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30 June 2003

Official

That little piece of paper with those three initials on it finally came in the mail today.

Meaning it's official.

And no, until I got that piece of paper, I was still treating it as unofficial. One should never underestimate the ability of the University of Houston to screw things up administratively.

But I don't think anything can be screwed up at this point. I now feel free to have that "official" celebratory beer with Kuffner. Well, if he's still buying. :)

[Posted at 16:33 CST on 06/30/03] [Link]

More Redistricting

I appreciate the honesty here:

U.S. Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, D-Dallas, was chairwoman of the state Senate redistricting committee in 1991. She told a gathering in 1997 that the redistricting process "is not one of kindness. It is not one of sharing. It is a power grab."
That's the nature of the beast all right. Sit back, folks, this is going to be interesting.

Further down, the authors of the piece lament that so much redistricting has turned into incumbent protection. But it is a political process, and why should we expect otherwise from politicians? Indeed, so many of the same people who lament that redistricting is unfair incumbent protection also lament term limits initiatives intended to eradicate that problem.

It is a conundrum sometimes for idealists who wish to believe we live in a society that is good by nature, but instead discover it is more Hobbesian than they thought (but not more Hobbesian than the architects of our political system thought, interestingly enough). Perhaps, to go somewhat Randian, a check of premises is in order?

[Posted at 10:10 CST on 06/30/03] [Link]

29 June 2003

Texas Redistricting

Kuffner went to Houston's redistricting meeting and has posted more details than you'll be able to find from any of Houston's professional news services.

Well worth a read with your coffee.

[Posted at 13:08 CST on 06/29/03] [Link]

You Tell 'Em

One of many reasons we love Pineapple Girl (aside from the fact she's sweet and has excellent taste in music) is that she's passionate about things.

Usually it's silly liberal things (just giving ya a hard time), but here she's defending her gawd-given right as a Texan to drive her SUV and not feel guilty about it.

Oh, and this is interesting:

Have a gander at this. SUVs are taller than cars, obviously -- but they aren't usually very much longer or wider, thereby taking up all the surface area, like people assume. My Ford Explorer is 70.2 inches wide. A Honda Accord is 71.5 inches wide. Yet, that Accord qualifies for the "compact car" parking spaces, while the dastardly Explorer does not. Gah! How dare I park a vehicle that is actually slimmer than a Honda Accord in a compact space?
THAT is something to think about, hmm?

Readers of this space know that I just adore my Jeep Liberty. LOVE IT. And it actually takes up less space than many many cars (probably a little less than an Explorer, though I'm too lazy to look up exact dimensions). But since I'm a tool of Big Oil, I realize I'm not to be trusted on this topic. That's why I'm happy to point ya over to my friend on this one.

[Posted at 12:29 CST on 06/29/03] [Link]

The Retarded Comical

I cannot make any sense of this editorial in the Comical. Maybe some of the baboons in the Comical offices have been listening to audiobooks of Dickens? That's about as close as I can figure.

Callie sent it to me with these questions:

the lawsuits are good? the lawsuits are bad? the justice system is good?
the justice system is bad? the execs need to pay for their crimes
literally? the execs won't have enough money to pay for their crimes
literally? entities were right in penalizing enron? too many entities are
penalizing enron?

WHAT THE HELL IS THE POINT OF THIS?

i guess there is no point. editiorials in the comical are basically
checklists that have no beginning, end, middle, or point.

True.

Personally, though, I like this sentence:

Complicated by the many criminal charges leveled and likely to be brought, lengthy discovery proceedings in the civil lawsuits has yet to begin.

Proceedings has yet to begin.

Brilliant.

Dickens would surely be proud.

[Posted at 00:28 CST on 06/29/03] [Link]

28 June 2003

Email

Okay, it seems I'm having more email troubles tonight. Things are bouncing for some unknown reason.

So, if you need to get something to me, please send it to: publiustx@yahoo.com

Sorry about the inconvenience.

(Update) The email should be working fine now. Our host did some upgrades tonight, which did something funny to my master control panel. Long story, seems fine now.

[Posted at 22:39 CST on 06/28/03] [Link]

Not-So-Sweet Lou

I loved Lou Piniella when I was a kid watching baseball.

I loved all of those Yankees of that era -- Nettles and Guidry and Chambliss and Dent and, yes, Reggie.

Those guys were all men.

I don't know what to say about some of the angsty crybaby millionaires in MLB today:

"That was pretty intense words he was throwing out there yesterday. I was actually wondering if I would even be coming to the field today after that,'' Grieve said. "I don't know. I'm kind of scared to go approach the guy right now. I don't know what to say.''

Intense is when Jessica Lynch finds herself in an Iraqi hospital, not when your manager wonders why your head is stuck up your ass. Suck it up and play ball.

[Posted at 16:52 CST on 06/28/03] [Link]

Aggies

Texas A&M is a fine institution of higher learning, and I like plenty of Aggies.

But some of the traditions are just a wee bit strange.

Like swatting each other on the ass with an axe handle in a barn.

What, you ask? Whited is surely confused! Maybe drunk. Maybe heatstroke (heatstruck?).

Nope.

Here ya go, from the Austin American-Statesman:

It was just after 3 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 12, when the first ax handle swung.

It took only a fraction of a second as that handle, wielded by a Texas A&M University junior, arced its way across a short distance to the buttocks of a sophomore, where its flat surface landed with a solid smack.

That brief moment set the stage for one of the largest disciplinary actions in the history of Texas A&M. Since then, 77 cadets from the university's elite cavalry unit have been singled out for punishment. Threats of criminal charges have been made. Now, a lawsuit is pending against the school on behalf of the cadets being disciplined.

That smack was the first of many that sounded that afternoon. A cascade of more than 300 others followed, as ax handles slapped against 27 backsides in the Parsons Mounted Cavalry hay barn.

No injuries were reported. No sophomore complained. The smacks themselves were not even particularly loud. Delivered as "half-swats" (with a swing that began at the waist) and muffled by the surrounding bales of hay, they barely sounded outside the barn.

Apparently, the university has decided this is an act of hazing, and is considering punishments. This action, of course, has produced the same response from hardcore Aggies as when the university decided it was probably not a good idea to allow unsurpervised, untrained students to build huge structures and set them on fire (because they might, you know, collapse and kill people):

"A&M has always been steeped in tradition," said John A. Adams, a historian and 1973 A&M graduate who has written several books on the history of the school.

"Most of it was military, and there's always been some hazing, but it was certainly not a secret.

"But I doubt if there'd be so much interest in this case if it didn't involve the Corps. There've always been those who were ready to take a shot at the Corps."

Ah yes, the world is always out to get the Aggie Cadet Corps. UT's Bevo probably had something to do with it.

Bizarre.

[Posted at 13:44 CST on 06/28/03] [Link]

I Hate Leeches

In person, it seems Kate is not nearly so venomous as her blogging would have us believe.

She seems like a bit of a sweetheart, actually, and man, do leeches like her neighbor know how to take advantage.

Problem is, Kate wants to establish a boundary, assuming the neighbor is reasonable. But there's the bad assumption. The neighbor isn't reasonable, and there's probably no way to establish such a boundary as one might establish with a good, reasonable neighbor. The boundary, in this case, is almost certainly to be a "sorry, I can't help you" for a while. For a long while. Maybe forever.

Kev <--- feeling like a post-objectivist hardass today.

[Posted at 13:08 CST on 06/28/03] [Link]

Slide

After a brief run of good baseball, the Astros' slide back to mediocrity continues.

At least Scott's happy with the outcome.

[Posted at 12:53 CST on 06/28/03] [Link]

How Thoughtful

How pleasant of the strapping young man next door to allow his overweight mom the pleasure of carrying his moving boxes around in the Houston heat and humidity today.

Surely she needed the exercise, right?

Since dude has lived next door, I've wondered if he has any brain function above the minimal level required to feed and dress himself and park his car like a jackass. Anecdotal evidence accumulated over a few months suggests not.

(Update) Mom just took mop and cleaning equipment from the place of aforementioned jackass to her car. Because mom probably has nothing better to do on a saturday than clean up after her ingrate son.

[Posted at 11:33 CST on 06/28/03] [Link]

Lovely

Police Chief Crime Lab and The Boy Who Would Be Mayor both are named in a new lawsuit related to the infamous K-Mart raids.

Excellent!

I can't imagine this suit having much success. but it does just warm the heart to see our city leaders achieving such great things.

[Posted at 01:51 CST on 06/28/03] [Link]

27 June 2003

Vacation Day

Thursdays like the one yesterday mandate taking a vacation day (which was much needed anyway, because the office was getting on my nerves) and regrouping....

So I'm much enjoying the time away from the office hanging at Kaveh Kanes, which may have the coldest A/C in town (sorry, Diedrich's Montrose, but you're close still). And nice wi-fi. And free iced tea/coffee of the day refills. Too easy, after catching a ride downtown with Callie (poor thing is actually WORKING today).

So, the Thursday night included:

Randy Rogers at a bizarre promotion at Blanco's that seemed highly disorganized. We thought we would have to bail in the middle of his set, but apparently he was asked to stop early. Unclear why. The band sounded great. I't's obvious they've been on the road a lot.

Many margaritas at Spanish Village for a birthday party. Powerful margaritas.

A brief stay at Last Concert Cafe, where the house band sucked, and the people outside in the dark corner smoking a bong creeped Callie out (I was oblivious because, well, I tend not to stare at creepy people in dark corners). Fortunately, we did not stay long (about five minutes).

A longer stay at the Firehouse, where we closed down the place, Callie hit the Jaeger machine, and Rodger Wilko played with lots of energy. There were no hippies in any dark corners spotted, nor any bongs.

We're planning a little more laid back night tonight, giving a friend who's in town and free a slightly more mellow look at the Bayou City.

[Posted at 15:50 CST on 06/27/03] [Link]

Alejandro Escovedo

I knew that Alejandro Escovedo had taken ill, and had seen info on a number of benefits.

I didn't realize just how sick he is, though, until my friend Dave forwarded this Rolling Stone piece.

Here's hoping for a complete recovery.

[Posted at 10:18 CST on 06/27/03] [Link]

26 June 2003

Guilty!

Convicted Murderer Chante Jawan Mallard
Convicted murderer Chante Jawan Mallard

It took jurors less than an hour to find Chante Jawan Mallard guilty of murder.

Proof that sometimes, justice is served in Texas. Even when you kill someone with the excuse that you weren't in control of yourself after a night of pot, booze, and ecstasy.

I wonder if this would be an example of the "problem" that local Police Chief Crime Lab identified the other day -- you know, when prosecutors try to win their cases?

And finally, why is the man she killed referred to as "homeless" in almost every report I see? That adds little substance to the story, and the trial testimony indicated the man was a fairly upstanding citizen. So far as I know, nobody was suggesting he lived in the middle of the road in a box, thereby daring cars to strike him. So why the label? I mean, most reports don't refer to her as black motorist Chante Jawan Mallard. But now they can refer to her as convicted murderer Chante Jawan Mallard, I suppose.

[Posted at 16:47 CST on 06/26/03] [Link]

Huh?

John Derbyshire is kind of a refreshing throwback.

I mean, he used to call those online columns he wrote for NRO "blogs." And that was kind of funny, since he obviously couldn't tell a blog from his ass.

And today, he figures out that mp3s sound better than wavs:

A wise reader instructs me that an MP3 file gives FAR better sound reproduction than a WAV file. I tried it out and he is right. So now you can hear my rendition of "Where are the zeros of zeta of s?" in high fidelity. "'Tis said that swans sing before they die. / 'Twere better that some died before they sang."

Sorry, dude, but your columns were not blogs, and you've got the whole wav (1411 kbps) versus mp3 (some fraction of the last number) quality issue precisely backwards.

Here's a thought: it's no shame being technologically inept (lots of people are), but why broadcast it by writing as if you know what you are talking about?

(06-27-03 Update) Stu Greene emails me that Derb meant that mp3 would be of better quality than wave if the duration and filesize were the same. That's fair. He didn't say that in that post, but I presume that was covered in prior posts. Ah, context. In any case, may we recommend the LAME encoder for all Mr. Derbyshire's mp3 needs. :)

[Posted at 15:40 CST on 06/26/03] [Link]

Fun In The Neighborhood

A car was spotted driving the wrong way in Montrose last night, and apparently a high speed chase ensued, followed by a crash and arrests.

This would probably not be all that notable except Mayor Pothole had appointed the driver to an anti-gang task force. And that said driver was fired from the task force after testing positive for drugs.

Given Mayor Pothole's management style, I would say this charming man would be a prime candidate to head the police department if Police Chief Crime Lab submits his resignation prior to being fired by future Mayor Sanchez.

[Posted at 13:57 CST on 06/26/03] [Link]

San Marcos Invasion

The San Marcos bands invade Houston tonight.

The Randy Rogers Band is apparently playing Blanco's (it's listed on his website and was mentioned in his weekly email) as part of a 97.1 promotion. Except calling Blanco's last night to get a time seemed to produce surprise at the other end of the phone that the RRB was playing at all. Typical Blanco's. And 97.1 doesn't seem to have any useful info either. I have an email query out to try and clarify.

[Update: Randy's drummer says 5:30 pm at Blanco's -- very strange, it's the first event put on by 97.1 at Blanco's, and they're listing some Zydeco band. Sounds like that particular radio station is about as with it as Blanco's is when it comes to marketing and promotion. Retards. Anyway, I plan on catching RRB for a while before my evening commitment]

And

Rodger Wilko plays the Firehouse. I assume they will get started around 9:30, although it could be later.

I have a commitment that most likely will keep me away from both, although I might be free later in the evening and will most likely pop in to whichever one is still going.

[Posted at 07:56 CST on 06/26/03] [Link]

25 June 2003

Felicity

I had a mindless TV moment earlier and watched a show (rerun) for the first time.

Felicity.

I liked it.

Should I admit this?

[Posted at 20:01 CST on 06/25/03] [Link]

Hell. Frozen?

Something seems terribly wrong.

My hero Robb Walsh actually PRAISES a new Tilman Fertita restaurant (no, not the retarded Aquarium):

After years of eating shopping center steaks at Morton's, Palm and Capital Grille, I am astonished by the one-of-a-kind integrity of Vic & Anthony's. This isn't an Outback with social pretensions like the insipid Fleming's. This is a home-grown steakhouse that clearly outclasses the national cookie-cutter chains. And that's a huge step forward for the Houston restaurant scene.

"Maybe Tilman Fertitta has turned over a new leaf," I suggest to my skeptical friend. She agrees that Vic & Anthony's is better than the chains, but she isn't as ready to forgive Fertitta's past sins as I am.

"He hasn't done enough penance yet," she says.

Ha.

Still, you have to think Walsh is onto something here. It wouldn't take much to improve upon the national "premium" steakhouses if you're an enterprising restaurateur with deep pockets (like Fertita). And you really don't have to work that hard to beat Fleming's, from the sounds of things.

So I may have to go try this place one of these days.

[Posted at 17:47 CST on 06/25/03] [Link]

24 June 2003

Wow

The Rachel's CD I mentioned here arrived today.

It's very good. Highly recommended. The cello is especially beautiful (but then, that should almost go without saying).

[Posted at 22:47 CST on 06/24/03] [Link]

That's Our C.O. -- Cont'd

C.O. slipping his wife the tongue
Police Chief Perjurer, slipping his wife the tongue after being acquitted (KHOU-11 photo)

You think you've seen everything from Mayor Pothole's Administration....

And then his beleaguered and clueless police chief comes out lamenting the fact that prosecutors try to win their cases:

Criminal defendants in Texas are at the mercy of prosecutors in an unfair system that emphasizes winning rather than justice, Houston Police Chief C.O. Bradford said Monday.

"Trial by ambush -- that is a Texas criminal justice problem," the embattled chief said.

[snip]

The chief also extended his support for changes to help balance a justice system that works in favor of prosecutors. He described the attitude in the district attorney's office as, "What can I do to win? Win, win, win."

Bradford used his prosecution on charges of aggravated perjury, which a judge threw out in January, as evidence of some of the problems in the system. The chief had been indicted on a charge that he had intentionally lied under oath about whether he had called a subordinate an obscenity.

Rare is the occasion (many can attest!) that anything political or legal leaves me speechless. Only now, hours after reading this, have I been able to write about it.

It's just astonishing to me that the Chief of Police in a major city is criticizing the adversarial criminal court system, or the fact that prosecutors try to win their cases!

Here, C.O. Let's take this one step at a time.

A D V E R S A R I A L

You arrest the bad guys.

The prosecutors try to put the bad guys in jail.

If you do your job right (i.e. if your crime lab isn't a goddamn national disgrace) , it makes their job much easier.

The bad guys have attorneys who argue THEIR side.

The prosecutors have to convince a JURY that the bad guys really ARE the bad guys, within a complex set of rules involving EVIDENCE and PROCEDURE.

Technicalities (i.e. botched crime lab work) are grounds for dismissal of evidence, which can lead to dismissal of CHARGES, thereby negating police work (and wasting taxpayer dollars). Furthermore, the bad guys can only be charged with the crime once (DOUBLE JEOPARDY). All of these things work to protect the bad guys while allowing the public interest to be served.

At the end of the process, our system is such that we believe JUSTICE has been served. Even in the case of police chiefs who (allegedly) perjure themselves and are later acquitted.

I cannot wait for Mayor Sanchez's first act of office, which will be to fire your retarded ass.

[Posted at 20:42 CST on 06/24/03] [Link]

Streets Of Sin

Streets of Sin by Joe Ely
Joe Ely's new CD

Not that you would know it from the man's woefully neglected website....

But apparently Joe Ely has finished work on a new CD.

Streets of Sin will be released on July 15. From the clips on Amazon, it sounds like he's gotten a bit away from the awesome Letter To Laredo Tex-Mex border sound and back more towards the Love and Danger sound. To the extent you can tell anything from a few short clips from a few songs.

This is excellent news. Joe Ely is one of the legendary alt-country/roots rock guys, but lately there's been way too much Flatlanders stuff and not enough Joe.

Not that the Flatlanders aren't good, but Joe is a friggin' rocker and hanging out with those guys singing folk/country tunes kind of puts Joe in slow motion.

So here's hoping he ditches the old farts and gets out with a badass band to support this album in a few weeks.

[Posted at 20:27 CST on 06/24/03] [Link]

23 June 2003

Venom

The best two sentences I've seen on any blog tonight are here.

I concur.

[Posted at 22:49 CST on 06/23/03] [Link]

Congrats

Congrats to Rice, for winning what I think is its first National Championship in any sport tonight at the College World Series.

As a testament to the strength of college baseball in Texas, the University of Texas won the national championship last year after losing the first game of the UT Super-Regional to Houston, and then going on to win that series.

This year, Houston beat Rice in the first game of the Rice Super-Regional only to lose the series AGAIN to the eventual National Champion.

That's some consolation to this Cougar fan, but we really do need to clue the NCAA in to the fact that there are several good programs in Texas, and it would be nice if they don't all knock each other out before Omaha.

Again, though, congrats to Rice. Wayne Graham had what may have been one of the most talented college baseball teams in history this year, and they got it done convincingly most of the season.

[Posted at 22:46 CST on 06/23/03] [Link]

More MT Stuff

For those who have been following the whole Movable Type licensing discussion going on over at Kathy's place (which I mentioned here a few days ago), there's been some related posts by Tweezerman and Den Beste (and an older one from Bennett).

Tweezerman's post is particularly good, because it raises questions about software licenses that attempt to reach too far (Bennett's post also deals with that topic). I agree that some of the provisions that the MT folks have stuck in their license probably would not hold up legally, and I also agree that the problematic language in the license itself is what must guide -- not what Ben or Mena or Anil might post on a message board somewhere to clarify.

Den Beste raises the question of selective enforcement of licensing terms. I don't necessarily agree with him that Movable Type is less polished than his preferred software, CityDesk (MT certainly is more robust in terms of features, and I've never suffered from any bugs in the software), but CityDesk is way ahead in terms of clarity of its license. Because MT's license is so unclear -- and because there are side arrangements to get around/clarify the ambiguities -- selective enforcement almost has to be the result. And THAT is one reason why I have no real desire to continue to use the software. Den Beste is right that those of us who do our own designs ARE choosing more than just software in a blog tool. And two things that drive me crazy about any community/clique are ambiguous rules and selective enforcement of rules. Grr.

What MT needs is not polish, but a reconsideration of its licensing program, and what the company hopes to accomplish through the same. I had a pleasant email exchange with Rick Ellis, the author of pMachine, earlier, on the topic of the inclusion of pMachine Free in the Fantastico Installer Script included on cpanel servers (b2 is also included, and I think postNuke may be as well). Rick seems happy with that arrangement, and maybe that's something for MT to consider because it really does make the install process pain free (so long as the server is well maintained). Because I honestly can't see how MT can insist that they will provide an individual user the software for free, but that nobody but the MT people can charge for installation. I understand not wanting to allow hosting services to offer pre-installed MT, but that's somewhat of a different matter. I think.

Anyway, I'll make another plug for Nucleus. It's open-source and it is free, but it's true that there are no "professionals" making a living by supporting it. Still, it has a strong support and development community, and for some folks, it might be a good solution. It will soon be in action here (along with trackback and linkback and other cool stuff, including comments, so you peeps can give me a rash of sh!t), and it's been working quite well over at Reductio Ad Absurdum.

Finally, the MT folks are soliciting input on their licensing. That's where the conversation about this should go, I guess, for those who are still interested.

(06-25-03 Update) There is additional discussion from BurningBird, who shares my doubts that the MT people could ever enforce the part of the license that does not allow for third-party paid installations of the software. Indeed, BB is willing to test that theory by offering $10 MT installs. And like me, Beth notes that some people and some firms seem to have secured special arrangements for themselves. And Beth points to this post, which raised weeks ago many of the same issues that bother me.

[Posted at 22:27 CST on 06/23/03] [Link]

All Redistricting All The Time

Houstonians must be very proud of Congressman Chris Bell's latest efforts to use his federal office to improve Houston.

Oh wait, he's let a personal squabble with Tom DeLay get in the way of actually doing his job:

With Republicans in control of the Legislature, DeLay began pushing a redistricting plan aimed at increasing the chances of electing up to seven Republicans to seats currently held by Texas Democrats.

Back in Washington, one member of Congress who took DeLay's plan personally was Houston Rep. Chris Bell, a freshman Democrat. Once he saw how the Republican redistricting plan would shift his Houston-area district several hundred miles away to South Texas, Bell stopped working with DeLay on a guided bus project as an alternative to a rail system for Houston.

"I think for the first time a lot of people got to see in a very close-up manner how Tom DeLay operates and how far he's willing to go," Bell said. "And all of a sudden it wasn't just inside baseball or some political action committee all happening under the radar. It was very high profile and people could see what he was up to."

Oh. So you stop working with the man on an entirely unrelated project that would benefit those who live in your House district?

Maybe the conniving slimeball (Bell, not DeLay) should have run off to take a vacation in Ardmore, OK with the rest of the whiners.

I hadn't considered that the DeLay redistricting plan would actually get rid of Mr. Bell. I may actually have to support it on purely personal grounds. :)

(06-24-03 Update) Oops, Kuffner pointed out to me that I had a bad link to the Chron article above. Now it should point to an article that DOES mention Mr. Bell. Sorry!

[Posted at 21:51 CST on 06/23/03] [Link]

A Surprise? Not Really

When I first heard there might be an effort afoot for the Texas legislature to engage in redistricting, I found it hard to take Cragg Hines's outrage seriously.

As I have noted, the current boundaries were set up by a federal court after the legislature failed to agree on boundaries.

That's a circumstance that bothers me.

So when there was talk of the legislature actually putting together a plan and voting on it, yes -- I found that prospect preferable. And still do, even after the Dem vacation in Ardmore, OK.

Furthermore, it's perfectly consistent with the constitutional design of the state.

Now, that's a different issue than whether or not the current drive to remake the boundaries is partisan, or driven by opportunism, or even driven by the desire of a certain House powerbroker from Sugar Land to expand the GOP majority. All of these things are probably true.

But you know what? The status quo is partisan too -- it reflects a Democrat Texas that no longer exists. I don't blame Dems for their own partisan redistricting over the last couple of decades, as Texas trended Republican. Indeed, it's consistent with the constitutional design of this state. The drawing of these boundaries is necessarily political in Texas. We do not have impartial boards to draw the lines like some places. Perhaps we should, but that is a different discussion.

Under the current design, I prefer the representative branch that is charged with the drawing of these boundaries to fulfill the constitutional responsibility to do so rather than pass that responsibility off to federal judges. The folks who are so upset that Tom DeLay (who at least is a federal elected official from Texas) is engaged in politicking in Texas seem completely unbothered to have federal unelected officials engaged in same. I have a problem with that, and I've consistently said so. And I'd like to think that I would be consistent on this whatever party was the out party.

Do I think Governor Perry or Tom DeLay or other politicians are as motivated by concerns of constitutional design as I am? No. I'm not naive. And no, I'm not surprised that the GOP state party chair argued against a redistricting session when Dems held the edge. Honestly, I would expect no less from the party chair, because her job is political. If I were state party chair, I'd probably be forced into the same argument -- and all sorts of Dems could call me a hypocrite and point to all the things I've written here! *shrug*

It seems me to the best approach for the Dems is not to complain about the crass partisanship of a constitutional design that encourages it, but to 1) defeat any DeLay plan outright, which probably could have been achieved via parliamentary maneuvers short of the Ardmore vacation, or 2) let the Republicans hang themselves by overreaching, as the Dems in Georgia did with their redistricting plan, or 3) work in good faith to come up with a compromise that enjoys wide support and mitigates Dem losses.

Yes, (3) might be unlikely, but maybe not, given the level of media support for the Dem vacation in Ardmore last session and the amount of pressure they are likely to exert in favor of a "fair" plan (whatever that Platonic ideal might be in real life).

(06-24-03 Update) While I'm correcting spelling errors, bad links, and other things I missed last night, I might add a (4) to the items above, and that is the argument that a special session is too expensive when the state is in a financial crunch. I don't think that addresses the substantive issues, but it's a reasonable position.

[Posted at 21:28 CST on 06/23/03] [Link]

PBR

I'm not the only one who has some fond memories of PBR.

Too cool.

(06-25-03 Update) The Conservative Observer uses PBR for "medicinal" purposes.

[Posted at 20:49 CST on 06/23/03] [Link]

22 June 2003

Not My Kind Of Float Trip

As CSS2 and floats go, Mozilla/NS can be a very unforgiving browser.

Very unforgiving, unless one remembers to clear one's floats.

Blar.

(06-23-03 Update) Of course, the fact that Mozilla is unforgiving finally led me tonight to figure out that my problem was actually a stupidly specified float in my stylesheet (I have a float:left declaration on a container div that shouldn't have had any such float). IE didn't mind, but IE is halfway retarded. Now, any browser 5+ should work, although I have no way of testing on a mac. Sorry.

[Posted at 22:43 CST on 06/22/03] [Link]

Dead End Angels

Look who has checked in at Number 24 on the Lone Star Music Top 25 this week:

The Dead End Angels.

Nice work, guys.

November is a fine debut effort. You alt-country fans should check it out, maybe listen to a few clips. My current favorites are Girl in Oklahoma (beautiful song) and Milk and Honey (listen to Rick's guitars on steroids).

[Posted at 09:02 CST on 06/22/03] [Link]

21 June 2003

The Power Of PBR


Go PBR!

Back in the day (heh), when I was in college in Springfield, MO, the Honors College used to sponsor a canoe/camping trip twice a year in the beautiful Mark Twain Forest. I hardly ever missed those trips, and they were a hoot. A number of my old friends from those days still pack up every year for the Memorial Day Float Trip in OK.

Anyway, one of the beers of choice for those MO trips was Pabst Blue Ribbon. The stuff could always be found on sale VERY CHEAP, when iced down it tasted as good as the so-called premium domestic beers of the time (Bud, Coors, Miller), and it just did the job. No frills to be sure, but not nasty like comparably priced bargain beers (Milwaukee's Best, or gawd forbid, Schaeffer).

So, imagine my surprise when I see, courtesy of the Brothers Judd blog, a story in the New York Times Magazine on the comeback of Pabst Blue Ribbon.

Way to go, PBR!

[Posted at 14:37 CST on 06/21/03] [Link]

Marcia Ball

There's a feature on Marcia Ball over at the Austin Chronicle.

I saw Ball play at the Satellite Lounge a few years ago, and it was a pretty cool show (though not really my kind of music).

[Posted at 13:28 CST on 06/21/03] [Link]

Pasty Astros

Interesting observation on the throwback Astros from Richard Connelly:

Every so often major-league baseball will try to lure fans in with a Roll-Back-the-Clock promotion, where teams dress up in uniforms from long ago. This particularly embarrasses players when the clock rolls back to the 1970s in Pittsburgh and the South Side of Chicago.

Houstonians, however, don't need to wait for any bogus, gimmicky event to get a taste of baseball nostalgia. Every day is throwback day at Minute Maid Park lately.

Look at the Astros' starting lineup: Jeff Bagwell, Jeff Kent, Adam Everett, Morgan Ensberg, Lance Berkman, Craig Biggio, Orlando Merced, Brad Ausmus and any of the starting rotation. Notice anything unusual? Take away Merced, the Pumpsie Green of Houston, and this group of starters is whiter than any team outside a Stanley Cup game. (Obscure baseball note: In July 1959, Pumpsie Green entered a game for the Boston Red Sox, the last major-league team to integrate.)

About 40 percent of major- leaguers are minority, with most of those being Hispanic. The Astros, though, look like a NASCAR crowd. Or maybe, since a disturbingly large proportion of the team is also old -- the injured-reserve list is going to get crowded in August, we're guessing -- they look more like a matinee crowd at a Jackie Mason show.

We're not saying anyone in Astros management is racist. We're just saying there's one heckuva 1940s vibe at the old ballpark these days.

Incidentally, Connelly, one of the best writers and critics in town, seems to have been relegated (scroll to the bottom) to an odd weekly-print version of what otherwise resembles a group blog in the Houston Press.

Proof that the Comical doesn't have a monopoly on media stupidity in this town. Connelly is much too great an asset to be treated this way. Maybe next, they can bury John Nova Lomax and Robb Walsh, and there won't be any reason to read the silly thing.

[Posted at 13:22 CST on 06/21/03] [Link]

Professor Crime Lab?

In this rambling mess of a column (that's our Comical!), I think Thom "Potted Plant" Marshall is criticizing Police Chief Crime Lab. Hard to say what exactly he is criticizing since he goes on and on about how inconvenienced he was by a less than informative press conference. Sorry, Thom, but sometimes journalists have to get off their ass, leave the office, sit through press conferences, talk to people, maybe make some phone calls and trips around town. That's how it works, buddy. It's called research.

But I digress.

Before I read Thom's sad column, I didn't know this bit of news, however:

Through the years Bradford has made no secret about his plan to one day move back to Louisiana and take a comparatively peaceful job, like maybe teaching at the college level.
Since Orlando Sanchez has promised to fire the idiot (the most decisive statement from any of the mayoral candidates), I'm hoping Police Chief Crime Lab gets to take up teaching in the Spring 2004 semester.

[Posted at 13:12 CST on 06/21/03] [Link]

Reality

Reality finally seems to have set in for Oklahoma State baseball:

Sources confirmed Friday that Anderson has moved to the forefront of athletic director Harry Birdwell's search, with Cal State Fullerton's George Horton and Houston's Rayner Noble no longer in the mix.

Birdwell and three other school officials met with Anderson in Kansas City, Mo., for an extensive interview Thursday. One source said a tour of the campus and Stillwater was possible this weekend.

Horton and Noble have withdrawn from consideration.

I can't speak about Horton, but as I pointed out several days ago, Rayner Noble was never IN the mix. And I seriously doubt Horton was a realistic candidate either.

Anderson seems more realistic -- a quality assistant at a big-time baseball program.

[Posted at 12:32 CST on 06/21/03] [Link]

20 June 2003

Email Weirdness

Okay, at least one friend has had some emails not get through to me lately, and mine to him are bouncing at the moment.

If you suspect I may not be getting your email for some reason, would you mind trying this backup (publiustx@yahoo.com) or hitting me on various chat services:

publiustx (yahoo and aim)
8767065 (icq)

Thanks!

[Posted at 22:47 CST on 06/20/03] [Link]

Okie Blog

This is a very interesting Okie blog.

Not sure why I haven't seen it until just now, but will have to return to it.

But now, I'm off to the Firehouse for a Dub Miller show.

(Update) The Firehouse got nixed. When I show up at 10:00 pm and the parking is already full and extended across Fountainview, that's a good indicator that I should just turn around and head it home. Not in the mood for verminous crowds tonight.

[Posted at 21:50 CST on 06/20/03] [Link]

Ouch!


Damn, that hurts

My good Scottish friend Mr. Kellas (who will be paying a visit shortly) managed to do something similar once, I understand, but it involved vast quantities of liquor and some sort of badly aimed flaming drink (rather than any effort at self-immolation). Thankfully, there was no permanent, visible damage.

I don't think the poor SOB above can claim the same.

[Posted at 21:33 CST on 06/20/03] [Link]

A Group Effort

It's good to know that when I miss a chance to beat up the Comical, Rob's got me covered.

And Owen too, for that matter.

[Posted at 20:57 CST on 06/20/03] [Link]

Snip Free And Full Of Care

Even when dude tries to admit (via UPDATE) he might have jumped the gun and been overly harsh, he doesn't quite ADMIT it, does he?

In a post about being more careful and less snippy.

Impressive.

[Posted at 20:50 CST on 06/20/03] [Link]

That Ain't Country

Oh. My. Gawd.

There's another soul in this world as unimpressed with Kenny Chesney as I am!

Check this out.

Thanks to Mr. Chaffin for the tip on this one.

[Posted at 19:23 CST on 06/20/03] [Link]

Passing The Buck


C.O. Bradford: Taking Ineptitude Beyond Lee Brown Proportions

Police Chief C.O. Bradford is going to make an outstanding mayor eventually, if his ability to pass the buck is any indicator.

Check out this explanation of his role in the ongoing police crime lab fiasco:

"When you look at the correspondence, you can see that I approved a plan of action," Bradford said. "Those things were not done. ... At some point in time, given the breadth and depth of an operation like this, I have to be able to rely on command staff members and other division commanders. I relied on my division managers. I relied on my assistant chief that these things were taken care of."
It's not my fault. I approved a study. Someone else was responsible.

Come to think of it, he sounds exactly like Mayor Pothole!

And since they are of comparable ineptitude, I'm beginning to think C.O. is eventually going to make a damn fine mayor.

[Posted at 19:16 CST on 06/20/03] [Link]

Jeff Bagwell's Ailments

My shoulder hurts when I have to, like, make plays
That can't feel good.

It sure would be nice to read good articles like this one about Jeff Bagwell in the Comical.

Unfortunately, there are no sportswriters at the Comical. So we have to turn to the Dallas Morning News and Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

Interestingly, there's no mention at all of steroids in the article. Maybe it wouldn't be nice to bring up the topic, but you do have to wonder how a guy with Bagwell's tiny frame got so bulked up and lost so much of that mass over one offseason. Maybe it's the injury and lack of lifting. Maybe not.

In any case, it's a shame he's a crippled ballplayer at this point in his career. I hated watching Don Mattingly's last games as a Yankee (he was my model ballplayer as a kid, and it's awful his back cut his career), and I think Jeff Bagwell's last games are going to be just as sad because of his physical problems.

[Posted at 19:08 CST on 06/20/03] [Link]

Bob Is The Man In Sooner Land


Bob Stoops has a plan

There was an interesting move in Sooner land yesterday.

Brent Rawls, who looked to be named starting quarterback after an impressive spring, instead was demoted to fourth on the depth chart, with the brittle Jason White named as starter.

It's an unusual move for Stoops, given his recent history of handling QBs. But it was surely intended to send a message to both Rawls (the guy who fell out of a pickup truck last year, like a damn idiot) and the rest of the team:

Stoops on Thursday didnít talk in particulars, but he didnít have to. This was a clear message. Not so much to Rawls as the rest of the Sooners: Work hard, do things our way, else youíll bat cleanup on the depth chart.
Yep. He may be the most talented QB on the squad, but he will not get over on Bob Stoops, and he will not get in the way of the Stoops team concept.

Berry Tramel seems to question the move:

Now, OUís viable QB options have gone from two to one. Thatís never a good thing. The Sooner quarterback hopes all ride on Whiteís two rebuilt legs.
I like Tramel, but I think he's seriously underestimated to the two very talented young men who are beneath Jason White on the depth chart now.

Gawd, this period between the end of the NBA playoffs and the start of football is just depressing.

[Posted at 18:57 CST on 06/20/03] [Link]

19 June 2003

Our Comical

Callie sends me the following questions with regard to this typically retarded editorial in the Comical. Not sure why she doesn't post it on her blog, but here goes:

what exactly is the point of this? c.o. is bad? aguirre might've been innocent? the dna lab was badly managed? underlings seem to pay for c.o.'s incompetence?

what exactly is the comical trying to say? would it KILL someone at our venerable daily actually to come out and say that maybe c.o. should be fired? that he's a dumbass? that he's no chief of police?

To answer in order: 1) There's no way to know -- the Comical editorial page is as big a joke as the rest of the paper; 2) They can't say that, because when he's mayor there will be hell to pay; 3) Maybe; 4) Much like their coverage of Enron, they're just starting to get up to speed on the crime lab, months after the story made national newspapers -- check back in a few more months; 5) That's one way to interpret the Comical's seemingly deliberate imprecision; 6) See answer #1; 7) Apparently so -- although said death would pay immediate dividends in terms of editorial quality! 8) That's the conclusion most people draw; 9) Much like Mayor Pothole, he's no mere Chief of Police -- he's Mayoral Material!

I'm pleased I could clear all of this up.

Personally, though, I still haven't been able to parse the concluding paragraph:

Apparently, the public had been complaining for years about late-night crowds milling about the Kmart and adjoining parking lots to drink, use drugs and to watch and gamble on street racers. That's legitimate law enforcement problem that deserved a sensible law enforcement solution. The jury's verdict in Aguirre's case should not be taken as an excuse to deviate from such sensibility and responsibility.
It's almost as if the Comical is doing that experiment of giving 100 baboons a typewriter and seeing if eventually something comprehensible is churned out. Except they are paying humans to do this, and I think the baboons would be preferable.

[Posted at 22:45 CST on 06/19/03] [Link]

Make That Sandwich To Go


It used to be a sandwich shop

An 83 year-old woman blasted her car through a sandwich shop in town earlier today:

Police identified the driver as Leila Katherine Dobbs, 83, of Houston.

"She thought she hit the brake, but she hit the gas," said Houston police Officer O.B. Baldwin.

A witness said Dobbs, described as a regular customer of the shop, did not appear to hit the brakes of her Toyota Avalon before the vehicle plunged through the front glass window of the store in the strip shopping center.

Jason Fussell, 26, of Conroe, said he had just bought a sandwich and walked out of the shop when the woman's car drove by him.

"She was probably going 45 mph -- she never hit the brake," he said. Fussell helped the woman out of her wrecked car. He said she appeared disoriented and was physically shaking.

"She said, `What happened? Why is my car in there?'" Fussell said.

Because you're a goddamn idiot who should not be driving? *shrug* Just my guess.

Remember back in the 80s when this happened all the time? Old folks who shouldn't have been behind the wheel were stomping on the gas instead of the brake, and idiotic programs like 60 Minutes were convinced the automakers were producing cars that jumped into gear spontaneously and revved up to 50mph?!

I remember that, and always thought that Mike Wallace probably got tanked and had an experience or two with sudden acceleration syndrome. Maybe we could get him down to Houston to investigate this incident.

[Posted at 22:27 CST on 06/19/03] [Link]

May I Recommend Nucleus?

Kathy Kinsley just received an interesting bit of correspondence from the Movable Type people:

I just got a letter from MT about bloghouse. It says I'm in violation of their agreement for offering to install MT for people. I thought it was only if I charged for it that it was a problem. Sigh. Anyone know how to make this legal?
Kathy actually had the cool idea of providing hosting space and a setup of the FREE MT software at a reasonable price, so web neophytes could get off blogsh*t with a minimum of fuss.

I share Richard Bennett's reaction:

Yo, Ben, Mena, Anil, and Joi: are you people on drugs? Kathy is running an ISP, and she's encouraging people to use your software by setting it up for them. You shouldn't be upset about this, you should be happy, happy, dancing in the streets happy, crying for joy happy, tears streaming down your faces happy. But you're threatening her for encouraging people to use Movable Type? Hello?
It's crazy. But then, MT's become a big damn (commercial) deal of late, so maybe it was to be expected. And there may even be (stupidly misguided) concerns that Kathy's little enterprise would cut into TypePad (more of the big damn commercial deal, and one that is probably destined to turn into an overloaded piece of crap).

But it's not like there aren't good alternatives. Nucleus is a wonderful, open-source CMS that has been put together by a talented developer and is supported/extended by a growing community of users/developers. Plus, it produces dynamically generated pages because it's powered by a PHP-mySQL backend. In other words, it's circa 2003 -- as opposed to MT's perl-driven backend that produces static pages that just cry out, Vintage 2001 Warblogger!

That's not to say MT's no good, because it is good. I've used it here for a long time, and because it's so good, I haven't been in a huge hurry to complete the ongoing redesign here and get over to Nucleus (although I was in a hurry to do it for Reductio, which has benefitted greatly). But if it turns into a pain in the arse to use, there are plenty of alternatives (b2, pMachine, and drupal come to mind as well as Nucleus) that, in some ways, are more powerful anyway.

(06-20-03 Update) Okay, upon prompting from Anil Dash, I owe a clarification on the "overloaded piece of crap" comment above. All I mean by that is that hosted blog/journal services have had a tendency to get overloaded and become bogged down, despite the best efforts of their proprietors (and I meant to link to this post, where I do express some skepticism). I specifically have in mind LiveJournal, which has had some terrible growing pains. Ben and Mena Trott are very talented and smart people, and may be able to avoid those traps. I hope so. And I certainly don't mean to be at all critical of Movable Type, which is powerful software. I've made a couple of donations to the MT coffers, so that should speak volumes. But, there are alternatives, and the marketplace is competitive. All of us bloggers benefit from that.

[Posted at 21:51 CST on 06/19/03] [Link]

Tom Cruise...

is just strange.

But everyone knew that already.

[Posted at 21:26 CST on 06/19/03] [Link]

Ebay Rocks

I've sold a few things on Ebay in the last year.... but they were REAL things.

In contrast, check out this auction that Alex found.

[Posted at 20:41 CST on 06/19/03] [Link]

Slightly Off Target

The local alternative media rag has discovered technology that provides access to a plethora of news and views from all over the world.

Yet another sad article in which old media discovers the internet?

Err, actually no.

It's an even sadder article in which old media (i.e. a commercial weekly posing as an "alternative" rag) discovers shortwave radio.

The author spends way too much time celebrating the fact that all sorts of international news is available via shortwave (I guess he's not an internet news junkie like some of us). Unfortunately, the article misses a good opportunity more fully to explore a potential growth area for shortwave: the broadcast of music (which was once the great promise of the internet, until over-regulation stifled it).

[Posted at 08:49 CST on 06/19/03] [Link]

18 June 2003

That's Our C.O.

With a level of managerial ineptitude approaching Mayor Pothole's, I would say Police Chief Bradford is setting himself up for a successful mayoral run in a few years if Mayor Pothole's history is any kind of predictor.

Is there anything that works well in Mayor Pothole's administration? Anything at all?

[Posted at 23:48 CST on 06/18/03] [Link]

Rachel's Is A Damned Odd Name

Launchcast keeps on serving me stuff from this CD, and it's just amazing.

I finally broke down and ordered the silly thing from Amazon.

What I've heard from Launchcast so far reminds me quite a bit of this music (which I highly recommend).

[Posted at 22:56 CST on 06/18/03] [Link]

So You Wanna Be An Academic Political Scientist?

If so, Daniel Drezner points to this article about the discipline from the University of Chicago.

Fortunately, grad school in the discipline cured me of any desire to be a part of academia.

[Posted at 22:43 CST on 06/18/03] [Link]

Muddy Waters Can Kiss My Ass

So, a venue in Dallas that hasn't paid Cindy in months for their bookings is apparently threatening to sue her because she wrote about it on TexasGigs.

Well, they can now add me to their little list of defendants who have committed the crime of exercising their First Amendment rights.

Maybe instead of threatening to sue one of the legitimately good promoters of live music in Dallas, though, MUDDY WATERS*** could actually live up to the agreements they make.

What a concept.

Dumbasses.


*** We would link to the idiots, but they have apparently broken their website. Kind of hard for people to come out to see shows at your place if they can't figure out WHO is gonne be there, and WHEN. Instead of threatening to sue Cindy, maybe they should hire her to fix their crap website. Nah, that would make too much sense.

[Posted at 22:03 CST on 06/18/03] [Link]

Trillian

If you use Trillian as your Yahoo Messenger client, you may need to follow the advice posted here.

Apparently Yahoo made some changes to its server today that affected Trillian users (including me).

[Posted at 21:04 CST on 06/18/03] [Link]

Delusional In Stillwater?

Oklahoma media just keep reporting that UH baseball coach Rayner Noble is a finalist for Oklahoma State's baseball head coaching position, along with Cal-State Fullerton's coach.

I've expressed amazement at the wishful thinking over Rayner Noble in private emails, but I'll express amazement publicly now. OSU had a fine baseball tradition under Gary Ward in the old Big Eight, back when OU occasionally had a good team and the rest of the conference couldn't beat a little league softball team. Even then, OSU didn't have great facilities. Now, with the addition of superior programs in Texas via the creation of the Big 12 and the emergence of Nebraska as a baseball power, OSU is a second-tier program in its conference in terms of recent performance, facilities, investment, and even geography (the Texas schools simply have a leg up in baseball, because of weather and proximity to talent and other Texas schools that can be scheduled for mid-week, RPI-boosting games).

So, why would Rayner Noble leave Houston and his situation for that?

He has better facilities in Houston (Cougar Field and the accompanying sports complex next door trump tired Reynolds Stadium). He has better financial support in Houston (thank you, John Moores!). He is a Texas guy. He is a Houston baseball All-American. And he has built a competitive program with a good reputation (which, incidentally, may be part of the reason UH got in the NCAA tourney this year with a worse record than OSU's).

The only advantage OSU holds is Gary Ward's tradition (which, frankly, is not the University of Texas's tradition -- hence UT's ability to go hire Augie Garrido) and a slightly stronger conference. Even on that last, the actual strength of the Big 12 in baseball, top to bottom, isn't that much greater than C-USA (5 Big 12 tourney teams this year, 4 C-USA tourney teams), although there is certainly a gap in prestige. And whatever slight advantage the Big 12 might have is negated by the fact that Houston can schedule stronger opponents mid-week and boost its RPI because of geographical location (Rice, A&M, Baylor, UT are all fixtures on the UH midweek schedule).

So, why does OSU think it can hire Rayner Noble away from home?

I could ask the same thing about a coach who's in a program that always seems to find a way to make it to the CWS (Fullerton), but I'll let the Fullerton baseball bloggers (if there are any) take up that topic.

I would advise OSU to look to the northeast a bit to Keith Guttin at SMSU, who always manages to have a competitive program, and made the CWS this year for the first time. Guttin has done it without much in the way of facilities, financial commitment, or geography so far, although he may not want to move once construction is finished on Hammons Field

[Posted at 20:54 CST on 06/18/03] [Link]

Texas Redistricting

As expected, Texas Governor Rick Perry has finally called a legislative special session to address redistricting, which the Ardmore Demoncrats effectively scuttled during the regular session with their vacation:

"I believe duly elected officials, not federal judges, should be responsible for drawing district lines," Perry said in a letter to Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and Speaker Tom Craddick. "
So do I. And I've been saying it for a while now.

[Posted at 13:08 CST on 06/18/03] [Link]

17 June 2003

Wow

The Eagles put on a fine show (he says, after three and a half hours of music).

More tomorrow.

(06-18-03 Update)

What can I say? Even though I see a bunch of Texas/regional/indie artists and love the small venues they play, sometimes it's kinda cool to see a massively sponsored show by a bigtime band. And that Eagles show last night definitely qualified. From the huge screens all over the place to the massive array of lights to the incredible sound system. But most important, those guys still sound great. Yeah, maybe it was a little too choreographed and perfect, but hey, they're the Eagles -- people aren't there to hear sloppy versions of old favorites. I was pleased to see 'em do a lot of their solo stuff as well (though to Callie's chagrin, no End of the Innocence or New York Minute).

Anyway, we definitely got our money's worth. There was no opening band. The guys went on just a little past 8 pm, and took a short break (15-20 minutes? tops) about an hour and half into it. Then they came back and played until 11:30 -- either 4 or 5 encores (I lost track).

And back to getting our money's worth -- boy, did we ever! We nabbed our tix at below face value from a ticket broker yesterday, got to the venue, and were greeted in the nosebleed section by an usher asking people if they wanted an upgrade to the tickets. So we went from very high in the upper level as far back as you can go basically (section 202) to about 2/3 of the way around Compaq Center's ring (section 125), maybe 20 rows back. I've NEVER had concert tickets upgraded. I guess maybe there were extra promotional tickets. Anyway, that was VERY cool, and the seats were quite an improvement.

In all, a very good show, with very good fans. What a blast.

(06-18-03 Update 2) The Comical gives the previous night's show a thumbs up.

[Posted at 23:44 CST on 06/17/03] [Link]

Stereotypes

On the way home from work today, I got to the cop who is always directing traffic near Greenway Plaza on Richmond.

And the cop was eating a donut as he directed traffic. A big, sloppy jelly one.

Proof that stereotypes have a basis in reality.

[Posted at 18:46 CST on 06/17/03] [Link]

Down In Flames

Since the Moxie Wars have died down, I guess we can now turn to the battle going on over Right Thinking, where Lee has drawn the ire of not one, but both Olsens.

Now, that's not a terribly difficult thing to do, mind you, but the fact they just keep coming back for more pummelling makes it kind of fun to watch.

[Posted at 15:51 CST on 06/17/03] [Link]

Eagles

So, my boss came back raving about the Eagles concert at Compaq Center last night. Apparently they played two awesome sets (with a 30 minute break in the middle), no opening act, and sounded incredible.

Now, I tend to prefer small venues (as in Firehouse or Mucky Duck -- the downtown Verizon is a "big" venue to me), so Compaq Center isn't normally on my list of places to see people.

But I checked out a local ticket broker, and they're actually selling tickets to tonight's show BELOW COST at the moment. I guess they're trying to avoid being stuck with the tix. Anyway, I picked up some cheapie nosebleed seats, but I'm cool with that. There's not really a bad seat in that place (or should I say, for what I'm used to, every seat there is equally bad), and I'm paying less than the people who stood in line for tix.

I've never seen the Eagles, although like (most) everyone else my age, have long liked their music. It should be fun.

[Posted at 14:05 CST on 06/17/03] [Link]

16 June 2003

CWS

Rice just cleared the one hurdle I thought might give them trouble at the College World Series: Texas (the team that had their number last year).

Texas had the Rice pitcher on the ropes in the first inning, forcing him into 31 pitches with outstanding discipline at the plate. But they only scored two runs off of him, and had very little discipline at the plate the rest of the game. Consequently, he shut down Texas.

One thing I've noticed about Rice's starters this year is that they are not invincible -- but they're damn close, and you aren't going to get many chances. Your hitters have to have more discipline than most college hitters do to beat Rice, because their pitchers, in addition to having great stuff, will just throw junk balls all day as long as batters are going after 'em. It's hard enough to hit their best stuff when they're throwing strikes, but if your team is chasing bad balls, it's probably going to be a long day against Rice's starting pitching.

As a UH fan, I have some experience in this category (unfortunately). It's even tougher if the ump has an overly generous strike zone.

I don't see anyone beating Rice at this point, unless Wayne Graham and crew just have some sort of meltdown.

[Posted at 21:49 CST on 06/16/03] [Link]

Huh?

Isn't it an odd thing to be proud of walking out of a movie?

Take NRO's Richard Brookhiser, for example:

John, my wife and I saw Nemo last night. I was diverted, she agrees with you--she wanted to walk after five minutes. We are both great believers in walking out of movies. I'm proudest of having left The English Patient twenty minutes before the end.
Well, okay. I guess. Shall we clap for you? Or send you a cookie? Or what, exactly?

I'm actually loath to walk out of anything, that little incident at Anderson Fair a few weeks ago notwithstanding.

(Update) To elaborate -- while I can certainly understand why someone would walk out of a performance as a matter of principle on rare occasion, it's probably still not something to be proud of (in my view). I mean, it's okay to take pride in one's skills or achievements. But to take pride in the number of events one has walked out on just seems a bit odd to me.

That is all.

[Posted at 21:36 CST on 06/16/03] [Link]

Sugar Land

Ah, nothing like life in a master planned community, where every stone is red brick and every sign must be approved.

Thank goodness Montrose is a little more... disorganized.

(06-17-03 Update) Go read Alex, who has posted a beautiful entry on this general topic.

[Posted at 21:04 CST on 06/16/03] [Link]

15 June 2003

The Kuff Report

Kuffner attended a Democrat "Grassroots Political Conference" over at UH this weekend and has posted some pretty interesting stuff on local politics.

Of most interest to me is that Dick Murray is of the opinion that Chris Bell would have beaten either Mayor Pothole or Orlando Sanchez in a straight-up race last time. I think Professor Murray occasionally lets his personal preferences drive his interpretation (and I guess I can say that now that I'm finally done at that place), but who really knows? You vote the race that's presented to you. He also thinks Sanchez is the favorite this time, which isn't exactly rocket science, but that Sanchez has problems if it's a Sanchez/White runoff (won't happen if Turner is in the race).

But why am I carrying on like this? Go read about it firsthand.

[Posted at 23:25 CST on 06/15/03] [Link]

Texas Theme

I've been tinkering around with stylesheets and html and such over the weekend, and think I finally have come up with a theme for version 5 of this site. It's going to be a very Texas theme this time, and other than (probably over the top) Texas flourishes, very very simple.

Now I just have to see if the basic layout that tests out fine in IE6 will be okay in some other browsers. The first design was actually going to be a very complex thing fashioned out of CSS, but unfortunately, truly standards-compliant browsers like Mozilla Firebird and Mozilla 1.3 broke the darn thing, and there was no real workaround that didn't break things in other browsers. Blar.

And that's just the basic screen layout. I've done no real work on inline stuff like fonts and colors and sizes and all that crap. But the major goal is to create something that gives the user ultimate control -- especially over font size and scaling and even viewing method (which will all actually make the inline stuff much easier for me to deal with). I cringe every time I look at the absolute pixel sizes on the current design for this site (but, in my defense, it's an OLD design, and was my first effort to learn CSS and go table-less when few people were doing it -- hence, my #69 at the old list of table-less sites, which now has hundreds of sites listed).

Anyway, progress.... slow as it may be. And once that stuff's done, then it will be time to port over to a new back end powered by Nucleus, with comments and other fun stuff.

[Posted at 21:09 CST on 06/15/03] [Link]

The Countdown Continues

Sometimes, it's just too easy:

Silva, the mayor's aide, said "we'll find out right away" why the lights aren't on and why other problems persist.
Ah, the Comical.

Since they endorsed Mayor Pothole (twice in the last election, which was a referendum on his ineptitutde), I wouldn't expect THEM to get to the bottom why other problems persist.

Thankfully, we're down to only a few months left of the stupid SOB.

[Posted at 19:19 CST on 06/15/03] [Link]

Have You Called Your Dad Today?

A Happy Father's Day to all the wonderful dads out there.

[Posted at 15:10 CST on 06/15/03] [Link]

14 June 2003

A Moxie Moment

Hey, there's another Reductio Ad Absurdum out there.

Maybe I could have a Moxie tantrum over it?

Actually, I think it's cool. Too bad I can't understand a damn bit of it.

[Posted at 16:45 CST on 06/14/03] [Link]

Lee Brown's America -- The Final Months

Did I mention earlier that I wish Mayor Pothole would hurry up and take that job at Rice?

Yes, I think I did.

I suspect the Houston Fire Department will be glad to see the SOB go too.

Of course, they largely supported Orlando Sanchez in the last election, so they shouldn't be surprised they haven't fared as well as HPD since then.

[Posted at 16:35 CST on 06/14/03] [Link]

Top 100

This is a pretty interesting Top 100 songs list.

Personally, I like the comments on the song at #5:

5. "Tear Stained Eye"--Son Volt: The finest country song of the last 25 years. And Nashville will never touch real country music like this again--it's making too much money off vacuous, reactionary "hat acts" with nothing to say and a bully pulpit for saying it. And you don't get to hear words like this: "Can you deny there's nothing greater/Nothing more than the traveling hands of time/St. Genevieve can hold back the water/But saints don't bother with a tear-stained eye."
That would not be in Callie's top five, or even in her favorites on one of my favorite all-time discs, but I love that song and I love that Trace disc.

And isn't that the truth about the Nashville Musical Shite factory? Will have to add this site to the blogroll after I complete the ongoing (and long promised, I know I know) redesign of this mess of a site.

[Posted at 16:20 CST on 06/14/03] [Link]

Cutrufello

Here is a good piece on former Texas rocker Mary Cutrufello, and what she's up to in the great north.

[Posted at 14:17 CST on 06/14/03] [Link]

Thelma's

Thelma, hard at work
Thelma of Thelma's BBQ (Houston Press Photo)

We just returned with carryout from Thelma's BBQ.

My gawd.

It really is all that. And they're AWFULLY nice over there. Quite a few (overrated Greek chain) places could learn something from them.

[Posted at 13:48 CST on 06/14/03] [Link]

Maybe He Could Leave Early?

Rob beat me to the news that Mayor Pothole recently confused his future employers at Rice, by hinting he might go to Sam Houston.

I don't care where the incompetent SOB winds up. I'm just thankful that he'll be leaving his downtown office in a matter of months.

[Posted at 11:09 CST on 06/14/03] [Link]

Gentrification Rears Its Ugly Head

The owners/management of Alabama Center have decided the venerable shopping center needs a facelift, and said facelift includes doing away with the sign that's been part of longtime tenant Cactus Music forever. The folks at Cactus Music are none too pleased with this development, and have issued this call to arms:

As you may know, the Alabama Center where we are located is undergoing a
complete remodel. While we are very happy with the new look, we are
extremely distressed about one of the planned changes. Andrew Kaldis
Properties and Weingarten Realty intend to remove our Cactus marquee sign
that has been in place for twenty-seven years and replace it with a standard
pylon type sign that lists the tenants of the center. What is even more
disturbing is that there are other places on the property which could
effectively accommodate the new tenants' sign. They simply feel that our
marquee is not in keeping with the look of the remodeled center. We feel
that our unusual signage is a landmark in our community and one of the key
elements that makes our store unique. More importantly, it is our most
effective tool in informing passers-by about new release music and movies as
well as in-store performances and other events. We routinely hear comments
from our customers about their stopping in just because of what is listed on
our marquee. It is our contention that this unnecessary change will have a
devastating effect on our sales as well as attendance for our weekly events.

We would like to ask a favor of our customers, who we value so much. If
you have a memory of driving by our store and noticing something on our
marquee that brought you in our doors, please write us a quick e-mail to
relate your positive experience. Maybe you picked up a new record by your
favorite artist, saw that movie that you missed in the theater or attended
one of our many in-store performances. Any thoughts or comments on this
issue are welcome and helpful. Also, it would be helpful to include your
name, city and state. If you work in the media, the music industry or are a
local musician, listing your company and title would help us build a case
for how important this signage is to the Houston Music Community. Any
information on how our marquee contributed to sales of your projects or the
success of an event that we hosted for you would be a tremendous help.

We are hoping that, with your assistance, we might be able to avoid this
imminent calamity that faces our store. We greatly appreciate your help in
this matter.

Best Regards,
Quinn Bishop
General Manager
Cactus Music & Video

If you have any such memories or thoughts, feel free to send them on towards Cactus. Maybe the Pacifica Nitwits could organize a sit-in around the marquee or something? Oh wait, they don't do music any more, concentrating instead on programs like Democracy and Lesbianism in the Congo. My bad.

[Posted at 10:25 CST on 06/14/03] [Link]

13 June 2003

The Trouble With Michael Long...

Is that he's a dumbass.

You don't mess with Willie.

You just don't.

I mean, calling Willie a "musician of modest talents"?!

Just who the hell is Michael Long to say that about a living legend? One of many east-coast girly men* who write for National Review? Well (in the words of my good friend Tom Hanna), Whoopee Shit.

(Update) I sent this along to Scott because I knew he'd kick some NRO butt. And so he does.


* Coulter seems to have gotten that characterization of many of them right.

[Posted at 20:58 CST on 06/13/03] [Link]

Ha

I about spewed my coffee just now after I read Ravenwood's first answer to the Friday Five:

1. What's one thing you've always wanted to do, but never have?
Punch Tom Daschle in the nose.
The rest of it's just as entertaining.

[Posted at 10:29 CST on 06/13/03] [Link]

Friday the 13th

Happy Friday the 13th, boys and girls.

Ya'll be careful out there. :)

[Posted at 07:55 CST on 06/13/03] [Link]

12 June 2003

A Row* In The Playground

Some bloggers act like grownups.

Others do not.

It's not nearly as juicy as a good Peikoff/Kelley or Libertarian/Objectivist dispute, but hey, summertime is slow.

BTW, if anyone cares, I voted for MoxiePop over here, though this picture is more flattering. We like Pop's spunk.

Now, if Peikoff and Kelley could just get some proxies with lovely T&A to carry on THEIR disputes, we might get to the bottom of things. Alas....

(Update) In all honesty, I really do like MoxiePop's political posts. Check out this May archive. She kicks butt.

* I just love how the Brits use the term "row" all the time. I've decided to work it in more often myself, even if we Americans have a tendency to pronounce it wrong upon first glance.

[Posted at 23:06 CST on 06/12/03] [Link]

Django

The Austin Chronicle has a decent feature on Django Walker.

I'm looking forward to that second CD he's working on.

[Posted at 22:37 CST on 06/12/03] [Link]

Zap!

I have a feeling the gods of political correctness would have never put up with Thomas Edison:

And then there was the time Thomas Alva Edison electrocuted an elephant. Intentionally.

Edison's zapping of the elephant followed an associate's electrocution of a dog, then a calf and then a horse. The quadruped slaughter was intended by Edison to demonstrate the lethality of Alternating Current, which his competitor, the talented George Westinghouse, was using in his lighting systems; Edison was a proponent of less economically efficient Direct Current to which he had committed resources and reputation, and he was frantic to discredit Westinghouse.

That anecdote is part of Woody West's longer review of Fleet Fire: Thomas Edison And The Pioneers Of The Electric Revolution by L.J. Davis. It looks like an interesting read.

[Posted at 20:40 CST on 06/12/03] [Link]

Publishers Against Left-Handers

As a Lefty, I'm apparently offensive to Muslims. At least in the view of some book publishers.

I hope I'm particularly offensive to the IslamoFascist variant!

[Posted at 09:17 CST on 06/12/03] [Link]

11 June 2003

Disturbing News

I read this disturbing bit of news earlier, but rather than come up with a mini-rant of my own, I'll just send you over to Kate.

In other disturbing news, Orrin Judd (no link b/c of the blogsh*t bug) reports that the American Psychiatric Association is considering removing pedophilia from its manual of mental disorders.

This has been just a fine day for Western culture, wouldn't you say?

[Posted at 23:01 CST on 06/11/03] [Link]

Your Chance To Play Advice Columnist

So, Courtney has a coworker who seems to think it's fun for the whole office to know all about said co-worker's adulterous activities....

Any advice for our friend on how to handle the problem?

Comments are enabled, and the discussion is percolating over there.

[Posted at 22:48 CST on 06/11/03] [Link]

No Hitter

How about six Astros pitchers no-hitting the best baseball team money can buy?

I imagine THAT just sent George Steinbrenner's blood pressure up another few notches.

The Yankees were a class act about it:

By the time the Astros returned to their clubhouse, the Yankees had left a bottle of champagne in front of the locker of all six pitchers.
I bet The Boss just loved THAT also.

[Posted at 22:34 CST on 06/11/03] [Link]

Suite 950

Thom Marshall pens an interesting (a step up for him!) gossip column in today's Comical, on the mysterious HPD Suite 950.

Now, if Marshall could actually do a little investigative journalism and graduate to writing a real column, I'm sure we would all appreciate what he finds out about Suite 950 (maybe from a few NAMED sources, or FOI requests -- things real journalists do all the time).

Come on Thom, we know you have it in ya!

Actually, we don't. But we can hope.

[Posted at 22:20 CST on 06/11/03] [Link]

10 June 2003

Whiskeytown

My friend Dave (who should have a blog!) emails me this news about a Whiskeytown reunion.

Alt-country fans should be happy. I have to confess to liking the Whiskeytown stuff better than the solo stuff Ryan Adams has done since.

[Posted at 22:13 CST on 06/10/03] [Link]

DEA

Lookee who's the Indie Artist of the Month over at Lone Star Music (scroll down down down)...

The Dead End Angels.

Nice job, guys!

[Posted at 22:03 CST on 06/10/03] [Link]

Another Lee Brown Flash Flood

Another Lee Brown Flash Flood!
It's not as bad as the last one, I guess.

Ah, it's always nice to see the fine state of public works in Lee Brown's America.

Then again, I suppose Public Works did show some improvement in their response time over the last flood caused by Public Works.

(Update) Houston Public Works doesn't confine itself merely to causing problems for Houstonians. What would be the fun in that?

[Posted at 21:46 CST on 06/10/03] [Link]

WMD

Rob Booth has posted an excellent entry on Iraq and WMD over on Reductio Ad Absurdum.

Rob is one of the few bloggers I know (probably in existence) who can claim to be a legitimate expert on weapons of mass destruction, so it's quite an honor that he's gone into such detail over there.

Go give it a look if you're so inclined.

[Posted at 21:08 CST on 06/10/03] [Link]

Wanted: One Decent Sportswriter At The Comical

The lead from today's big story:

Jeff Van Gundy performed his first coaching miracle on Monday.
The miracle? He said yes to coaching the Rockets, apparently causing signs of life in GM Carroll Dawson (previously presumed dead, or at least in Warren Christopher-like cryogenic freeze).

Good news?

Time will tell.

Miracle?

Come on.

Jonathan Feigen is as retarded as all of the other people who write on the sports pages of the Comical.

[Posted at 18:50 CST on 06/10/03] [Link]

You Might Be A Problem Child If...

You get sent to a tough reform school in Costa Rica, start a destructive riot that halfway destroys the school, and are detained by Costa Rican police.

Then again, another report suggests the school may have been run like a Cuban-style prison (in which case, the Left should be hailing it).

In any case, I bet I could come up with something more effective for $30-50k per head.
Strange.

[Posted at 13:32 CST on 06/10/03] [Link]

09 June 2003

Blogging Kevins

Here's an amusing look at what other Kevins are blogging.

We rule.

[Posted at 22:34 CST on 06/09/03] [Link]

Parcells

This is quite a good profile of Dallas Cowboys coach Bill Parcells in the DMN.

I wish the Comical had some sportswriters. Hell, one would be nice.

[Posted at 22:22 CST on 06/09/03] [Link]

Huh?

The Charlotte Hornets canned Paul Silas so they could bring in another coach... by the name of Tim Floyd?

You know, the guy with the 49-190 record in the NBA?

Ummm... okay.

It appears that the Rockets are going to get Jeff Van Gundy, which is probably as good a hire as any they could have made.

[Posted at 21:14 CST on 06/09/03] [Link]

Rice Off To CWS

Congrats to Rice, for getting it done against UH after going in the hole by losing the first game.

Last year, UH went to Austin for the super regional and took the first game. UT didn't lose again for the season, winning the national championship.

It will be annoying if that happens again this year, except that at least it's the local guys and not that school where Mack Brown resides.

Wayne Graham's crew ought to be a big favorite heading into the CWS. But he's been a big favorite before, and hasn't gotten it done. He may never have a better chance.

Congrats to Rayner Noble and the Coogs for turning it on at the very end of the season. I expected this team to be better during the regular season, but it never really came together completely. Maybe this will give them a boost for next season (though replacing first-round draft picks Wagner and Sullivan will be a chore).

[Posted at 15:26 CST on 06/09/03] [Link]

Texas Flag

Look at that pretty, two-story-tall Texas flag that some of Scott's campers put up over the weekend.

I think I'm gonna have to get one of those for next year's Memorial Day Float Trip.

Never mind that we have the thing in Oklahoma.

[Posted at 08:33 CST on 06/09/03] [Link]

08 June 2003

San Jose Mission

Before seeing some music in New Braunfels on Saturday, Callie and I paid a visit to the San Jose mission in San Antonio.

Here are a few photos, from a tired old digital camera that really needs to be replaced (click on the thumbnails for the full image):


Boring shot of front of the mission's church
a door another door the church rising outer perimeter of the mission fun with light fun with light and color even more fun with light and color boring shot of a rather impressive entrance

[Posted at 22:21 CST on 06/08/03] [Link]

Browser Stuff

I just downloaded the Avant browser extension for IE that I mentioned a few days ago, and it's pretty nice.

But it's not as nice as the latest version of Mozilla Firebird, which may just take over as my favorite browser.

What if Microsoft and AOL came to an agreement on their browser wars, and nobody gave a crap because Mozilla, Opera, and Avant forged ahead in the meantime?

[Posted at 17:20 CST on 06/08/03] [Link]

Go Coogs

I cruise out of town yesterday, and my Coogs pull a huge upset over Rice at the Super Regional being held at Rice's Reckling Park.

Nice.

Unfortunately (for us Coog fans), that powerful Rice lineup is easily capable of putting together a two-game winning streak (even against competition that isn't from the pansy WAC).

Still, better to be up 1-0 than the reverse.

[Posted at 15:04 CST on 06/08/03] [Link]

07 June 2003

Roadtrip

It's another one of those musical roadtrip weekends.

Callie and I are heading off momentarily to catch the Dead End Angels at Saengerhalle, for their official cd release party. Should be a good time.

But first, we're heading on into San Antonio, to visit some of the missions.

It's a great weekend to be out and about. Hope ya'll are enjoying it.

[Posted at 10:57 CST on 06/07/03] [Link]

Down With Labels

The Lazy Pundit has some thoughts on Pearl Jam's decision to leave Epic, and make music without the services of a major label.

I like that the band is selling live recordings of its shows. I hope they also are allowing fans to tape, but I suspect not (I happen to like the actual non-soundboard, live-in-the-audience sound of my own recordings). It's cool when bands realize that live recordings are not competition, but generate buzz (and now, sales). Labels have long rejected such reasoning.

I hope Pearl Jam makes a go of it. They should be able to, given that they are Pearl Jam.

[Posted at 09:58 CST on 06/07/03] [Link]

The Blog Diet

Who says blogs are only useful to newshounds?

David calls my attention to the fact that there's a little contest going on among bloggers who are interested in dropping a few pounds.

Blogging as positive reinforcement. Cool.

Since Memorial Day, I've been trying to drop a few pounds. My live music blitz has gotten me back into some bad habits (high glycemic index foods, including beer, plus fewer trips to the gym), and it's time to get back OUT of those habits before the pounds start coming back.

Several years ago -- just after finishing comprehensive exams in grad school, actually, which would make it fall of 1997? -- I looked up and dropped a ton of weight, to get down to what I now consider the top end of my maintenance weight (180 lbs). This was done through a major lifestyle change that included a modified sugar-busters diet and a dedication to regular gym work.

A couple of years ago, I even got that weight down to 165. But then I started seeing more live music, being a little more sedentary (seeing more live music), and the like, and I've eased back up towards the maintenance weight. Which I decided is really a little heavier than I'd like to be.

So, since Memorial Day, I've been back on my modified sugar busters diet (incorporating some of the principles found at this excellent site) and been more active (especially walking after meals, but also hitting the recumbent bike hard -- and back to serious weight training next week). The first few days, it left me kind of drained, an indicator of just how badly I'd been eating (blood sugar loads were swinging, and my body wasn't used to it). Now, I feel much better, with much more energy (hence the posting outburst here and at the Reductio blog the last few days). And yesterday, I weighed in at 178.

I'm not planning on joining the whole blog/diet contest, but since this is a personal blog, I figured I would share what I'm up to. And friends who wonder about that Diet Coke I'm drinking in lieu of a Shiner Bock at live music shows will know as well. They might be having more momentary fun, but I'll be running laps around 'em at the nursing home! :)

Anyway, I'll check back in with my status in a few weeks (self-reinforcement, if you will -- thanks for indulging me, kind readers!). And in the interim, I probably will post a critique of this dumbassery at some point.

[Posted at 09:10 CST on 06/07/03] [Link]

Don't Call Me A Sexist! But....

This is near the top of the Daily Oklahoman sports page today.

I believe Houston also has a "professional" women's football team, although Callie always laughs out loud when I tell her this (so call HER a sexist, and leave me alone, thank you).

*sigh*

Women have pro football teams, and FM country music has become a tampon marketing effort. I bet Merle Haggard could write something much more poignant than me about these developments.

So I'll just remain your humble chronicler, and refrain from further comment.

[Posted at 08:48 CST on 06/07/03] [Link]

Getting Off Blogspot

Den Beste has posted a lengthy commentary on the perils of blogger (and virtues of his CMS, CityDesk) here.

I find it pretty interesting, since I started with Blogger on my own hosted space (and never lost a Blogger post. Blogger actually does store entries locally, though some people have had files get corrupted and lost, and one should always make backups), moved on from Blogger to GreyMatter because Blogger was down too often, moved on from GreyMatter to Movable Type because GM stresses a server after a few hundred entries, and moved on to Nucleus with Reductio Ad Absurdum because I liked the extra flexibility of a PHP-driven CMS, as well as dynamic generation of pages pulled from a mySQL database (a very efficient way to store web data). Eventually I will redesign these pages, and make use of Nucleus.

While Den Beste does quite a job of selling CityDesk, I would caution that ultimately a person should adopt the web tool best suited to her purposes (and he suggests that also). If you're interested in lots of comments, trackback, and other social-networking aspects of the web, then CityDesk may not be your best bet. If you're interested in functionality beyond the typical blog, then MT may not be as good an option as a PHP-driven CMS like Nucleus, b2 (both free, and both supported by a programming-oriented community) or pMachine (commercial, and probably a little easier to use because of it). I can't speak to CityDesk or pMachine, but the other tools I mention in this paragraph use the Blogger API, meaning you CAN use various editing tools instead of the default web interface. I don't use those tools, but I presume there is one that offers a WYSIWIG style approach.

With regard to backups, all of the PHP-driven tools I mention use mySQL backends, so your database is always one file (and yes, you should back it up regularly), just as with CityDesk. MT also has the option of using a mySQL backend, and those of you using MT should definitely make use of it if your server permits (much more reliable than the default flat file database).

As servers/bandwidth go, most folks will never need Den Beste's setup, which consists of his own server and a business-class RoadRunner connection. Indeed, aside from the luxury of having the server sitting a few feet away, a person could lease a dedicated server at a major datacenter (NAC, HE, Rackshack) for roughly the price of RR biz class, enjoy higher-quality bandwidth (we shall leave the discussion of ATDN/RR for another time), and sell space to her friends. Repeat that a few times, and suddenly you have an operation like HostingMatters. At the other pricing extreme, it would be hard to beat Dean Esmay's offer ($15 for a domain, $5 for hosting, free setup of an MT blog). Hard, but not impossible, that is -- the really thrifty (and slightly more technologically ambitious) can go to WebhostingTalk and request offers for hosting. It's a great forum, and a lot of reputable web hosts spend a lot of time there.

Plus, there are services like TypePad and Blog-City. But color me a little skeptical on those -- the tendency always seems to be to oversell server resources on such systems, to the point they become less useful. The MT folks are good, though, so maybe TypePad will prove the exception.

In any case, there are plenty of options for getting off blogspot and other (potentially unreliable) free services for not all that much cash. And plenty of people willing to help out. I've actually made hosting offers to several people because I have extra space, and have offered assistance with MT and Nucleus to quite a few others (spent part of tonight working on one such case, actually). It's frustrating not being able to link the archives of my favorite sites, or even get to them at all sometimes. And I don't see much of a reason for that condition to persist, other than inertia. So what are you waiting for, blogspotters? Time to move!

[Posted at 00:55 CST on 06/07/03] [Link]

06 June 2003

TMNC3

Man, Scott's music/camping/chili festival sounds like a hoot.

If the Dead End Angels weren't doing their "official" cd release tomorrow, I'd be up there already.

Fortunately, he does this thang regularly. The next one would seem to be in September, and I've already seen Mike McClure mention it on his website. Plus dude says he has Cooder Graw coming. Should be a good time.

Personally, I'm hoping Scott designs some sort of obstacle course and lets us have some sort of tractor-driving competition. But I suspect he's not gonna go for that.

[Posted at 21:30 CST on 06/06/03] [Link]

Two Things Realized On The Way Back From Diedrich's


I'm a lazy guy
I'm amazed at the way some people try and try and try
To erect and then perfect some kind of proof that they're alive before they die
Well not me, 'cause I'm a lazy guy

-Slobberbone


Son Volt's Jay Farrar is sort of the Leo Strauss of alt-country songwriters (no, I don't care to elaborate).

and

Slobberbone is WAY WAY underrated, even though they've gotten some critical acclaim.

That is all.

[Posted at 21:04 CST on 06/06/03] [Link]

Loose Ends

I've gotten out of the habit of using the "To Do" feature of my PDA.

But today, I was fooling around with it entering some "To Do" items.

And it gave me immense pleasure to remove the "Dissertation" category.

[Posted at 13:21 CST on 06/06/03] [Link]

Rusty Wins!

Rusty sent out this amusing little tale in a Mucky Duck email earlier this week, and I laughed out loud:

And what about people stopping in the middle of the street wanting to know how to get to Cafe Europa. Like I would really know how to get to Cafe Europa! Okay, so I admit I do have a little fun with that particular question. I give them directions to Blanco's and tell them that it's a very well kept secret that Cafe Europa is actually located inside Blanco's. I don't really worry about them getting even for the little joke. I figure if they can't find Cafe Europa, they probably can't find their way back here. Thanks, for letting me get this off my chest.
I wonder if he's telling the truth, or just making it up. I can only imagine someone wandering into Blanco's (a VERY country C/W bar) and asking where the coffee bar is....

[Posted at 07:55 CST on 06/06/03] [Link]

05 June 2003

Parcells

I haven't enjoyed coverage of the Cowboys this much since Barry Switzer was hauling pistols into the local airport.

But unlike the subject of the coverage back then, Bill Parcells may actually whip this sorry excuse for a football team into winners.

And it's fun to read stuff like this in any case:

Parcells isn't going to worry about starting who the dollar signs say should start. He has been held hostage by looking for centers before. He wants a steady solid presence in there. And, for now, Walter has to have a slight edge. He hasn't had the problems with errant snaps that [Al] Johnson has, a problem that resurfaced when rookies returned for a minicamp this week.

"I told Al and [rookie quarterback] Tony Romo that we hadn't had any bad snaps since they left, and now that they were back, we had a bad snap," Parcells said. "So I wouldn't know who to blame except for them."

Heh.

[Posted at 22:01 CST on 06/05/03] [Link]

Credit Where Credit Is Due

The Astros have been playing some good baseball lately.

And I didn't think they had much more than mediocrity in them for this season.

Of course, we're barely into the season. Let's hope they prove me wrong over the long haul, though.

[Posted at 21:57 CST on 06/05/03] [Link]

04 June 2003

Jayhawks

The Counting Crows' Adam Duritz is pimping the new release from the Jayhawks, Rainy Day Music. I have to admit that I picked up that CD during a buying spree a while back, but still haven't listened to it carefully.

But since the Jayhawks are an inspiration for my current favorite Texas band (as well as supplying their name), I think it's cool that the driving force behind my favorite rock band likes 'em. Convergence of musical taste. Or something like that.

[Posted at 22:04 CST on 06/04/03] [Link]

The Nashville Musical Shite Factory - Cont'd

Kenny Chesney can kiss my ass
Kenny Chesney in a swimming pool pretty much sums up the Nashville Musical Shite Factory

A New York Times columnist seems shocked--positively shocked--at the staying power of some of country music's pioneers:

Last month, albums by Johnny Cash and George Jones were in Billboard magazine's Top 20 for country music and Willie Nelson had a Top 10 country single with a duet. None of this would be especially noteworthy ó these country icons are hardly strangers to the top of the charts ó except that Mr. Cash and Mr. Jones are 71 and Mr. Nelson is 70.
Wow. Kind of says something about the techno dance music with added fiddle (or pedal steel, take your pick) tracks flying out of the pieholes of men who stand in swimming pools at the behest of the Nashville Musical Shite Factory these days, doesn't it?

Bruce Hinton weighs in with his opinion:

"Country music has always been adult music sung by adults," said Bruce Hinton, the chairman emeritus of MCA Records Nashville. "Obviously this could never happen on the pop side, and I'm just glad there is still some recognition of these masters, even if it's not as frequent as we would all like."
It once was that, Bruce, but since suits with cowboy hats run FM country music these days, you instead tend to get the insipid sort of "country" put out by people like Kenny Chesney or, gawd forbid, Shania Twain.

George Jones offers an explanation to the reporter, who manages to give it fairly short shrift:

"I believe it's simply because Johnny and Willie and myself and [Merle] Haggard have stayed with what I call honest music," Mr. Jones said in a telephone interview. "We've never tried to be much more than what we are. We're just open with our lives and the way we live, and that's what we sing."
Imagine that! Real singer-songwriters, penning real songs, about real life, maybe even doing their own arrangements and playing an instrument! Real. Honest. Music. I think someone here in Texas used that as a motto for the thriving Texas alt-country/American music movement (which is 180 degrees from the Nashville bile). My apologies for stealing it, but it works. George Jones doesn't have to stand in a swimming pool, flex his muscles, and sing someone else's songs to a dance track mix. Thank goodness, because that sight would be more than my eyes could handle.

Here's more:

"One reason for the staying power of males is their sheer number of hits over the years," said Mike O'Malley of Albright & O'Malley Country Radio Consultants in Milltown, N.J. "Every year we track the country radio audiences' favorite songs," he said, and two to three times as many songs in the Top 100 are from men as from women.

That is something of a paradox, since modern country radio is aimed mainly at women in their mid-30's and the audience is often considered to be 60 percent female, said Scott Lindy, program director of the country music station WPOC-FM in Baltimore. Young stars like Kenny Chesney and the Dixie Chicks attract millions of teenage fans.

This brings to mind a quote from a real Texas country singer-songwriter, Randy Rogers, about the sorry condition of FM country radio: "Who listens to country radio? 18-24 year old chicks. They shouldn't be selling CDs, they should be selling tampons." Mr. Lindy just admitted as much.

Back to George Jones:

But for Mr. Jones and many lovers of traditional country music, mainstream country radio has lost touch with its roots.

"I don't listen to it," George Jones said. "A lot of us old-timers don't listen to radio anymore because it just don't mean that much to us. I love the good old heartbreaking songs. It makes me mad when the money people come in here and change country and make it something else and still call it country. Country's a religion to me."

It's unlistenable. And it's made a whole bunch of Texas and Oklahoma musicians mad. So they're just playing real country music. Mr. Jones ought to come visit sometime.

Ms. Parton, whose albums continue to receive critical acclaim and win Grammys, said she, too, paid little attention to radio now. Indeed, young fans seem to be discovering the old-timer's music not on the radio but on the Internet.
You mean the internet is a force for good? Someone might use it to discover music instead of just "stealing" from the record labels? Wow. Thanks, Dolly, for your good sense on the matter. It may be self-interested, but that's okay, because you're right.

And here's the infamous Mr. Lindy again:

Mr. Lindy, of the Baltimore station, said there was a simple reason some artists are played on the radio and others are not. "It's about the song," Mr. Lindy said. He added: "Loretta Lynn put out an album a few years back, but it sounded pretty much like what she did in the 1970's. It's great stuff if you're a fan of that sound, but not a highly appealing sound for today's country stations. Willie Nelson is back on the air thanks to an album of duets that have high artist appeal and very high song appeal. The song took them further." (Country singles rankings are based on the number of times played on the radio; country album rankings are based on sales.)
Oh please. There are some fine songwriters in Nashville, but you wouldn't know it because they are penning tunes for drooling morons who flex their muscles in swimming pools while wearing cowboy hats, while some arranger puts together the fiddle/pedal steel tracks in what is otherwise a dance mix, and ships the shite out to radio. This is what I mean when I refer to the Nashville Musical Shite Factory. The song is almost an afterthought to the demographic appeal. (Mr. Lindy concedes as much by admitting Willie is on the air not because of his songs so much as singing "duets that have high artist appeal.")

In the Texas/Oklahoma country music scene, on the other hand, that just isn't the case. Real musicians pen real songs and arrange real music and play them in real roadhouses in front of real (sometimes drunken and obnoxiously critical!) fans. You'll hone your sound pretty fast that way. And that's Willie's way. Let's not try to make Willie a part of the Nashville Musical Shite Factory. He's part of the Texas music scene, and we're damn proud of it. Nashville can ask itself how many CMA awards they've bestowed on this living legend next time they try to claim him as one of "theirs." Willie is the antithesis of Nashville, which makes it even better that he's managed to get some airplay on their retarded music stations. Maybe they can learn from a legend.

Rant complete.

Actually, it's not complete. This article doesn't do justice to Merle Haggard (whom I hear covered by more contemporary Texas artists than any other country songwriter, including Willie). Gawd bless the legendary Merle Haggard.

Now you'll pardon me, but I'm going to stream some real music from KNBT in New Braunfels.

(06-05-03 Update) Alex has an updated banner for his Shania Twain campaign.

(06-05-03 Update 2) I should add that Nashville is not devoid of guys who do make good music. They just don't have much of a chance unless they manage to get noticed by a label like Sugar Hill. One of those artists is Scott Miller, whose new release comes out June 10. It says something, of course, that he is listed on Lone Star Music (and if I'm not mistaken, he used David Grissom on his last CD). Miller should move to Texas, where he belongs. :)

[Posted at 21:02 CST on 06/04/03] [Link]

Electric Venom

I've been discovering blogs and journals with attitude of late, after a bit of a dry spell....

And so in the last few days, I've run across Electric Venom, whose webmistress ran across Rob's post on Reductio and liked it.

I do love this interlinked world. And I love Venomous Kate's... venom . Yeah, that's it. Venom.

[Posted at 20:23 CST on 06/04/03] [Link]

03 June 2003

Trackback on Reductio

I've been experimenting a bit with the Reductio ad Absurdum weblog, and added a trackback plugin tonight.

The plugin required a wee bit of hacking because of the strange way I have Nucleus set up over there, but everything seems to be working. (famous last words)

If any of you have a trackback-enabled blog and are so inclined, it would be much appreciated if you could send a ping over that way. Also, there's some discussion in the test entry's comments about various blogging software which might interest....

[Posted at 23:49 CST on 06/03/03] [Link]

Cork + Wind = Watch Out

When you have Sammy Sosa's power, and you're playing in a little league park like Wrigley Field, do you REALLY need to cork your bat?

The answer appears to be, yes.

Nice job, Sammy.

[Posted at 20:33 CST on 06/03/03] [Link]

Alex Is Back

"I mulled it over for a couple of days and finally figured it out: my stories are about idealists coming to terms (or failing to come to terms) with reality...."

[Posted at 07:39 CST on 06/03/03] [Link]

02 June 2003

Avant

This looks like an interesting browser extension for IE.

May have to give it a try when I'm feeling more energetic.

[Posted at 22:19 CST on 06/02/03] [Link]

A Shining Example Of Neighborhood Oriented Policing?

Hmm... I wonder if I can verge into the topic that follows without somehow being branded as something I'm not. I'm going to give it a try....

I can't help but wonder how the African-American community in Houston must feel at times, knowing their HUGE turnout in support of Lee Brown won him reelection this last time, and knowing a fellow African-American is police chief, and yet....

What do they have to show for it?

I've been through the third and fifth wards. I don't have any good answers how to solve the endemic poverty there. I do know that those neighborhoods are substandard in terms of city amenities and infrastructure, and that city leaders CAN do something about that. And I've heard much from Mayor Pothole about neighborhood oriented policing. And government.

And yet.... stories like the one I linked above. And the ongoing (fairly deplorable) condition of so many third and fifth ward neighborhoods.

Yeah, I know -- we don't necessarily know all of the above story, and Quanell X certainly isn't a person who's very credible with me (or very many other people). But it's plausible, don't you think? Because, really, we don't want to think very much about those neighborhoods. And the guys that police 'em? Well, we don't want to think very much about that either, I suppose. Pretend they're not there (unless you're in trouble in a mayoral election, and then send every rented white van in town there, and advertise that Orlando Sanchez may engage in James Byrd-style racial violence).

But at some point, you would think the folks who live in those neighborhoods and who vote monolithically might just look a little further, for someone who will pay a little more attention to their concerns. The closest thing we probably have in this city to that is Ada Edwards, and she's a rarity. That's a shame. The folks in those neighborhoods deserve better. And Dems who take them for granted should be scared as hell they're gonna figure that out one day.

[Posted at 21:15 CST on 06/02/03] [Link]

Mayor Pothole's America: The Final Months

The Comical has just now noticed the paradise that is Lee Brown's America:

Two items in the news recently make us wonder whether anybody -- the mayor, council members or department heads -- is minding the city. It doesn't look like it.

Take the public library system, which is now having to trim back on operating hours because of budget woes.

It turns out that the system is owed nearly $10 million in fines and fees; that hundreds of thousands of Houstonians have failed over the years to return books, videos and various equipment. How could that have been allowed to happen to such an extent?

The library situation has gotten so bad that City Council is considering hiring a collection agency to go after the scofflaws.

This situation took years to develop. Was anybody minding the store?

What a great question! Some of us have been warning of what would happen in a Lee Brown administration since.... oh, wait, it's coming back to me... yeah, since the independent research Alan Stone and I did when Mayor Pothole (then former Chief and then Drug Czar Dunderhead) first ran for mayor against Rob Mosbacher.

Meanwhile, the Comical has endorsed the man time and time again -- twice in the last election for mayor (the regular election and the runoff), which was entirely a referendum on the man's mismanagement of this city.

It's nice that the Comical has finally noticed what a disastrous job the mayor has done. It would have been nice had the dreadful little newspaper been paying attention earlier.

[Posted at 20:46 CST on 06/02/03] [Link]

01 June 2003

How About Those Coogs?!

Rayner Noble
Head Coach Rayner Noble Has To Be Smiling Tonight

Honestly, I didn't expect a great showing from the Coogs in their regional at College Station.

And after they lost the first game of the double elimination tourney, I was even more pessimistic.

Then they beat a good Oral Roberts team.

Then they beat the Alabama team that beat 'em their first game.

Fine. They're in the tourney championship against A&M, on A&M's home field, needing to beat A&M twice.

Unlikely, right?

In most sports, probably. But baseball's funny. Get a little momentum with a young but talented team, and who knows....

Ask A&M. UH rallied to beat 'em this afternoon, and rallied to beat 'em in ten innings tonight.

Now the Coogs come back to town, to face Rice in the Super Regional across town.

Rice will be the overwhelming favorite. But I wouldn't totally count out the Coogs. And how cool is THAT matchup for this city?!

[Posted at 22:43 CST on 06/01/03] [Link]

When Suits Wear Cowboy Hats...

you tend to get the kind of crap that comes out of Nashville these days.

And you get stupid ideas like dropping Daron Norwood's tune from playlists because he mentions Jesus and defends religion.

Now, I don't know Norwood's music, and I suspect it's probably as bad as anything coming out of the Nashville shite factory these days. But Jesus as a taboo word in a country song? Who do these suits think is their audience? Atheists in New York City???

In contrast, I think just about every Red-Dirt artist that I listen to with any regularity has several songs featuring Jesus. And lo and behold, Texas and Americana stations play 'em with no problems.

The revolution is coming....

[Posted at 17:12 CST on 06/01/03] [Link]

July At The Firehouse

Okay, Michael and Clair have outdone themselves with this one....

I'm looking at the Firehouse calendar trying to plan out some live music, and what do I find listed for July?

The Dead End Angels opening for Roger Creager.

THAT should be one good show. Mr. Whitlock tells me Creager always sells out the place, so we'll be getting our tix in advance for this one. Woo hoo.

And that Kelly Willis/Bruce Robison tandem later in July ain't looking too shabby. In fact, that's a bill I'd be more likely to expect at the Mucky Duck. Rusty better watch out, the competition is creeping up on him....

[Posted at 12:01 CST on 06/01/03] [Link]

Go Coogs

Faced with elimination, the baseball Coogs have shown some life finally in the NCAA Regionals.

Beating A&M twice in College Station may be a bit much to ask, but we'll hope for the best anyway.

And it's good to see the Coogs show some fire in a season that probably didn't meet their own high expectations heading in.

[Posted at 08:41 CST on 06/01/03] [Link]

Why Did OSU Wait A Year?

Sometimes, a-holes get what they deserve.

It just takes a while.

Take OSU baseball coach Tom Holliday, for example.

The guy has long acted like an a-hole, a point I noted a year ago. When he was winning, nobody could touch him, and his attitude was portrayed as confidence. When he stopped winning... well, it wasn't so cute anymore. And the teams Holliday used to trash tended to remember his biting comments.

Interestingly, Holliday was under pressure this year to STOP being an a-hole or risk termination, and for the most part, the guy didn't pop off this season. Or if he did, it didn't make it into the press.

But his team still had troubles in the Big 12, and his scheduling still wasn't as tough as it might have been. Bottom line: no NCAA tourney.

So OSU did what it should have done a year ago and booted him. Now they need to do what they also should have done a year ago, and snatch Sunny Golloway from Oral Roberts. Quickly. He's a great coach, and underappreciated in Tulsa. He would be a great hire for a once-great program.

[Posted at 08:35 CST on 06/01/03] [Link]

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