JOURNAL: Current | Archives

30 April 2002

Snake Charmers

Some snake charmers are more successful than others.

[Posted at 21:49 CST on 04/30/02] [Link]

Kony Crashes A Funeral

Joseph Kony And Friend
Joseph Kony (r), Ugandan Rebel Nutcase

All funerals suck.

I would say this one was worse than most, however.

Actually, I hadn't seen anything on Joseph Kony in a while. Kony, interestingly enough, is a former Catholic choirboy (more problems in the Church!) who wants to create a regime in Uganda based on the Ten Commandments. Which seems a little hard to square with the actions above. But Kony is a nut.

[Posted at 21:29 CST on 04/30/02] [Link]

The Hashemite Regime

It's inconvenient for all of those pundits who would push off the Palestinian problem (that is to say, administration of a nominal Palestinian "state") on Jordan that Jordan really, really does not want the headache. Several decades ago, then-King Hussein rid himself of the Palestinian problem because he feared for the stability of the Hashemite regime.

Defense-policy analyst Frank Gaffney reminds us of that little problem of regime stability in this column:

It is tragically ironic that such a "Palestine" will pose a threat not only to Israel but to Jordan. After all, Jordan is not only an Arab state but a Palestinian one; the vast majority of its population is made up not of Hashemites but Palestinians. It is predictable that at some point, if Mr. Bush's vision is realized, an effort will be made to forge a single nation to include all the people of "Palestine" (doubtless appealing as well to Israel's Arab citizens).
Pushing the Palestinian problem off on Jordan makes for fun one-line punditry, of course, even if it ignores several decades of reality in the region.

[Posted at 21:17 CST on 04/30/02] [Link]

Slate's New Editor

My reaction to the selection of Jacob Weisberg as editor of Slate was "Of Course!" Slate wouldn't want to be provocative, or shake things up, or be innovative with its little webzine. No, it's much safer to replace the liberal Michael Kinsley (who is actually a good editor) with a similarly liberal but much duller version of Michael Kinsley.

I agree with Wlady Pleszczynski's tongue-in-cheek characterization:

Yesterday it was reported that the great two-man race to succeed Michael Kinsley as editor of had ended, and that the winner was Jacob Weisberg. The stock market promptly rose to pre-post-bubble heights, and the fellow Weisberg had defeated, Jack Shafer, learned he was slated to be transferred to the web magazine's Tajikistan bureau.

Now if there had been no JFK and we could rest confident that life is fair, there would have been no Weisberg-Shafer contest. But this was one of those deals where the fix was in from the start. Weisberg is a good conventional corporate liberal, but with about as much sparkle and unpredictability as a year-old open can of Coke. Shafer, by contrast, as I'm sure anyone who has ever worked with him will tell you, is brilliant, original, independent, and probably more than a little impossible at times -- but the results, the results! Left to his own devices he'd shake up the gray-flannel suited journalistic world. Microsoft-owned Slate obviously couldn't dare make an interesting choice.

And so we were left with such valedictory comments to yesterday's New York Times as this one from Kinsley, who said of Weisberg that "Many of the more successful editorial ideas on Slate are his -- he came up with the Today's Papers feature, for instance -- and he thinks very Webby. He has a gift for this." That's it? Kinsley's successor's major claim to fame is that he suggested their webzine run a daily review of the morning papers? How very webby of him. Weisberg's own remarks weren't any better. Noting Slate's "strong orientation toward politics, policy and economics, and some very good arts and cultural comment," he added that he'd "like to increase the quantity of cultural comment with more music, perhaps a TV column and more life-style stuff." Life-style stuff? Shafer would beat the stuffing out of a lazy comment like that. But high time someone recognized the crying need for another TV column. Never can have enough meaning in our lives.

[Posted at 21:02 CST on 04/30/02] [Link]

Assessing Public Policy

Here's a shocker from the LA Times:

Talk about throwing good money after bad. Five years ago, Congress appropriated $250 million to teach teenagers about sex. But the money could be spent only to teach them to say no. A study released last week found that this federal gag rule on realistic sex education may be doing nothing to cut teenage pregnancies.
The shocker isn't that the liberal paper dislikes the program (I'm not so sure that I like the program), but that they have actually argued against funding a program based on empirical results. That's a big step for liberals, who have long been in favor of throwing more and more good money after bad in all sorts of policy areas. Education and welfare come to mind immediately.

It's nice to know that the LA Times will be out in front advocating the elimination of wasteful government programs based on evidence like falling test scores and such.

Okay, it would be nice, if we lived in a consistent and rational world and the LA Times were either of those. But we know better than that, don't we?

[Posted at 20:54 CST on 04/30/02] [Link]

Linda Lay, Working Woman

Linda Lay's Second-Hand Shop, in my old neighborhood
Linda Lay's New Store

How does the Chron do it? Just when I think it can't top its idiotic cheerleading for all things Houston (especially on this day), Mary Flood comes out with a puff piece on Linda Lay's new business venture: an elite secondhand shop for those poor Enron executives who need to sell some of their furnishings (to pay their legal bills?).

Linda's just a down-to-earth working stiff like the rest of us Houstonians. At least according to her publicist, whom Flood quotes adoringly:

"She's worked all her life," Kimberly said of Lay, who once worked for her husband at Enron.
I can't wait to see what Connelly does with this one.

(Update) The Chron puff piece generated some hostile letters. I'm not sure why Dennis Oakes is under the impression, however, that the Chron is "one of America's great newspapers." Greatness must be measured differently in League City, TX.

[Posted at 20:41 CST on 04/30/02] [Link]

The Power Of Populism

Reynolds points us to this KausFiles critique of Nicholas Lemann's profile of Senator John Edwards (is that a worthy blog line or what?):

The basic case against Edwards, as he's presented by Lemann, is that he's fallen whole-hog for Bob Shrum's "full-throated, us-against-them populist" line. Populism appeals, in large part, because of its emphasis on social equality. ('My parents would know in five minutes if you were treating them with respect -- whether you were looking down on them," says Edwards.) When practiced by Shrum, however, it seeks to cast all America's domestic problems in the us v. them mode, in which "powerful forces" -- as Al Gore, under Shrum's tutelage, put it -- "stand in your way" and "keep you from having a better life."

But the problem in the lives of most individual Americans today isn't that "big guys" (Lemann's phrase) are standing in their way -- and populism's comforting scapegoating in this regard is one of its most unattractive features.

Kaus, of course, is right to think that in a decent and rational world, such divisive populist rhetoric would be seen for what it is. But in a piece a few weeks ago that didn't get nearly the web attention it deserved, Patrick Ruffini pointed out that in the last election, Al Gore had some success with that same style of populist rhetoric:
There�s another set piece of Gore�s all-but-settled 2004 strategy that was manifest in his Florida speech over the weekend: a reprise of Gore�s �people vs. the powerful� theme from 2000. The effectiveness of this strategy has been the subject of considerable subterranean debate in Democratic circles, with DLCers arguing vigorously against and Stan Greenberg, the pollster who masterminded Gore�s populist sloganeering swearing that it drove the ex-Veep�s numbers up. A year ago, Franklin Foer made a somewhat coherent argument for why such a strategy might work in 2004.

I�ve reviewed the evidence on both sides of the argument, and Greenberg is right about one thing: Gore�s popularity did go up whenever he used grating, class-warfare rhetoric. The trouble is that Gore�s standing rose among the Powerful he railed against, and not among the People he repeatedly championed. By every measure, Gore ran unexpectedly well among the well-to-do in America. The 4% of Americans who described themselves as �upper class� went for Gore by 56% to 39%.

As a Senator whose home base is in the South rather than D.C., Edwards remains more in touch with those middle-class voters than Gore was in the last election, and should fare better with them. If the populist rhetoric were as successful for Edwards as it was for Gore last time among upper class voters, he could be a formidable candidate. I'm not ready to write off that possibility just because in a decent society it would be otherwise.

[Posted at 20:29 CST on 04/30/02] [Link]

29 April 2002

Ward, GREAT Outfielder?!

Hey hey hey...
Fine Hitter, Slow Overweight Outfielder

A Chron columnist writes,

He may not have the prototypical outfielder's body or the best legs in the league, but Ward's defense has bordered on great at times. He's not clumsy out there, which is why he got away with a magical catch on Saturday.
WHAT?! Daryle Ward is a DISASTER in the outfield. Quite possibly the slowest outfielder in the league, and a definite defensive liability. His bat is great, but his defense has not "bordered on great" at ANY time. He IS clumsy out there, he is overweight, and he gets such a slow break on the ball that routine plays sometimes turn into "great" catches as he recovers from his initial misjudgment.

Ward is a fine hitter, and his bat may actually make up for his defensive problems. But let's not pretend the guy is anything other than an overweight defensive liability. It strains credulity for a beat writer to write such nonsense.

[Posted at 23:49 CST on 04/29/02] [Link]

Lee Brown's Happy America

How in the hell did Lee Brown's Public Works (OXYMORON!) department amass a backlog of thousands of complaints, and 1,500 complaints related to DITCHES alone?!

Ah, Lee Brown's America.

[Posted at 23:39 CST on 04/29/02] [Link]


The New Redskin QB?
Will Spurrier be QB For The UF-DC Redskins?

I'm a big Steve Spurrier fan, but I have a feeling this upcoming season is going to be a cruel education in the ways of the NFL for The Ball Coach (Query: Anybody know why he's called that?). I'm writing this because Spurrier signed another journeyman Gator quarterback to his University of Florida-D.C. team today -- this after he unsuccessfully tried to trade for said quarterback earlier in the year, only to be rebuffed (which was actually lucky, since Matthews was cut by Chicago, and didn't cost Spurrier players or draft picks).

Who ever would have guessed that Spurrier would look clueless (at least on paper) and Jerry Jones would look brilliant at this point in the preseason. Of course, paper teams don't get on the field and play football. But it's difficult to imagine Spurrier winning many games this year with that mess at quarterback. And it's easy to imagine Hardy or Williams or Glover (all courtesy of a fine offseason by Jerry) flying in and demolishing UF-D.C.'s quarterback(s) when Dallas and UF-D.C. play.

[Posted at 23:29 CST on 04/29/02] [Link]

Gullible Chron Sportswriters

Since when do football players have additional surgery to speed their recovery from previous surgery?

The Chron's sportswriters will, of course, believe anything they are told:

Left tackle Tony Boselli, the five-time Pro Bowler who was held out of workouts during the Texans' three-day minicamp, underwent an arthroscopic procedure on his left shoulder Monday in hopes of accelerating his recovery from offseason surgery.

In actuality, it's starting to look like the Texans tied up a HELL of a lot of cap money in a player who may or may not help them in the upcoming season. Now, maybe it's not a bad move in that it will be at least a couple of seasons before they are worth a damn anyway, and Boselli should be healthy by then at least. Of course, they are counting on Boselli immediately to help protect their biggest investment, quarterback David Carr, which may mean that Kent Graham gets to play a fair amount early in the season if Boselli is not able to go right away. Better a journeyman get his brains beaten out than the franchise quarterback.

[Posted at 23:14 CST on 04/29/02] [Link]

Backpacking, Evil Neo-Cons, and The Positive

So, I rolled in last night, a day earlier than planned, from a backpacking trip that got cancelled after fewer than 24 hours in the woods for a number of reasons, none of them all that notable. Blar. Other than visiting Micah (who is selling everything, including his house, to move to the Dominican Republic at the end of May), the trip was a colossal clusterf#ck. But we won't dwell on the negative.

Instead, we'll leave negativism to the folks over at Original Dissent, one of whom seems to think I'm part of the evil neo-con conspiracy (you know, the one that condones the "sin" of homosexuality, favors taking out Iraq and maybe a few other rogue nations, thinks immigration is fine and that non-Caucasians are people too, and generally finds Pat Buchanan and Joseph Sobran hard to take seriously these days). If that's what neo-cons are, I guess I do belong. *shrug*

On a more positive note, I got a kind email from someone requesting permission to use one of the site's Tropical Storm Allison photos in a publication. It's between one of my photos and an unknown "less artsy" other. More on this as soon as I hear something final.

And this post was kinda cool: kind words about our discontinued RK page from an online journaler (or is that journaller?) who's been at it about a year and was kind enough to link to this journal. There really was life on the web before 11 September, even if many of the "warbloggers" would have you believe otherwise. :)

I did get back to lots of emails that need attention at some point. Thanks in advance for your patience!

And now it's time to go give Reductio some love and attention, because we wouldn't want sensible folks to think conservatism and conservative thought are only defined by the Buchanan fringe!

[Posted at 18:33 CST on 04/29/02] [Link]

25 April 2002


After a half day of work tomorrow, I'm off on my first backpacking trip in what seems like ages. Unfortunately, rain is in the forecast for Saturday, so we'll see how it goes. Much to do between now and leaving!

I fully intended to have a guest editor (or several) for Reductio, but somehow just never got around to it. So the content will be static for a few days there and here.

[Posted at 23:44 CST on 04/25/02] [Link]

Houston Media Fun

I read Richard Connelly's latest in print over breakfast at the 59 Diner this morning, and see that Romenesko has featured it today as well. The local media are an easy target, but this bit on loopy Channel 13 (home of Marvin Zindler, of Best Little Whorehouse fame) was especially good:

It was pretty much a run-of-the-mill health report on Channel 13's 5 p.m. news April 17.
Reporter Christi Myers told viewers of a possible breakthrough in curing what's popularly known as Bubble Boy disease.

As she provided details, film clips were shown of David Vetter, the Houston-area kid who suffered from SCID, or severe combined immunodeficiency, until his 1984 death at the age of 12. Vetter became famous as "the boy in the bubble," the kid whose story was turned into a John Travolta made-for-TV movie.

As the KTRK report rolled, we saw clips of Vetter in his plastic environment, laughing, playing and looking somber. And then, suddenly, the musty film was replaced by a decidedly newer-looking clip.

There was Vetter -- or someone -- in a cartoonishly large round bubble. He looked to be about 20 years old.

That's strange, we thought.

It got decidedly stranger as the person in the bubble took a step off the curb �and got plastered by a bus that was speeding by.

With the blink of an eye, it was back to more gauzy '70s-era film of Vetter.

It happened quickly enough that you had to ask yourself whether you saw what you just saw. But there was no doubt -- someone at 13 had inserted a clip from last summer's alleged teen comedy Bubble Boy, a critically reviled slapstick comedy that bombed at the box office.

The movie's release last August led Vetter's mother to call for a boycott. "I feel it's outrageous and an insult to David's memory," she told the Houston Chronicle.

Not to a mysterious someone with access to the video equipment at KTRK, though. Whoever it was, he didn't agree with The Boston Globe ("Bubble Boy Is Rude, Crude and Formulaic") or the Chicago Tribune ("cruel and tasteless").

"It was an embarrassing error that was corrected immediately," KTRK news director Dave Strickland says. "I apologize to the family and those offended. I have taken measures to make sure it does not happen again."

No word on whether he plans to rent There's Something About Mary for an upcoming report on hair-care products.

Sad. His section on Fran "Drunk Driving" Blinebury and his tortured prose is worth reading also.

[Posted at 10:54 CST on 04/25/02] [Link]

24 April 2002

On Pedophiles and Rapists

Orrin Judd is a very bad (and very funny) man here.

I'm glad I wasn't drinking anything while I was reading it, or I would have spewed.

It's also well worth one's time to scroll up, and read Orrin's thoughts on Pat Buchanan (who is thinking about Le Pen -- interesting, eh?).

[Posted at 23:37 CST on 04/24/02] [Link]


The locker room door of the UH Cougar baseball team reads (roughly) "You are either part of the steamroller or part of the pavement."

I never thought they meant that literally....

[Posted at 22:54 CST on 04/24/02] [Link]


Reductio Ad Absurdum was named the Site of the Day at Vianet/EFNI Connect's North Bay Portal.

It's nice to be noticed by our Canadian friends! :)

[Posted at 21:35 CST on 04/24/02] [Link]

Saudi Gas

Andrew Stuttaford makes a fairly common mistake in a recent post on NRO's corner. He notes that a Saudi initiative to bring in Western E&P firms to develop gas reserves has stalled, and writes:

If true, this is good news. Investment in a country that is so deeply implicated (whether directly or indirectly) in the support, financing and inspiration of the current terrorist Jihad would be a deeply troubling move on the part of any American company. Such a decision would also be bad business. "Saudi" Arabia is now on the edge of upheaval. Investing there makes about as much sense as buying railway bonds in the Russia of 1916.
Stuttaford is correct in suggesting that it is distasteful when American companies invest in onerous regimes; currently there is even a ban on E&P investment in certain regimes for that reason (although the Europeans are more than happy to be in Iran and Libya). But while it may be distasteful, that doesn't necessarily make it a bad investment. Nor does a certain amount of political risk necessarily translate into a bad investment. There are many prolific oil/gas-producing regimes with political risk that greatly exceeds the middling risk of Saudi Arabia (Nigeria, Venezuela, Indonesia, and Angola come to mind) that are very hot plays right now. Political risk itself these days is hardly an absolute disqualifier for E&P investment in a nation, if it ever was.

But a nation's fiscal terms, its cost profile, and its prospectivity certainly can be. As costs go, Saudi Arabia's are some of the lowest in the world -- which is why if the fiscal terms are decent, or even poor, Western firms will literally JUMP at any opening of the oil sector. The problem is, a partial opening of the gas sector is viewed by many firms as a goodwill measure, a way of getting a foot in the door and continuing to encourage the Kingdom to reopen to direct foreign investment in the much more lucrative oil sector. As a goodwill measure, they may even be willing endure less-than-stellar fiscal terms. But the main reason Western companies seem to be balking right now is that the fiscal terms just aren't acceptable.

Western companies do seem concerned about making a bad investment, but it has little to do with political risk in this case. Stuttaford is wrong to suggest it does.

[Posted at 20:36 CST on 04/24/02] [Link]

23 April 2002

Rove Meddling

George Bush Celebrates Earth Day
Please, Karl Rove, Never Let This Happen Again

I was surprised to see this relatively sympathetic profile of Paul Wolfowitz in the New York Times, given that paper's perspective on the world.

What was disturbing was the report that Karl Rove essentially dispatched Wolfowitz to go and defend the muddled diplomatic mess created by Colin Powell. For an administration that likes to remind us constantly just how different it is from Bill Clinton and Dick Morris, it's disturbing that a senior White House aide is giving orders to the #2 man at the Department of Defense while a war is being fought.

It's even more disturbing that Karl Rove is disrupting the war effort by meddling with the schedules of important men when his own time would be much better spent ensuring that his President never again conducts a photo op in which he is wielding an ax in the snow.

[Posted at 23:42 CST on 04/23/02] [Link]

Bad Baseball

5,175 fans went out to see bad baseball in Florida tonight. Some college programs draw that many fans.

The Astros continued to play pitiful baseball, wasting good starting pitching with a bullpen that gives up hits like it's batting practice.

This is not a very good team right now. Gerry Hunsicker and Jimy Williams can continue to talk about being "contenders" if they want, but at this point they're not even close. Fortunately, it's a long season, and there's still time to round into shape. But the bullpen, outfield, and left side of the infield really need to help out.

[Posted at 22:28 CST on 04/23/02] [Link]


Peter Carlson has a fine article today on the improvement in the Atlantic Monthly since Michael Kelly took over as editor. Carlson makes a lot of good points. I've been a subscriber to the Atlantic for a while now, and the editorial selection really has become much more interesting and relevant under Kelly's leadership (whereas in the past it had a tendency to pander to the fiction crowd, and an artsy liberal readership). And he's done it without turning the publication into an overtly conservative rag, which would have alienated a fair number of readers. He's probably the best example going of the impact a good editor can have -- and as I wrote back in February, Slate would do well to approach the opening created by the departure of Michael Kinsley (himself an excellent editor, but only a good writer by comparison) with the Kelly example in mind.

On the other hand, a bad editor can really hurt a publication. The American Prospect suffers from that a bit (understatement?). Slate certainly is suffering from it right now. And it's not just true of political magazines. Several months ago, Backpacker magazine promoted one of its editors to the head job. I've never liked the guy's writing, but as I pointed out in February, that has very little to do with editorial direction, so I was curious what he would do with a magazine that was already in pretty good shape. It's been disastrous. His feature selection is terrible, he has pushed a far-left environmental agenda (okay, it was already far-left, but he's gone further), and he even mucked around with the design of Gear Guide issue -- the one issue that every serious backpacker buys every year -- and turned it into a mess.

All of that's bad. But I started reading the current issue today, and decided the magazine has become essentially worthless to me. The editor's comment, which in the past has been about particular adventures or the spirit of backpacking or other such safe, if cliched, stuff, was instead about how the editor and his companions, annoyed that a helicopter kept flying by their pristine area of wilderness, decided to strip off their clothes and flash the helicopter. And readers are treated to a photo feature full rear nudity. I'm not a prude, but this is not why I buy the magazine. Nor do I buy it for this month's feature article on how men can secure their genitalia with a bandana if they find that hiking is chafing them. I'm not making this up.

Once upon a time, I found the magazine useful: it talked a lot about technique, places, and equipment -- with the occasional leftist activism that one might expect. Now it's just worthless, thanks to the selection of a terrible editor. And now I'm off to their website to cancel my subscription. It's sad when Bob Kuttner's rag is more appealing than Backpacker!

[Posted at 22:13 CST on 04/23/02] [Link]

Cheryl Burnett

Cheryl Burnett during happier times
Cheryl Burnett during the 2001 Final Four run

The women's college basketball world was rocked today when SMSU coach Cheryl Burnett unexpectedly announced she was stepping down. Burnett took a regional school in a weak conference and turned it into a perennial NCAA qualifier that made it to the women's Final Four twice during her tenure. That was probably her undoing, as her program consistently outdrew the men's program, especially after Charlie Spoonhour left -- and that created a lot of petty jealousy from administrators and coaches of the men's programs.

It was a constant fight for Burnett to get support from the university administration despite the great PR she represented. Now that they've managed to chase her off (and you can bet that Vanderbilt's women's program just found her number), they will be able to relish a women's program that probably deteriorates to the sorry level of the men's program.

It's too bad my cousin already took the SEMO job. With his style of pressure defense, he would have been a perfect successor. Ah well. Who would wish it on him?

[Posted at 21:36 CST on 04/23/02] [Link]

22 April 2002

(Decomposing) Man In The Box

My friend Dave emailed the following in response to this story on the death of Layne Staley, whose body apparently had begun to decompose before anyone discovered him:

I wasn't surprised by the death, only surprised that his friends and family took so long to notice that he was missing that he started decomposing. But, I guess if you're a junkie flake that they come to expect those extended absences.
It's true, isn't it? I about fell out of my chair laughing.

[Posted at 23:11 CST on 04/22/02] [Link]

21 April 2002


You can use the tennis courts at 10:17 on Sundays, Jody
The "Good Old Days" of Malaise

Ah, Jimmy is diverting time from his useful pursuits (building houses) to dabble in politics again (won't he ever learn).

To which we have promised to respond: Just Say No To Malaise.

It's even better that the NY Times also features AlGore today on the online op-ed page. Grouping losers is a solid editorial approach, I think.

Off to see some college baseball, and to make one of my last trips to do a little dissertation research as I'm finalizing my conclusion. I hope everyone is similarly enjoying a beautiful Sunday.

(Update) Coogs demolished Cincy earlier, and I got done a bit of research as well as enjoying lots of sun. As I'm catching up on my blogs, I see that Orrin Judd also noted AlGore's op-ed.

[Posted at 11:13 CST on 04/21/02] [Link]

Cowboys Big Winners

Since Jimmy Johnson left the Cowboys, there have not been many headlines like this.

Indeed, most of us Cowboys fans have blasted Jerry Jones fairly consistently for his bungling. But his first day in the draft has culminated an offseason in which damn near every team decision he's made looks excellent.

I'm looking forward to football season.

[Posted at 09:16 CST on 04/21/02] [Link]

MT Tweaking

For those who have asked for a low-bandwidth, pda-friendly version of Reductio, I finally found a bit of time tonight to put something together. I've tested it on my Visor Neo via my mobile phone (14.4k) using Eudora Web and Blazer, and everything seems okay. I have not tried the page using Avant Go yet, but I see no reason that it shouldn't work fine as a custom channel.

I also made a few tweaks to the archives pages, which has improved their functionality (in my view anyway -- I wonder if anyone even looks at them).

I've not yet tweaked the stylesheets to make the fonts scalable (which I need to do here as well), but it's on the to-do list. If only the need to sleep didn't intrude every 18 hours or so.

Every time I go in and do work like this, I'm reminded just how nicely designed Movable Type is.

[Posted at 00:53 CST on 04/21/02] [Link]

20 April 2002


There's an overgrown, abandoned lot in the neighborhood where I usually take Kiwi to do her business. Today I walked her there, and someone from the (abandoned) house next door yelled at me that it was private property, and to get off.

Fair enough. I can respect private property, even abandoned property that is an eyesore and in violation of city code.

But the guy was an asshole.

So I smiled, told him sure, and came back to file a complaint with the Neighborhood Protection Division of the Public Works Department (which I was able to do online) because his lots are overgrown and the abandoned buildings do not appear to be properly secured. This means he will get a visit from someone in Public Works, and a nice citation for the mess.

All because he was an asshole.

I hope he feels good about himself today yelling at a complete stranger who meant him no harm. I'm sure he has no idea just how counterproductive it is to be an asshole.

[Posted at 14:28 CST on 04/20/02] [Link]

Roy Williams

Roy Williams, looking good

Jerry Jones has managed the Cowboys' best first round in the NFL Draft since the Jimmy Johnson days.

The Cowboys wanted Roy Williams after Quentin Jammer was selected a pick ahead of them (at 5). Two teams wanted the Cowboys 6 pick to take a player other than Roy Williams. Jerry Jones got a deal done with Kansas City to swap their 8 pick, and KC drafted DT Ryan Sims. In exchange, the Cowboys got an additional 3rd round pick this year from KC, and a sixth round pick next year -- and still picked up Roy Williams with the 8 pick. That additional 3rd round pick is critical, and makes this an excellent trade.

And the best player on the Oklahoma Sooners last year -- probably in all of college football -- is now a Dallas Cowboy. Very cool.

[Posted at 12:57 CST on 04/20/02] [Link]

Lame Astros Owner

Larry Dierker deserves this honor, and I'm glad Astros owner Drayton McLane is doing it, but I can't help but think that McLane is doing it more as a response to some of the negative vibes one gets about him from Dierker's recent Texas Monthly article than anything else.

It's been interesting lately listening to sports talk radio, because this town has REALLY turned on McLane, which is reflected in attendance at The Ballpark Formerly Known as Enron (way down). Most of the complaints center on the fact that McLane has raised ticket prices and concession prices (if you want a beer, it will cost you $6 now) this year, to the point that a lot of average people are staying home. They also center on the fact that McLane holds his payroll at a middling level despite such revenue enhancement.

So fans are not happy, and Drayton, in his typically narrow fashion, is trying to show the fans why they are wrong not to love him. Yesterday, according to sports talkster Mark Vandermeer, the Astros put out a lame press release arguing that compared to other entertainment in town (movies, etc), their concessions are not that much more expensive -- curiously, I can't find the press release on their website, so it must have been a release only to local sports media. And they announced plans to enshrine favorite son Larry Dierker by retiring his jersey.

Houston sports fans are tough -- and sometimes fickle. If they think they are being disrespected (ask Bud Adams) or a team isn't putting out proper effort (ask Les Alexander), they will stay away. Drayton needs to figure that out. Telling them why they are wrong probably isn't the best start.

[Posted at 08:51 CST on 04/20/02] [Link]

19 April 2002

Wealth Versus Health, etc

More thoughtful posts from Orrin Judd today. Check out his take on the increasingly intractable welfare state, and scroll on down to an analysis of the latest column from Peter Beinart.

[Posted at 21:50 CST on 04/19/02] [Link]

Small World

How cool is it that I actually know one of the people singled out in this historic Ronald Reagan speech?

Very cool, actually.

[Posted at 21:19 CST on 04/19/02] [Link]


So New York needed a conservative paper in addition to the Post in order to run scoops like this?


Even more impressive that it's not produced online, so Romenesko had to excerpt it.

[Posted at 20:43 CST on 04/19/02] [Link]


A couple of years ago, I was casting about for a cheap, reliable web host, and hit pay dirt. I wound up hosting a couple of sites with the company, and recommending it to friends.

The owner of the service seemed very hands on, handling technical aspects of supporting the site as well as a great deal of client support personally. He handled a number of matters for me, and was always very complimentary.

Lately, as some readers have no doubt noticed, the loading of the site has been extremely slow at times, a problem at the server end. Consequently, there were hints on the support boards at the hosting service of some sort of family tragedy that was affecting performance.

Today, that tragedy was made public. It turns out that the owner/administrator of the hosting company passed away in February. His wife, who is running the company now, sent out a short email to clients. This came as a bit of a shock. But what came as even more of shock was that he was ONLY 29. I had assumed from email conversations and the high level of competence that he was older.

The hosting service has things flying today. But after the announcement earlier, that seems a bit trivial.

[Posted at 17:14 CST on 04/19/02] [Link]

Brew Crew

As I think about an Astros management team (GM Gerry Hunsicker, President Tal Smith, Tim Purpura) who manage to keep the team in contention most years despite Drayton McLane's unwillingness to spend much money, I can't help but think that a team whose president is Wendy Selig-Prieb and whose payroll is non-competitive has much deeper problems than will be solved by firing Davey Lopes.

And the fact that so many teams are remarkably similar to the Brewers -- and there are a handful of perennial powers due to payroll (Yankees, Braves) -- probably does not bode well for Major League Baseball.

[Posted at 06:42 CST on 04/19/02] [Link]

18 April 2002

Mr. Friedman

All of those liberals and media elites who recently pronounced Thomas Friedman "our most important columnist" should go read this LGF take.

[Posted at 22:39 CST on 04/18/02] [Link]

Asolo Boots

Nice Boots (for medium-volume feet)

When I decided to start backpacking seriously again (in 1998), the first item of business was finding a good pair of boots able to take the pounding of the Ouachita boulder fields. So that meant in addition to the problem of fitting, I needed to find a full grain leather boot with a stiff shank (and preferably a Gore Tex liner with a Vibram sole).

After trying lots of brands, I settled on the Asolo 520 GTX. The Asolo fit well right out of the box, although I added Superfeet inserts because I have high arches and needed to take up some volume in the boot. Those boots felt ready to hit the woods out of the box, and though they are scuffed and nicked up now (much uglier than those pretty ones I linked to), they are still in really excellent shape considering the mileage I've put on them.

But the most important part is the fit. Although boot manufacturers all tout their lasts and how their boots are engineered, most of them still design boots as if a person's feet are aircraft carriers. That is to say, most hikers have a medium foot volume at best, but it is very difficult to find anything less than a high volume boot. Asolo is one of the few manufacturers that produces a low-medium volume boot. I hear Lowa and Merrell are decent in that regard as well, although the only Merrell I've ever tried didn't fit me particularly well.

So I was stupid a few weeks ago and decided to replace some casual boots with a day-hiking nubuck-leather boot by Zamberlan that seemed to fit in the store. But it really didn't -- the volume actually turned out to be much too high after I broke the boot in for a day, and back to REI it went. I did discover a nice nubuck leather boot by Asolo on the REI website, though not in the store. I'm always leery of ordering footwear over the net because of my requirements, but since it was Asolo, I gave it a try. I'm happy to report my new pair of Rainiers fit just as well as that trusted pair of 520 GTXs. And unlike the Zamberlan boot, the Rainier is stiff enough that it can be used for light backpacking as well as the casual duty I had in mind for it, although it is not a Gore Tex boot.

Why am I writing about this here and why should you care? Well, most of you probably shouldn't. But this site get all sorts of search requests, and I know (as a backpacking gear addict) I really value being able to hit google and pull up gear reviews and comments like this. So this one's for my fellow backpackers who are frustrated because it's so hard to find a medium volume boot. Give Asolo a try.

[Posted at 18:43 CST on 04/18/02] [Link]

17 April 2002


I guess dude picked the WRONG person to cut off and try to intimidate, huh?

Nicely done.

It happened about a five minute walk from me, although I didn't hear any sirens or anything earlier.

Elsewhere in the city, another man decided to use his car as a weapon against children throwing trash in his yard.

Just a day of justice, Houston style.

And to our southwest, Tom Delay has discovered that college students have sex. Education just isn't godly enough these days, says Conservatism's Favorite Exterminator.

[Posted at 23:23 CST on 04/17/02] [Link]

Remedial Blogging

Remedial Blogging, for those of you who need it.

Any of you techies out there have any idea why blogspot sites hide the permalink on the address line? Is it Ev's revenge on the right-click-challenged among us?

Here, of course, we wouldn't do that to ya. Because we care. :)

[Posted at 21:17 CST on 04/17/02] [Link]


Among the bloggers I regularly read, I rarely (if ever) see anyone disagree with Virgnia Postrel.

And that's rather odd, as I think about.

In any case, that's another of many reasons why the Brothers Judd blog is a refreshing addition to blogland.

[Posted at 21:09 CST on 04/17/02] [Link]

Connelly And The Chron

Richard Connelly rocks:

David Barron, the Chron's sports TV-radio columnist, was in an absolute dither April 8.

"I am disappointed, but not surprised, that Fox Sports Net continues to program a prime-time show with a name so brutishly offensive that men like [broadcasters] Bill Worrell and Jim Deshaies refuse to say it during network promos. Until the network changes the name, it isn't the best show of any kind. Period," he wrote, in what he self-deprecatingly called "this week's screed."

What is this name that is "so brutishly offensive"? It's The Best Damn Sports Show, Period.

"Damn" is brutishly offensive? Jiminy Cricket and gosh whillikers, even the Chron's stolid TV listings have no trouble with it. Then again, those listings are put together by the entertainment section. Fucking pornographers.

If Connelly only had a weblog, I might contend that he savaged Barron. :)

[Posted at 21:00 CST on 04/17/02] [Link]

16 April 2002

America: Terrorist Empire

It's become chic to label anything with which one disagrees terror. Nobody has surpassed certain radical Arabs at the practice, but Mark Weisbrot comes close.

Weisbrot thinks that the American government aided the coup plotters in Venezuela (he's probably right, to the extent a wink and a nod constitute aid), and that in so doing, the U.S. behaved as a terrorist state:

The administration has sent a clear and ugly message to the world: You can play by the rules, but for us, there are no rules. Theirs is the ethic of the terrorist, driven not by the desperation of the poor and powerless, but by the desire of the richest and most powerful state on Earth to rule over others.
So the United States is not only a terrorist nation, but it's a terrorist nation apt on establishing a world empire.

I'm glad he cleared that up. For some silly reason, I thought America was the most powerful nation in the history of the world successfully to resist the temptation of world empire.

[Posted at 23:28 CST on 04/16/02] [Link]

Affordable Housing

At some point, it seems that "affordable housing" became the local euphemism of choice for "public housing" or "subsidized housing."

[Posted at 23:18 CST on 04/16/02] [Link]

Shifting Gears

Reductio was named Conservative Site of the Day today by Enter Stage Right.

That's cool.

I guess the secret's out that it's a conservative site, eh? Not that it was much of a secret. But it's intended to be thoughtfully conservative. I hope that part isn't a secret either.

* * * *

Switching gears entirely -- I think 24 is going to give me a heart attack before it's done. That is a very intense show, and another very intense episode tonight.

* * * *

Shifting gears one last time tonight -- Jeff Jarvis has discovered that he doesn't like the lottery very much.

It reminded me of a discussion I had with a very capitalist friend in grad school ages ago. That friend, whom there's no need to name, actually loved lotteries. He argued that in an age in which progressive taxation was used to effect distribution of wealth from rich to poor, the lottery acted as a great regressive tax, since it is played predominantly by the less affluent. Needless to say, my friend would not be considered a compassionate conservative.

Another friend of mine, just as capitalist but more libertarian, actually said no -- that's not very good reasoning, because the lottery actually acts as a tax on dreams. And that's not a very nice thing.

[Posted at 21:12 CST on 04/16/02] [Link]

15 April 2002


Apparently in Aggieland, it's okay if you plagiarize (and possibly falsify data, allegedly) just so long as you can convince other chicks to come hang out at the redneck campus. Well, A&M President Ray Bowen didn't quite put it that way. Instead, he refused to take further action against a professor who plagiarized (allegedly), in light of the fact that she was "an early pioneer in establishing the presence of women at Texas A&M University."

Gig 'em. Whoop.


[Posted at 23:45 CST on 04/15/02] [Link]

Cloning Politics

I really like the level of discourse that the Brothers Judd bring to blogland.

This is an interesting take on the cloning issue.

Of course, rabid libertarians will insist statism is the evil, not cloning. That's fair enough, but Judd has framed his questions in terms of contemporary politics, not that ideal libertarian anarchocapitalist society. And that makes it a little tougher. (Which reminds me of a past effort on my part to substitute a question of my own for one of Ross Lence's famous questions; that didn't work out very well. But I digress.)

[Posted at 23:33 CST on 04/15/02] [Link]

More Powell

The Secretary of Squish

Here are a couple of thoughts that emerge from this report:

1) We continue to hear reports that Powell favors engagement in the Middle East. Well he's gotten his chance! Suddenly his allies are whining he's being set up to take the fall if it doesn't work!? Excuse me -- but the so-called "hawks" of the administration (Wolfowitz, et al), if reports are to be believed, have argued that the Powell approach cannot work! And now the Powell people are whining because.... the Wolfowitz crowd may have been right? Huh?!


2) Maybe this really is a grand game being played by the White House (as some have suggested), to appease the Euros and Arabs and see if it will work without wasting White House prestige. That way, hotheaded conservatives like me will all blame powell, and not the White House (well, not entirely true, but play along). If it works, great -- if not, the President maintains distance. In that sense, Powell is being hung out to dry a bit -- but let's all keep in mind this: THE SECRETARY OF STATE SERVES AT THE PLEASURE OF THE PRESIDENT. It's ALL about the President. If Powell has a problem serving the Commander in Chief, he should resign. He should not send his aides out to whine on background to reporters.

Either way, I have less respect for Powell than ever before. At least as a military man, he seemed once to understand the chain of command. As a political man who isn't President, he needs to instruct his "allies" in his department to quit whining to the press, and get on board.

[Posted at 17:58 CST on 04/15/02] [Link]

National Parks And Noisy Polluting Craft

Here is an issue on which I differ with most of my market-oriented libertarian-conservative brethren.

Personal watercraft (and dirt bikes and ATVs) ARE destructive of the environment and generally annoy everyone within earshot. And for that reason, it strikes me that IF we are going to have such things as "national parks" owned by the public, then to a large extent those public lands ought to be kept as pristine and friendly to the most people as possible. But yes, I concede -- people with destructive vehicles are taxpayers as well, and I'm not opposed to setting aside some portion of national lands for their use.

So there you go -- the view from a libertarian-conservative-Randian backpacker.

[Posted at 17:39 CST on 04/15/02] [Link]

The Powell "Mission"

The Nobel Terrorist Meets The Secretary of Squish

The lead paragraph from this NY Times editorial just confounds me:

It is not easy to judge how much Secretary of State Colin Powell has accomplished in his three days in Israel. At this bloody moment in the Middle East, optimism would be unfounded. Nonetheless, the only path out of this violent morass will come from the kind of sustained, clear-eyed, top-level guidance that Mr. Powell has brought to the region, and there are glimmers of progress.
I happen to think Powell's "mission" is a major flop, and that this wishful op-ed could have been produced by a serious newspaper confirms it for me. I think the "mission" obscures what had been moral clarity and leadership from Bush on the war on terror and reinforces the standard State Department response to the Middle East (when this Administration once appeared to be much better than that).

So now we have moved from conventional wisdom that the Powell mission was a necessary evil at best (I do not concur with that, btw) to liberals proclaiming that it was not only necessary, but that such maneuvers are a "clear-eyed" model for American statecraft! The Washington Post will no doubt follow this lead, and so will other influential major media. And once again Bush will be urged away from his "black-white" view of the world towards the grays that enlightened publications like the NY Times and WaPo see all around us.

That will be a consequence of sending Powell to the Middle East to visit the Nobel Terrorist (when a lower level emissary like Zinni would have been more than enough), and it will make it that much harder for Mr. Bush to do the right thing, which (to his credit) he often seems inclined to do.

[Posted at 17:12 CST on 04/15/02] [Link]

14 April 2002

Mack Brown

Hope springs eternal at UT, where Mack "Mr. Football" Brown is talking about national championships.

So far, Mack Brown's teams at UT have grossly underperformed, given his recruiting success. And I'm not convinced that won't be the case again this year. After all, he can't seem to figure out how to beat Bob Stoops and Oklahoma.

UT is so lame.

UH, on the other hand, wrapped up their college baseball series against Memphis with a sweep today, called in the eighth inning because of an agreed ten-run mercy rule. I suppose since I'm blogging, perhaps I should say UH savaged Memphis? Or not.

[Posted at 17:24 CST on 04/14/02] [Link]


Hmm... I'm guessing Mac McLarty would like to pull back this op-ed in today's Chron on Venezuela about now.

It would be easy to take a shot at McLarty as another example of Bill Clinton's clueless foreign policy group, but more than a few of us are feeling a little surprised this morning by the overnight turnaround in Venezuela, I suspect.

Off to brunch and baseball now.

[Posted at 10:46 CST on 04/14/02] [Link]

Memphis Pounded

The latest of Rayner Noble's young guns did a fine job last night as the starting pitcher, as Memphis never really had a chance. The Coogs crushed 'em 15-3, and it was a good time at the old ballpark.

A Chuy's brunch followed by the final game of the series this afternoon will get me my college baseball fix for the weekend.

[Posted at 10:30 CST on 04/14/02] [Link]

Roy Williams

Ed Reed confirms that, yes, he really is an idiot, by suggesting that he is a better all-around player than Oklahoma's Roy Williams.

What a joke.

That the Chron printed it confirms that their sports page is a joke as well.

But like all aspects of the Chron, we already knew that.

Their NFL beat writer, the overrated (and barely literate) John McClain should know better.

And after their playing careers are over, Roy Williams and Ed Reed will both know better.

This quote from another piece on Roy Williams is really interesting in the Chron though:

"I never watched the NFL when I was growing up," Williams said. "I played football every Saturday. Why would I want to spend every Sunday watching it, too? I'd rather be up in my room watching a DVD."
In fact, it looks a lot like a story that ran in the Star-Telegram way back in March. Of course, the Chron didn't feel like giving credit. That's not the Chron's style, you see. Or not Joseph Duarte's, at least.

But you would think he could at least get Clarence Hill's quotes right if he's gonna run with Hill's story a month later.

[Posted at 00:13 CST on 04/14/02] [Link]

Venezuelan Mess

I'm back home from the fun of the ballpark (where UH totally dominated hapless Memphis) and found this distressing news item.

This is terrible news. Essentially, what this means is the military either didn't have effective control of Venezuela when they installed Carmona (who was an excellent choice as interim ruler), the military has lost effective popular control of the nation in the short time since it assumed power, or the military (and nation) are split.

This doesn't look good at all (about the best assessment I can muster after beer at the ballpark followed by margaritas). Worse case scenario: Venezuela may well be on the brink of civil war, or at least a significant power struggle between pro-Chavez and anti-Chavez factions. And the military may not be at all unified.

Meanwhile, while such important events are transpiring in our own hemisphere, the American Secretary of State is feverishly working to meet with a known terrorist who wishes Israel not to exist. Very nice. It's good to see American priorities are in order.

Seriously, this is a really bad development in Venezuela.

(04-14-02 Update) Chavez is back, which isn't very good news in itself, but at least isn't the worst case scenario I laid out last night. What a short-lived coup! It's almost reminiscent of the coup a few years ago in Ecuador, when the president was deposed, the world refused to recognize the interim government, and in short order the army had allowed the vice-president to "assume" power. Very strange. Have we reached a point in time where regime change via the military has become almost untenable? Even when said regime change might be beneficial?

[Posted at 00:04 CST on 04/14/02] [Link]

13 April 2002


There is a dude beside me on the third base side who is yelling and screaming. He sounds just like Hank Hill's Asian neighbor. It's funny. But kind of cool in a Houston sort of way.

[Posted at 21:10 CST on 04/13/02] [Link]


Courtesy of my pda, uh is stomping memphis 9-1 in the 6th. This is my first pda post. After beer even. Cool.

[Posted at 20:47 CST on 04/13/02] [Link]

Doofus Bowl II?

Al "The Fighter" Gore

Oh dear gawd, he's fighting again.

Fight fight fight.

I got so tired of hearing that man utter those words during the last Presidential campaign.

Please, no repeat of the last election. Much like the Cowboys-Bills Super Bowl in the 90s, it was good once (actually, not, unless you were a Dallas fan), but the second time was just a snoozer.

Like Marv Levy and those 90s Bills, it's time for Al to go away. The last election was the Doofus Bowl. Let's not do Doofus Bowl II in 2004.

And yes, my mind is on sports today. Sue me.

[Posted at 17:48 CST on 04/13/02] [Link]

The Houston Sports Scene

Good gawd, some idiot just called in to the Astros postgame show and argued that the team should fire Jimy Williams. What a dumbass.

I have to say, for a big city, this town has the WORST sports fans and sports journalists. They just aren't very bright.

Which is why I've been pleased listening to Mark Vandermeer show on the local sports talk show. Vandermeer is the new voice of the Texans, and comes from Miami University. I've only listened to him for a week now, but I'm convinced he's the best sports journalist/pundit in this city hands down. And I've heard a couple of Houston's typical (i.e. dumb) sports fans call him and leave him almost speechless. He's a polite guy, and a smart guy, and I don't think he quite knows how to handle idiots.

He will get used to it here, however, because he will get plenty of practice.

[Posted at 17:06 CST on 04/13/02] [Link]


UH's Brad Sullivan is having an outstanding season for a college baseball pitcher.

Last night he struck out 16 batters in 7 innings and lowered his ERA to 1.68.

I've yet to see Sully pitch, because he's the #1 pitcher on the staff and I just don't tend to make it out to the first game of a series beginning on Friday night. Last night I was feeling a little under the weather, and didn't head out, so I missed another excellent performance.

I'm planning on catching college baseball tonight and tomorrow afternoon, and hope to catch some other good action from the nation's #7 team.

[Posted at 16:28 CST on 04/13/02] [Link]

Why Stop At Socrates?

It's not enough that blogs are going to revolutionize journalism.

Why stop there, when the importance and impact of blogs can reach new heights of exaggeration:

Bloggers, Reynolds chief among them, are Socrates' heirs.
Bloggers as heirs of Socrates, eh? I wonder if that wouldn't be enough to give Leo Strauss a heart attack. But he's already dead.

I'm ready to take it a step further, though. Maybe Blogs can be a replacement for the Bible. And there can be a few bloggers who act as the Papal authority (ya know -- the A-Listers). Not sure who can be the God of Bloggers (maybe Ev? He produced the "tool" after all -- or would that make him Mary? I'm weak on theology), but that can all be sorted.

Just for the sake of being ridiculous.

(Link via Matt Welch)

[Posted at 16:13 CST on 04/13/02] [Link]

Little Things

In baseball, it's often little things that never show up in the box score that determine the winner of a close game.

I'm reminded of that law of baseball as I'm watching the Cards-Astros game on the tube this afternoon. Daryl Kile had held the Astros to one hit, but he was on a limited pitch count, so the Astros got to face a shaky Cards reliever in the top of the 7th. They got the first two men on base with no outs, and manager Jimy Williams pinch hit Jose Vizcaino for the sole purpose of laying down a bunt and advancing the runners to scoring position (with one out -- a strategy rarely employed by former manager Larry Dierker). But Vizcaino, a guy with a lot of experience, couldn't get down two bunt attempts. His mechanics were terrible -- instead of keeping his head in with the ball, at the end of both fouled off bunt popups his head was staring AWAY from the ball and upwards in the general direction he was trying to push the bat; in other words, he wasn't really watching the ball all the way in. Consequently, because of his terribly mechanics, he got in an 0-2 hole, Williams called off the bunt, and he struck out.

The next batter hit into a double play -- which wouldn't have happened if the runners had been advanced by a successful bunt.

And instead of possibly pushing a run across and going to one of the best 1-2 relief duos in the game (Dotel and Wagner), the game is still tied, on the road.

When people look at the box score tomorrow, they won't see that critical series in the 7th inning represented in a way that demonstrates its importance. But if the Astros go on to lose, they can chalk it up to screwing up fundamentals (mechanics of bunting).

Kudos to Roy Oswalt for pitching a fine game (10 Ks in 6 innings despite not having his best stuff) before Williams hit for him. It would have been nice to get a bunt down and maybe manufacture a run to give him a chance for the win.

As far as bunting goes, it almost seems to be a lost art. I think major league hitters ought to be fined by the manager if they don't get a bunt down in a crucial situation -- not that a fine matters much to the prima donna millionaires, but it at least might send a signal. Millionaire hitters ought to be embarrassed they can't lay down a bunt that most little leaguers can get down.

(Update) In the 8th inning, Biggio just laid down a perfect bunt to advance the baserunner to second. There's one out with the #2 man in the order up. At least you give yourself a chance to score in this situation.

[Posted at 15:37 CST on 04/13/02] [Link]

Busch Cardinals

Major League Baseball is so lame that it can't (strike that, WON'T) decide if the Astros are the 2001 champions of their division or co-champions.

Since the league awarded the Astros the division based on a tiebreaker, and the Cards the wild card, the matter wouldn't seem all that ambiguous.

Which is why the Cards flying a co-championship banner is bigtime Busch league.

[Posted at 15:04 CST on 04/13/02] [Link]


WFB, Confused?

I've long read William F. Buckley, but in recent years (say, the last two), I find his writing and his interviews almost incoherent -- and that's reflected by the fact that, despite having a very conservative blog (two of them, really), I can't recall the last time I blogged anything of his (if ever) because it's become so bad.

But it's one of those things I've just politely ignored. What else does one do when the icon of a movement no longer makes any sense? And then there's the case that it may just be me. I don't see anyone else critiquing Buckley, although a number of friends agree with me in conversation.

In any case, I offer this as Buckley's lastest example, although it makes more sense than some recent columns. It's odd, in that he simultaneously charges Ariel Sharon with pursuing a scorched earth policy akin to General Sherman's in the American Civil War (and Buckley, frankly, is just plain wrong here), and then chastises Sharon for not being more brutal (in a Machiavellian sense, I suppose).

His column does raise the question (not intentionally) of how to fight domestic terrorism, but unfortunately does not offer any real solution, or any convincing critique of the approach taken by Israel. In that sense, WFB's column is about as useful as Colin Powell, who's certain he finds Israeli actions distasteful, and is certain he wants peace, and is otherwise clueless (and, therefore, useless). I never thought I'd see the day when I was comparing WFB and Powell.

[Posted at 12:16 CST on 04/13/02] [Link]

12 April 2002

Chron Cheerleading

We criticize the dreadful Chron all of the time here, but the local paper does one type of story very well. It plays cheerleader better than most papers. Even for things as mundane as a new exhibition hall.

[Posted at 23:28 CST on 04/12/02] [Link]

Women Fugitives Week

Flipping through channels tonight, I learned that next week is Women Fugitives Week on Lifetime.

I don't know exactly what that means, but it does have a certain Lifetime ring to it, no?

[Posted at 22:31 CST on 04/12/02] [Link]

11 April 2002


Deposed Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez

Reports are starting to filter out of Venezuela that Chavez is history.

I pointed out two months ago that Chavez would be toast if he lost the support of both the military and the people. Popular revolt has been brewing for a while, but it now appears that Chavez has lost the support of the military (who have apparently refused to put down the popular revolt).

This is probably actually good news. I was growing worried that in order to try to win popular support as well as his ongoing battle over control of PDVSA, Chavez might do something really goofy like renationalize the oil industry. If the military is truly taking over the regime from him, I doubt very much it will go that route.

(04-12-2002 Update) Oil markets have reacted positively to the news (and to the appointment of Pedro Carmona to head the interim government), as expected.

[Posted at 23:12 CST on 04/11/02] [Link]

Recent American Foreign Policy

I've been troubled by the direction of American foreign policy ever since Colin Powell announced he would be paying a visit to Yasser Arafat. I've read the arguments of Judd and Den Beste that the move is a transparently symbolic one that is to appease the Arab world when what really matters is that U.S. policymakers have given Sharon a wink and a nod to continue his own counterterror offensive, as well as Den Beste's suggestion that it's ultimately an effort to lay the groundwork for action against Iraq and, perhaps, Saudi Arabia.

Unfortunately, decades of State Department Arab-Israeli "peacemaking" suggest to me that Judd and Den Beste may have entirely too much optimism that Bush is playing a sophisticated (?!) game of realpolitique. The longtime Arab inclination of the State Department has been well documented in a little-known book of Robert Kaplan, The Arabists, and if anything that inclination towards Middle East "peacemaking" (kingmaking?) has accelerated since its publication. Simply put, the "process" of making peace drives the State Department beyond all else. For the most part, the careerists at the State Department really don't care much about the verifiability of agreements (look at some of the Congressional testimony on SALT II for an example) or whether one party is likely to uphold their end of the agreement. It's all about the piece of paper. Who cares if Israel's narrow waist (absent the West Bank) represents an intolerable loss of strategic depth so long as the Oslo agreement is inked?! That's the mentality at State.

And for a generally dull thinker like Colin Powell, the careerists at State can have enormous influence. I don't think Powell has been set up by foreign policy conservatives in the Administration (as Judd suggests). Rather, I think the careerists at State have impressed upon him that Arafat is the only person with whom he might reach agreement. And the agreement is the endgame at State. It's ALL about the agreement. Never mind that it will be worthless, like every other agreement Arafat has made.

But even assuming I'm overly cynical if not entirely wrong -- Is it a particularly good idea for there to be too many instances in which the rhetoric of American foreign policy does not match the goals and action? A nod and a wink to Sharon accompanied by demands for him to stop is muddled. It gives the Arab world ammunition and encouragement. And if one buys into the description of the Arab mentality offered by David Pryce-Jones in his classic The Closed Circle, it encourages Arabs to create reality from delusion. American policymakers should keep in mind the Pryce-Jones formulation that the Arab mind often constructs reality to conform with its predispositions -- and that those predispostions are not always rational in a Western sense (Charles Johnson has compiled some recent examples). That makes it even more important to send unambiguous signals in terms of action and rhetoric. And the United States has failed in that task lately, because the action and rhetoric of the whole Middle East/Israel/Arafat/Powell gambit just can't be squared, as James Taranto noted in his Best of the Web today:

The big question about Colin Powell's trip is this: Does he believe what he's saying, or is he merely telling his European and Arab audiences what they want to hear while the administration tacitly supports Israel and prepares to strike Iraq? Consider the secretary's comments in Madrid yesterday, reported by Ha'aretz:

"However long the Israeli incursion continues, the problems will still be there," Powell said, adding that even if Israel is effective, "there will still be people willing to resort to violence and suicide bombings. . . . The violence and anger and frustration which feeds that will still be there unless we find a negotiating process" that leads to a Palestinian state.

And while Sharon and Netanyahu both have said Yasser Arafat must go, the Associated Press also quotes Powell as saying, "He is the partner that Israel will have to deal with."

It's far from an original observation that this is exactly the opposite of the attitude the Bush administration took toward the Taliban and al Qaeda. America didn't negotiate with Mullah Omar; it issued an ultimatum and took military action when the Taliban failed to meet its demands.

As for speculation that the U.S. is planning any real action against Saudi Arabia, I'm afraid that's probably wildly optimistic. Although they've largely kept a lid on it (for obvious reasons), this is a pro-Saudi administration, and that orientation starts at the top (Prince Bandar not to mention other Saudi royals go way back with the Bush family) and the #2 spot (Cheney is another Bandar intimate). It's highly unlikely this administration is going to do anything to destabilize the ruling Saudis, and everything to help ensure their stability. That may be a mistake, but the combination of old ties to the Saudi royals and fear over what might replace them is going to drive that policy, no matter how much we speculate (or hope) otherwise.

[Posted at 22:49 CST on 04/11/02] [Link]


I despise the liberal orthodoxy that creates "victims" out of people who have committed various offenses.

But apparently it's not confined to liberals. Dorothy Rabinowitz of the (generally) conservative WSJ editorial board has penned a piece that is wholly sympathetic to plagiarist Doris Kearns Goodwin, and almost makes her out to be a "victim." To Rabinowitz's credit, she's made almost as persuasive a case as possible on Goodwin's behalf. But the most persuasive case would have been this: Goodwin's not plagiarizing (or "accidentally borrowing") in the first place. Plagiarism is a cardinal offense in my view, the sort of secondhanding that I find despicable. Goodwin's reputation has suffered -- but I bet she will be a little more careful from now on. Correction -- she, her research assistants, and her PR people will be more careful.

[Posted at 22:03 CST on 04/11/02] [Link]

Astros Outfield Woes

"That outfield is a problem" -- Mark Vandermeer

It's early in the baseball season, much too early too worry about the Astros' lackluster performance in Colorado. But it is a concern when you go to Colorado -- which is the most hitter friendly park in the Major Leagues -- and can only score one run. It's also a concern when your starting centerfielder (who on most teams, but not the Astros, is the best defensive outfielder on the team) forgets his sunglasses and as a result drops a lazy fly ball that led to runs that effectively put the game out of reach.

Indeed, the entire outfield is a concern. It's probably the worst starting defensive outfield in the bigs: Left fielder Darryl Ward is not just a below average fielder, he is a fat and slow player who has the potential to be a great hitter but is a defensive liability; Richard Hidalgo was an above average fielder when he broke into the league, but his weight gain and bad wheels (knees) have made him an average right fielder at best; and Lance Berkman, who may be a legitimate MVP candidate because of his hitting, is a hard worker who could be an average left fielder but has no real business starting in center, where he is a below average fielder.

The hope of the Astros' brass is that the offense that comes from the outfield (aided by a young pitching staff projected to be strong) will more than offset the occasional defensive lapses. It will be interesting to see if they're right. But for now, I like the comments of the new voice of the Texans and radio sportstalkster Mark Vandermeer (who is an EXCELLENT addition to local sports punditry): "That outfield is a problem."


[Posted at 21:41 CST on 04/11/02] [Link]

What Nordlinger Said


[Posted at 10:03 CST on 04/11/02] [Link]

Bush And Israel

It's been altogether rare during the Bush Administration's term for me to be more inclined toward the Congressional position on an issue than the administration's.

Then again, that's almost always the case when it comes to the issue of Israel, as Presidents (and their aides) grow petulant when Israel actually acts like a sovereign nation and dares to defy a Presidential directive.

Along those lines, I liked this Impromptu from Jay Nordlinger a couple of days ago:

"Have you ever noticed that George W. Bush says �I� a lot, and at the most inappropriate times, in the most inappropriate ways? �I expect results!� �My words to Israel are . . . withdraw without delay!� �In order to earn my trust, somebody must keep their [that�s a typical Bush touch] word!� �I,� �I,� �my,� �my� � my, how arrogant we�ve become! During the campaign, Bush spoke repeatedly about the necessity of humility in foreign policy. He may have forgotten, as he scolds Israel like a piqued and petulant mother.

You will recall that many people laughed at the first President Bush�s sentence fragments. �Don�t think that�d be prudent,� etc. Part of it stemmed from his reluctance to utter the word �I.� When he was growing up, his mother, Dorothy Bush, would say, �Now that�s enough of the great I am,� in quelling her boys� boasting or self-regard.


[Posted at 00:02 CST on 04/11/02] [Link]

10 April 2002

UH Politics

The turmoil in UH's College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences (my cryptic comments about it from last week here) has now made the local press, even if it's only the alternative weekly. Two members of my dissertation committee (no need to name names) both feature prominently in the article.

* * * *

I was just speaking to the chair of my committee as I banged out those asterisks. I think we've made the strategic decision to finalize the dissertation formally over the summer session, which gives me some time to work on the conclusion (which I have not yet written) and incorporate some of his suggestions. However, I'd just as soon get the bulk of the work done as quickly as possible, and I don't think there's that much more work in any case.

[Posted at 19:53 CST on 04/10/02] [Link]

09 April 2002

Will Kimbrough

I caught Will Kimbrough at the Mucky Duck tonight. I'm not in the mood to do a full review, but I'll just say that I concur with my friend Faye's enthusiastic recommendation. The man plays a fine guitar, but even better, he knows how to connect with a song. Plus it never hurts that he covered Hank's "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry" (and called it the best song ever written).

He's well worth seeing, and it was a good Mucky Duck show (only one show tonight, which is my preference at the Duck because it doesn't feel rushed that way, not to mention a funky new waitress who was cool).

[Posted at 23:25 CST on 04/09/02] [Link]

Diplomacy At Any Cost

It's nice to see that the American Secretary of State will be meeting with the murderer of innocents later this week.

The Israelis have expended much blood and treasure effectively to isolate the Nobel Terrorist. And in one visit, Colin Powell will erase all of that, legitimizing terror and the murder of innocent Israelis once again as the method by which the United States will take notice and dispatch prestigious emissaries to "end the violence" via appeasement.

If this is Colin Powell's decision -- and I suspect it is, as it fits the State Department's mentality perfectly -- then he is swiftly approaching Madeleine Not-At-Albright for my designation as the worst Secretary of State in American history.

This is one of many terrible moments for U.S. diplomacy over the last 9 (really 13) years.

[Posted at 11:01 CST on 04/09/02] [Link]

08 April 2002

The Looney Left

The impulse of blogland is going to be to savage/take down/pillory* this latest nonsense from Robert Jensen, that journalism prof who doesn't seem actually to teach any journalism over at that university that wants to be a football school but can't beat Bob Stoops.

But he's really not worth the effort, because he wants the attention so badly (if he were a blogger, he'd be announcing his hit count I bet). So about all he's worth tonight is to point out the idiocy, and dismiss it. Sorry, Professor, but I don't feel at all responsible for killing "innocent" Palestinians. You'll have to try much harder to convince me I'm wrong.

* Terms of choice in blogland

[Posted at 23:33 CST on 04/08/02] [Link]

Baseball Firings

The Detroit Tigers have fired both their field manager and general manager.

Both probably deserved to be fired, as they have a confirmed history as losers. But the timing is peculiar. As Rob Neyer writes:

If Dave Dombrowski had any confidence in Garner and Smith, he wouldn't be firing them after just one week of baseball. And if Dombrowski didn't have any confidence in Garner and Smith, why didn't he just fire one or both of them when he signed on as club president last November?
Exactly. Six games into the season is a TERRIBLE time. No manager is going to be able to come in with the other guy's coaching staff, after the other guy has conducted spring training, and turn a terrible baseball team around. He'll need at least spring training to get things moving in the right direction, and maybe several (or it may never happen, since we are talking about a franchise that has sunk pretty low in recent years).

Of course, had they fired them in the preseason, there would have been fan pressure to hire two legitimate replacements in the offseason, which might have cost money. And for most teams in baseball these days, it's all about cutting costs in counterproductive ways (i.e. it's hard to win without a legitimate front office or field manager -- so firing those guys and going with scrubs for most of the season essentially amounts to quitting, six games in). So enjoy the baseball season, Detroit fans. Your ownership is clueless.

On a positive note, Houston rebounded from that dreadful home series with St. Louis by pounding Colorado and putting Roy Oswalt's record at 2-0. The sky's the limit for Oswalt, who's the most promising pitcher to come through Houston in a while.

[Posted at 17:46 CST on 04/08/02] [Link]

07 April 2002


Look What I Did!

The neighbor across the street is going to be very surprised when he gets home to find what his dog has done to his blinds. The dog continues to pose in the window as I type this, proud of his work.

[Posted at 16:09 CST on 04/07/02] [Link]

Earth Day

I just took Allen Parkway past yesterday's Commercial Earth Day festival, and was very impressed with the amount of trash the Earth Day celebrants left behind. And the impact on the grass, which was pretty much trampled to death.

It's good to see the stewards of the earth at work.

[Posted at 14:39 CST on 04/07/02] [Link]

Imperialism, Anyone?

Lately, I've been a little worried that the State Department (as is its institutional orientation) has persuaded Bush to go somewhat wobbly on the Middle East, even though thoughtful e-pundits like Judd and Den Beste disagree.

But then I read something like this, and am thankful that seasoned foreign policy intellectuals like Paul Wolfowitz and Doug Feith and Steve Cambone and JD Crouch and Peter Rodman are in prominent positions in the Department of Defense, even though their views may not always carry the day.

It's a foreign policy team in DoD unbelievably stronger than anything since probably the first Reagan Administration (before Nancy and the Astrologers became so important), and a group that will do its utmost to prevent Bush's "going wobbly" while still remaining realistic about the circumstances in which American power can, and should, be applied globally.

[Posted at 13:36 CST on 04/07/02] [Link]

Grammar, Reuters Style

It drives me CRAZY when people misuse apostrophes in "it's" in order, presumably, to make the thing possessive (hint: it's ALREADY possessive).

It's even worse when a major news outlet like Reuters, the same outfit that treats the use of "terrorism" in its overly ambitious style guide, makes the mistake:

Powell said he had talked with Israeli President Ariel Sharon shortly before the NBC interview and that while Sharon understood Washington's desire for Israel to halt it's military incursions into Palestinian lands, he did not offer a "specific time frame" for withdrawal.
Oh yeah, and Secretary Powell said he might meet with Arafat.

[Posted at 11:17 CST on 04/07/02] [Link]

06 April 2002

Life Beyond Blogger

It's cool when people discover Life Beyond Blogger.

Ken and friends are going to be very happy with Movable Type. The Trotts have produced some outstanding Content Management Software.

[Posted at 23:52 CST on 04/06/02] [Link]

Nicely Done

Was airport security really enhanced by making this boy drink from water likely contaminated with giardia and/or cryptosporidium? REALLY?!

About all that has been enhanced at airports is the authority of uneducated screeners to treat passengers like crap, with virtually no repercussions if they go too far.

And I won't even get started on Tom Ridge's moronic color scheme.

[Posted at 19:54 CST on 04/06/02] [Link]

There Ought To Be A Law...

Critics never thought much of Ayn Rand's portrayal of statists in Atlas Shrugged, in part because of overused dialogue like "There ought to be a law" (and perhaps because that dialogue hit a little close to home).

I was reminded of it today when the liberals at the LA Times led an editorial on email spam with "There ought to be a law...."

But of course!

[Posted at 15:20 CST on 04/06/02] [Link]


I'm not the only one who has noticed it.

Bigfoot is making a comeback.

[Posted at 11:35 CST on 04/06/02] [Link]

Country Songs By Female Artists

In the past 25 years or so, has there been a better song by a female country artist than Roseanne Cash's Seven Year Ache?

I suppose there's a case to be made for Kathy Mattea's Eighteen Wheels and a Dozen Roses, or even Susan Gibson's Wide Open Spaces (popularized by the country equivalent of Wilson Phillips, The Dixie Chicks).

What obvious contenders am I leaving out? Drop me an email.

[Posted at 01:09 CST on 04/06/02] [Link]

05 April 2002

Scooped (Again)

The Chron must get tired of being scooped by the alternative weekly all of the time.

[Posted at 23:27 CST on 04/05/02] [Link]

Bush's Moral Clarity

There has been much handwringing among conservatives over President Bush's Middle East speech on Thursday, and much discussion over whether Bush: 1) capitulated entirely, 2) sent a mixed message, or 3) was almost Straussian in that his speech seemed to reassure Arabs when in reality it did not. Personally, I lean towards #2 as I just don't think of Bush as being all that subtle.

But for our Chron, the answer is: None of the Above!

The Chron finds Bush's speech to be edifying, a paragon of moral clarity:

However, it is incumbent on President Bush and his foreign policy advisers to make clear at all times what U.S. policy is, without wavering in their definition of who is a terrorist and what constitutes terrorism.

Bush's speech Thursday met that obligation.

HUH? The very best any serious commentator has been able to say about the speech is that it really is much better than it seemed. Not exactly a ringing endorsement. But it satisfies our Chron.

The same paper, I should add, that continues to describe Ken Lay as a "man of humble beginnings."

[Posted at 23:21 CST on 04/05/02] [Link]

Blog Blog Blog

Here's the latest in the Big Media Discovers Weblogs Series (tm).

This one is from the Financial Times, one of the best newspapers in the world for hard news. And while this is commentary, it doesn't seem to add a whole lot to Norah Vincent's recent piece in the LA Times. Indeed, one wonders if Vincent's piece wasn't a source (unattributed of course, in true Big Media fashion).

Although these sorts of pieces are getting tiring, it is kind of funny to watch Big Media discover something and beat it to death.

[Posted at 20:07 CST on 04/05/02] [Link]

Bandar's "Big Lie"

Saudi Prince Bandar has wined and dined and charmed American leaders for years. He's an old figure on the scene, and our leaders always seem to make a big damn deal of trying to please him. But this editorial is pretty amazing. I cannot imagine any American can take this very seriously:

I acknowledge that the Palestinians' greatest crime is their insistence on resisting the military occupation of their country. This strange principle of resistance to military occupation of one's country seems to be difficult for many American political, intellectual and media elite to comprehend -- even though it has been practiced by others in the past, such as Nelson Mandela in South Africa under apartheid and Gen. George Washington during British colonial rule, and even Menachem Begin during the British Mandate of Palestine.
"Their" country, of course, is the whole of the Mandate, absent any Jewish presence. THAT is what the good prince means when he writes this. But the audacity of comparing Arafat to George Washington is a bit over the top, even by Bandar standards.

The rest of the article is just as bad. But it's worth reading, just to see what passes for a "moderate" in the Arab world: a completely delusional prince who has the audacity to ask repeatedly if he is insane. Answer: Yes, and your article is the evidence sir.

Now go leave good Americans alone until you've found the Arab Thomas Jefferson or Thomas Paine valiantly resisting the Israeli "occupiers." We'll be waiting to read your account of it, with the seriousness it deserves.

[Posted at 19:40 CST on 04/05/02] [Link]

04 April 2002

Not Feeling Clever?

Sad to say, most hardcore Anarch-Objecti-Libertarian types never reach this level of intellectual development:

I haven't lost any of these convictions, but they seem so bland now. The fun part was figuring myself out. Do I want to be a geek? Do I want to be an objectivist? Do I want to be an anarchist? Do I want to be an atheist? What is the meaning of life? What is the secret to happiness?

I answered all those questions, and now I find them boring. (The answers, for those who care, are: No. Hell no. Oh dear god, no. I can't help it. The pursuit of happiness. Congruence between reality and desire.)

After spending some time with these questions, I felt like a parody of myself. Let's face it, even when they're right, people who harp on political and religious opinions are incredibly tedious.

You have to be a bit fanatic to preach this stuff, and fanatics are, by definition, very narrow people. I want to be libertarian, atheist, and geeky, without necessary harping on any of these things. I'm comfortable with these positions now. I don't have anything to prove.

I want to be a gentle, broadly-educated person who can find something good in any point of view. "I can see why you would want to be a Communist." is not the same as "Communism rocks!" Or even, "Communism works."

And ultimately, that approach teaches you more about people than the knee-jerk, "Communism is Ultimate Evil!" ever will. (Although I still subscribe to the David Seldaris "all Communists are boring" rule.)

I selected literature as the path to this broader self, and I believe it has worked, for the most part.

This is the voice of a mature intellectual -- someone who is comfortable enough with his own beliefs and self to consider the views of others in a thoughtful (not nihilistic) way.

Nicely done.

[Posted at 23:20 CST on 04/04/02] [Link]

Bitter Mary

Bitter Mary has description of poor Yassir Arafat, for whom we should obviously sympathize after the outrageous demands by President Bush that he do something more (anything at all?) about the murderous Palestinian thugs killing Jews:

More? Diminished, humiliated, cornered, with tanks at his feet and helicopter gunships over his head, Arafat is to take charge and lead his people? All that was needed, the president indicated, to stop the bloody invasion of the West Bank -- which was caused by the Palestinian suicide bombers, who were driving Sharon crazy -- was for Arafat to tell fanatical young Arabs who want to blow themselves up for glory and bonuses for their families to just say no -- in Arabic.
No, Bitter Mary, that's not ALL that was needed, but it would have been a small, first step -- a step that the Nobel Terrorist has been unwilling to take despite nearly ten years of post-Oslo Israeli appeasement.

Why this shriveled corpse of a writer has a regular column on an important editorial page continues to mystify me.

[Posted at 22:42 CST on 04/04/02] [Link]

03 April 2002


Apparently there is a big political controversy (or several) getting ready to explode in a certain College at UH. Right now, it's put a number of dissertations (mine being one of them) in the department in limbo as the situation sorts itself out. It's not any real danger, just a potential delay.

Thank goodness I decided long ago that the corporate world was much more interesting to me than the academic world. I wouldn't want to have to rely on academia for anything. As it is, it will be nice to get the credential eventually, but ultimately it doesn't affect my life much at all.

However, when part of the controversy hits the news, I think it's going to be interesting. I can't wait to blog it. :)

[Posted at 23:03 CST on 04/03/02] [Link]

Our Chron

I'll give our Chron credit for consistency. They blow big local stories like Enron and they miss smaller local stories. Richard Connelly describes the latest:

The beleaguered Houston Chronicle business section, apparently devoting all its resources to being beat on the Enron story, had reporters scratching their heads last month.

For the first time ever, ExxonMobil opened the research center at its Houston office to analysts and reporters on March 5. Company chairman Lee Raymond was on hand to conduct the annual conference for analysts.

The New York Times sent a reporter down to cover the admittedly not-earthshaking event; also on hand were journalists from The Wall Street Journal and the Bloomberg and Dow Jones business wires.

No one from the Chronicle made the short trip down Milam. A company spokesman says they were invited.

It wasn't like the tour and meeting were completely not newsworthy. The Chronicle devoted 11 inches to them the next day, courtesy of "Houston Chronicle Wire Services."

Very impressive work from Houston's (mis)Leading Information Source.

[Posted at 22:48 CST on 04/03/02] [Link]

02 April 2002

Politics Of Flashing Signs

City Council seems amazed that nobody really gives a flip about their "high politics" of flashing signs.

Perhaps it's because we're all a lot more concerned about the city's deteriorating infrastructure, the potholes our cars fall into, the street demolition without end downtown, rising crime (and petty crime indicators like graffiti), etc.

I do care more about those matters than whether Tillman Fertitta gets his sign. Surely it doesn't take Bob Stein to figure that out.

[Posted at 23:43 CST on 04/02/02] [Link]

The Jimy Era

The Jimy Williams era got off to a bit of a rough start today.

Last year's ace Wade Miller got pounded, the experienced right side of the infield made a critical error, and the hitters stranded too many runners.

Things can only improve in the next 161 games.

[Posted at 19:24 CST on 04/02/02] [Link]

Kidnapping, Beating, and BURNING?!

I thought I initially misread this story on espn:

Cincinnati center Donald Little was arraigned Tuesday on two felony charges for allegedly kidnapping, beating and burning his roommate. . . .

Little's roommate, Justin Hodge, told authorities that Little invited him to his home Monday, where he accused Hodge of stealing money, then hit Hodge on the head with a whiskey bottle.

Hodge also said he was tied with tape to a plastic lawn chair, burned with incense and beaten, the police report said. Hodge told police he was stabbed when he tried to escape.

Dear gawd!

[Posted at 19:19 CST on 04/02/02] [Link]

Blogland's Infinite Echo Chamber Of Self-Regard

All of its problems and errors notwithstanding, I was kind of amused by this piece on bloggers. Sure, it was a hit piece, and not even a very good one. But if bloggers REALLY want to be taken as seriously as many of them constantly say they SHOULD be, perhaps they shouldn't react so predictably (i.e. hysterically) to bad pieces like this, and just ignore them.

Instead, you get dozens of people linking to each other's critique of the idiot, in their own way affirming his characterization of "blogland's infinite echo chamber of self-regard."

I don't think it was Beam's intention to produce such a response, which is a shame -- because it would be just too laughably easy.

[Posted at 19:14 CST on 04/02/02] [Link]

01 April 2002

Reading Between The Lines

The title of this editorial made me laugh out loud: What's best for city, public lost in power politics (!?!)

For the mouthpiece of the Greater Houston Partnership to editorialize against power politics is really just kind of funny, as is the populist lament that normal people don't have much control over city council (gee -- could it be that the partnership pretty much decides what it wants done? hmmm).

Notice also how gingerly the editorial treats Tillman Fertitta, even though he's clearly the person who fouled up the works. Because Fertitta is one of Houston's Important People, and the Chron surely wouldn't want to blast him. Just a gentle rebuke from Houston's (mis)Leading Information Source.

[Posted at 23:58 CST on 04/01/02] [Link]

Walking (in Houston)

Contrary to popular belief, it IS possible to walk to interesting places in parts of Houston. It's not just one big freeway.

I discovered tonight that it's only a 15 minute walk to the Diedrich's on Westheimer. For some reason (Houston driver's mentality), I thought it was a much longer walk. I may wind up spending quite a bit more time over there.

Every time I'm over that way, I'm also reminded that I need to give nearby Paulie's a try one of these days. It looks like an interesting place.

I was going to post some thoughts on A Death In Texas, which I finished reading last night, but it's gotten late on me. Maybe tomorrow. If I'm not at Diedrich's reading instead of writing. :)

[Posted at 22:31 CST on 04/01/02] [Link]

Palm Remote

I have no real need to use my PDA as a remote, and it's not even all that useful as a remote, but this is still some cool software.

[Posted at 19:01 CST on 04/01/02] [Link]

April Fool's

The first of April brings a few changes at Sean's place.

[Posted at 07:02 CST on 04/01/02] [Link]

Movable Type

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