Monday, March 31, 2008

extreme prejudice

The problem with being such a corrupt and unalloyed clusterfuck as this administration has been, is that even when you work on a problem that genuinely needs a solution, your plan will be viewed with deep suspicion, not because the plan seems suspicious, but because you do.

Okay, forget "seems". I wouldnt trust the Bush Administration with my garbage collection. In fact, I find that I use terms such as "Lord Bush and his Cabal" far less than I used to, simply because "Bush Administration" seems epithet enough.


Which would you describe as the worse of the two: A man who used his power to gain more power, or a man who used his power to get laid? Which would you call the more dangerous of the two?

Sunday, March 30, 2008

sunday funny

I found this image online somewhere when I was looking for demotivators. I think it's one of the funniest things I've seen in a long while, but dont ask me why. It just is.

It's kind of been a busy week, with me working 10 or more hours a day on about half that much sleep. Hopefully, next week will be much calmer. And maybe I'll get myself a new toy with the overtime money. Or fix my car.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

a thought for the holiday

Had Jesus just done a bit of weight training, he could have saved everybody a lot of trouble. Except the Romans, of course. He could have kicked their asses.

Saturday, March 22, 2008


Do you ever find that your blogging gets in the way of your family time? Or does your family cut into your blogging time? Just curious.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

an observation, maybe

Maybe I'm wrong here in my figuring, but I've been thinking about the numbers a bit, lately. For at least the last decade or so, America has had a trade deficit, that is, we send more money out of the country than we bring into it. So that ought to mean that, overall, we have less money in the U.S. today than we did ten years ago (not counting inflation). Now, for the last decade or so, the only people in America whose level of wealth has increased has been the richest 1% of the population. So the way I figure it, if America (on the whole) is losing money, but the one-percenters are gaining money, then the one-percenters are gaining money at the expense of the other 99%.

Maybe it doesnt actually work that way, and I'm quite sure that it's much more complex than what I've described, but it still irritates me a bit. I mean, despite our veneer of civilization, what separates America from feudal society these days? Big-screen TVs?

Monday, March 17, 2008

blogger is pissing me off

Is anyone else seeing this problem with Blogger? Anyone else, that is, that hasnt switched over to Wordpress? When I made the last post, the line at the bottom stating when the post was put up and the link to the comment sections does not appear. It's quite annoying and if it keeps up it may signal that it's time to switch to my own unfinished domain. Finally.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

obama vs. clinton
an answer (mk II)

I was having blogger issues on this, so I've reposted, losing the brother's comment along the way, which no one could get to to read anyway.

I want to be president, Daddy
Up until this point, I've not been terribly committed to choosing either Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton. Though I was no fan of Hillary, Barack was an unknown, and charisma and pretty speeches didnt seem enough to base a decision on. However, either one of them seemed OK, and either one of them would have been better than any of the possible Republican choices and their "mistakes?-what-mistakes" continuation of the status quo.
Well, now I'm ready to declare myself.

Daveawayfromhome for Barack Obama.

Dont get me wrong. Obama still doesnt carry much in the way of concrete indications that he'll be any good at the job. But then, who does? It's all about hope (hopefully, the Obama strategists didnt base the campaign on that). You hope that your choice does well. You hope that their choice doesnt destroy the nation.
But as I've watched this seemingly endless campaign go on, one thing that I've noticed is that Obama seems to take the High Road. Consistantly. This is the kind of positioning, regardless of party, that one sees little of in Washington anymore, and as the Clinton campaign gets nastier and the Obama campaign maintains its gentlemanlyness, it becomes more and more refreshing (though some say that this staying above the fray is a bad thing).
Before, I was willing to watch the campaign with the idea that whoever won, that would be okay either way. One would have captured the top spot, and the other would have gone on to be VP. Simple, easy, and even the loser had a chance to win in 8 years. I could not imagine the Republicans beating a Clinton/Obama or Obama/Clinton ticket, the two of them would have resulted in a landslide victory that would have brought dozens of other Democratic victories along with it as folks came to vote for president, but stayed to vote for legislators, councilmen, judges, board members, and all sorts of other positions. Everytime I hear poll numbers given in the primaries, the Democrats seem to be drawing about twice the number of Republicans, and almost all of those would have shown up for the election where both Clinton and Obama were on the ticket, regardless of who was on top.
But this scenario only works following a clean campaign. With her negative campaign strategy, Clinton has taken that possibility and is stomping all over it. I'm pretty sure that we're at the point now where neither of them will be able to run alongside the other without raising the disgust of the public with politics-as-usual, so that now, depending on which candidate wins, some Clinton voters will turn away because they believed Hillary's line about his lack of qualifications, or some Obama voters will turn away because they'll know that the fix is in. The Democrats had a great opportunity to sweep the Republican machine from any kind of real power, and Hillary Clinton has pissed it away in her bid for personal glory.
So screw her.

Personally, I think Olbermann is being overgenerous in crediting Clinton's advisors for these behaviors. And, one must ask, if you cannot control your people in a campaign (and lots of things in the Clinton campaign seem to have been the work of rogue elements), how can you expect to control the country?

* * *

One other thing: why has no one pointed out that her own husband came to power with no more of "the Commander in Chief threshold" experience than Obama has? Governor of Arkansas? Oh yeah, lots of foriegn policy decisions there.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

quote for the day:
daylight savings edition

"You will never find anybody who can give you a
clear and compelling reason why we observe daylight-saving time."

Dave Barry
Hey guess what? Turns out now that Dave's got scientific backing for his humor. See, for years, most of Indiana didnt switch over to daylight savings time. Until 2006, that is, which gave a couple of researchers from UC-Santa Barbara a chance to compare electric use before and after the change...

Their finding: Having the entire state switch to daylight-saving time each year, rather than stay on standard time, costs Indiana households an additional $8.6 million in electricity bills. They conclude that the reduced cost of lighting in afternoons during daylight-saving time is more than offset by the higher air-conditioning costs on hot afternoons and increased heating costs on cool mornings.
Seriously, who's surprised. Most people find the switch back and forth to be a pain in the ass, especially when you and the kids start those March mornings off in the dark. I've heard that the primary reason that we're stuck with this stupid system is for the benefit of businesses, which gain an increased hour of daylight for people to shop and recreate in, but I'm not sure if this is true or just cynicism (but according to Wikipedia, it was "the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association and the National Association of Convenience Stores [who] successfully lobbied for the 2007 extension to U.S. DST."

Anyway, I hate it, especially when we "spring forword". I need my sleep, people.

Friday, March 07, 2008

quote for the day

"Tell me and I'll forget.
Show me and I'll remember.
Involve me and I'll understand."


Thursday, March 06, 2008


Okay, this post is a response to comments on the last post, which somehow got picked up by the Dallas Morning News' Dallas ISD blog, generating a flood of sitemeter hits and four anonymous comments. There was apparently some sort of kismet going on here because a) someone from the Dallas News actually found my unlinked post, and b) I used none of my frequent bad language which would have probably disqualified me from being linked by a respectable family paper. Weirdly enough, I'd never even heard of the website they say I was commenting on, I'd just had the e-mail forwarded to me.

First, a few of points:

1) The gerrymandering thing was just a throwaway comment on my part. On the other hand, anyone who thinks that there is no alterations of the lines as personal political favors for well-connected folk is delusional. There's a small neighborhood off of Mockingbird Lane where the elementary school was Lakewood, but the middle school was Franklin1. I always wondered who lived in that area who could swing such a blatant bit of boundary-fixing.
As for the idea of gerrymandering being ridiculous, how do you think that the "diverse population" of the schools was maintained, at least up until a few years ago? Gerrymandering for diversity is no better than gerrymandering for homogeny. One need only look at our legislative districts to understand that.

2) The racial bit was my bad, and uncalled for, perhaps. It was also a throwaway, the more important division being monetary, rather than racial. Of course, that doesnt change the fact that the neighborhoods with the million-dollar McMansions are are mostly white, and the apartments are not. And yes, those black and brown folks do live in my neighborhood, and my kids do go to school with them, and I'm quite happy about that, because they've grown up not giving a damn about skin color.

3) Yes, North Dallas schools need money for supplies, repairs, expansion, more teachers, etc., etc. So do nearly all of the Dallas schools. Guess what? That requires taxes. And for the last decade or so we've been electing representatives whose mantra is "cut taxes". When times are bad, the solution is to cut taxes. When times are good, the solution is to cut taxes. Do you see the problem here?
And if you're concerned about waste in DISD, the solution is not to cut off the money, but to eliminate the waste. Here's an idea: Surely in North Dallas, there's enough accounting expertise to get a group of concerned tax-paying citizens together to head downtown and do a little auditing of the school districts books. I'm reasonably sure that they cannot stop you.
Is the money distributed "fairly"? No, probably not. Is it ever? If the southern sections are getting more these days, it's because they got less in the past (though that makes it no less wrong).

Now, for the main point of the previous post: I was not objecting to the call to reject the bond issue. Feel free to do so. Giving Hinojosa more money to blow on stadiums and and the destruction of magnet schools isnt sound financial thinking to my mind.
What I was objecting to was the juvenile whining about North Dallas folks who felt they just werent getting their "fair share". I consider this to be a small part of a larger ongoing campaign by "conservative" forces to reduce all of America to pay-per-view status. You can see it everywhere, in the rejection of "socialized" medicine, in the boosting of toll-roads instead of interstates, in the push for school vouchers, in skyrocketing college tuition, and in the general overall reduction of those kinds of services which the government provides.
Such whining is especially egregious when coming from someone who apparently lives in a North Dallas McMansion.
Any nation is, at heart, a society. To belong to a society, especially to a economically successful society, carries certain costs. Such costs often involve those who've benefited greatly from that society carrying those who have not. Should this idea seem unpleasant to those among us who are the "haves", I'm sure there are many third-world oligarchies who would welcome you and your hoarded cash with great pleasure. Please accept their kind invitation rather than dragging America down to that level.
Because if history shows us anything, it is that a major key for a successful society is the pooling of that society's resources for the good of the entire society. Such "investments" by that society's members only tend to fail when they are undermined by graft and corruption. Without such pools, we would not have our water systems2, telephone and electrical service in virtually every home, the interstate highway system, and an educational system (lower and higher) which was the envy of the rest of the world (up until around the Reagan years, anyway)...

Sigh, I'm not explaining myself well, here, am I?

Listen: To be a member of a society, you must contribute to that society. Often, it looks like you arent getting as much out as you put in, but that's because you are failing to take into account the cost of the chaos one may find in a place where society has collapsed. That is the function of your tax dollar, that is the function of our educational system, that is the function of those government agencies that short-sighted Republicans, crying over their "lost" dollars, claim that we dont need. As anyone who's been paying attention at all has noticed, all these things have been waning in the last few decades, and when you combine that with our pathetic record on health-care you have a crisis well into the making, which could have been easily averted if only Americans had paid more attention to things not enterable on a ledger sheet.

1. Lakewood feeds into J. L. Long Middle School, not Franklin. Normally.
2. No medical discovery in history has had as great an impact on our health as clean water. Ever.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008


I received the following e-mail today, and I think that it demonstrates perfectly what is wrong with America today, and why we are most likely doomed to a long and ugly dark period in our future:

If you live in North Dallas we urge you to VOTE NO for the 2008 DISD Bond Election.

The DISD Board has chosen to put a 1.3 billion dollar bond program on the table.

The taxes of an average $1.2 million dollar home in Preston Hollow will go up by at least $600 a year.

Why should we pay this when we can't use the schools?

Why should we pay this when the DISD won't announce what any of the schools in our area (Preston Hollow, Pershing, Kramer, Franklin, Hillcrest, Nathan Adams, Withers, Marsh, W.T. White) are going to get out of this bond package?

There are no specific line items for any of the above schools in the bond package even though Preston Hollow pays a majority of the DISD property taxes coming from residential property taxes. Why is the DISD short changing us? Our schools need plenty of upgrades, additional classrooms, etc... Our schools need to be given back to us the residents of Preston Hollow.

Drive by W.T. White and see for yourself how North Dallas has been left out of past bond programs and will be left out of this one also.

Drive by Kramer Elementary School and count the 25 plus portable buildings there. 95% of the students at Kramer come from the apartments behind the shopping center at Meadow and Central.

Why should we pay this to still see portable buildings at what should be our neighborhood schools?

Why should we pay this when less than 5% of the neighborhood kids actually use these schools?


The DISD needs a message from North Dallas and Preston Hollow Homeowners - and that message is we are tired of supporting all of the other kids in Dallas and not being able to use our schools.

Do you see it? I'm sure my regular readers see, it, but I'll spell it out for Republicans and casual passers-by: Never once does the letter ask if anything worthwhile is being done with the money or complain that the money will be wasted in graft, fraud and various forms of corruption (which it well may). No, their complaint is that old whine of the immature, "but what about my needs!?"
For the unfamiliar, the neighborhoods in question are extremely well-to-do ones, and many of its children attend private schools. The elementary school mentioned is one that has been gerrymandered in such a way that the wealthy kids who still attend public school do not have mix with apartment kids.
And, as for distribution of funds, they're right, the schools they mention probably wont get much of the bond money. But then, the schools mentioned are also some of the better schools in the district, schools that were not neglected or abused over the decades of decline in the more southern areas of town. They dont really need more money (any more than any other school in town), though I daresay they could find a use for it (as could we all).
Speaking of money, how petty can someone's whining about the education of children get? How about this; whining over a $600 increase per year on a $1.2 million house. Now, by my general figuring (over the years, I've figured that you'll pay roughly 1% of purchase price), a mortgage payment on a $1.2 million house is about $12,000 per month1 (assuming that the wealthy buy houses the same way that ordinary folks do, which I doubt). A $600 a year increase breaks down to $50 per month, or about .4% of the monthly mortgage payment. They will pay more than that to fill the gas tank of their Expedition. Incidentally, assuming that the increase is proportional, the bond would cost the houses in my neighborhood (the unflipped ones, that is) about $75 dollars a year, or $6.25 a month.

So, time for a basic civics lesson, since that important subject is no longer taught in schools. You do not pay taxes in order to get stuff for yourself. If you want stuff for yourself, you buy it, which should be relatively easy for anyone living in a $1.2 million dollar house. Taxes are paid for the good of the whole society. Not just you, even though you may be paying a lot more than someone else who seems to recieve more "benefits".
You see, educating the whole public, making sure that they are all healthy, and all safe in their beds at night, and that they all have equal opportunities to take advantage of various government services, is good for everybody. One need only look to places like Mexico, where the wealthy must hire armed bodyguards and live in heavily secured compounds just to be left alone in their rarified privileged lives to see how true that idea is.
They say, "we are tired of supporting all of the other kids in Dallas", yet they are paying taxes to operate schools for everybody, and if their children arent "able" to use those schools, it's because their parents arent "able" to make themselves send their children to those schools (where they might mix with *gasp* poor, brown children2). A good system of public education is ultimately beneficial for society as a whole, which is then ultimately beneficial for the wealthy. But to appreciate that you need two things: The vision to see beyond the obvious ledger-book of short-term gain, and the maturity that leads one to compassionately see your fellow citizens as people who can enrich your life somehow if given the proper tools and opportunity. Call it "enlightened self-interest, if that makes you feel better.
But many Republicans cannot seem to see those things, nor can many Americans in general. It's all become about what we can get. No cooperation, no spirit of community, no sharing or caring. That is not what makes a nation. We've become a country of lone wolves, and we will surely be picked off one by one if we dont learn to operate as a pack again3.

It was forty-seven years ago that one of our own hero-presidents said, "Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country".

I cant think of a clearer indication of how far we've fallen, unless maybe you go back another twenty-nine years.

1. A couple years ago, my landlord asked if I wanted to buy the house I rent; $12,000 is not even 10%, or a standard down payment
2. And NCLB with it's evil twin "accountability"
3. Yeah, I know, comparing the U.S. with wolves is not the best analogy (or is it?).


Somehow, someone at the Dallas Morning News found this post and linked to it, leading to the comments below. My response to those comments is above, in the next post.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

new word

Fundyocracy: it's kind of an awkward word, but the definition is so good that I'm willing to forgive that.

Monday, March 03, 2008

minor point

There's been a lot of talk about how Obama doesnt have the "experience" that Hillary has, and that her experience makes her better qualified. I have two problems with that arguement:
1) Just as important as having experience yourself is to have experienced people advising you. There's no need to know everything if you have a qualified staff that you delegate well to. Yes, the ultimate responsibility still rests with you, but if your staff is good and you actually listen to them, things should go well if you are smart enough.

2) "Experience" is not the same as wisdom. The Bush Administration is filled with "experienced" people (Cheney and Rumsfeld have been around since the Nixon years), but that didnt stop them totally fucking up the country.
The preceeding should not be taken as an endorsement of Obama. I'd prefer him, but mostly because I dont want to give Ann Coulter another Clinton to continue her career with, and because Clinton's idea of national health care is to make everybody subsidize the Insurance companies rather than just those who can afford it. Still, either one of them would be okay, and I'm pretty sure that even John McCain wouldnt be the clusterfuck that we call King George and his Cabal of Doom.

There was a great cartoon on the opinion page the other day, which I cannot find, so I'll just have to describe it for you. Two people were talking, and one says (more or less), "I prefer Hillary because Omama doesnt have as much experience governing." To which the other person replied, "Obama didnt have any experience running a Presidential campaign either, but he seems to be doing okay with that". Good point!