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 cumpleaƱos, 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.