Sunday, January 8, 2012

The end of American Civilization. (Part 1)

These are pictures I took today at the Houston Boat Show. What you are seeing is the fist step of the end of America: fake fireplaces in vehicles designed for camping.

And people thought it was a great idea.

We're done.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Because we say so.....

That seems to be the evidence used by Nancy Sarnoff of to speculate that Downtown Houston is on the verge of a building boom.....

(New Downtown Tower Could Take Shape, Nancy Sarnoff,
A new skyscraper in downtown Houston could be announced this year, a sign of strength in the local property market, real estate executives said Thursday.

"I think that every developer has a new building in their drawer ready to pull out as soon as the market's ready," Laura Van Ness, director of business development for Central Houston, said during a panel discussion on the future of downtown. The event was held by the Houston chapter of CoreNet Global, a corporate real estate association.
So you have an unelected bureaucrat, providing an opinion backed by no hard data (that was provided in the story) and that's sufficient enough to say that new buildings are going to be popping up soon?

Near as I can tell, the biggest argument FOR development is that rents are rising. Um, OK, rising rents are good for the renter, which makes it odd that many of the same who are benefiting from increased rents would really do all that much to build just because.

Later in the story, following a tactic called "buying the lede", was a statement by Hines saying NOTHING will happen until tenant demand (in the form of lease agreements) is sufficient to fill 50% of any proposed hi-rise and that, right now, that's just not there.

If it ever DOES get there then expect companies to build as necessary to fulfill demand, until then, take glorious pronouncements of a downtown building boom with a hefty grain of Gulf Cost salt.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Proving my point on the 'middle class'

For years now I've been saying (on Isolated Desolation, Lose an Eye, Harris County Almanac and now here) that most progressives define "wealthy" as being anyone who earns more than 60K per year.

Today the Apple Dumpling Gang provides hard evidence of that:

(How do you define middle class? It depends..., The Apple Dumpling Gang,
By the strictest of definitions, American families that fall into the middle fifth by income are middle class. By that standard, families making between $38,048 and $61,735 (in 2010 dollars) would be middle class.
Remember that, when you hear progressive bloggers, progressive politicians and progressive members of the media talking about "making the wealthy pay". If you have a household income of $75K, you're the "wealthy" and they want to make you pay "your fair share".

It's an important data point in the upcoming debate over which direction we want our economy to go.

Added: All of this makes you wonder what type of middle-class jobs the President and The Apple Dumpling Gang are speaking of? Certainly not professional positions that require a degree, or an advanced degree for that matter, because most of those, outside of entry-level positions, have pay scales in excess of the middle class.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The iPad2 review.

I mentioned, on Twitter, that Little Oil Co. decided to give everyone iPad 2's for Christmas, as a way of saying thanks for a good year. I've had around a month to play with it and these are my thoughts....

2 important caveats.

1. I'm not a tech-writer or IT guy, I know just enough about computers to install most software without wiping out the hard drive. So there's that.

2. I'm NOT an Apple fan. I work on a PC, have PC's at home, a Droid 2 Global phone and a Sansa mp3 player. There are a lot of things about Apple that I dislike.

That being said, I like the iPad2. Granted, I'm not sure I'd pay the price for it on the open market, but now that I have it I'm finding it to be a useful little toy. And it is a toy, despite people trying to tell you that it's a productivity enhancer. It's a fun toy, that has very interesting possibilities for travel, but it's absolutely useless for work. For typing? Well, if it's any indication I'm typing this blog post on my PC, not on my iPad.

What I do like are that there are several free apps that make it useful. I've downloaded the app, and enjoy reading the "paper" on it. That said, if I didn't already have a Wed-Sunday subscription (which gives me the iPad version on Mon-Tues) I don't think I'd pay for the paper in this format. For me, the benefit of a newspaper subscription are the Sunday coupons. I can get news anywhere, quicker and for way less money. This is not the lifesaver that the print media thinks it's going to be. Again, on the road (with wi-fi available, so you can read the articles - or with the pretty expensive data plan) it has potential, but not as a daily read. I've also downloaded HootSuite for Twitter, which I really like. It's a slick interface that's easy to read and has a lot of flexibility. It's not TweetDeck, but it's pretty good.

This brings us to the major shortcoming that I find with the iPad2, typing. It's not that bad on Twitter, where you can only type 140 characters at a time, but when typing something that takes some work (say, a blog post) it's very time consuming. It's possible that I just have fat fingers, but I find the keyboard on the screen pretty poorly laid out. Copy and paste is also a chore, mostly because you have to close down, open the browser, drag copy the line, close the browser, open what you were working on, and paste. Call it me but Alt+Tab click and CTRL+C is much easier, and more practical.

To sum up I see me using the iPad, in place of my netbook, on plane trips etc, but I'll still use my netbook for times when I go somewhere and plan to do some typing. It will be interesting to see, on upcoming trips, how it connects to different wi-fi signals in the field, and whether it will work in Europe at all.

I do see why Apple fans like it though, it's got all of the styling and bells and whistles that they crave, iApple swagger if you will. It is a useful little toy that has good graphics, is easy to use, and has a wide variety of apps that work really well. One major drawback, and don't let apple fanbois tell you it's not, is the lack of Flash. It's frustrating to click on something and find a white page staring back at you. You miss an awful lot of the Internet without it.

Verdict: Good, sturdily built, useful (at some things) tablet, but not sure if I find it worth the high price. To be fair, if I wasn't so reliant on Windows and Office for most of my work I might like it better.

Monday, January 2, 2012

The ReBoot

One of the reasons I chose as my address when creating HCA was that I knew, at some time, I'd be ready to do a re-boot just as I had with Isolated Desolation and HCA. What I didn't want to do was archive an old blog and eventually delete it as I had with the others. I think that, by keeping corycrow alive and well I can really change this blog to be whatever I want it to be.

What I want it to be is a personal blog, largely (almost totally) free from politics (excepting the occasional goofy story etc.) focusing on travel, good places to eat, good wine, humor, you name it.

I'm changing because I really believe independent poli-blogging is dead. The interLeft has devolved into a profane circle-jerk, and the Bloggers O' the Right have become a circular firing squad. With no one listening, or willing to consider other opinions, the genre is as dead as it's ever been. It's become a world where blockquoting with non-existent attribution with no value-add makes one an elder statesman, and people with opinions choose to frame them as fact. There's a reason people are pulling back. That reason is bad blogging.

I won't promise to update this every day. Heck, I won't even promise to update on a regular basis. If you're still following this blog (there area few of you) you're probably a friend anyway, either that or you see me on twitter, so you'll know when I update and will either come and read, or you won't. Either way I'm hoping the pictures are nice and the prose makes you laugh. More importantly, I'm going to be on-line less in 2012 and spending more time out in the real world, spending time on planes, on bike-trails, and working on my house.

I've got a lot coming up in 2012, I hope that if you're following along you get a chuckle out of it. I know that I will. Here's hoping I don't get seated next to this on my way to my various destinations:

Sunday, January 1, 2012

2012 predictions

Let's see how wrong I can get this year...

1. Romney wins R nomination, loses general to Obama b/c of tea party defection to 3rd party "non RINO" candidate.

2. Perry drops out of nomination race after poor showing in SC. Announces will run for another term as TX Gov.

3. EPA continues war against oil industry. Prices rise to over $150/bbl.

4. US economy continues to suffer despite gridlock in Fed Gov.

5. This blog will either undergo a ame change, or shutter in 2012. Right now I'm leaning toward a name/direction change. No more political blogging is already a given.

6. The Obama administration is hobbled by a series of scandals.

7. "food deserts" are never defined, but Millions are spent trying to put an end to them.

8. Mexico is unsuccessful turning their economy around and controlling the drug gangs. This is a bad thing for the US economy.

9. At some point Israel will have enough of Obama's dithering in the region.

10. AGW climate change will be all but disproven, movement will still survive because adherents don't fully understand scientific method and why science is not settled.

That's all I've got this time. Blog reboot coming soon.

Greetings 2012

Goodbye 2011 and hello 2012.

For 2012 expect more of the same from the blog here. I'm not expecting to up output much, as my resolutions for 2012 have more to do w/work life balance and less to do with being on the computer all the time. Travel, will be front loaded this year and will involve multiple trips to Europe and Las Vegas.

I'm also planning to take things in a less political direction here in 2012 and more toward the social satire side. As for resolutions...

I resolve to work less and sleep more.
I resolve to spend more time hiking, riding my bike and doing things that don't involve looking at a computer screen all day.
I resolve to be more cynical.
I resolve to not blog the election.
I resolve to spend more time sports blogging.
I resolve to spend less time worrying about bad journalism in Texas. (not that it's going to change right?)

So Happy New Year all. Here's hoping 2012 treats you better than 2011 did.

Sports Section