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30 September 2002

New Jersey

Here's a question....

If Democratic leaders can decide that it's okay to replace a candidate for U.S. Senate in New Jersey at the last minute because he is destined to lose (which does not seem permissible under New Jersey law, just as an aside), then here's a proposal for the GOP in California:

Why not convince Bill Simon to step away from the race, so that Richard Riordan might step in and have a chance to beat the vulnerable sitting governor?

Of course, Democrats would cry foul, and there's no chance of it happening anyway (Simon would never walk away). But what is the difference?

[Posted at 17:35 CST on 09/30/02] [Link]

29 September 2002

Big 12 Wrap: Week Six

Last Week's Wrap

I had lots of time to watch Big 12 football over the weekend following my oral surgery, and in some cases the drugs made the games a whole lot better.

Texas 49, Tulane 0
Texas continues to beat schools where Mack Brown used to coach. Tulane is a terrible football team, and Texas treated it as a practice. There's not much more to say about this one.

Oklahoma 31, South Florida 14
The drugs definitely helped out with this one. South Florida is a better football team than most people realize, but this game wasn't as close as the final score indicates. Oklahoma was never really challenged, but they suffered from the same problems they've had for two years (inability to run the football, inability to sustain drives on offense), and the punting game is terrible right now. If those don't improve, it will be difficult to beat the best teams in the Big 12. That explains why Bob Stoops was so cranky afterwards.

Iowa State 36, Nebraska 14
This is arguably the biggest victory in the history of Iowa State football. They controlled this one all the way, and the national media is now taking note of Seneca Wallace (of course, some of you were reading about him way back when). Unfortunately, the Big 12 scheduling gods have done Iowa State no favors, as 3 of the next 5 conference opponents are ranked. On the Nebraska side, Frank Solich better get that resume ready, because his team has looked like a bunch of quitters two straight weeks (and falls out of the polls for the first time since 1981).

Texas A&M 31, Louisiana Tech 3
Scoring 31 points against a mediocre opponent is reason to rejoice these days in College Station. And they may even continue to fool a few people as they hit the soft part of their conference schedule over the next few weeks. But this team still has problems on offense and within the coaching staff.

Texas Tech 49, New Mexico 0
When Mike Leach's offense is clicking, it is a thing of beauty. It's even more impressive on those rare occasions when Texas Tech plays a little defense. Tech rolled up nearly 600 yards and gave up just under 200 in manhandling New Mexico, and Kliff Kingsbury threw for 400+ yards and 6 touchdowns! If only Tech could put it together against a quality opponent.

Missouri 44, Troy State 7
Give Troy State credit for playing an ambitious non-conference schedule (3 spankings by Big 12 teams already). This was a feel-good game for Missouri, which must entertain Oklahoma next (after a week of practice under a very cranky Bob Stoops).

Kansas 43, Tulsa 33
Only 17,000 or so showed up for this week's edition of the Vomit Bowl. Given that relatives and friends may have been obliged to come watch this, it's still hard to understand why 16,500 or so other people paid to get in the gates. Inexplicably, Kansas actually trailed 13-0 in this one early.

[Posted at 20:20 CST on 09/29/02] [Link]

Price Of Progress?

Callie's been digging a little bit, and has discovered the city is considering an ill-advised plan to route traffic through minor east-west passages that traverse the Montrose area, which will require largely gutting said passages and properties all along the way.

It's very important, after all, to keep the suburbanites who live and pay taxes in Fort Bend County (but commute to downtown Houston to work) moving smoothly. And it's very important for property owners and businesses in Montrose to do their part to support that lifestyle.

Right?

I wonder if Barry Klein will be all over this one? Or if it will interest Boy Blunder Michael Berry, who actually lives in the area (though it might take time from his very busy mayoral campaign)?

[Posted at 16:08 CST on 09/29/02] [Link]

Cooter

Representative Cooter?

Some things are just so strange, I can't even come up with a suitable comment.

This is one of them.

[Posted at 14:45 CST on 09/29/02] [Link]

28 September 2002

More On The Farmer's B@stards

I'm one of those 700,000 policyholders that Farmer's basically told to kiss off this week.

It's their business and certainly within their power to make such a decision, and I have a feeling it's intended more to put pressure on lawmakers and regulators in Texas than anything -- but do they really think people who have other policies with them are actually going to STAY with them on those policies after being cancelled?

I won't be. I can't imagine the b@stards will have much business in Texas at all in a year's time.

[Posted at 16:37 CST on 09/28/02] [Link]

Politicizing The War

Best line I've read today, from Kaus:

Why can Al Gore suggest that the long-term national security is weaker under Bush's policies, while Bush and Cheney can't suggest the obverse without "politicizing" the war?
Well?

[Posted at 13:54 CST on 09/28/02] [Link]

27 September 2002

Kuff Stuff

So Ginger is on hiatus, and I've been in a vicodin haze for a couple of days, but Kuffner's keeping track of the latest with regard to HPD, Chief Bradford, and the raids, not to mention that good ol' mensche Andrew Fastow, who may be turning himself in next week.

[Posted at 19:23 CST on 09/27/02] [Link]

Musical Notes

I can always count on my good friend Dave to keep me up to speed with important music happenings.

He sent me a piece a while back on Steve Earle that gave me the opportunity to rant (rare, I know).

And just a few days ago, he sent me this piece from Rolling Stone on Mr. Earle. This is a better article, though I still have some problems with some of the author's assumptions (but hey, that's my problem -- should I necessarily expect music reviewers to be familiar with the major philosophical issues of the West? Probably not). This paragraph is indicative:

Even if his critics almost willfully misunderstood his song, Earle's refusal to view John Walker Lindh outside the context of the society that produced him provoked exactly the response he wanted.
Ah yes, "the society that produced him." Because we are all just products of our context, which we can never transcend. And THAT philosophical predilection is just an intellectual turnoff for me -- historicism, if you will, though the author probably doesn't realize it.

But I intimated I wasn't going to rant, and so I won't, because the BIG news Dave sends me today is that the Gin Blossoms have re-released their New Miserable Experience CD with 20 (!) bonus tracks, as well as a cd release of their previous indie recording Dusted.

I may have to go track those down at Cactus later (something the labels would have you believe no p2p user ever does).

(Update) Or perhaps I won't track down Dusted locally, since the "indie" record stores within walking distance of my place don't have it. Stores like Cactus bitch and moan about chain stores and Amazon, yet don't carry the lesser-known stuff that one might expect a niche store to carry. At least they have a good selection of Texas/Americana/Red Dirt stuff.

[Posted at 13:33 CST on 09/27/02] [Link]

Brown Grass

Half a billion dollars worth of brown grass!
Brown Grass Is Impressive!

You woulda thought Houston might have learned about grass in an indoors stadium with the Astrodome.

You woulda thought Houston might have learned about grass in a retractible roof stadium with the Juice Container.

But no. After just two games in Reliant, the Texans have discovered what people watching on television have already noticed: dead brown grass in your new half-billion dollar showpiece stadium just isn't very impressive.

It'll be even less impressive when millions of people are watching a Super Bowl here. Or maybe they'll have the problem solved then.

[Posted at 13:14 CST on 09/27/02] [Link]

Farmer's B@stards

In addition to having the jackhammer taken to my teeth yesterday, and the water leak spring up behind the wall, I also got my notice from Farmer's that they were terminating my renter's insurance at the end of the current term (April 2003), part of an ongoing statewide mess.

I've used Farmer's insurance for my car since I started driving in 1986, and it was always easiest just to stay with them for all my needs. I think it's probably the case with most folks that they stick with an insurer for a long time, barring problems. As soon as I feel better, I guess I'm off to shop for a new carrier that can handle all my needs, and Farmer's can go to hell. It takes a lot to piss of a longtime customer, but a cancellation notice on a day a jackhammer rearranged my mouth is just the ticket.

B@stards.

[Posted at 13:01 CST on 09/27/02] [Link]

Why Iraq?

Several days ago, my friend Michael Duff wrote and asked for my opinion on whether or not the U.S. should go to war with Iraq. I had to put him off because of out-of-town guests, and then the wisdom teeth surgery -- and presumably with this column, he's decided where he stands on the issue. I'm in a rambling mode because of the effects of post-surgery narcotics, so here is my rambling on the topic.

Most of Michael's article is used to set up his argument, which is represented almost in its entirety by the penultimate paragraph: the U.S. shouldn't go to war in Iraq because people you know and love in Lubbock [it's written for a Lubbock daily; substitute your place of residence here] may die.

The final paragraph consists of three sentences, each of which could be the thesis for three future columns:

All of these assertions are debatable, of course, and would make fine column fodder if they were developed. But I reject the impression that these are settled issues.

For starters, we would be resuming a war with Iraq. We started a war in Iraq a decade ago, which saw a ceasefire agreement and subsequent UN security council requirements that Saddam Hussein has flaunted almost from the beginning. Of particular concern at the termination of that war was the disarmament of Iraq, which has not taken place. That is a casus belli for the resumption of hostilities in itself. In that sense, the U.S. long ago started a war in Iraq that may well need to be finished (more on that below).

Disarming Iraq and removing its tyrant (the guy who has not lived up to his international agreements) may well give the Islamofascists additional talking points in their recruitment of terrorists, but let's be clear that the goals of radical Islamists are literally to destroy everything in conflict with their radical Islamic vision. Whether the U.S. now engages in the assertive disarmament of Iraq or not will not change that ultimate goal.

The Arab world. The Arab street. Figment of Nasser's imagination? Those are certainly terms one hears quite a bit, even if they have an ether-like quality. But it is probably true (to a degree) that not many Arab leaders are going to say publicly that they want Saddam Hussein removed, for a simple reason: if the U.S. doesn't get the job done completely (as in the last Gulf War), they have to live with the after-effects: a neighbor with a military that is relatively powerful and able to strike throughout the region. But will Arab leaders be inflamed when Saddam is deposed? I have trouble making that jump. They may be unsettled at the prospect of a democratic Iraq, for what it means to their own regimes, but will the leaders of Kuwait or Qatar or Jordan truly be inflamed?

And finally, resuming a war in Iraq is said somehow to legitimize the complaints of Bin Laden. But again, how, short of becoming a radical Islamic regime, will the United States not legitimize the complaints of Bin Laden? Isn't it enough of an indictment of the United States, to paraphrase Orrin Judd on a different topic, that Porky's is readily available just about anywhere in the world to anyone with a credit card? It's modernity that is the chief issue of Osama Bin Laden and radical Islamists; it's the existence of the United States as an international trader and leader of the free world that is the issue. Whether or not the U.S. intensifies its activity in Iraq (it already acts much as an occupying power by maintaining no-fly zones) is not going to have much effect at all on how radical Islamists view the United States, in my opinion.

And that brings me to a version of the original question: What should we do with Iraq (if anything)?

I am in favor of an assertive disarmament approach to Iraq, up to and including outright war and the removal of Saddam Hussein, if necessary. I think Iraq under Saddam Hussein poses a threat to the security of the United States because of his continued (illegal) pursuit of weapons of mass destruction, his willingness to use some of those weapons in the past, and his links to known terrorist organizations.

Now, there is a criminal proceedings approach to this question that suggests unless the United States can produce evidence of Iraqi involvement in the 11 September attacks, there is no reason to attack Iraq. I reject the treatment of international politics as a criminal proceeding. There are multiple reasons that Iraq poses a threat to the United States. The question is, shall the U.S. wait until Saddam, who is (I'm convinced) illegally pursuing weapons of mass destruction, secretly shares those weapons with terrorist organizations who carry out missions against the United States? And will evidence sufficient to a criminal proceeding (no reasonable doubt) ever be forthcoming given the covert nature of much terrorist activity?

The Israelis decided 20 years ago that they could not wait for such evidence, which might well have been a nuked Israel, and they took out the Osirak (weapons-caliber) nuclear reactor. Although the world criticized Israel publicly, many nations privately thanked Israel for this act of assertive disarmament.

In the case of Iraq today, assertive disarmament (whether it is full military invasion or the vigorous inspections regime that Saddam Hussein has resisted from day one) is far preferable to waiting for Saddam Hussein to be able to pose a greater threat than he already does, either on his own or in concert with shadowy terrorist groups. To threaten the West significantly (i.e. with weapons of mass destruction), most terrorist groups still require some sort of safe harbor, which is still best provided by a state sponsor (covert or otherwise). Afghanistan was such a place; the Ferghana Valley was such a place (hence the American interest in basing there); there are other such places, including Iraq.

And that brings us to the question of other potential threats. If we act in Iraq, why not Syria, or Iran, or North Korea? We may well act in those places! It remains to be seen. There is a faction in Iran that opposes the current governing regime (as Michael Ledeen has described for some time now), and it certainly deserves the same level of support that the U.S. has given freedom fighters in other regimes. And Syria certainly bears careful scrutiny, especially as it uses the puppet state of Lebanon to foment regional, if not global, terror. But none of those regimes poses the immediate threat coupled with the intent of Saddam Hussein (if judged by his longtime anti-American sentiment, which drove an attempted assassination on former President Bush, lest anyone forget).

It's true that people die in wars. People also die when radical Islamists use a plane as a weapon of mass destruction. Or when they (eventually) manage to attack a nation with biological or chemical weapons produced with the assistance of a state sponsor. Let's not make the mistake of thinking that by not attacking Iraq (if it rejects a vigorous voluntary disarmament regime), we will somehow change the intent of radical Islamists who would like to kill Americans. People you may know. From [fill in your town].

Maybe, just maybe, we can take a second major step (Afghanistan being the first, and smaller activities in the Ferghana Valley, the Philippines, and Yemen being smaller steps) towards reducing those threats, in Iraq.

I can't pretend to know with certainty that not going to war with Iraq will lead to a terrorist attack against the U.S. with Iraqi ties, just as I can't pretend to know with certainty that going to war with Iraq will eliminate all terrorist threats. I do know that it will eliminate one -- that much is certain. I am in favor of an American foreign policy of assertive disarmament of Iraq because it is preferable, in my view, to the risk of doing nothing.

(Update) Aww, hell. I could have just linked to this piece on NRO....

[Posted at 12:28 CST on 09/27/02] [Link]

Vicodin Is My Friend

I survived the oral surgery, and am now short four wisdom teeth.

The procedure itself wasn't bad, save for the last tooth, which was painful coming out. Interestingly, it was the only tooth they didn't have to section to take out.

I'm much less swollen and sore today than I figured I would be, after chilling out on Vicodin much of yesterday. I have a bit of a pressure headache that I didn't have yesterday, but I think that may be related to the plumbers running around the place. We had a hot water leak that sprang up behind our bathroom wall last night and got progressively worse, so they are replacing that today. And the noise of cutting into the wall was much like a jackhammer. But at least it wasn't INSIDE my head today.

Anyway, if I can just avoid dry socket problems, I should be okay.

[Posted at 09:56 CST on 09/27/02] [Link]

25 September 2002

So Long Wisdom

Thursday morning I go in (finally) to have my wisdom teeth jackhammered out of my head, so no posts here probably until the weekend.

And since I'm likely to be hitting the good narcotics for a few days, there are no guarantees regarding the quality of the posts until at least sometime into next week.

Of course, there are no guarantees about the quality at the moment. Who knows -- it may be an improvement. :) It should certainly make the weekly Big 12 Wrap entertaining!

[Posted at 21:53 CST on 09/25/02] [Link]

Scorched Earth

Orrin Judd nails Tom Daschle. It's devastating.

Of course, Mr. Judd actually takes the time to read and listen and analyze.

The problem, as he points out, is that very few people DO take the time. Sometimes the scorched earth approach works.

And Jay Nordlinger wrote the following about Daschle today:

Certain top Democrats just hate it, hate it, hate it when Republicans discuss the war. Then again, they may hate it when Republicans don’t.

Here is Tom Daschle, referring to Dick Cheney: “I must say, I was very chagrined that the vice president would go to a congressional district and make the assertion that they ought to vote for this particular Republican candidate because he was a war supporter, that he was bringing more support to the president than his opponent. If that doesn’t politicize this war, I don’t know what does.”

Yes, well, we’re all sorry for Mr. Daschle’s chagrin, but this is a democracy, and we discuss important things here, such as whether, and how, to go to war. In one breath, Daschle might insist on this; in another, he decries it. Depends on what suits him, politically.

Can you think of anything else more important to discuss on the campaign trail this year? Isn’t a matter of war more important than, say, a candidate’s nuance on prescription-drug benefits? It’s perfectly legitimate to stand up and say, “Vote for Smith, because he’s with the president on this war.” It’s perfectly legitimate to stand up and say, “Vote for Jones, because Bush is all wet on the war.” May the better man win — or rather, the people will decide, as they always do, rightly or wrongly.

If Tom Daschle rules the war out of bounds as a topic of political discussion, it’s because he thinks it doesn’t cut his way, at the moment. And that’s no principle. If he wants policymaking of the highest import without a little democratic rough-and-tumble, he can go to Russia.

Oh, no, wait: That’s a left-wing parody of the American Right, circa 1970.

I think Nordlinger and Judd have got it about right.

[Posted at 21:46 CST on 09/25/02] [Link]

A&M Follies

You gotta love R.C. Slocum.

Isn't that right, Aggie fans?

Last week, R.C. decided that his quarterback was the reason his team has one of the worse offenses in the country. He decided the backups should play. Yes, backups. Several of 'em.

Of course, that didn't really fix the problem.

That's okay -- it must be the fault of the offensive coordinator!

So R.C. demoted him to quarterbacks coach, and promoted the wide receivers coach to offensive coordinator.

Never mind that if the quarterback play was so awful in the first place, it doesn't make much sense to put the guy who was coordinating the sorry effort in charge of the quarterbacks. Never mind that the receivers coach has never been an offensive coordinator. Never mind that it's just not that easy to make wholesale changes to an offense in midseason (just ask former Oklahoma coach John Blake, who tried to run the spread one week, the wishbone the next, and finally ran himself out of town). Never mind reality, when you are R.C. Slocum.

R.C. Slocum remains the biggest problem with the A&M offense, and after his latest meddling this season, he's going to have an even harder time attracting any decent assistant coaches to A&M to try and fix the mess he's created over the last few years.

I can't help but wonder how much longer R.C. will be around, especially since Robert Gates seems determined to install his own man (perhaps not a "good ol' boy") as Athletics Director.

(09-26-02 Update) The Dreadful Chron seems to think R.C. is showing decisive leadership. I wonder if they recycled that piece from a press release? I do wish we had a decent newspaper in Houston.

[Posted at 21:32 CST on 09/25/02] [Link]

Rayner

Congrats to UH baseball coach Rayner Noble, who just got a 5-year extension and a nice pay raise.

While most of UH athletics has been in the toilet (for years now), Rayner has run up a 294-194 record while playing one of the toughest schedules in the country every year. And he seems like a really nice guy to boot.

[Posted at 21:13 CST on 09/25/02] [Link]

24 September 2002

More Fallout

Another lawsuit has been filed as a result of the bizarre Kmart/Sonic/JCI police raids that were conducted a while back.

I've come to the conclusion that mass deployment of police resources is not the way to deal with the drag racing problems these raids were (allegedly) aimed at.

No, what we really need to do is deploy Mayor Pothole and his Town Car during prime racing hours.

Let Pothole cut across a few lanes of kiddies doing 90 down Westheimer and see if THAT doesn't cut down on the problem!

[Posted at 22:15 CST on 09/24/02] [Link]

Ron Kirk

Here's an interesting letter from the American Prowler's website:

KIRK'S STAR TURN

Re: The Washington Prowler's Ron Kirk Confounded:

Ron Kirk was a disaster as mayor of Dallas. During his two terms as mayor, basic city services involving crime, education and streets were neglected. Kirk's record on crime is devastating. Check out www.dallascrime.com to learn that Dallas has had the highest total crime rate per capita in the nation among cities with population over one million for the last four years. Every year but one during Kirk's term as mayor, the total crime rate per capita increased. Burglary and robbery per capita have also been the highest in the nation for the last four years. In 2001 Dallas was #2 in murder, rape, larceny/theft and auto theft per capita. All stats quoted are from the FBI website www.fbi.gov.

During the 1990s, most major cities saw a decrease in crime while Dallas' crime steadily increased. Mayor Giuliani reduced crime in New York City by almost 70%. Now a person is twice as likely to be murdered in Dallas than in New York City.

Dallas built new stadiums and funded projects that favored the wealthy and the business establishment while the quality of life for the average Dallas citizen deteriorated. Heaven help Texas and the nation if Kirk becomes Senator.

Calie Stephens
Editor, dallascrime.com

[Posted at 20:41 CST on 09/24/02] [Link]

23 September 2002

CMS Thoughts?

Eventually, I will get around to redesigning this site.

And when I do, I want to do some things that will most likely require some dynamically generated, php-driven pages. Two systems I'm considering using are b2 and pMachine.

Anybody have any experience with either system? If so, please drop me an email!

[Posted at 22:37 CST on 09/23/02] [Link]

Chief Perjury

After reading Connelly's News Hostage column a while back, I had some hope that Jeff Cohen might actually be up to the job of improving the Dreadful Chron. And every time I think they're making some progress, they revert back to form. I can't help but think this line was copied almost verbatim from a press release:

Police Chief C.O. Bradford was only a boy when his father, a man who toiled endlessly to support 17 children on a northeast Louisiana cotton farm, summoned him to the field to offer some good advice: Keep your word and your credit.

"If you squared away on those two things, life's journey will be a little easier, he said," Bradford recalled. "I've always exhausted my utmost ability to do that. My credit still speaks for itself. It's AAA. My word -- there are some people trying to taint it."

From reports so far, it appears that Bradford himself has done most of the "damage" to his word -- you know, by lying (allegedly). But why should the Dreadful Chron let that get in the way of a good puff piece? Here is some more of the garbage:
In an interview last week in the office of one of his lawyers, Bradford, the city's second African-American police chief, spoke of his life and the philosophy that has propelled his 23-year police career.

It is a rags-to-riches tale.

Reared in poverty in Newellton, La., a community of about 1,100 just a stone's throw from the Mississippi River, Bradford parlayed a two-year criminal justice degree into a career of national prominence.

He brought new openness to his department, gleaned praise from potential critics and directed his officers in keeping a lid on violent crime while renewing commitment to community-based policing.

"Overall," said Hans Marticiuc, president of the 4,900-member Houston Police Officers Union, "he's been a very good chief."

Former Mayor Bob Lanier, who nominated Bradford for the position in the fall of 1996, described him as "consistently impressive." Johnny Mata of the League of United Latin American Citizens praised him for efforts at rapprochement with the Hispanic community.

By most accounts, the guy has been a decent police chief. My only question for his supporters is this: If he's such an impressive figure, how in the world did he manage to get outmaneuvered by a lowly captain with a record of unorthodox behavior and borderline insubordination?

[Posted at 22:31 CST on 09/23/02] [Link]

Beware The Mayoral Town Car

It's been a busy couple of days with company and a roadtrip, so I didn't manage to comment on the latest in Mayor Pothole's Excellent Driving Adventure. Pothole is now being sued by the person he rammed in the mayoral Town Car. And now the Chron is reporting that he cut across three lanes of traffic to make a left turn! Unbelievable.

Meanwhile, Mayor Pothole has fled the country to hang out with the French Weenies:

Neither Boyd [plaintiff's attorney] nor Fox [plaintiff] could be reached for comment Thursday. A city spokesman said Thursday that Brown was en route to Paris and could not be reached for comment.
I hope they have the good sense not to let him drive.

[Posted at 21:48 CST on 09/23/02] [Link]

22 September 2002

Big 12 Wrap: Week Five

Last Week's Wrap

I didn't see many of this week's games, but they all pretty much went as expected (or at least as I expected):

Texas 41, Houston 11
Texas overmatched Houston in this one. It was never close, nor was it expected to be. Time will tell if these sorts of opponents will prepare Texas for the middle of the schedule.

Kansas State 27, USC 20
Ell Robertson, who lost the job as starting quarterback heading into the season, came off the bench to secure this one for Kansas State against a quality opponent. So far, K-State appears to be tops in the North.

Iowa State 42, Troy State 12
Everyone makes a fuss over Chris Simms, but Seneca Wallace just keeps rolling up big numbers. Sure, Iowa State was supposed to beat Troy State, but even that shows you how far this program has come along in recent years.

Colorado 31, UCLA 17
Had Gary Barnett lost this one, Colorado's season might have spun out of control. He needed this one in a big way, and got it. Given Colorado's talent, they should scare every team in the Big 12. This team can still do a lot of damage.

Virginia Tech 13, Texas A&M 3
We keep saying that the problem with the offense at Texas A&M is not the quarterback, and this game proved it. The quarterbacks who replaced Mark Farris were awful, and A&M's big problem (aside from R.C.'s offensive meddling) is that it can't run the football. This team won a ton of games in the 90s by running the football and playing great defense. Forget about the QB and figure out what happened to the running game!

NC State 51, Texas Tech 48
I thought going into this one that NC State was overrated, and I still do. Nevertheless, Texas Tech continues a trend under Mike Leach of losing to most quality opponents, even at home. Much like his old mentor Hal Mumme at Kentucky, Leach doesn't seem all that interested in the defensive side of the ball. For that reason, he will continue to lose to quality opponents.

Oklahoma State 52, SMU 16
Oklahoma State finally put together a fairly complete football game. OSU should celebrate now, because the next three games are against Texas, Kansas State, and Nebraska.

Bowling Green 39, Kansas 16
Last week, Bowling Green cruised against Missouri. This week, they went to Lawrence and thumped Kansas. For some reason, 37,000 people witnessed it. With two victories against Big 12 North opponents, Bowling Green would be in first in the Big 12 North at the moment if they were actually a member of the conference. Maybe I should just quit commenting on the games Kansas and Missouri play, and make Bowling Green an honorary member of the conference.

Baylor 37, Tulsa 25
Baylor wins the Vomit Bowl, not exactly blowing out what may be the worst team in Division I-A. And for some reason, 30,000 people witnessed this one. Ugly.

[Posted at 23:51 CST on 09/22/02] [Link]

Back

Scott Melott and the Dead End Angels (photo by John Vaughn)
Scott Melott and the Dead End Angels
(photo by John Vaughn)

The Houston Crew had a great time at Gruene yesterday, which was topped off by Scott Melott's show at Tavern in the Gruene.

The show last time, of course, was priceless, but I really enjoyed this one also. Libbi Bosworth and Scott sounded even better together this time. I really hope she's a permanent part of Scott's new band. Needless to say, I like what he's doing.

I finally got to meet Scott and Jessica afterwards, and they're just as nice as can be.

[Posted at 23:06 CST on 09/22/02] [Link]

21 September 2002

Gruene Roadtrip

I'm off on a roadtrip to Gruene momentarily, to catch Scott Melott and his new band.

It's a beautiful day in Texas, a perfect day for a roadtrip in an SVT convertible.

I hope you're all enjoying a similarly glorious weekend.

[Posted at 12:20 CST on 09/21/02] [Link]

Oops

My apologies to anyone who might have tried to send a trackback ping my way over the last few days.

I discovered a minor tweak I needed to make in my Movable Type cfg file so that some of the cgi processes (including the ping module) would work properly on the new load-balanced server farm I'm on.

It seems to be working fine now.

[Posted at 11:21 CST on 09/21/02] [Link]

The Smoke

I complained about the smoke that hung in Reliant Stadium during the Texans' debut, but never saw the problem mentioned in the Dreadful Chron.

Fortunately, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram covers our team as well as the Cowboys. They say the problem will be fixed:

Team officials say they have the smoke problem they encountered the first game solved. Pregame fireworks displays left a large cloud of smoke in the building and players complained about it bothering their eyes and throats.
Maybe I just missed this in the Dreadful Chron but somehow I doubt it. Anyway, it's good to know that a DFW-area newspaper is picking up the slack.

[Posted at 09:22 CST on 09/21/02] [Link]

The Vet

Frank Luksa of the Dallas Morning News describes the joys of playing football at Philadelphia's Veteran's Stadium.

[Posted at 09:15 CST on 09/21/02] [Link]

20 September 2002

New Blogs

I've run across two new (to me) blogs today that I'm liking:

Poet and Peasant

and

Greg's Opinion

As I've written before, I'm slow to discover interesting blogs. Two in one day is probably some sort of record for me. :)

Also, Michael Duff (once known as Jaffo) has resurrected his weblog. Michael was doing the weblog thing YEARS before the warbloggers decided they invented blogging, and his one-liners are frequently devastating.

[Posted at 21:01 CST on 09/20/02] [Link]

Schramm On Helprin

A few days ago, the Wall Street Journal published a Mark Helprin op-ed that is extremely critical of President Bush's conduct of the war on terror. Thoughtul readers will recall a similar piece by Helprin that ran in National Review months ago.

Helprin is a fine novelist and thinker, but I thought he was off base with these columns. I never found the time or motivation to post anything on the topic earlier in the week. But Peter Schramm of Ashbrook came out with this fine critique:

This is an over-the-top attack on Bush's conduct of the war by Mark Helprin, the best living novelist and a serious thinker. I like Helprin personally and he is a fine mind, but this characterization of Bush and his war policy is only partially true, at best. It seems true only because—perhaps surprisingly—Helprin doesn't seem to understand that although this is called a war it is not a war like World War II where all the power and wealth of the nation has to be in play and wherein all our enemies need to be destroyed all at once. This is a more difficult and more subtle form of warfare and it is likely to remain such for many years to come. This war calls for practical wisdom in the best sense, for high diplomacy with an almost continual threat of force to back it up, and an occasional (and even frequent) use of fierce firepower. It calls for shifting alliances and some very fine rhetoric. It calls for a lot of patience and even more secret undercover work. This really is a war that depends more than any other on intelligence. Although what Helprin says about places like Saudi Arabia are true, it does not therefore follow that we have to take such regimes out, or at least that it must be done now. That temptation toward retribution and anger has to be controlled for larger and more just purposes. There is a large element of trust involved. The fact is that the Bush administration—with the help of Israel and others—is in the process of re-organizing the Middle East both for our interest and the locals' interest, and is about to either ensure that the UN becomes a tool of American foreign policy or it will wither into a League of Nations-like non-presence, and is killing many bad guys. The war is still going along fine, despite Helprin's outburst. Wisdom shows itself in the world in surprising ways and, so far, Helprin has missed it. Too bad.
Schramm, who was trained at Claremont by two of my favorite scholars (Harry Jaffa and Bill Rood), gets this one right.

His Ashbrook Updates are well worth reading.

[Posted at 20:51 CST on 09/20/02] [Link]

Thanks R.C.

There is different things you can do offensively depending on what quarterback is playing.

--R.C. Slocum, Texas A&M head coach

Yes, indeedy, there ARE. In the Slocum offense, one QB is better at fumbling the ball away, while one is better at falling down in the pocket and zooming passes where the receivers aren't, and the other is good at interceptions. It's a multi-pronged attack for sure.

A&M is going to need every bit of that home field edge tomorrow, I have a feeling.

[Posted at 20:37 CST on 09/20/02] [Link]

19 September 2002

Music

Rudz was PACKED, so we hung next door (at a funky art gallery/bar conveniently called The Next Door) for a bit, and only caught part of Mary's show.

It was interesting. Mary's such a stage performer that she always puts on a good show, and I like her band for the most part. She seems to be enjoying having a band again. But I don't know that I like the way it all hung together ultimately. Can't quite describe why. Too tired. Need sleep.

Anyway, it's a good kickoff to the musical weekend, which is going to involve another roadtrip to Gruene to see Scott Melott and his new band. It should be well worth a listen. I'm looking forward to Austin Dawn, Nashville Suicide, George and Lucille, and... well, all the good stuff Scott does.

[Posted at 22:05 CST on 09/19/02] [Link]

Mary Cutrufello

If the thunderstorms don't wash her away, Mary Cutrufello is set to return to Houston and play Rudz tonight, with the band she's put together in Minnesota.

I've only heard Mary play solo stuff, so I can't wait to hear what she's come up with.

[Posted at 17:09 CST on 09/19/02] [Link]

RIP

"Bullet" Bob Hayes, RIP

[Posted at 12:27 CST on 09/19/02] [Link]

18 September 2002

New Poll

New poll numbers are out for various political races in Texas.

The GOP is maintaining a lead in the gubernatorial race, and has opened a small lead in the U.S. Senate race.

And David Dewhurst just isn't very compelling, it would seem. But this probably isn't news, huh?

The key races may well be decided by turnout this time.

[Posted at 23:12 CST on 09/18/02] [Link]

Palestinian Constitutionalism

In most democratic regimes, a constitution is presumably drafted (or amended) and presented to the people for approval. And then there's the Palestinian Authority:

The final draft of the new Palestinian Authority constitution is near completion and will be presented to PA Chairman Yasser Arafat soon, The Jerusalem Post has learned.
After all, a constitution is never legitimate until it is presented to the dictator for his approval. :)

[Posted at 23:05 CST on 09/18/02] [Link]

The Dove

I would say that Shimon Peres has finally lost his mind, except he's been this way as long as I've been studying the question of Palestine:

Foreign Minister Shimon Peres used his address to the UN General Assembly Wednesday to urge the Palestinians to return to the negotiating table. He also said his vision of a "New Middle East" remains intact.
Intact. Yes, that's it.

[Posted at 21:59 CST on 09/18/02] [Link]

Have You Seen My Arm?

What a terrible way to go:

A week after the gruesome murder of the Dagbon king in northern Ghana, no arrangements have yet been made for his funeral.

Police have still not found his head and arm, which were hacked off from his body after he was shot.

[Posted at 21:47 CST on 09/18/02] [Link]

NYT Discovers AMT

Conservatives and supply-siders have been complaining about the alternative minimum tax for years now. Literally.

So it's interesting that a publication as esteemed as the New York Times has discovered the issue. And gawd bless 'em, I have to give them credit for turning the discovery into yet another argument against the Bush tax cuts:

When the current form of the alternative tax was adopted, as part of the 1986 tax reform act, it raised only about $1 billion from a relatively small number of rich taxpayers who used aggressive techniques to avoid income taxes, Mr. Burman said.

The authors said that the revenue from the alternative tax is rising so fast that to return it to its original intent would cost as much as $951 billion over the next decade. They said simply abolishing the tax would make the system less fair. But limiting it to the old target could be financed, they said, by freezing the 2001 Bush tax cuts, for both income and estates, at their current levels.

Only in the worldview of the New York Times is returning a portion of government's booty to taxpayers a "cost." And heaven forbid we even consider abolishing a tax that was enacted purely as a punitive measure against "the rich," even if it is now punishing the middle class!

[Posted at 21:43 CST on 09/18/02] [Link]

17 September 2002

R.C.'s "Fixing" The Offense

R.C. Slocum just can't resist tinkering with the offense.

And hasn't that been the problem over the years?

Mark Farris's arm is clearly injured, and so it might make sense to turn to the backup. But pick one already, give him the reps, and get ready to protect your home field against the #7 team in the country.

Hint: It's probably not a good idea to start the true freshman, no matter what the idiotic boosters are saying.

(09-18-02) The Dreadful Chron's John Lopez is almost giddy at the prospect of the true freshman starting. I think he's serious.

[Posted at 22:02 CST on 09/17/02] [Link]

Baseball's Warts

In his regular ESPN Page 2 column, Bill Simmons has the following to say about Major League Baseball:

You wonder why baseball doesn't learn from the NFL. Like that luxury tax/revenue sharing idea which goes into effect ... how can you penalize teams who spend more than $117 million without inflicting a "You have to spend at least $XX million on your payroll" edict on the poorer teams? Wasn't that the dumbest thing ever? No minimum salary threshold at all? Huh??? What would stop a team like the Royals from spending a measly $10 million on payroll, then collecting revenue, royalties and taxes from everyone else? Basically, they're rewarding incompetence and indifference, and they're penalizing the franchises that actually care about fans. Savvy.
Yep, I agree.

Simmons also doesn't like MLB's guaranteed contracts:

The other thing that kills me about baseball is the guaranteed contracts (and yes, there's probably not much we can do about it at this point -- the owners blew it years ago by opening that Pandora's Box). For instance, here in Boston, Red Sox fans have been subjected to six months of the Artist Formerly Known As Tony Clark, a nice enough guy, improbably slated to earn $5 million this season, who also happens to be putting the finishing touches on the worst offensive season by a Boston player in my lifetime: 264 ABs, .212 batting average, three homers, .566 OPS, 51 strikeouts, and he's a freaking first baseman.

Maybe it's impossible to describe how badly Clark has played this season, but I'm going to try: During one game last month, Clark came up in a key situation with the bases loaded and one out. Watching the game at my Dad's house, Dad and I decided to root for Clark to strike out. Why? At least if Clark struck out, that would mean he didn't hit into a double play and end the inning. It was the lesser of two evils. And when Clark eventually did strike out, Dad and I high-fived. I'm not making any of this up.

Here's the point ... in the NFL, Clark would have been gone in May. Waived. Out the door. Without a guaranteed contract, he would have received something like 25 percent of his $5 million, and whatever signing bonus he secured, and that would have been that. Thanks for coming. Don't let the door hit you on the way out. And yet, in baseball -- the land of the guaranteed contract, where players aren't motivated by fear of losing their job, where you don't have any reason to live up to the terms of your contract other than pride and competitiveness -- Clark lingers around like a mutant disease.

[Posted at 21:26 CST on 09/17/02] [Link]

Texas Homeland Security

Don't Mess With Walker
Walker, Texas Homeland Security

I feel SO much safer now that the Texas Homeland Security website is functioning. Especially since they've posted info on the Counter-terrorism Intelligence Unit:

If you have information regarding suspicious or criminal activity that may be terrorist related, contact the Texas Department of Public Safety, Special Crimes Service, Counter Terrorism Intelligence Unit, at (512) 424-2200 or (800) 252-5402 from 8 AM to 5 PM, Monday through Friday. (For after hours assistance, please contact your local Texas Department of Public Safety Communications Center).
Ah yes, we take our Counter-terrorism seriously here in the Lone Star State, because it's a known fact that the Islamo-Fascist-Weenie-B@stards all operate between 8 am and 5 pm central time.

Personally, I think we should do away with the eagle on the website and post a picture of Walker, Texas Ranger in his leather duster. I mean, these are the Islamo-Fascist-Weenieheads we're talking about. They probably think Walker is REAL, and that he'll run their asses off the road in his Dodge Ram Quad Cab 3/4 Ton Duallie if they Mess With Texas. We should take advantage of that.

[Posted at 19:36 CST on 09/17/02] [Link]

16 September 2002

Busy Doing Nothing

Here in Houston, we think it's fun to change the speed limits every six months or so, and never to change to anything we've had before.

Maybe next time, we can change every sign to kilometers per hour only.

[Posted at 22:12 CST on 09/16/02] [Link]

Iraq

Give Saddam Hussein credit for playing a poor hand very well.

In response to President Bush's UN speech, the Iraqi regime announced today that it would "allow" the return of weapons inspectors without conditions. This was communicated via a letter delivered by hand to Kofi Annan.

Several things are key here: 1) the letter was delivered to Kofi Annan, and not the Security Council (Annan has proven to be sympathetic to Iraq's cause); 2) the letter states that Iraq is "ready to discuss" practical arrangements towards the return of inspectors (in other words, it's not exactly without conditions), 3) the letter states that the decision to allow the return of inspectors is to "remove any doubts that Iraq still possesses weapons of mass destruction" (that's purposely worded to allow Iraq wiggle room, since much of the concern their pursuit of weapons additional to whatever they may still possess).

This is a non-starter for the United States. President Bush's UN speech made clear that the U.S. would no longer tolerate Saddam Hussein's flaunting of more than a dozen U.N. resolutions, not all of which deal with weapons inspections. Bush's powerful UN speech was NOT about weapons inspections, but about imposing a set of conditions that Saddam Hussein could not accept without effectively giving up his regime (as Orrin Judd continues to point out). It was masterful because it put both Saddam Hussein and the UN on the spot.

The reason I say that Iraq is playing a poor hand very well is because Saddam Hussein no doubt thinks that negotiating with the UN for a few weeks or months will buy him enough time for U.S. resolve to peter out, which has pretty much been the case since the first Gulf War was terminated prematurely. I think Saddam Hussein understands very well that President Bush's UN speech was about much more than weapons inspectors, and underestimates the President's resolve to see this through. By next year, I think Saddam Hussein will have joined a select group of other political opponents who underestimated George Bush (namely, Ann Richards, John McCain, and Al Gore).

The diplomatic maneuvering over the next few days should prove interesting. But really, Vice-President Cheney anticipated what was coming over the weekend, and these comments are instructive:

The test isn't just inspections. The test is compliance on all resolutions. I think there's some 16 of them, going back to 1990 and '91. And that's what has to happen. He's got to meet the test of abiding by those resolutions. I'd say inspections may be a part of that, but they were only a piece of 687 originally. So he's got a lot of work to do to come in to compliance. I don't know whether or not he can.

(09-18-02 Update) Ben Henick comments.

[Posted at 19:55 CST on 09/16/02] [Link]

15 September 2002

The Sad Chron

I can't figure out if Neil Hohfeld's article in the Chron is a wrapup of the Big 12, a wrapup of Texas college football, both, or neither.

The headline is In subpar week for Big 12, UT, Tech stand tall

In the article, Hofeld writes about Texas's impressive victory. I think that's an exaggeration, but it was definitely better than their game against North Texas. And Hohfeld writes about Texas Tech's victory, which was certainly solid, but not (in my opinion) as exciting as he makes it out to be.

Hohfeld talks about the Big 12 losers this week (Nebraska, Colorado, Baylor, Oklahoma State, and Missouri), and neglects to mention the other winners, two of which are a couple of Big 12 powers (OU, KSU) that could easily derail Mack Brown (again). He also mentions Texas A&M was off this week.

So if this is a Big 12 wrap, why not cover all the action (and omit the discussion of Rice at the end)? If it's only a Texas college football wrap, why cover the non-Texas losers in the Big 12? And why no mention of TCU or SMU?

Hell, if Hohfeld is anything like Fran Blinebury, he may not know that Rice isn't a member of the Big 12!

[Posted at 23:32 CST on 09/15/02] [Link]

Mini

My friend Cathy finally was able to go pick up her Mini Cooper this weekend.

That's right -- go pick up. It's a little shocking to me that we live in the nation's fourth largest city, with a major inland port, and one still has to go Memphis to find an authorized Mini dealer.

Anyway, it looks like a very cool car!

[Posted at 20:24 CST on 09/15/02] [Link]

Big 12 Wrap: Week Four

Related entries:
Week Three Wrap
Week Two Wrap

Week 4 in the Big 12 was a good one for the powers of the South, and a disastrous one for the supposed powers of the North.

Here's my take on the games:

Oklahoma 68, UTEP 0
Who cares if the opponent was terrible? It's been a LONG time since Oklahoma put a pasting like this on ANY opponent for four quarters. For a team that was only ahead of the worst team in Division I-A (Tulsa) by 3 at the half, that's progress. Much better opponents await.

Texas 52, North Carolina 21
North Carolina is the toughest non-conference opponent on the schedule, and Texas never had much trouble in the "Mack Bowl." Every time North Carolina climbed back into the game a little, Texas hit a big play. They rolled up 271 yards rushing after problems against North Texas. Much better opponents await.

Penn State 40, Nebraska 7.
Frank Solich has a dismal record against ranked opponents on the road, and now it's even worse. Penn State just handled the Huskers, who suffered 3 interceptions and only rolled up 252 yards on the ground. Nebraska is looking overrated. It remains to be seen if Penn State is underrated, given their unimpressive 27-24 victory over Central Florida in their opener.

USC 40, Colorado 3
Another overrated Big 12 North team gives up 40 while managing only one score of their own. It's hard to believe Gary Barnett had this group in the BCS last year. He has UCLA next week, and Kansas State in three weeks, which should keep Mr. Barnett busy.

Kansas State 63, Eastern Illinois 13
Kansas State continues to be overlooked. Sure, they are pounding weak opponents to start the season, but other Big 12 teams are losing to teams they should beat. Next week's contest (USC at Manhattan) should let everyone know if Kansas State is for real.

Texas Tech 42, Mississippi 28
This was a quality win for Mike Leach's group against an SEC opponent, and a matchup of good college quarterbacks (Eli Manning and Kliff Kingsbury). Tech gave up nearly 500 yards and rushed for only 39 yards, which probably won't be a formula for success against the better teams of the Big 12.

Iowa State 36, Iowa 31
Iowa State couldn't do anything right in the first half, and trailed 24-7. I wrote them off, and was surprised to see the final score. Probably not as surprised as Iowa. Seneca Wallace threw for 361 yards. Will they catch Nebraska at a good time in two weeks?

Bowling Green 51, Missouri 28
The Mid-American Conference had quite a weekend. Marshall did not embarrass itself against Virginia Tech, Toledo did not embarrass itself against Minnesota, Miami was not blown out at LSU, Ohio kept Ron Zook from putting up Spurrier-like numbers, Western Michigan scared the hell out of Purdue, and Northern Illinois nearly beat Wisconsin. And Bowling Green handled Missouri, rolling up 558 yards.

UCLA 38, Oklahoma State 24
Oklahoma State rolled to a quick 10-0 lead in the first quarter, and then completely lost the momentum. Rashaun Woods came to play, as usual, but OSU needs more playmakers.

Kansas 44, Southwest Missouri State 24
Kansas turns to a Division I-AA opponent to get a victory at home. The scary thing is, the yardage numbers were pretty even in this one. Not good news for Mark Mangino.

New Mexico 23, Baylor 0
Baylor gained only 107 total yards in this one. They are an awful football team. But they should win next week against Tulsa at Waco, in a game where Baylor's total yards may outnumber the fans in the stadium.

[Posted at 19:36 CST on 09/15/02] [Link]

Newsmax And Gore

One can always count on Newsmax to break the "big stories."

And yes, that WAS dripping sarcasm.

[Posted at 17:40 CST on 09/15/02] [Link]

Good Announcers

I'm listening to the Dallas Cowboys radio affiliate in town, and just before the game, they observed a moment of silence for Johnny Unitas.

Unlike Milo Hamilton (the Astros' dreadful announcer), Brad Sham actually was QUIET during this moment of silence.

But Brad Sham is probably the best play-by-play man (for any sport) in the state, so I'm hardly surprised.

[Posted at 12:00 CST on 09/15/02] [Link]

14 September 2002

As Expected

Today's loss should be enough to put this baseball season to rest for the Houston Astros, and get serious about football season.

Larry Dierker's an Astro for life and probably isn't feeling any extra satisfaction, but if I were in his shoes I think I would be. And I'm saying that as someone who thought it was probably time for a switch.

The Astros have some serious work to do in the offseason. The pitching staff could use a veteran starter who is not named Shane Reynolds or Dave Mlicki (but those are hard to come by, and there is talk that Reynolds will be back if they can't come up with anything). The outfield needs to be reconfigured after the depressing seasons of Ward and Hidalgo, and a speedy, leadoff-type centerfielder would be perfect, allowing Berkman to shift to one of the corner spots and some sort of three-headed monster (Merced/Hidalgo/Ward) to occupy the other spot in the outfield. And the left side of the infield isn't exactly a strength.

Anyway, on to David Carr and the Texans....

[Posted at 16:26 CST on 09/14/02] [Link]

Uh Oh

Jonah Goldberg has a column in the latest American Enterprise Magazine on bloggers, blogging, and journalism.

It's sure to cause all sort of howling from bloggers, which ought to be fun to watch.

Personally, I think it's funny (as much for the reaction it will provoke as anything), but then I think most everything Jonah writes is funny.

[Posted at 15:48 CST on 09/14/02] [Link]

Ron Kirk

Earlier this summer, there was a time when Ron Kirk seemed to have the momentum over John Cornyn in the race to fill the retiring Phil Gramm's Senate seat. I think now the momentum has swung back to Cornyn and that the GOP will keep this seat.

At least three things are working against Kirk right now. First and foremost is the war on terror, and specifically Iraq. Even after President Bush's effective speech to the UN, Senate leaders like Tom Daschle can't make up their minds whether to support the President, and after a summer of complaining that Congress must be consulted, now seem to prefer that Congressional debate and a resolution be put off indefinitely (they say until after elections, but that's not what they mean). It's not going to be put off until after elections, and that puts Ron Kirk in a difficult spot. His instincts seem to be against moving on Iraq, and no coherent Democratic position has emerged. Owen Courreges points to this Chron article that describes how Kirk has tried to turn the issue around by arguing that minorities will be hurt disproportionately by any U.S. action against Iraq. This may bolster one segment of Kirk's base, as Owen suggests, but it's not going to be a winner politically in this race. The race is too close, and there's too much support for Bush on this one.

The second issue is going to be Priscilla Owen and judicial appointments more broadly. Cornyn used this issue effectively against Kirk before the Bush speech to the UN, and even though it's a second-tier issue now, it's still a potential problem area for Kirk if Cornyn paints him as a shill for pro-abortion forces instead of a voice for Texas sensibilities (I'm not saying that's the case necessarily -- I'm just saying that it was and may still be a potential danger area for Kirk).

And finally, these two issues illustrate Kirk's larger problem if the Cornyn campaign is smart, which is this: Kirk may indeed be a typically moderate Texas Democrat, but isn't there a danger that if he's sent to D.C., he'll be less than independent on issues he'll likely face in the Senate? That is to say, is he going to be taking his cues on important matters like the coming action against Iraq and judicial appointments from Tom Daschle, instead of behaving as a moderate might be expected to behave? Ron Kirk's fundraising trips that saw him hanging out with East coast and West coast liberals could hurt him in this respect (yes, I know candidates have to raise money and Cornyn surely has relied upon conservative groups, but Texas leans conservative).

This race is proving to be a lot more interesting than I thought it would be. I'm not the biggest Cornyn fan in the world (understatement) and don't think he's run a great campaign so far (he almost seems to think he should be anointed Senator). But the timidity of Senate Democrats on Iraq has given him a good issue to play with, as has the Owen rejection -- both relatively bad breaks for Kirk, who has run a good campaign. The question remains, will Cornyn manage to take advantage?

[Posted at 14:23 CST on 09/14/02] [Link]

13 September 2002

11

The Jehovah's Witnesses came by today, and Callie made the mistake of opening the door and having their fun literature forced upon her.

Of course, I will read damn near anything that is put in front of me. And I just couldn't resist their Awake! magazine. So the Witnesses go through a bunch of interesting numerological twists on 9-11 (11 is apparently very important in numerology), and then conclude the following:

Numerology is devoid of scientific basis, and it fares badly when examined under the light of reason. More important [!?], because it is a form of divination, numerology conflicts with Bible teachings. In view of that, numerology is not a beneficial means of regulating your life or planning your future.
Unless, of course, you use it to count cards in Vegas, and do it really well!

[Posted at 20:24 CST on 09/13/02] [Link]

Gonzo Nuts

I imagine Steve Earle was disappointed not to be a part of this fun-filled evening.

[Posted at 20:07 CST on 09/13/02] [Link]

12 September 2002

Mental Exams For Politicians

What a great idea!

[Posted at 22:33 CST on 09/12/02] [Link]

Astros Woes

The ESPN website has posted a really pessimistic article on the future of the Astros by Phil Rogers.

I'm not so pessimistic, believe it or not. Yes, the $118 million total Drayton McLane put together for Biggio and Bagwell's last deals probably was too much, but the Astros will get relief from Biggio's salary after next season. They will get more immediate relief from the salaries of Shane Reynolds and Dave Mlicki ($14 million) next season. And their young stars (Oswalt, Miller, Dotel, Berkman) aren't making astronomical sums just yet (but they will, if they keep it up).

On the other hand, Richard Hidalgo's salary is a burden, and Bagwell's will be if his numbers continue to decline.

It will really come down to whether or not the Astros can keep the talent flowing from the minors. But that's the way it's been for quite a while for the Astros, and Gerry Hunsicker has managed just fine. The real challenge will be if the New York Mets decide to blow up the current disaster and hire Hunsicker. Then I'll be more pessimistic.

[Posted at 21:44 CST on 09/12/02] [Link]

More Ragweed

On the topic of Americana (that does not suck), there's an excellent profile of Cross Canadian Ragweed in the Austin American-Statesman today.

What is really interesting (to me) is that Dallas Cowboys special teams coach Joe Avezzano played a small part in the band's success. Hell, after the poor play by the Cowboys special teams last year and in the debut against the Texans this year, maybe Coach Joe should become a different sort of talent scout?

Anyway, these guys are well worth seeing, and just happen to be making an in-store appearance at Cactus Records in Houston on Sunday at 1 pm.

[Posted at 21:11 CST on 09/12/02] [Link]

Milo

I can't stand Milo Hamilton, the voice of the Houston Astros. Refuse to listen to him, in fact, because he calls such a bad game, so I missed him last night. But Laurence Simon had this to say (large excerpt to follow because the blogger archive bug seems to have hit again):

We here at Amish Tech Support wake up to the soothing news of KTRH-AM radio. Normally, I wouldn't have known about the September 11th game with the Astros, but the morning newsreaders felt it necessary to point out the fact and then play back the respectful moment of silence for the victims of 9/11.

How did we at home know that was the respectful moment of silence? Milto Hamilton talked through the whole thing to tell us that it was a moment of silence for the victims of 9/11, and that yes, now everyone was silent.

For a multi-decade "veteran" sports broadcaster, you are now officially an embarrassment beyond the strike-happy players' association, Milo Hamilton. You've just hit the Harry Caray Event Horizon, slipped beyond your legend into a broadcasted nuisance. Either tell your partner to beat you with a shoe when you don't have the sense to shut your wrinkled pie-hole or get out of the booth. You should be put in the Hall of Fame, literally, and in chains to keep you from ever coming close to a microphone again.

That's Milo Hamilton, who always seems to call a game (or an event) as if HE is what's important, and not what he's covering.

Just for fun, here's a great Harry Caray/Milo Hamilton story. It still makes me laugh out loud (even if Milo did kinda get the shaft):

Milo Hamilton was furious and Harry Caray was delighted.

The scene was Opening Day, 1982, Caray's first home game as the newly anointed top banana in the Cubs broadcast scheme, and the outside chill was nothing compared to the frosty conditions inside the WGN booth.

Hamilton had expected to ascend to first seat when Jack Brickhouse left the Cubs booth, but Caray had bolted to Wrigley Field and Hamilton didn't like it. Then, during the seventh-inning stretch on Opening Day, Hamilton's quiet rage became public.

Caray rose to sing ``Take Me Out To The Ball Game'' and Hamilton tore off his headset, flung it down and snapped: ``I don't have to listen to this [bleep].''

Brushing past producer Jack Rosenberg to exit the booth, Hamilton encountered a writer out on the catwalk.

Poking his finger repeatedly in the media visitor's chest, Hamilton raged: ``You know, it's my [bleeping] booth, too. I'm still a part of this. But that [bleeping] bastard inside's got all of you under his thumb. So now you're here to do another piece of [bleep] about that guy without asking me a single question. You're all a bunch of [bleep].''

The poking and the tirade continued until well into the bottom of the seventh when Rosenberg directed Hamilton back inside the booth.

After the game, Caray summoned up enough stagedoor innocence to ask the writer, ``Hey, what did you say to get Milo going like that? I just can't figure that guy.''

Figure that guy?

No, no, Harry. It was you that all of Chicago always wanted to figure.
--Jim O'Donnell

I don't think Milo has ever gotten over that.

[Posted at 20:59 CST on 09/12/02] [Link]

Enlightenment From The Tulsa World

My friend Dave sent me a story today from one Thomas Connor, a music writer for the Tulsa World, on the topic of Steve Earle. I know bloggers covered this months ago, but the points raised here are worth revisiting (to me, anyway). I can't even link to it because that sad newspaper thinks we should all pay for its content, and I don't feel comfortable reposting all of it (since it's copyrighted and that's beyond fair use). But here's are two representative excerpts:

"I don't condone what (Walker Lindh) did," Earle said last month. "My son Justin is almost exactly Walker's age. Would I be upset if he suddenly turned up fighting for the Islamic Jihad? Sure, absolutely. Fundamentalism, as practiced by the Taliban, is the enemy of real thought, and religion, too . . . (but Walker Lindh) didn't just sit on the couch and watch the box, get depressed and complain. He was a smart kid, he graduated from high school early, the culture here didn't impress him -- so he went looking for something to believe in.

"I'm not trying to get myself deported or something. In a big way this is the most pro-American record I've ever made. I feel urgently American."

If we forget that people like Earle -- a self-proclaimed Marxist and a former heroin addict -- are equal parts contributors to and voices of America, then Earle and the rest of his peers in the Americana category of music might as well don brown shirts and start writing nothing but parade marches.

and
Want things to truly be better in our wounded America? Embrace every voice, no matter how contentious or aggravating or -- whatever this means -- unpatriotic it seems.

If we become a knee-jerk nation that slams the door (pray, not the jailhouse door) on our artists and our own people -- the real government -- then the Sept. 11 attacks will have fulfilled their fiendish objective and we will observe on this date not only the death of irony and empathy but of America itself.

I suppose Mr. Connor felt the need to educate the backwards rubes in Oklahoma outside of the enlightened progressive organ that is the Tulsa World and that explains the length of his column, but I wish he had just written "If we don't take the political and philosophical pronouncements of Steve Earle seriously, the terrorists will have won!" and been done with it.

People like Mr. Connor always seems to confuse the notion of equality. Take that third paragraph in the first excerpt. Just because Mr. Earle, like any American, has a right to express himself does not mean that all speech is equally valid! Some things are silly, and it's not a matter of crushing dissent or infringing upon freedom to suggest such things!

And thank GAWD that most of Americana music is NOT simply mindless dissent for the sake of the same. Indeed, I would argue that most of Americana is decidely NOT that, and indeed that the genre's most popular artist these days (Pat Green) is just about as far from that as one could get! Of course, Pat Green takes a lot of heat for writing upbeat, "lightweight" songs (there was a good Texas Monthly profile on him a while back that dealt with that issue among others), but he's only one of many who write such stuff.

And this advice of "embrace every voice" verges on mindless relativism as well. Does this mean we should embrace the voices of cannibals? Of child molestors? Of David Duke? I don't think Mr. Connor means that at all. But I don't really know what he means. I'm not sure he knows.

Finally, that reference about the jailhouse door is just silly. Nobody is suggesting that Mr. Earle be sent to jail. And if his own fans boo him off the stage because they would rather hear good music than political preaching, that's their choice as consumers -- but it's NOT censorship or the stifling of important debate.

Rant complete.

[Posted at 20:27 CST on 09/12/02] [Link]

11 September 2002

Win XP Vulnerability

You Windows XP users should go install Service Pack 1 if you haven't done so already. There's a security problem that hasn't been fixed in any of Microsoft's critical updates. Details here and here.

[Posted at 10:16 CST on 09/11/02] [Link]

Kmart/Sonic/JCI Raid Update

The City of Houston has asked city prosecutors to drop all charges against the kiddies arrested in the bizarre Kmart/Sonic/JCI parking lot raids that took place several weeks ago. The city will also throw out the convictions of those who pleaded guilty if they request it.

I don't often compliment Mayor Pothole for his leadership, but this was a good move on his part. It could have come a little sooner, but that's a minor quibble.

[Posted at 08:13 CST on 09/11/02] [Link]

10 September 2002

Spanish Village

Since I've been ripping on the Chron tonight, I should point out this article by Allison Cook (formerly a critic at the Houston Press) on venerable Spanish Village.

I agree with Cook's taste -- the cheese and onion enchiladas (#43 on the menu) are my favorite Spanish Village dish also, and I think they are the best enchiladas to be found on the earth. I also recommend the Special Enchiladas a la Taylor.

I haven't been to the place very many times since Pete's death. But maybe it's about time to head back. Just one word of advice: ask for Lionel, the waiter mentioned in the article. Otherwise, you might get stuck with a woman who is quite possibly the worst waitress on the face of the earth. I don't know her name, and have long referred to her as The Dreadful Woman.

I'm serious. Ask for Lionel.

And be sure to have a shaved ice margarita, once named by Texas Monthly as the best in the state I'm told. Do NOT fool around with a margarita on the rocks (nasty by comparison).

[Posted at 23:54 CST on 09/10/02] [Link]

Our Chron

The Chron seems to employ neither good reporters nor good editors. Note the opening to this column:

The theft of 330 pounds of ammonium nitrate from an explosives company near here is not suspected to be terrorist related.

But since the theft occurred two days before the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, local and federal law enforcement agencies are giving the investigation special attention.

"If tomorrow wasn't 9/11 we probably wouldn't even be thinking it was stolen for anything other than financial gain," said Robert Chapman, Williamson County chief deputy over law enforcement.

Synopsis: This theft is not suspected to be terrorist related (sentence one), but because of the terrorist attacks, the possibility of terrorism is suspected (sentences two and three).

Nice job.

[Posted at 23:35 CST on 09/10/02] [Link]

Missing Story

Sometimes, I have to laugh at the Chron. Most of the time, actually.

Tuesday, they reported that cell phones headed to Al Qaeda were intercepted at the port of Houston. I get a daily email digest of the news from the Chron every day, and I'm reproducing it verbatim:

Phones headed to al-Qaida intercepted at port
A shipment of about 1,000 cellular telephones being exported to al-Qaida operatives was intercepted at the Port of Houston several months ago, authorities said Monday.

Now, the Chron is reporting that customs officials have retracted the earlier statement linking the seizure to Al Qaeda.

What is most curious is that the Chron has already removed the original story from its site, which is unusual (they usually stay up for weeks). I wonder if it's still available in the archives. Any of you subscribers care to look and let me know?

(09-11-02 Update) Charles Kuffner emails and says the original story is in the archives. It would be really weird had they deleted that one too.

[Posted at 23:28 CST on 09/10/02] [Link]

NFL Ratings

One of these days, perhaps ABC will learn the NFL Ratings game.

NFL audiences want to see a good game with a good storyline. It's really that simple.

We don't really care to hear Dennis Miller carrying on about nonsense. We don't really care to hear John Madden carrying on about the glory days "uh... when I was head coach... ya know... in Oakland..." or whatever the hell he rambles on and on about. We really just prefer the game.

So, it's interesting that the Texans-Cowboys Sunday night game was such a ratings winner for ESPN, and that the Monday Night Football (or should it be renamed Madden Night Football?) snoozer was the lowest rated opener since at least 1994.

[Posted at 22:31 CST on 09/10/02] [Link]

Thinking About Sontag

When Orrin Judd trains his sights on fools, he often does so with a cold, ruthless efficiency. To wit, he writes this on the subject of Susan Sontag's latest:

This is a column of almost magnificent stupidity. Ms Sontag shows herself to be nearly oblivious to everything from history to vocabulary as she argues that radical Islam is a permanent feature of humankind against which we will have to act forever, and that those actions are not in the nature of war.
His entire post is well worth reading.

James Taranto also lists Sontag's column under the heading "Stupidity Watch" in his Best of the Web daily blog (which has long seemed mistitled to me, since he is usually critiquing some of the WORST of the web, but I digress).

Reynolds seems to like the Sontag column (no doubt confounding the InstaPunditWatchers of the world, who think warbloggers all take their cues from the professor). And Jonah Goldberg chimes in as well.

That's a lot of firepower for such an easy target.

[Posted at 22:21 CST on 09/10/02] [Link]

Thinking About News

Den Beste links to a Helle Dale op-ed in the Washington Times and writes the following:

The WashTimes (which is owned by the Moonies) is like Debka; I don't believe anything I see there until I've seen it confirmed somewhere else, and so far I haven't seen this anywhere else.
I'm being a little unfair to Steven because it looks like I'm singling him out, when really I've been seeing these sorts of prefatory comments about Washington Times articles for a while now from all sorts of people. Usually, the implication is either the one made here -- that the Moonies own the paper and therefore exercise virtually complete editorial control over both news and editorial content, or the paper is openly conservative, and therefore everything is prints is somehow suspect.

I do think it's fair to suggest that the Washington Times probably isn't going to be one's most reliable source of news coverage or opinion on matters directly related to the Moonies (as a complete aside, I saw Tony Blankley address the issue of the Moonies' influence on C-Span a while back, shortly after he assumed control of the editorial page, so these accusations are not new to the editors), for the same reason that CNN may not be the most reliable source of news coverage or opinion on Ted Turner or AOLTimeWarner. And surely the paper's political orientation does influence the content of the paper, much as Howell Raines's political orientation noticeably influences that of the New York Times. But intelligent people understand those influences, and should be able figure that out, especially since the Washington Times is effectively the nation's conservative paper of record. Indeed, one could make the case that in some instances, you might be more likely to see some information there first, since conservatives might be inclined to give certain columnists or editorialists there a heads up on breaking news (leaks).

Leaving aside the question of editorials (the article Den Beste links is a Helle Dale editorial on the op-ed page), is the Washington Times really that unreliable when it comes to news? That is to say, as unreliable as Debka (which is basically a gossip rag, although frequently gossip turns out to have some basis in fact)? I don't think so. Columnist Bill Gertz regularly breaks some big international stories that seem to hold up, and I tend to find Bill Sammon's stuff useful. And just a few days ago, I either read or saw someone from the Washington Post actually compliment the Times for beating them to the punch on some international stories. I know the World section is the first one I hit on the Times website each day.

Of course, I tend to be somewhat skeptical regarding all news sources. Knowing a media organization's composition and potential biases is part of the job of a careful reader. And for that reason, I read a pretty wide variety of news sources both for work and for play. Some are liberal, some are conservative, some are non-ideological but have more subtle biases, some have more reliable sections than others. I think it's useful to take into account all of those things when considering news reporting. Indeed, for the sort of work I do, it's fairly crucial, since it's sometimes impossible to get 100% verification on some little nuggets of information on some of the smaller countries (of the 115 or so) that we analyze -- meaning the analyst has to make a judgment on the quality of that information based on what he knows about the news source. THAT is when it gets tricky. But so far they haven't fired me, so I must be okay at it. :)

[Posted at 21:57 CST on 09/10/02] [Link]

Purple

I just picked up the new Cross Canadian Ragweed cd, Purple, which was released today. I've heard them do a few of the songs, and have been waiting anxiously for their first release on Universal South.

The Dallas Morning News ran a review of the CD today. Mario Tarradell seems to call it in a little bit, but it's a fair enough review I guess. Ragweed is the sort of band that grows on you, especially the live shows. Their music doesn't sound like anything that's being done much outside of... well, red-dirt country. And I'm sure it doesn't get any airplay to speak of outside of Oklahoma and Texas. But thank goodness there are some independent stations like KNBT (still streaming, by the way, though it can be a little erratic at times) in Texas and Oklahoma that play the stuff (to hell with Clear Channel!).

I've purchased three CDs recently, and aside from Purple I previewed some or all of the music via p2p file sharing. In the case of the Counting Crows, I had already heard some of the stuff on their 2001 mini-tour and had bootlegs, plus they streamed the album to pre-release purchasers on Amazon (smart!), and I managed to capture the whole thing well before it was released. I've been hearing Jack Ingram's stuff from Electric for a while on KNBT and local radio. And I wouldn't have missed Ragweed's Universal South release today p2p or not (although I have heard a few of the songs live).

Contrary to what the RIAA would have people believe, not everyone who uses a p2p client is intent on stealing music. Many of us are just tired of a lot of the crap put out by the big labels, and are discriminating shoppers. The fact that Ragweed has sold 50,000 copies of their previously self-released CDs speaks volumes. I'm sure there are plenty of other similar stories across the country, although Texas seems to have more than its share (and in the case of Pat Green, even managed to make the rest of the country take notice).

[Posted at 21:08 CST on 09/10/02] [Link]

09 September 2002

Purple

Will's new design for the Cross Canadian Ragweed site is very purple ....

In celebration of the new album (on the new label), of course!

There's a Cactus in-store appearance on Sunday, and a Nacogdoches show Friday. Might be time for a roadtrip.

[Posted at 21:30 CST on 09/09/02] [Link]

08 September 2002

Texans Debut

Kudos to the Houston Texans for doing what I gave them no chance of doing: beating the Dallas Cowboys in the opening game at Reliant Stadium.

The Cowboys looked terrible. Their special teams were inept, their offensive line was inept, and their quarterback was inept. I would say the game plan was inept, but I'm not sure there even WAS a game plan.

I wonder which Cowboy will be fired first this season, head coach Dave Campo or quarterback Quincy Carter?

I have to admit, though, that it WAS kind of fun to watch the look on Jerry Jones's surgically altered face as the Cowboys disaster rolled on, and I say that as a lifelong Cowboys fan. That $40 million he paid in signing bonuses to upgrade the talent this offseason must be hurting him tonight.

(09-09-02 Update) Kevin Blackistone says Campo is toast. It's only a matter of when:

Campo knows it. You could tell from his physical disposition as Sunday night eroded into a nightmare. He kicked at the ground, held his hands on his hips, buried his face in a palm a few times, shook his head in utter disbelief at the inept play of his team.

Randy Galloway says Quincy Carter should be fired immediately:

Meanwhile, bench the quarterback.

To put it bluntly, The Q cracked. Cracked under the pressure, but don't rush to judgment on Quincy Carter simply choking on the moment.

Carter's awful performance was about the pressure, but it came mostly from a Texans defense manned by expansion draft rejects. This pressure was masterminded by a defensive coordinator named Vic Fangio, who has bounced around the NFL for a while.

They're both right.

(09-09-02 Update 2) Someone needs to tell the Texans not to shoot off fireworks in Reliant Stadium with the roof closed. I was watching the game on television, and the smoke looked like damn fog hanging in the stadium.

[Posted at 22:57 CST on 09/08/02] [Link]

Big 12 Wrap: Week Three

Related entries:
Week Two Wrap

Overall, this was a good weekend for the Big 12. All of the games were against non-conference opponents, and every Big 12 team but Kansas won.

The games:

Oklahoma 37, Alabama 27
Oklahoma fans can be forgiven for wondering if John Blake had returned to coach the special teams, which should be renamed the atrocious teams. The Sooners dominated the first half. In the second half, the offense looked awful, and the shocker was, so did the defense at times. But credit the Sooners for rallying around Nate Hybl in the final few minutes and pulling out a game that looked lost. Starting quarterback Jason White was lost for the season, after blowing out a knee absent any contact for the second year in a row.

Nebraska 44, Utah State 13
The post-Eric Crouch Cornhuskers continue to improve. This one was never a contest.

Kansas State 68, Louisiana-Monroe 0
Bill Snyder destroys another non-conference opponent that he was heavily favored to beat. It may not sound like much, but ask Les Miles and Gary Barnett what they think about those sorts of opponents.

Texas A&M 16, Pittsburgh 14
As we noted last week, Texas A&M has problems on offense that go much deeper than the quarterback. A&M fans must cringe every time they see R.C. Slocum talking into his headset when his team has the ball. But at least the quarterback shuffle stopped at two this week, even though R.C. was promising to use all three at halftime. And Pittsburgh proved more inept on offense than A&M, making for some ugly football.

Colorado 34, San Diego State 14
San Diego State had it close at halftime (21-14), but Colorado just overmatched the Aztecs physically in the second half, and wore them out. A necesarry, if unspectacular, win for the Buffs after last week's upset. Colorado lost quarterback Craig Ochs to another concussion.

Iowa State 58, Tennessee Tech 6
The most exciting quarterback in the Big 12 practiced his passing against overwhelmed Tennessee Tech, one of many Division I-AA opponents scheduled by Big 12 teams this week.

Texas Tech 24, SMU 14
Kliff Kingsbury pads his stats as the Red Raiders bounce back against SMU.

Missouri 41, Ball State 6
It was 7-6 at halftime, before Missouri pulled away against another overmatched opponent. Five turnovers didn't help Ball State.

Baylor 50, Samford 12
The good news is, Baylor found a team it can beat. The bad thing is, it was a Division I-AA school.

Oklahoma State 45, Northern Iowa 10
Oklahoma State bounces back from last week's upset to beat a Division I-AA school.

UNLV 31, Kansas 20
UNLV wins the battle of basketball schools. The best chance for Kansas to win a game this year comes next week. That's right, a Division I-AA opponent, Southwest Missouri State.

(09-10-02 Update) Dave Hamby emails me that Kansas also has Tulsa upcoming, which is another good shot for a victory. Based on what we've seen from them so far this year, Tulsa should probably consider a move to Division I-AA.

[Posted at 22:42 CST on 09/08/02] [Link]

Fay

Jack Cluth has a photoessay retrospective on Tropical Storm Fay up over at his site. It's well worth a peek, as are his other entries on the storm (and his blog more broadly, for that matter).

[Posted at 17:30 CST on 09/08/02] [Link]

07 September 2002

MLB Revenue Sharing

Houstonians are familiar with Drayton McLane's regular whine that his Houston Astros need revenue enhancement just to be able to compete with the major-market teams in Major League Baseball. We almost faced a strike, in part, because owners like McLane and Kansas City's David Glass and San Diego's John Moores insisted that greater revenue sharing (especially of the sort that penalizes the New York Yankees, baseball's most successful franchise) was necessary to the survival of baseball.

Given that background, it would probably come as a shock to most Houstonians to know that under the current system, the Astros have actually been paying into the pot (to the tune of about $4.7 million), and under the new system, the Astros will still be paying into the pot (to the tune of about $3.2 million). In reality, the Astros are in the bottom half of the "haves" in the league. Drayton McLane isn't being entirely honest when he lumps the Astros in with small-market clubs and goes to the "woe is me, how will we ever compete" act. But then, I've never thought honesty was characteristic of McLane.

The teams who benefit the most under the new plan versus the old? The perenially mismanaged Milwaukee Brewers and Pittsburgh Pirates. Nothing like rewarding terrible management, eh?

And THIS is supposed to fix Major League Baseball?

[Posted at 08:39 CST on 09/07/02] [Link]

06 September 2002

Fallout

Houston Police Chief Clarence Bradford stepped down today (he says temporarily) after being indicted by a Harris County grand jury on charges of perjury.

Those charges date back to a much earlier effort by HPD to discipline Captain Mark Aguirre, the field commander of the bizarre Kmart/Sonic/JCI/ERACER raids that took place a few weeks ago. Instead, that much earlier effort to discipline Aguirre backfired, and became a controversy over whether the police chief regularly used profanities (something he denied, but that a subordinate later contradicted him on). It takes some ineptitude to screw up a routine disciplinary matter and turn it into a criminal investigation against one's self, but that's our police chief. At this rate, he'll be able to follow the lead of Mayor Pothole (who was an inept police chief in Houston, among other stops), right to City Hall.

HPD is having its troubles. Just when the ERACER raids had sort of fallen off the local news, the police chief is forced to step down on a semi-related matter. I wonder how many heads will roll after the internal investigation of ERACER is complete? A bunch, I would hope.

(More) (More) (More)

(09-07-02) Laurence Simon hopes Chief Bradford's leave is permanent.

[Posted at 22:17 CST on 09/06/02] [Link]

Fay

Tropical Storm Fay

Tropical Storm Fay's approach to Houston, from the Weather Channel website.

(09-07-02 Update) Fay finally moved inland, and diminished in strength rapidly. Thank goodness.

[Posted at 21:52 CST on 09/06/02] [Link]

Go Texans Day

Adding a little cheer
I could have posted Mayor Pothole hoisting a Texans flag at City Hall, but this *ahem* caught my eye instead

Today is "Go Texans Day" in Houston.

I don't really have any Texans gear suitable for an office (lots of t-shirts), so the best I could do is a bright red buttondown.

Which isn't bad, considering I'm a lifelong Dallas Cowboys fan, and the Texans-Cowboys game Sunday night will be the only game of the year that I'm not gonna be cheering on the Texans.

[Posted at 07:44 CST on 09/06/02] [Link]

Party Of Death?

Orrin Judd calls the Dems the Party of Death, as the Dems reject Priscilla Owen largely on the basis of a single case rather than questions of character (not an issue) or judicial temperament (the ABA thought she was sound).

I wonder how the coverage would have been if the roles were reversed, and a Democratic nominee were defeated by Republicans largely because of a single issue in a single case, with no other significant questions being raised by the nominee. Isn't it likely we would see hints that the GOP was dominated by extremists (namely, those evil Christian conservative types)?

[Posted at 06:41 CST on 09/06/02] [Link]

05 September 2002

Little Tricks

I had to add InstaPunditWatch to my links page for this line alone (a description of a site on their blogroll):

Learn to recognise the warbloggers' little tricks.
I don't consider myself a warblogger, having been at this somewhat longer, but I certainly read and like more than a few of them. They don't seem like that tricky a bunch, but it will be good to keep up with their little tricks from now on.

[Posted at 23:29 CST on 09/05/02] [Link]

Minneapolis?

John Nova Lomax has a good article on Houston's local music scene (or lack thereof) in this week's Houston Press. And there's even a bit on former Houstonian Mary Cutrufello, a favorite of mine who's left the Bayou City for ... Minneapolis. That seems like a strange move to me, but Mary says it's a great music city:

"I've traveled around the country and been to virtually every market of consequence," she says, "and Minneapolis had hands down the best, the most professional and the most vibrant music scene…There are people who make a living as cartage guys here, for God's sake. I'd never heard of cartage guys outside of New York, L.A. and Nashville."
Go figure.

[Posted at 21:29 CST on 09/05/02] [Link]

Question Time

The President who reacted to Saddam Hussein's attempt to assassinate a former President by firing off a few cruise missiles had this to say about Iraq:

He told people the real concern in Iraq was Hussein's possible use of stockpiled chemical and biological weapons.

The former president reminded the audience of Hussein's propensity to use the weapons in the past, citing an attack on the Kurds and the Iran-Iraq war.

"He has maximum incentive not to use this stuff," Clinton said. "If we go, he has maximum incentive to use it because he knows he's going to lose."

I still do not understand this argument. Part of the "incentive" Saddam has not to "use this stuff" is the fact that the U.S. maintains a no-fly zone in Kurdish parts of the country. But that's an ongoing territorial violation, and one that Saddam has made clear he doesn't like one bit. So if that isn't provocation enough for him to "use this stuff," would a larger-scale operation designed to topple his government necessarily be any more provocative than the ongoing violation of Iraqi sovereignty?

I would like to see some consistency from the crowd who contends the U.S. ought not take military action against Iraq and thereby provoke Saddam to "use this stuff." If that's the case, those same people should be arguing to end the no-fly zones and entirely remove any threat of provocation.

And if they respond that we CAN'T leave for fear of Saddam attacking the Kurds, then I want to know this: what is their strategy to get us OUT of this quagmire (I would think roughly a decade-long infringement on a nation's sovereignty is a quagmire if anything is, right)? And if the response is we MUST stay to protect the Kurds, then my followup is: why not finish the job by forcing a regime change?

I think those are good questions. I'd like to see Tom Daschle (who voted against the war in Iraq the first time) answer them.

[Posted at 21:15 CST on 09/05/02] [Link]

Rape Is Normal?

Remember that goofy UT journalism prof, Robert Jensen, and the nonsense he was writing just after 11 September?

At the time, I was pleased to see so many critical responses to Jensen, but I didn't think it would last:

What happens when, in a couple of years, the current controversies die down? Will anybody be paying attention to these LeftWingNuts? What WILL Professor Jensen be up to then?

The answer, of course: Exactly what he's up to now. Sure, he'll be writing silly op-eds for someone, and bloggers will find them and many of us will have a good laugh, and maybe even O'Reilly or Brit Hume will point it out. In the meantime, Jensen will still be teaching courses and spreading his way of thinking about the world.

Well, it hasn't been two years, but sure enough, Jensen is still writing silly op-eds. And they aren't generating as much interest as they once did, but I would say that Alex Whitlock does a nice job with Jensen's latest effort, entitled "Rape Is Normal."

[Posted at 20:55 CST on 09/05/02] [Link]

04 September 2002

ERACER = INEPT

The Houston Press finally addresses the K-Mart/Sonic/James Coney Island raids. Here's a teaser:

So basically what we have here is this scenario:

People got thrown in jail because they picked the wrong night and place to do their shopping and get a burger. (Some were probably there hoping to watch a little racing, although technically this isn't a crime.)

Despite years of legal training and fieldwork, the officers who arrested all those people didn't know they might be stepping all over probable cause.

One captain may have single-handedly commanded the biggest mass violation of human rights in terms of one night's arrests this city has ever seen.

The police chief of the fourth-largest city in the country steps out for a week of special training and apparently is so alienated from his department that no one tells him what's going on and he learns about it on TV.

Bradford misses any heads-up even though word of the raid is broadcast over every police scanner in town that night. And even though there were 25 people arrested the night before.

Dysfunctional, yes. Believable? In a pig's eye (if you'll pardon the expression).

Definitely go read. Margaret Downing also explains, for the first time that I've seen, what the name of the raid mission, ERACER, stands for: Eliminate and Remove Autos Causing Environmental Ravagement.

That's so goofy it really doesn't need further comment.

[Posted at 22:23 CST on 09/04/02] [Link]

Where's Chango?

In March this year, one of my favorite restaurants, the Fox Diner, closed its doors because its owner, Tom Williams, had earlier fallen ill and could no longer work in such a demanding environment.

Recently, a new restaurant with a loud color scheme opened in the same spot. I had given some thought to trying the place. After reading Robb Walsh's review, I'm glad I haven't:

Eventually, I asked the waiter if the tortilla dough used to make the sope had been boiled or steamed rather than fried. He went to the kitchen, came back and said, "Yes, it's tortilla dough."

I looked a little disgusted by this nonresponse, but I was shocked at what he said next. "I'm sorry, I tried to find out how they cooked it, but they just laughed at me." I had to feel sorry for the guy.

As I drove out of the parking lot, I noticed one of Los Tonyos' Mexican chefs getting into his car. I stopped and struck up a conversation with him. After a few pleasantries, I got to the point: "Are the sopes steamed?" I asked him in broken Spanish.

"Sí, con vapor," he chuckled.

"But aren't sopes supposed to be fried?" I asked him.

"Fried fish, fried tortilla, too much fried," the chef said, succinctly explaining the philosophy of the Los Tonyos kitchen. The chefs may be from Mexico, but the recipes aren't. Evidently, Los Tonyos Cantina has decided to serve a lighter, healthier version of Mexican food. That's why the fish taco was so gloppy, I realized as I drove away. They're not crisping the tortillas on a griddle with oil; they're steaming them. Just what the world's been waiting for: steamed tacos.

The rest of the review is just as devastating.

[Posted at 22:14 CST on 09/04/02] [Link]

03 September 2002

Big 12 Wrap: Week Two

Each week, I'll be posting my take on the weekend's football games in the Big 12.

I skipped week one because of the limited action that week, and I'm slow posting this one (should have gone up Sunday, but I never quite finished it).

That said, here are the games:

Oklahoma 37, Tulsa 0
Yes, Oklahoma got off to a slow start. Yes, the offense had some of the same problems as last year (dropped passes, and some poor decisions by the quarterback in the red zone). On the plus side, the Sooners ran the football as well as they have in the Stoops era. Granted, it was Tulsa, but they haven't run the ball all that well even against the poorer teams in the country. So the offense has something to build on, and will have to get better to beat great teams. The defense is nails, but everyone knew that already.

Texas 27, North Texas 0
83,000+ fans at Memorial Stadium probably expected more from Texas than they got. The much vaunted Cedric Benson led an anemic rushing attack by averaging a little over 2 yards per carry. Overall, UT ran the ball 35 times for 28 yards. The much vaunted Chris Simms averaged only 5.2 yards per pass. And the Horns were penalized for 100 yards. About the best that can be said is they beat a team they were supposed to beat, unlike ...

Colorado State 19, Colorado 14
Gary Barnett has been the coach at Colorado for four years. Colorado has lost its last four openers. They should not have lost this one, but Barnett seems good to give up at least one each year that he should win.

Nebraska 31, Troy State 16
This should have been an easy game, but really wasn't. Nebraska led the game 14-10 at one point, before pulling away slightly. Troy State wound up with more total yards, and a better rushing average. If not for Nebraska's stellar special teams play, this one would have been much closer. Not much sleep for Frank Solich this week.

Kansas State 48, Western Kentucky 3
Bill Snyder is often criticized for his weak scheduling. But while some teams sputter a bit in these sorts of games (Colorado, Nebraska, Oklahoma this week), Snyder's Wildcats almost always destroy the teams they are supposed to destroy, which was the case this week.

Iowa State 45, Kansas 3
After an impressive showing in a loss to Florida State last week, Iowa State bounced back and demolished Kansas. Was Iowa State really playing a Big 12 team, or a scout team? Forget Chris Simms and Kliff Kingsbury; Seneca Wallace is the most exciting quarterback in the conference. And Mark Mangino is probably wondering why he left a great assistant coaching position at Oklahoma to be head coach at a place that only knows one Roy Williams (not the one playing for the Dallas Cowboys).

Missouri 33, Illinois 20
This was a somewhat surprising win for Missouri, which looks to be improved. But they have plenty of room for improvement after the last few years. And of their eight conference games, they probably will only be favored to win one of them: they play Kansas in Columbia. Better make that the homecoming matchup.

Texas A&M 31, Louisiana-Lafayette 7
Texas A&M only led 3-0 at halftime before putting this one away. Quarterback Mark Farris had a terrible game, going 13 for 32. Aggie fans are clamoring for him to be replaced by a freshman. In reality, it doesn't matter who is quarterback of this team. R.C. Slocum changes his offensive staff almost annually, and meddles. That is the problem. No single player is going to make much of a difference. But Slocum will have a good defense.

Louisiana Tech 39, Oklahoma State 36
After OSU's stunning victory over Oklahoma last year, Les Miles looked like he had the Cowboys pointed in the right direction, and talked the entire offseason about building on the victory. Then he went and lost to Louisiana Tech right off the bat. And did it with style, blowing an 18 point lead in a quarter. Ouch.

California 70, Baylor 22
Former Texas Governor Ann Richards insisted that Baylor be included in what became the Big 12 conference, and all fans of the decent teams in the Big 12 should be thankful, regardless of political affiliation. Unlike the NFL, college football conferences don't have a bye week -- but every team in the Big 12 South effectively does each season against Baylor. I don't have anything to say about this terrible game. But how long can Kevin Steele keep plugging away at this?

[Posted at 17:41 CST on 09/03/02] [Link]

02 September 2002

One Hour Photo

I just got back from the late showing of One Hour Photo at the Landmark-River Oaks.

I don't do movie reviews, but I'll ask a question of those of you who have also seen it:

If Dostoyevsky gave us insight into the criminal mind, what precisely has Mark Romanek given us insight into?

[Posted at 23:47 CST on 09/02/02] [Link]

New Blog

I just ran across a new blog tonight (to me -- it's really not that new), something that is infrequent for me, and it's a Texas blog nonetheless. Here's an interesting excerpt:

There are just too damn many people out there that I enjoy reading. And I feel like I'm falling behind in reading what is really good commentary on very important stuff. As a result, I hardly ever read the "stuff" that's being commentaried on.
I wonder if that isn't typical?

One of the reasons that I infrequently run across new blogs is that I spend much more time online actually reading the "stuff" that is being commented on. Some of that's because my work involves it, at least as it pertains to the assessment of political risk and international politics. Some of it's just because there's a lot of interesting stuff out there, available for free, written by people who are real experts in their fields (the sort of stuff one finds on Arts and Letters Daily or Reductio Ad Absurdum).

That last part is why I think the "paid blogging" model is unlikely to provide much in the way of financial returns. Commentary on news and opinion is one thing if it's free and/or convenient. But if it isn't, why wouldn't someone be better off spending the cash on established publications like The New Republic or National Review or the American Prospect or ... any number of other established opinion magazines? (Magazines, curiously that are themselves, for the most part, struggling to make ends meet?)

(09-03-02 Update) Back to Scott's blog (I got a little sidetracked) -- he runs a pretty neat business that occasionally is the host of some excellent music (another interest of his).

[Posted at 21:13 CST on 09/02/02] [Link]

01 September 2002

Chrissy

Maybe John Lopez should wait until Texas does something more impressive than beating North Texas (28-0) before writing crap like this about Chrissy Simms:

Simms might have finished with modest numbers, 16-for-26 passing for 186 yards and a touchdown. But the message Simms delivered was confident and convincing.

This is my time. This is my team.

Get real. This was NORTH TEXAS. Mediocre teams like this have not been a problem for Chrissy Simms, who has played poorly in big games against good competition (and, by his own admission, ran crying to daddy after last year's Big 12 Championship loss -- I guess that wasn't his time, eh?).

North Texas as a statement game?! John Lopez must have gotten too much heat prior to writing this crap.

[Posted at 20:38 CST on 09/01/02] [Link]

Chron Readers

I am constantly pointing out how bad a paper the Chron is. But maybe it's simply catering to its readers. Here's a series of letters from today's edition:

Mayor Lee Brown's failure to improve the infrastruture of Houston's roadways has saved taxpayers many dollars and much grief from traffic snarls by our failed bid for the 2012 Olympics.

[Could someone translate that to English? -klw]

Bill Hamrick, Houston

* * *

Houston was rejected for the 2012 Olympics because it did not bribe the decision-makers as much as the other cities did. Bribery at the Olympics is well-documented.

[Yes, I'm sure that's it. I can't believe I didn't think of that. -klw]

Perry Jefferies, Galveston

* * *

Regarding Houston's loss of its 2012 Olympic bid, which some have attributed to our poor image: The city's image is not created in a vacuum -- it is the product of the social, political and cultural values it presents.

[huh? -klw]

Ironically, on the day the U.S. Olympics Committee eliminated Houston from contention, two prominent stories in the Chronicle noted that funding for Texas prisons is increasing faster than funding for education, and that Texas' math and verbal SAT scores continue to rank among the nation's worst. Those headlines say a lot about Texas, and, therefore, about Houston.

[Isn't a lot where people park their cars? -klw]

Steve Roman, Richmond

* * *

For the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, I was an engineer at the building that hosted the hockey matches. I was on the Salt Lake organizing committee and also on the International Olympic Committee. Unseen in the greed of acquisition are the tremendous costs connected with handling the throngs of people who attend these events.

[Also unseen would be any sense of rhetorical style. -klw]

Houston should be very glad it was passed over by the dark shadow of the Olympics.

[I prefer lighter shadows myself. -klw]

Jamie Cryer, Houston

Dear gawd. That was painful. And these are the people who actually can write well enough to be published in the gawdawful Chron. *sigh*

[Posted at 20:09 CST on 09/01/02] [Link]

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