Thursday, March 31, 2011

On the wrong rail....

I found this funny.....

Ride Houston's Rails: 3 Stops for exploring H-town. Syd Kearney, Underwater in the Gulf.

That's right exploring H-Town folks!

Or, exploring 7 miles of two blocks in H-town, which is really about 1-100,000ths of the area as a whole.

A better idea would have been for Metro to ramp up bus service from Downtown to the Galleria, or to the Washington Corridor. The guys at Rev Eco-Shuttle should be thanking their lucky stars that Houston's transit agency is dysfunctional.

Of course, most Houstonians will be staying far, far away from the festivities this year, H-Town not being all that much of a College Basketball town.

All's not that bad however, ChronBlog's sole remaining asset, Allison Cook, proves again why she's the best food-writer in Houston. It's not even close now that Robb Walsh has semi-retired and is in the restaurant business.

Plus, at least the article got me paying attention to Houston's underwater publication again. I should pay more attention to them, since they still use my quote on their site that is.

Oh, and the final will be KY vs Butler. I'm pulling for Butler.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Citizen Patrick

Remember when State Sen. Dan Patrick was on his "Austin needs to stay our of city's business" kick?

Yeah, not so much.

I guess by "Austin" he meant all those other people, not him. Obviously HE knows what's right for you and the City right?*

*This goes beyond whether or not you support the drainage bill fiasco. The point is, the citizens of Houston voted for it, now they're (sort of) working with their government to implement the thing. Whether or not the plan was accurately presented is beside the point. Take your own advice Dan, stay out of Houston's buisiness.

Much ado about oil

First, there's Obama's speech today full of the usual: Speaking of increasing domestic production while his administration takes steps to curtail it, speaking of so-called "green" alternatives and automobile fuel efficiencies. (Didn't we just pass those?)

Second, there's the GOP plan which is centered around "drill baby drill" but doesn't really present anything outside of that. No real, sustainable, long-term plan. Drilling is great, etc. but there are viable alternative energy options (clean(er) coal, nuclear, etc.) that have to be a part of the mix. Geothermal, wind and hydro-electric power make sense in some areas, and Natural Gas.

Third, T. Boone is still out there beating his drum. Granted, his drum is all about creating markets for all of that Natural Gas his companies have placed huge bets on, but it's a drum that would really be of help. Contrast that with Al Gore, who's personal enrichment plan would pretty much kill several large industries while he and his investors made out like bandits. That being said, I'm still not in favor of corporate welfare so I struggle mightily with those parts of his plan.

Finally, there's the much debated high cost gas exemption which is, by all accounts, going away.

My problem with all of this is not what it will do to the oil giants, they'll be fine. The big, multinational oil companies will just shift more operations over to International lands and waters and will continue to make a ton of money on the product they're pulling out of the ground. What's often missed in the debate over so-called "big oil" is that, for the most part, they're really not that big. It's the small companies that suffer most. The companies that don't have the resources (or, let's be honest, the connections) to operate in foreign climes, who are reliant on being able to operate here, at home, in America or her waters.

Those are the operators who are going to be hurt the most by this political spit-ball fight whether our politicians believe it or don't. For every Chevron, Exxon, Royal-Dutch Shell and BP there are hundreds of small producers out there every day doing it right, and doing it well. If we forget about them, then we're cutting our energy back-bone in half.

Added: I just saw where Obama is still calling for large increases in Ethanol. Thus increasing the folly of trying to use the primary food-stuff of the world's poor to maintain travel standards. Heck, even the eco-mentals understand how bad of an idea that is, and they live on a diet of twigs and edible flowers.

Hump day photo

From Saddle Horn Winery in the Brenham area.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

You saw this coming right?

GOP leadership softens tone on budget proposal - Peggy Fikac, ChronBlog
As a vote looms on a bare-bones budget that would slash education and threaten nursing homes with closure, House GOP leaders softened their rhetoric on Tuesday to emphasize that it is a starting point and that cuts could be eased later without raising taxes.

I'll say this. Whoever is in charge of the GOP's noise machine should be fired. There are good arguments for entitlement cuts that need to be made to the general public, but you don't ever see them in the media or coming from the GOP.

Do I blame the media for this? Not really, because they're basically Statist types who can find a Government non-solution to almost any problem, real or imagined.

Do I blame the Democrats? No again. I have a big enough problem with Democrats not being honest about their policy platform. Tax & spend is OK, just be honest about it.

Nope, I put all of the blame on Republicans.

IF (and that's a pretty big if) you believe in the "cut government" mantra then you need to make the case for it. If not through the old MSM outlets then through the new media alternatives out there for use. Information dissemination is hard work. Work I've not seen the GOP willing to do.

Their failure to do so is either because....

A. They don't really believe in cutting the budget. (There's ample evidence that this is the case. NO ONE can increase spending and cut revenues at the same time like Republicans)


B. They just suck at getting their message out. (There's ample evidence for this as well. NO ONE can bungle a message like the State GOP.)

Of course, then there's the problem that many in the GOP's base (the Tea Party for example) haven't thought all of this through. The funniest sign of this political season was "Keep your Government out of my Medicare!" Cutting entitlements means that some people, those incapable of planning their own retirement etc.) are GOING to suffer. That's a pretty hard electoral road to hoe. Now, if you phased it out and went back to teaching personal finance to the younger generation you might be onto something. Well...the College students wouldn't think so but hey.

The only other option is to raise taxes somewhere around 10-15% for all taxpayers with no deductions. Which isn't a winning strategy either. Which probably explains why the Democrats aren't honest about what they really want to do. To be fair, it's probably why the GOP isn't either. The end result is that nothing really changes, nothing gets fixed, and overheated rhetoric continues unabated.

About the only group happy about this are political consultants, who make a mint on attack ads.

Back to the Texas budget. If anything this is going to prove that Republicans and Democrats aren't all that different. Both are relying on an awful lot of Hope, without much spare change.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Noise Machine (3/27/11)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

The more things change.....

...The more they stay the same.

Whether you call them "Mrs. White", "The ed board formerly known as Mrs. White", "Mr. Gibbons" (nice to see him back in the pages of ChronBlog" today) or "The Apple Dumpling Gang" one constant has been there though thick and thin, bad editorials and worse ones.

Through it all the irrational desire to roll out the catapult and throw increasingly large amounts of money at the problem has stayed the same. Today's editorial (and accompanying political cartoon) were no different. When it comes to education, The Apple Dumpling Gang just can't help calling for increases in funding to programs that continually produce diminishing returns. Given that the State's education system is experiencing more and more bloat, perhaps a forced diet is just what is needed in order to get the focus back on educating children, and less on how to feed the administration/union machine.

To my knowledge there have been no discussions of pooling resources to reduce construction costs, of not building schools that are more tributes to existing leadership than education centers and no talks about requiring schools to cut (or require hard audits on) programs that are notoriously wasteful. Instead of worrying about teaching children, the Apple Dumpling Gang are threatening to use ChronBlog's editorial and reporting resources (which ARE intertwined, since both Kilday-Hart and Fikac act as both columnists AND reporters) to attack law-makers who choose to not perpetuate the State's failing education model and not raise taxes on anyone ChronBlog and their fellow Statist travelers don't agree.

If the definition of insanity is to keep performing the same actions while expecting differing results than it can reasonably be said that those calling for additional funding into a failed education model are made by those who should be under the supervision of the State's Mental Health services. Of course, we're cutting those services as well, which means that those of us who understand this can't continue are forced to see dreck foisted on the public as "journalism". This leads us to surmise that the only two things more broken than the State's education system are the political system that's allowing this failure to exist and the State journalism machine that's seemingly incapable of allowing Texans to have an honest debate on how to fix it.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Noise Machine (3/24/11)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Noise Machine (03/22/11)

Back from tech exile.

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

A local news investigation in the making....

On the heels of the day care tragedy involving Jessica Tata comes the news that Houston City Council Member Sue Lovell is crafting an ordinance designed to force day cares to register with the city and submit to annual inspections.

While we here at HCA don't have any truck with the City overseeing day cares. (as a matter of fact, when it comes to the people who watch over the people who will be paying our retirement in the Ponzi-scheme of Social Security we're all for them being well taken care of) we have severe concerns about the City's ability to actually pull off these annual inspections.

How long will it be until Wayne Dolcefino or the Channel 11 Defenders team runs a sweeps week piece about the City falling down on it's responsibilities when it comes to performing annual inspections? How many stories will there be of "well off" day care centers not facing the same type of scrutiny that "poor" day care centers face?

In other words, this is a mess waiting to happen. That the Houston Way of government is designed to create messes seems to be beyond anyone's grasp. The only way to deal with something is through an ordinance, which then becomes part of a system that's too unwieldy to ever properly navigate.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

One Hundred Seventy-Five Years

Happy Birthday Texas.

We promise, we'll keep it down and stay off your lawn. We understand you're getting old and yes, you're starting to show your age a little but that's OK. Yes, you're turning grayer around the edges than Charlie Sheen's publicist according to some but to most of us you're still among the best when compared to your peers.

Our problem, of course, is what to get you as a birthday present.

Being a little short of $25 Billion closing your budget hole is out, and we're not 100% sure that building a wall between you and Mexico is all that great of an idea. There's the Governor's mansion of course, you could use a new one of those, but then that would mean having to submit to the design whims of Anita Perry and her Classic doesn't mesh with our modern. We toyed with the idea of getting you a gift card of course, but then we realized that you're already the custodian of funds of thousands of those. If folks don't believe us you could show them your unclaimed property rolls. Our final idea was to give you a real, effective government, but then we realized that'd mean the one we currently HAD would come back to our communities and join HOA boards. Ugh.

Then it hit us. Why not give to Texas the idea (and wish) for a competent media?

After all, it doesn't cost much (anything) it's desperately needed, and it's something most of us can agree is severely lacking. A media that would act as a citizen watchdog and not an apologist for the government. Not a media that focuses on why Government is good and citizens are bad. Not a media that hires out of towners and teen writers to write their (frequently corrected) Metro columns while continuing to employ an editorial board that's out of touch with 90% of the populace all while griping that they are continually overlooked for a Pulitzer. And not a media that's perpetually un-curious and views itself as above the little people who pay their salaries.* While we're at it, I'd like to see a media with a tech writer who's not so far up Steve Job's asshole that Job's Dr's are using them as a medical source. Sports, well...that's for another blog.

Nope, what we want is a media that cares about the people in their communities and view them as more than just another bump (or dip) in circulation numbers. A media that remembers the days when their job was to cover State and Local news, leaving the National news to those who have a clue. A media that isn't hung up on "World Classiness" or what the news-ish sites are saying, one that's ahead of trends instead of perpetually chasing them, and one that doesn't try and mask cleverly disguised advertisements as a "features" section. And most importantly, we want a media that welcomes opposing points of view and doesn't try to wipe down the memory hole anyone who dares disagree with them.

Of course, having a media like this would involve having a blogosphere that would try to keep the media in check. An independent blogosphere that does more than just regurgitate press releases from favored political parties while blockquoting others with little value add, or using profanity just because....well you know. A blogosphere with original content that's witty, only slightly profane, and not a little bit rough around the edges.

Yup, that's the media and blogosphere Texas needs.

Of course, we'll have to replace what we have now but, judging by readership numbers, you're already doing a fine job of that.

Happy birthday Texas. Here's hoping you get what you deserve.

The Noise Machine (03/02/11)

I'll be honest...I don't rodeo.....

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Sports Section