary, to the welcome land,
Though the dark night is near.

And soon that toil shall end;
Soon shalt thou find a summer home, and rest,
And scream among thy fellows; reeds shall bend,
Soon, o'er thy sheltered nest.

Thou'rt gone, the abyss of heaven
Hath swallowed up thy form; yet, on my heart
Deeply hath sunk the lesson thou hast given,
And shall not soon depart.

He who, from zone to zone,
Guides through the boundless sky thy certain flight,
In the long way that I must tread alone,
Will lead my steps aright.

Monday, September 5, 2011

New pack member

This little rascal showed up a couple weeks ago, slightly ragged but confident of his welcome. He's only about 10 lbs but does a pretty good big-dog bark and, mercifully, does it seldom. The name on his membership application was 'Ort.' We all know that's a good crossword-puzzle word for a table scrap, but there are other possibilities ... He may have misheard when I told him he ort to be a better dog. Or perhaps his name is Orthur and he prefers the breezier nickname, Ort. All dogs present some little mysteries. Although we cycle strays through here to benevolent and generous friends, he looks permanent. Tried posters in the local places and wife inquired around, to no avail.

Current events

The girl came down this weekend, bringing Lily Jane. Lily Jane is a pistol. You can get a hint of her character from these pix from the little playground down by the seawall. Her general direction and preferred velocity: FORWARD! FASTER!

Hard to get this kind of help these days

I always feel a little bad ragging on the Vicad, but how can I not, given sentences like this in a story on shrimping?
"'All right, let's see what we've got,' Harborth says, hitting the wench to pull the net in."
Maybe instead of hitting her, he should just holler at her a little. They used to employ persons to vet stories and make right things like that silly goof.
And couple of funnies from comments around the webs
'Just saw this shirt: In dog beers, I've only had one.'
'I'm a couchtivist. I'm working right now....'
"After Rep. Michele Bachmann said God created last week's earthquake and hurricane to punish America, God issued this rebuttal: 'Actually, that's why I created Michelle Bachmann.'"

Monday, August 29, 2011

Check this out

Here is a publicity still of Roy Orbison in a role in a western back in the 60s. Although he is from out in the Westest of Texas, I somehow never thought of him as a kicker.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

We're mad as hell, but we'll keep on taking it

A blog, YOLO, gives sixteen stats to illustrate the anger of the American public these days:
According to a whole host of polls and surveys, the American people are incredibly angry right now. The American people are hopping mad at the government, the American people are hopping mad about the economy and the American people are hopping mad about the direction that this country is headed. Never before in modern U.S. history have the American people been this angry. There is vast disagreement about what the solutions to our problems actually are, but what everyone can agree on is that the American people are absolutely seething with anger right now.

You can read the reasons cited here. The Tea Party people began as a manifestation of popular anger. A shame they seem to have been co-opted by some bigtime money guys. Their initial impulse wasn't totally wrong, and loud public demonstrations of anger are good as reminders to the powers.
Talk to just about anybody and you'll hear that anger. We despise our Congress and have no use for the president. Obama could have given AG Eric Holder a big push to investigate and prosecute some of the miscreants who brought on the horrible financial mess. Instead Holder appointed a bunch of civil-right attorneys and natters on about wanting a conversation on race. It's not the AG's place to moderate conversations; it's his place to prosecute crimes, and there are a bunch lying out there to look into. Millions of Americans have lost jobs and hope, and most of us feel that we have no advocates anywhere in government. Can somebody please make us feel otherwise? Or does Goldman Sachs truly own the entire U.S. government? There is no party or person that makes me feel otherwise.
At least, per this story in the LATimes, the congress know their constituents aren't happy. Congress members are avoiding town-hall meetings during the recess because they don't like getting beat up on by unhappy voters.
Polls show Americans not only want to throw the bums out, a view voters often express, but they want to dislodge their own representative — a colossal shift in voter attitudes.
A Pew Research Center survey released Thursday said 86% of Americans were "frustrated or angry" with the federal government. Republican leaders' approval ratings dropped to 22%, with Democrats not much better at 29%.

Heat index right now is 119°

The decrepit old air conditioner is making a valiant effort to keep up, but it's sweating-hot even in the house. Go out on the porch and you'll come in soaked in greasy sweat, even with no exertion at all. If you stayed very long, you'd just render down to a puddle of lard, I guess. That piddling little rain made not a dent in the dried-up area formerly known as the yard. There are cracks two inches across out there. Hoping for rain? don't. See the Drought Monitor for your prospects for relief. Ninety-five percent of the state is in extreme or exceptional drought. That's really disheartening. We'll have no lemons this year, though the tangerine tree has set some fruit. But sooner or later, it has to get cooler if not wetter.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Feliz cumpleaños, Uruguay

This is Independence Day in Uruguay, the 200th anniversary of the date they got loose from the control of Brazil. The Oriental Republic of Uruguay is a tiny country, a decent size for a state in the U.S., but they have a distinctive culture – cuisine, wines, music, literature. They are collectively prosperous, low on corruption, and patriotic in a non-obnoxious way. They are personally good-natured, civil, and friendly, a likeable and modest tribe. Read about Uruguay as Wikipedia sees it. It's a fine little country, and I wish them 200 more.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


Steve Jobs has bailed on Apple, and that will matter a lot. Apple has been bouncing around with Exxon for the highest market capitalization on the stock exchange. Someone remarked there's a considerable contrast between the two companies ... Exxon produced petroleum, gasoline, chemical feedstock, diesel, fertilizers, blah blah blah. Apple produced ... electronic gadgets. Something seems off here. Could we be on to the root of the current economic problems?

Friday, August 19, 2011

To the barricades, comrades

From the Andrew Ross Sorkin DealBook blog on the NYTimes site, an enfuriating story about a big-time Wall Street guy's 60th birthday party:
Last Saturday night, the financier Leon D. Black celebrated his 60th with a blowout at his oceanfront estate in Southampton, on Long Island. After a buffet dinner featuring a seared foie gras station, some 200 guests took in a show by Elton John. The pop music legend, who closed with “Crocodile Rock,” was paid at least $1 million for the hour-and-a-half performance.

Read all about it here. Grease up the wheels on that tumbrel ... I hate that squeaking noise. These people really, truly do not know, understand, or care about this country.
And then, a comment from blog I like: 'The malaise will not be spread evenly on the sandwich.'
I may be feeling whiny because my piddling collection of IRAs has shed a bunch of money in the last couple of weeks.

Big do in Buffalo

Well, hell, I've missed the biggest annual event in beautiful Buffalo, Kansas. For details, see here. Didn't get to attend the bring-your-own-bowl bean feed. The mayor was worried that they would have to cancel it because of lack of energetic volunteers and high cost of a band. Glad they made it. Maybe next year.
Pic courtesy of Gary McKee, the crazed kayaker, who happened to be passing through.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Brit riots & street language

The British riots fascinate in a train-wrecky sort of way. One odd and interesting bit has been the interviews with some of the participants and witnesses, interviews that leave you wishing for subtitles so as to understand what the hell's being said. The working class of London has a wonderful history of inventive and sly language. Seems that's been replaced by a crossbred Caribbean-English patois called by some Jafaikan. From The Guardian this five-year-old piece on the new language:
Safe, man. You lookin buff in dem low batties. Dey's sick, man. Me? I'm just jammin wid me bruds. Dis my yard, innit? Is nang, you get me? No? What ends you from then? If this language sounds familiar, the chances are you're from inner-city London, where a new multicultural dialect is emerging. But wherever you live, it's coming to you soon. The "cor blimey, guvnor"s of those born within the sound of Bow bells are fading into oblivion as a new Jamaican-inspired language takes hold. …

Read all here and get translations and a little glossary.
I first encountered Cockney rhyming slang in Brendan Behan's book, Borstal Boy, about his time in British juvie prison after being arrested as an IRA agent. The thing to rhyming slang is the speaker uses a word that rhymes with the word meant. So, you called your friends 'chinas,' as china plate means mate. Your hand was your german band. Guy took off, he scarpered, a bit of distorting for 'Scapa Flow [straits off Scotland] means go.' You get it, right?
I read that enough of the rhyming slang survives that Cockneys were amused by the name of the young Palin girl since 'Bristol city means titty,' as, 'Look at the Bristols on that bird.' Slang, patois, cant, in their better manifestations, are poetry [and sometimes rhyme].

Thursday, August 11, 2011

I don't wanna know if this is fake

Friend sent along a vid of a Russian newscaster trying to read a story and failing, by reason of cracking up laughing. The story is about a field of marijuana in British Columbia guarded by bears.

The story appears to be real, or at least one can link to an American newscast with the same comment and less mirth.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Everybody talks about it

The South Texas summer drags along as relentlessly as a Chicago winter. Rain continues negligible, and there are three-inch cracks in the back yard, despite $150 water bills. This could go on for a long time. From the Fort Worth Startlegram:
The ferocious Texas drought is clobbering crops, thinning out cattle herds, decimating wildlife, and drying up streams and reservoirs, but it's also wreaking havoc deep underground, where the state's aquifers are dropping at a precipitous rate, experts say.

Read more here.
And, from a guy named Joe Romm, possible long-term implications of the drought:
Dust-Bowlification combined with the impact on food insecurity of Dust-Bowlification (and other extreme events) is, I believe, the biggest impact that climate change is likely to have on most people for most of this century (until sea level rise gets serious in the latter decades).

More of that here. The forces of the cosmos conspire to make miserable our lives. How's your IRA doing? Yeh, I know, mine too.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Peace in our time & an Israeli spring

Well, they're putting the final ribbon on the lawmaking that'll allow a raise in the debt ceiling here in America. My strongest reaction is disgust at all parties involved. My wife has had herself in a fine state of outrage for several days, sending out emails to non-functional Web sites and trying to leave voice mails on filled-up answering machines in the capital of the Republic. This ain't over and all the evil is not yet revealed.
From Al Jazeera, an interesting story on an odd subset of the Arab Spring, an outburst of Israeli displeasure:
Suddenly "tent cities" sprung up throughout the country, with protesters not only railing against the high cost of living, but against the massive shift of wealth from the middle class to the ultra-wealthy. Israelis took to the streets to protest deteriorating health care, a mediocre (at best) public school system, and what can only be described as the wholesale collapse of the public sector in favor of unregulated "free" enterprise.

. . . . . . . . . . . .
… Demonstrators include Jews and Arabs, the secular and religious, and Sephardim and Ashkenazim. Even some elderly Holocaust survivors are in the streets - not surprising given that over a quarter are now living in poverty. That last point is especially jarring. Imagine the Jewish state cutting benefits to Auschwitz survivors while providing economic incentives to billionaires.

Read it all here. Any of that sound familiar – bucks [or shekels] accumulating at the top, poor schools, problematic medical care, laissez-faire capitalism running over the general populace?
Al Jazeera has to be read with a mental filter in place, but so do the NYTimes and the WSJournal.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Great Depression II

We're watching with fascinated horror as the fools in Washington, DC, lurch around in the murk trying to keep their positions and do maximum harm to those they deem enemies. Their biggest enemy looks to be the American people, as that's where maximum damage is being inflicted.
A funny comment from my favorite econ blog, Calculated Risk:
What's gotten us into this mess?

Numbers of Arabic, with the zero causing most of the damage.

I say we have a crusade, a pox on their numbers!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Consider this

from CNNMoney and weep or gnash your teeth or whatever seems appropriate.
Has anyone in Washington noticed that 20% of American men are not working? That's right. One out of five men in this country are collecting unemployment, in prison, on disability, operating in the underground economy, or getting by on the paychecks of wives or girlfriends or parents. The equivalent number in 1970, according to the McKinsey Global Institute, was 7%.

Rest of the bad news here. We have to begin to act as if we believed this is a country with mutual obligations instead of a framework set up to make things happy for corporations and bearable for freeloaders. The comments are interesting.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Our friends the Saudis

It's creepy enough to have even to deal in passing with the Holy Roller Muslims of Saudi Arabia and creepier yet that our oil jones leaves us painfully dependent on that corrupt and crazy bunch. A couple of reporters at Vanity Fair magazine make a pretty convincing case that GWB's great friends and co-oilmen in Saudi were active supporters of the attacks on September 11, 2001.
Congress’s Joint Inquiry [into the attacks], its co-chair Bob Graham told the authors, had found evidence “that the Saudis were facilitating, assisting, some of the hijackers. And my suspicion is that they were providing some assistance to most if not all of the hijackers. . . . It’s my opinion that 9/11 could not have occurred but for the existence of an infrastructure of support within the United States. By ‘the Saudis,’ I mean the Saudi government and individual Saudis who are for some purposes dependent on the government—which includes all of the elite in the country.”

Read more here in the magazine. It's a nice long piece with lots of evidence. Oddly enough, I've not seen much in the rest of the press about the allegations. Disconcerting to find out that your dope dealer is not your friend, huh?
And then from the NYT:
A proposed Saudi counterterrorism law that would give the Interior Ministry sweeping powers and mandate jail sentences for criticizing the king would effectively squelch political dissent, human rights advocates said on Thursday.

Read the rest of that one here. Appalling, innit?

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Upon spelling well

I'm a great speller, always have been. When I was a kid, I usually won classroom spelling bees. As a young man, I worked as a Linotype operator and really honed my skill. The printing trade was full of old guys with little education who could spell better than university-press copy editors.
I know some smart people who aren't good spellers but no good spellers who aren't smart people, though I know there must be idiot savants who can spell every word in Webster's Second – decent folks won't truck with Webster's Third – but can't use those words with any skill. I'm always a little taken aback by good writers who can't spell, as it seems somehow those two skills should go together. Words are, after all, the tools of a writer, and not knowing how to spell them is to use defective tools. I've quit remarking upon bad spelling in the Vicad, but it's still frequent. Picking on the Vicad is like stomping puppies, too easy.
Virginia Heffernan, blogging in the NYT, has some stuff to say about spelling:
Bad spellers are a breed apart from good ones. A writer with a mind that doesn’t register how words are spelled tends to see through the words he encounters — straight to the things, characters, ideas, images and emotions they conjure. A good speller, by contrast — the kind who never fails to clock the idiosyncratic orthography of “algorithm” or “Albert Pujols” — tends to see language as a system. Good spellers are often drawn to poetry and wordplay, while bad spellers, for whom language is a conduit and not an end in itself, can excel at representation and reportage.

Read all of her insightful comments here.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Hot nuff fer ye?

According to Weather Underground, the temp right now in **Adrift is 82.6 and the dew point is 77. Think that's miserable? Well, it is, but consider this datum from a Chicago weather blog:
[T]he world-record high dew point of 95 was recorded at Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, and when combined with that afternoon's temperature of 108 produced a heat index of 174 degrees.

Read the rest here, although that's enough to make you cringe and cancel out on the job teaching in Saudi.

You will actually, really, truly laugh out loud

at Kevin Spacey doing nine impersonations in six minutes.
Nine Impersonations by Kevin Spacey in Six Minutes

Friday, July 8, 2011

Boys will be boys

and, hell, sometimes grown men will be boys. Sent along by herself, here we have a story that gives hope to all the decrepit of this world. Some guys in Michigan stole a stuffed gator and went mudding with it. The alleged miscreants were 53, 55, and 60 years old, and they were drunk four and five times over by the MADD standards we use now:
Three men accused of stealing a stuffed alligator, strapping it to a pickup and going mudbogging will have a hearing to determine if there is enough evidence to send them to trial.

Get it all here. I hate to think of their hangovers and, I would hope, embarrassment. I once tried to get a bunch of guys in their 40s to go paint 'SRS 60' on a water tank in New Mexico. Fortunately, drunker heads prevailed.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Revenge of the old farts

From the Daily Mail of the UK, this heartwarming tale of a bunch of elders who took justice into their own hands:
A gang of old age pensioners who kidnapped and tortured their financial adviser because he had 'taken us for a ride' were jailed in Germany today.
. . .
During the trial the court also heard that [the financial adviser] himself is now under investigation by authorities in Karlsruehe for suspected fraud.
[The financial adviser] was ambushed outside his home in Speyer, western Germany, where he was bound with masking tape and bundled into the boot of a car after being hit over the head with the walking frame of one of his kidnappers.
According to the prosecutors, [two of the pensioners] attacked [the adviser] outside his home and bundled him into an oversize cardboard box which they wheeled to the boot of a silver Audi saloon car.

Read more here. Makes me proud for people everywhere who are mad as hell and aren't going to take it any longer. Now if only Americans would descend on the Goldman Sachs HQ and exact similar justice.

Monday, July 4, 2011

National anthems

I have always considered our national anthem unsingable and painful. A sorry thing but our own. The Onion has a goofily sanguinary set of supposedly heretofore undiscovered verses. ['Tear their heads from our foes / Let their hot blood gush forth / Chop their limbs from their trunks ...']. A hoot.

Restoration Of 'Star Spangled Banner' Uncovers Horrifying New Verses
And for a nice comparison with The Onion's satire, a partial Yahoo Answers translation of the Mexican national anthem:
War, war without quarter to any who dare
to tarnish the country's coat of arms!
War, war! Let the national banners
be soaked in waves of blood.
War, war! In the mountain, in the valley,
let the cannons thunder in horrid unison
and may the sonorous echoes resound
with cries of Union! Liberty!
Stanza VI
Oh country, ere your children, defenseless
bend their neck beneath the yoke,
may your fields be watered with blood,
may they leave their footprints in blood.
And may your temples, palaces and towers
collapse with horrid clamor ...

So, how would you satirize that?

And in honor of our birthday

A Happy Glorious 4th!

And to boot, 'Washington Post.'

Monday, June 27, 2011

Why I have come to hate flying

Pipe this story plucked from the LATimes:
The Transportation Security Administration stood by its security officers Sunday after a Florida woman complained that her cancer-stricken, 95-year-old mother was patted down and forced to remove her adult diaper while going through security.

Read the whole sorry thing here.
I have always maintained that a consortium of the country's finest minds could likely find some reliable indicators of possible saboteurs by reviewing the characteristics of perpetrators from the past and write logarithms to select that group for special scrutiny. Lots of 95-year-old women suffering from cancer? Then give that dangerous demographic closer attention in inspection lines. Or maybe there is some other common characteristic of terrorists. Brown eyes? Males under 40? Certainly not Middle Eastern provenance? We all know that it's not allowed to declare the frank evidence of our eyes, to use good old Anglo-Saxon empiricism. There are places I'd love to go, but I stifle the urge because the TSA procedures make me so angry, and I'm sure a lot of other people feel the same way. This incident seems particularly egregious thuggery on the part of this nasty bunch of putative public servants.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Joys of ...

This pic arrived by e-mail with a short message: 'Are you ready for me?!!! I'm on my way!! :-)'

The Girl and spouse are in the Dominican Republic for a week of beach time. Bless 'em, they have it coming, as they are as hard-working a couple as you will ever encounter. We get a week of Lily Jane, Oscar the weenie dog, and brother Dawson, a nice kid of eleven who bubbles with little-boy enthusiasms and preferences. The Girl advised me to bolt for the Summer White House, but it's as yet not habitable, so I'm busy here cooing, cursing, and cooking. The Vatican has called asking for one of my knucklebones, post mortem, of course ... something about sainthood. 'Pappy is a saint.' Lily laughs like crazy when she hears that and then says, 'Nooooooo.'

Got your Saturday night gloom?

OK, I guess I'll just have to bring it.
Al Jazeera is a fine source of international news and cover stuff that is too imortant to get much attention from American sources, occupied with Anthony Weiner's goofiness and an election that's a year in the future. The big Japanese nuclear catastrophe appears forgotten in the face of these more current happenings, but it's still out there and will be for a long time.
"Fukushima is the biggest industrial catastrophe in the history of mankind," Arnold Gundersen, a former nuclear industry senior vice president, told Al Jazeera.
Japan's 9.0 earthquake on March 11 caused a massive tsunami that crippled the cooling systems at the Tokyo Electric Power Company's (TEPCO) nuclear plant in Fukushima, Japan. It also led to hydrogen explosions and reactor meltdowns that forced evacuations of those living within a 20km radius of the plant.

Read all that here and put Al Jazeera English in your news bookmarks.
Then on an immediate level of catastrophe, the bad news that we may be at peak coffee. This is really tragic.
In the face of strong demand, coffee inventories have fallen to their lowest levels on record. A decade ago, coffee-making countries had stored some 55.1 million 60-kilogram bags. Last year, stocks fell to 13 million bags. The industry’s supply-demand balance is so bleak, in fact, that a scientist rocked trade forums last year by warning that the world is veering toward “peak coffee” – the point at which producers can no longer increase production to meet the world’s rising taste for the drink.

Read it here in The Globe and Mail of Toronto.
Nobody will write a crying-in-your-beer song about Fukushima, but without coffee to get our hearts pumping in the morning, all civilization may grind to a somnolent halt.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Whole Foods parking lot

I know Whole Foods for more than thirty years and have watched them go from a funny-smelling, hippie-granola kind of store to a grotesquely overpriced and utterly yuppie upscale operation. Long time ago, I interviewed the founder for an article for an airline magazine. Often wished I'd taken the commission and bought Whole Foods stock; my retirement would be more secure. Kited from a friend's Facebook entry is this funny goof on Whole Foods hipsters.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Out of their natural habitat

Had a little exchange a bit back about people who wander out of their natural culture and embrace someone else's. Here is a wonderful example, Japanese surf music. There are some other clicks on the side that are worth investigating. Check out their 'Misirlou.' Pipe that drummer hamming ... drumming must be transnational.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Platonic food

Bacon is, of course, nature's most perfect food – fatty and salty and crunchy and easily eaten with the fingers. How can you beat that? My favorite salad has bacon on top, and the world's best meatloaf features bacon. Here's a paean to bacon. Go and make your house smell warm and welcoming.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

A journey to the west

We just got back from an annual trip for my wife, more like a biennial trip for me, out to the Edwards Plateau. Ostensible reason is cemetery-cleaning, but she also went in search of ancestors in the Kimble Co courthouse in Junction.
We stayed in a cabin on Copperas Creek, happily near the ruins of a place where kin of hers lived way back before the Comanches were pacified completely. We saw the chimneys and the place they drew water up a bluff from a spring. Tough people. Wife tells a story that her forebear went off to San Antonio, and the wife and kids were left to get by on catfish from the creek and the meal at the bottom of the barrel. Tough folks. It was pretty cool.
That country is well toasted by the big dry we have going on. Hardly a blade of grass and the ribs sticking out on the deer. Cattle mostly sold off. The landlady said it's the driest she's seen in upward of fifty years. Copperas Creek's gone dry at the headwaters, though there is still water holding behind dams along the creek.
It's pretty spectacular country. From the porch we looked across the creek to steep cliffs. Right in the middle of the top cliff pic, you can see an exotic deer making its way along a trail about twenty feet up from the foot of the cliff.
A lot of wildlife and birds galore. One of the pix is of a painted bunting, a bird that looks like it was designed by Lily Jane with a large watercolor set. No cats, no people ... heaven.
The Girl showed up, bringing Lily Jane, and all had a fine time at the cemetery-cleaning and reunion. I will never have a membership card in the club out there [you pretty much have to have ridden in that yellow schoolbus with them to really fit in], but I do have a guest card, they are cordial, and the opportunities for ethnography are good.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day

Today we have honored our soldiers, all our soldiers. I give particular thought on these patriotic holidays to a Continental soldier in the American Revolution, a 19-year-old named Thomas Ponder. Ponder fought in the crucial Battle of the Cowpens in South Carolina in 1781 against a brutal British commander named Banastre Tarleton. The American commander at Cowpens was a tough and crafty hillbilly sort named Daniel Morgan. Morgan did some tactical maneuvering on the battlefield that messed with Tarleton's head. Along with King's Mountain, Cowpens was one of the important fights in the campaign in the South. Thomas Ponder was my great-grandfather's grandfather. We heed that very old history less than we did when I was a kid, but we should all be mindful of the debt we owe those men who stuck their necks out to secure our freedom.
Then there was my uncle, MSgt Russell Ponder, who I always believed won WWII. In a way, he did, because a lot of duty-bound men like him did it together.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Pipe this

Go here. Pick your year [or if you're really old, you get the entire Forties]. Then sit there and sing along, tap out rhythm with your cane, prove disturbing to your spouse.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Dancin' in the street

Check out this nimble, porky little tanguero dancing in the streets in Buenos Aires. You go out, say, on Sunday morning to some street fair, and there will be people tangoing in blocked-off streets. Or wander down toward the Ciudad Vieja in Montevideo, and there they are, people dancing for crowds that accumulate to the sound of the music. It seems like something touristy, and there are touristy tango venues, but the dance is absolutely basic in the cultures of the Rio de la Plata countries. There are people, mostly females, i think, who come from other countries and immerse themselves in tango. It's really sexy music and dance and no doubt provides a steady supply of chicks for BsAs tango guys to hustle.
It's an odd thing, people who completely embrace other cultures. There used to be a Japanese guy who did country fiddling, and around Austin many years ago a Dutch guy who did American folk music. He'd go on about 'Pick Pill Proonzy.' I've always had a weakness for Mexican ranchera music of Forties and Fifties vintage. Ayy, Cuco Sánchez. I'll scratch around and find some Cuco one of these days. We had an interesting conversation in Vigo, Spain, with an internet cafe guy who picked up our Mexigringo accents and engaged us; turned out he was a big fan of the same music. It's an amazing world.

Combat photography

Friend sent this along. Anyone who knows any photographers will love it.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Mimosa, swallowtail

Wife returned home a couple, three days before I did and caught the mimosa in the sideyard all full of swallowtails. Almost an excess of flashy natural beauty. And we're rolling into that wonderful time of year when we have to hustle to stay ahead of the tomatoes. Makes up for all those mealy, flavorless tomatoes we eat in the wintertime.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Little lady preachers

We went to a birthday celebration this afternoon for a friend who's turned 70. I couldn't even kid him about being old, being within easy sight of 70 myownself. The party was held at the little Methodist church here in **Adrift where the pulpit has been for the last couple of years in the possession of a young female who looks about 20 years old. She is about to be ordained, and the pulpit here will pass to another.
For whatever reasons, it put me in mind of this Tom T. Hall song. I was very devoted to Tom T. back in the 1970s and saw him two or three times around Austin. I had the thought when I was teaching English in Mexico that his songs would make a nice tool for people trying to learn the language, as they tell stories that are universal and catch nicely a basic part of American culture. 'The Homecoming' is a perfect song, and Tom T. Hall is a genius. Haven't seen anything of him for some time, but he must be around 70, like the rest of us. Maybe he just went home to Olive Hill, Ky., and sits on the porch and picks for his own pleasure.

This & that

Made a drive yesterday that would have been worthy of my younger, iron-assed days of driving, all the way from Yates Center, Kan., to **Adrift, a trip that appears to be more than 700 miles. Now I'll be paralyzed for two days ... that's the catch with trying to relive youthful exploits. Have to retire the thousand-mile shirt.
There are interesting doings at Citizens Hospital in Victoria. Although I haven't noticed coverage in the Vicad [I have been out of town], the story has received ink in the NYTimes via Texas Tribune. For that interesting bit, go here to read of claims of discrimination by some South Asian heart guys and responses from Citizens people.
And, jes cuz, a nice pic of swallowtail butterfly in the mimosa. Wife captured this shot; she said the tree was filled up with butterflies a few days ago.

Friday, May 13, 2011

A dispatch from the frozen North

I am in Yates Center, Kansas, maybe 650 miles north of **Adrift. The wind is blowing cold, it's maybe in the low Fifties, and people are wearing actual, real coats to be outside. I received a first-gator report from herself back down south.
I am in the severalth day of trying to make some things happen on Rancho San Fulano, the summer White House, the dacha, the doomstead. Things happen slowly in farm country, as people are gaited to Nature's own rhythms, which run more to 'when the grass greens up' or 'when the water goes down' than to '2 Tuesday afternoon.'
It's very pretty up here, with nice flowers ... some amazing irises. These people enjoy a just reputation as neat and tidy. They are also beautifully civil and courteous. One refreshing note: When you say 'Thank you,' you get back 'You're welcome' instead of the somehow annoying 'No problem.'
Employment is dire, with no big enterprises to spread money around. Seems like most men work a piddling job and two more scuffles, on the order of scrapping or selling firewood or doing catch work. About the second largest job category I encounter is being on disability, which doesn't pay much but is steady and reliable. I hope to leave with the assurance that things will go forward and that I will be able to come up next time and find the place habitable.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Ayyy, Cuca!

We've got this thing going for a Portuguese singer name of Cuca Roseta. She is amazingly beautiful and has a voice that can make you teary-eyed. Check this out. It's not a tango, but it's not bad. Four or five years ago, we spent several days in the north of Portugal, just across the border from Spain. It was beautiful country with the feeling that all the buildings were built four or five hundred years back when the Portuguese were running all about the world. The old days of empire left influences that you wouldn't think about at first: African immigrants, chinoiserie from the old days in Macao, curries because of the Goa connection, and Brazilian workers around. Pore place's getting roughed up the the current economic climate, which is sad, as they had such a long, dry spell before the little burst of Europrosperity. You could stand to live there; the food is very good, excellent wine is cheap, people are amiable.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Sunday night misc

Pore ole Mexico continues its disravelment in astonishing ways. Gangsters are snatching people off buses in northern Mexico and killing them, apparently just for the pleasure of killing. Dashiell Hammett, in Red Harvest, called that kind of gleeful violence going blood simple, and some movie guys appropriated the phrase for a movie title. It's sad to remember that Mexico was once the place we wanted to run off to. Not ten years ago, I was looking at property in Yucatán and dreaming of huevos motuleños and morning coffee at the Express in Mérida. Some music from the old days, when Mexico was more romantic than tragic.

And a funny, sorta, piece about wild boar in Berlin city limits. We can sympathize with the Berliners and their pig problem. Ck it out here on the BBC.

And a blog comment that I liked: '[C]ivilization is defined by the presence of musical instruments, alcohol, and literature, in that order.' And, so, another little copita of tinto for me, and maybe a bit of book and a tango CD.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Self-selection for Darwin awards

The LA Times is a regular stop for me, in large part for the peek into the bizarro state of life on the goofy coast. My latest little jewel is a story about a cholo who, in effect, had tattooed on his chest a confession to a murder.
Inked on the pudgy chest of a young Pico Rivera gangster who had been picked up and released on a minor offense was the scene of a 2004 liquor store slaying that had stumped Lloyd for more than four years.

Read it all here. The tat was executed in such detail that the laws could establish that the cholo had committed the murder in question. If the mexicano imports are taking the criminal jobs that Americans didn't want, they need to study the Sicilian traditions about silence. La Eme, the Mexican Mafia, had its constitution posted on line, in effect admitting to conspiracy to commit crimes. Never catch the real Mafia in such arrant stupidity.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Campaigns already

His Oliness recently announced his candidacy for re-election to the office of president, sparking on a blog I like a really funny bunch of suggestions for a campaign slogans. Some examples:
Give Me a Second Chance, And I'll Prove You Are Worthy of Me

O'12: Able to manage 50% more simultaneous wars than anyone else.

Change we can bereave in

Confident Smugness For An Uncertain World

No Matter What Crisis I Cause, I Will Remain Serenely Above It

And a nice one from a disappointed lefty: 'Nowhere Man 2012: Because Everyone Else Is Worse.'

J-school at U of Colorado shutting down

A steal from the Facebook page of an old editor of mine tells us that the University of Colorado is dismantling, sorta, its school of journalism. Story reads, "The University of Colorado's journalism school will close June 30, making it the first -- but perhaps not the last -- college to be shut down in the university's history."
Read the whole thing here in the Boulder Daily Camera. It appears that the school is vexed in various ways that make closing it down a reasonable thing to do. Fact is, two-thirds of the J-schools in the country need to close down. It's a shameful thing to take high education fees from kids who think they have a future doing journalism in anything like the old way.
I remember reading somewhere that the U.S. has an 8,000-year supply of anthropologists at the current rate of job availability. People have been sold a bogus idea that a college diploma is a guarantee of a secure life, but about half or more of college diplomas are a waste of time and money. The credentialism of modern America is a sad travesty. The Calhoun County schools are dropping auto tech and cosmetology courses in a budget move, thus depriving students of an opportunity to learn something that translates into real job opportunities, while the Vicad sponsors a professor in print journalism and Hispanic or Latino or Chicano or Whatever studies. Neither field looks promising for employment in the world we live in.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Odd punctuation

I don't much bother with picking at the Vicad these days. It's kinda like stomping on a puppy or maybe beating a dead horse, as they seem so generally debilitated as to offer no satisfaction from little jabs. That notwithstanding, I had to puzzle over this sentence from CC's blog:
As far as I can tell, this is the first time, any big media outlet outside of Victoria has covered this story.

Seems to an assiduous sort that there is a needless comma in that sentence. Problem with blogging is that, save for yourself, you don't have an editor, and some editors need editing.
Usually reliable sources tell me that one of the hospitals has canceled subscriptions for the Vicad, relying instead on the miserable USA Today for papers for their patients. Reliable subscription stats are a little hard to find; the paper claims as readers anyone who walks past a paper rack, but actual subscriptions appear to be below 20K these days. Tsk, tsk.

Arkie eccentricity

Friend of mine's on the road a lot and sends me odd stuff from wherever. He's even visited the rancho in Kansas. He sends this fine example of Arkansas eccentricity. There is something in the Ozarks that seems to encourage certain forms of entertaining peculiarity. You'll need to move your cursor over the pix to see the progress of construction. It's really cool.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Okie earthquake

My newest playpretty from the Internet is this interactive earthquake map. There was recently a 3.4 east of Oklahoma City. Those who say things say that the fault we should fear is the New Madrid along the Mississippi River. That part of the country is apparently unprepared for quakes.
On the same topic, I'd guess that Edith Ann hasn't seen the latest Texas Monthly, as there is no indication of massive tremors centered in Victoria.

Amzing penguin documentary

From BBC:
The BBC announced that camera crews filming near the Antarctic for its natural history series Miracles of Evolution had captured footage of Adélie penguins taking to the air. ..

Check your calendars.
April 2 – And for pilón-lagniappe-boot, this classic:

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Hail, Spring

In honor of the first day of spring, the A.E. Housman poem that I have read [or thought, since I pretty well know it by heart] every spring since I was the age of the one who tells the poet. I'm damn close up on my allotted threescore and ten, and it's still a good poem.

Loveliest of trees, the cherry now

LOVELIEST of trees, the cherry now
Is hung with bloom along the bough,
And stands about the woodland ride
Wearing white for Eastertide.

Now, of my threescore years and ten,
Twenty will not come again,
And take from seventy springs a score,
It only leaves me fifty more.

And since to look at things in bloom
Fifty springs are little room,
About the woodlands I will go
To see the cherry hung with snow.

No Irish Need Apply

It's a long-held grievance that Irish were systematically discriminated against in employment in 19th-Century America. A University of Chicago historian, Richard Jensen, has done a long and carefully researched paper indicating that the legend is simply that, a legend, and that Irish did about as well as anyone in similar circumstances. Teddy Kennedy was simply lying when he claimed to remember seeing 'No Irish Need Apply' signs. [It wasn't the only time Teddy lied.] Read the paper here. It's long but worth the trouble.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Día San Patricio

Here's to the great Gaels of Ireland
The race that God made mad
For all their wars are merry
And all their songs are sad

So for St. P's Day, a vid I've lifted from a friend's Facebook posting:

Monday, March 14, 2011

Lookie here!

Go to http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2011/03/13/world/asia/satel
lite-photos-japan-before-and-after-tsunami.html?ref=asia [copy & paste it; I can't make it co-operate] interactive story in the NYTimes. You can move the little bar in the middle from left to right and see the same scenes in Japan before and after the quake/wave. It's an amazing world, ours.

Friday, March 11, 2011

The Antipodes

So, there's this half-frivolous bit going on about the China Syndrome on my favorite blog. Someone wondered where the Japanese reactors would come out if they melted all the way through the earth, and someone else posted that to find out you only had to go to an Antipode map. What more marvelous thing than the Internet to have an Antipode map? Here's an Antipode map. How could anyone resist finding about the place exactly against our feet – which is what antipode means – from where we stand now. For **Adrift, the antipode is about halfway between Madagascar and the western tip of Australia. You move the arrow on the top map to your locations, and the antipode shows up on the bottom map.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Late night, dark skies

Some nights I oughta go to bed early. Seems like tonight's Internet noodling has produced a deluge of depressing stories. First, there's a quake in Japan that's reported as an 8.8 Richter. That's a big mama-san quake. Then the econ news sites are surmising about $200/bbl oil if things get nasty in Saudi Arabia.
Then on Energy Bulletin a gloomer about impending unrelieved food shortages:
[F]urther expansion of the food supply appears problematic. World grain production per capita peaked in 1984 at 342 kg annually. For many years production has not met demand, so the gap has been filled by dipping into carryover stocks; currently, less than two months’ supply remains as a buffer
Read all that one here.
Wife went shopping today and came home complaining about the price of everything.
And then, from the Chronicle of Higher Education, a story about a bunch of smart Harvard low-lifes minting $$$ by thumping tubs for Gaddafi [or everhow you spell his name ... you seldom see it spelled the same twice]:
A consulting firm founded by Harvard professors in Cambridge, Mass., received $250,000 a month from the Libyan government to help polish the image in the West of its leader, Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi ...

Read all that turpitude here.
Recently, Harry Reid has complained about the brothels in Nevada. The brothel operators oughta offer him a deal: You close yours and we'll close ours.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Honey badger

A bizarre vid I kited off a Facebook posting. Back in the Fifties there was a sorta bush-league Hemingway named Robert Ruark who wrote pelo-en-pecho books about mostly outdoorsy stuff. His book on the Mau Maus in Kenya may have had some useful warnings about the inevitable end of African independence movements. He wrote a book called The Honey Badger, more or less about his misadventures with women. The idea was that the honey badger purportedly goes for the crotch of men it attacks and literally castrates them. I have no idea if this is true. I don't imagine anyone has read Ruark for thirty years, though his hunting stuff was not bad. He wrote a good column for one of the outdoors mags.
Anyhow, this vid has the damnedest narration that ever you heard. You just hafta admire a beast as gritty as the honey badger. They are mustelids, one of my favorite animal families. When I was a little kid, I read a little-kid book about mustelids and have been fascinated by them ever since. Around here, mustelids are represented mostly by our friend Mr. Skunk. One occasionally grazes on the porch catfood. Met a guy over in Olivia who fed by hand his skunk residents. I always feel sorry for skunks this time of year, when the yearning for romance leads them to roam and get squashed on the road.

Monday, March 7, 2011

This is the coolest ...

The best technology almost always wins in the end, in this case a super air gun. Gives new respect for the old Daisy pump i used to murder sparrows when I was a kid. [Ain't the Internet a fabulous thing?]

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Food porn foto from wife in Austin

Some people like to excite envy in some other people when some people get to eat Thai curried noodles for lunch. But maybe, just maybe, if some other people had a big ol bowl of delicious homemade chili for lunch, then some other people are not quite so susceptible to excitation of envy.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Nailed someone

From an Immigration and Customs Enforcement press release
GULFPORT, Miss. - Howard Industries, Inc., one of the largest employers in Mississippi, pled guilty in federal court Thursday to knowingly violating the federal criminal conspiracy law in its employment of illegal aliens at the company's electrical transformer plant in Laurel, Miss., following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Read the rest of the press release here. That should open 600 jobs for unemployed Mississippians. Unfortunately prosecution touched only the company HR guy and did not nail any execs. Still, a $2.5 mil fine is a good start. I wonder what $2.5 million represents as a fraction of the profits for one year.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Do not, like, talk like that, ya know?

A friend sends along this entertaining little clip. Go here and enjoy a guy reciting a poem [an endeavor I mostly dislike], his words delivered at the same time on the screen in type. It is fun to look at and espouses a sentiment discriminating people can subscribe to.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Pipe this pic

of Christchurch, N.Z., immediately after the quake. Or click http://i.imgur.com/0vZbD.jpg to get it in all its panoramic horror.
Poor babies.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Running up the score

They're into a record year for murders in poor ol Cd. Juárez. From the world's worst newspaper:
In one of the deadliest three days that officials can remember, more than 50 people were killed in Juárez.
Among the 53 victims between Thursday and Saturday were a Juárez police officer, a municipal patrolman and a state investigator.

That first sentence really wants some editing. Read it all here, and consider this ... we've just been through a bunch of TV specials on the St. Valentine's Day Massacre in Chicago. There were seven people killed in that shooting, and it so upset the people of the city that it was the occasion of a massive crackdown on crime. In Wazoo, they just did in seven times that many people over three days, and nobody much notices. It's hard to believe that not so long ago, folks went across the river as insouciantly as they might run to the corner grocery store. [Marginally relevant and just remembered – there used to be a whorehouse in Juárez named the Sans Souci, same etymological root as the insouciantly in previous sentence. It was purportedly a high-class joint.]

Resistance is possible

A restaurant near the Seattle-Tacoma airport refuses to serve the loathsome TSA people that come in the place. The owner of the joint travels a lot and despises the misery dealt out by the gummint gropers. Eight-sixing them out of his establishment is his bit of revenge. A waitress explains:
 We even have the police on our side and they have helped us escort TSA agents out of our cafe. Until TSA agents start treating us with the respect and dignity that we deserve, then things will change for them in the private sector.
Read the whole thing here. There's more TAC evildoing recounted in the post. It makes me happy to see any signs of resistance to the obnoxious government apparatus that has made travelling such utter misery these days. Once upon a time, we Americans would have screamed our heads off about the abrogation of 4th Amendment rights to refuse arbitrary search; now we just take it.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Sorry I haven't written

Just been distracted and then taken in by the wonderful weather. This is what Feb in SoTex is supposed to be. I'll do better, I swear it. In the meantime, this big ol typo in a Chicago paper. Wonder if they're ever sorry they let all those proofreaders go?

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Fred is dead

Like most people my age, I give the newspaper death notices a close look every morning. One does at this age. You'll just kinda whip through, noting the check-out age of the decedents, especially those near your own age. It's just how things are at a certain point in life. A friend, even older than I am, sent along an obit for one Fred Clark, who wrote it himself and was probably an entertaining guy to know.
In lieu of flowers, Fred asks that you make a sizable purchase at your local ABC store or Virginia winery (please, nothing French - the *censored*) and get rip roaring drunk at home with someone you love or hope to make love to. Word of caution though, don't go out in public to drink because of the alcohol related laws our elected officials have passed due to their inexplicable terror at the sight of a MADD lobbyist and overwhelming compulsion to meddle in our lives.

Read it all here in the Richmond, Va., Times-Dispatch.

Memorize this

like the pledge of allegiance, and deliver it if you work somewhere they have those dreadful, bogus employee evaluations. I pilfered it from a comments post elsewhere.
Goal: To dedicate myself in a meaningful manner to a results oriented, team cooperative, project driven environment that contributes to the corporate philosophy of customer service and six sigma quality where the expectations of both the shareholders and management are exceeded in a socially and environmentally sensitive fashion.

If you work, for example, at the newspaper, you could mention a commitment to expanding new media outlets, say something about pushing the envelope, be sure and mention something including the words 'the bottom line,' and throw in a little praise for diversity in the newsroom. Don't mention raises.