July 31, 2002
This article by Gary Ott touches on something but doesn't explore it quite far enough.
"A group of us would sit around the office and carry on a conversation like this (and we would be dead serious, too):
Person No. 1: "You know, it would be tough, but I REALLY think I might be able to retire at 55. I couldn't live extravagantly, mind you, but, hey, I'm a simple person with simple needs."
Ignoring the obvious fact that (in the scheme of things we call life) retiring at 55 is pretty damned extravagant.
Person No. 2: "I know what you mean. I was looking at my statement the other day, and I swear my profits have TRIPLED in the past two years."
No. I'm. Sorry. They. Didn't. Your paper gains may have tripled but you held on to those stocks because you wanted....what?....a quadrupling or a quintupling of your profits in three years. No extravangance in expectations there, huh?
Person No. 3: "I just wish the government would increase the maximum we could put in the 401(K). I mean, I'm maxed out now, but I'd go even higher if I could. And I'd put it all in the stock market."
Why not go to Vegas and put it all on Big 6 or Big 8 at the craps table?
Lord, were we stupid or what?
I think greed has some culpability here too, don't you think?
July 30, 2002
"The broad new legal powers proposed by a congressman and endorsed quickly by several others would let record and movie studios hack into Americans' personal computers to find illegally shared music and movies. They could also try to disable or interfere with file-swapping programs."
The bill is being sponsored by Representative Howard Berman (D-Disney), the lucky recipient of $186,891 in campaign donations from the entertainment industry. For more on this you can read stuff from Dan Gillmor or from Ken Layne or from Happy Fun Pundit.Then go to this site to find out how to help stop this horrible idea from becoming law.Oh, and one more thing......e-mail our own Representative Lamar Smith who is a co-sponsor of this assault on privacy....an assault not even by law enforcement agencies.....but by weasel executives from the entertainment industry, and let him how you feel. Feel free to cut and paste the following text into your e-mail to Representative Smith:
"FOURTH AMENDMENT [U.S. Constitution] - 'The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."Tell Mr. Smith how the provided starlet in his lap should not distract him from those non-trivial concepts like "unreasonable searches and seizures" and "no warrants issued, but upon probable cause".
July 29, 2002
ARE SPORTS WRITERS REALLY EVEN WRITERS AT ALL?
Not this one. Ron Borges with MSNBC wonders if Lance Armstrong is an athlete at all. It is no accident that this kind of tripe comes not from other athletes but from sports "journalists". Almost certainly non-athletic ones at that. That still doesn't explain it fully. Non-athletic sports writers whose web page hit counts suck big time and need to do something to bump their pathetic numbers. The only reason I provide a link is so that you can vote in the accompanying poll with the other 38,000 people out of 39,000 who disagree with this jack-ass.
July 28, 2002
I see where Wal-Mart was selected as Midland's Favorite Photographer. I whole-heartedly agree. It is almost uncanny the way they, after only a few moments of familiarity with you, know precisely which fake landscape background to roll down behind you. And they don't pester you with weekly phone calls like Olan-Mills.
You can just picture the "category selection" process can't you? It is basically a run down of the Yellow Pages. Picking up the Permian Basin Area Wide Phone Book Yellow Pages and starting at the top we have, well......well the first three entries in the book are, respectively, Abortion Alternatives, Abortion Information Centers, and Abortion Services.Well, OK, maybe they don't do a complete rundown of the yellow pages to determine categories. "Best Abortion Services - 2002" goes to.......nah, that wouldn't work at all.
Uh oh. New score update: Somerset, PA - 9, Midland, TX - 1. Best "Below Ground Rescue". We here at Jessica's Well are particularly sensitive to this, obviously, but this is a contest we lose gladly and thankfully in this case.
OK. Credit where credit is due. Mel Hudman has won "Best Sports Personality 2002". Congratulations to him on this.....a "Laurel" in MR-T parlance.
When you see the insert that announces all of the other winners you will get the idea what the contest is all about: Selling the winners vanity ads at about $150 (or more) a pop. Joe Schmoe beats all of the others in his category of "Best Orderly at Memorial West - Night Shift" by a margin of 1 to 0 and within 12 minutes the MR-T unleashes their telemarketers on him to get him to place an ad in the "Reader's Choice Special Insert". If memory serves they will also offer to sell you a banner to hang outside your place for about twice what you could have one made yourself at the local quickie sign. I guess you can sense at this point that I am just mad because I was not able to purchase my vanity ad for "Best Vanity Website".
July 27, 2002
And from Peggy Noonan in an article on what's right with our great country:
"Blogging. The 24-7 opinion sites that offer free speech at its straightest, truest, wildest, most uncensored, most thoughtful, most strange. Thousands of independent information entrepreneurs are informing, arguing, adding information. Imagine if we'd had them in 1776: "As I wrote in yesterday's lead item on SamAdams.com, my well meaning cousin John continues his grammatical nitpicking with Jefferson (link requires registration) 'Inalienable,' 'unalienable,' whatever. Boys, let's fight. Start the war." Blogs may one hard day become clearinghouses for civil support and information when other lines, under new pressure, break down."
"Blogging, the publication of running commentary on personal online weblogs, has in the past couple of years exploded from a cultish techie activity into a cottage industry churning out increasingly compelling content. In 1998, there were about 30,000 weblogs; today, there are some 500,000, according to Cameron Marlow, who runs blogdex, which tracks them."Are we thriving yet guys?
"Many thrive on correcting or deriding content published in newspapers and magazines. “Blogs have emerged as an instant critique of major media,” says Andrew Sullivan, former editor of the New Republic, whose weblog book reviews can lift a title into the top ten on Amazon. “At the same time, bloggers are parasites on big media, relying on them for stories and raw material.”
July 26, 2002
Iggy: I keep hoping that the guy who inserts the messages from St. Jude into the Thrifty Nickel will overtake the MR-T's home boys for Favorite Local Journalist but it just ain't gonna happen.
I want my hug and I want it now. If not for my geekiness then for my obvious prowess and skill in reaching the 27th level of Tomb Raider. If only Lara Croft were real.....she would love me. I just know it.
Did you see today's Laurel & Hardy Dart Board? "Laurel to our own Ed Todd for winning Best Local Columnist." Taking nothing away from Mr. Todd, the "our own" part rings a little hollow. After all, the "contest" was held in "our own" paper. And they did specify local columnist. I just hope that this chest pounding by the MRT hasn't destroyed the egos of the other great local columnists down at the "Auto Shopper", the "Bulldog Weekly" and the "Rebel Yeller."
July 24, 2002
Worst job in Midland: Promotion Director for 95X radio. This poor schlep has to dig through the tape of their morning show so that he can pick out a "highlight" for replay during later time slots. Kind of a "see what you're missing" deal. Tonight's offering went something like this.
Female DJ: "Researchers have learned that singing songs helps with snoring."
Male DJ: "How's that Mindy?"
Female DJ: "It's true. Singing songs supposedly helps people sleep better without snoring."
Male DJ: "Ok, but what I don't understand is, how do they go to sleep if they're singing?"
Female DJ: Uncontrolled howling. Sustained 4 martini-type laughter.
Male DJ: Joins her laughing like a 4 year old at an Adam Sandler movie.
And I'm thinking Jeez, if this is the best you've got from a 3 hour show...I bet that an engineer picks the bit from looking at the level meter. He chooses the loudest 30 seconds of the show regarless of content. If they're laughing it must be funny right?
And here you can join the Hemlock Society of the USA. What kills me (so to speak) is that for $350 they have Life Memberships.
Most nights when Jay Hendricks announces "you are looking at an exclusive Newswest 9 sky-cam shot of downtown Midland", I want to say, "what's exclusive about a shaky camera pointed at downtown?" I remember when "exclusive" was reserved for scandals and hard news. By Jay's definition, everything they do is exclusive. And can anyone tell me what is learned (or branded for that matter) when Tommy Teeferteller says, "Stormtracker Nine Live Doppler 9000?" Like Earl at home is going to tell Martha, “Hey switch over to channel 9, they’ve got that 9,000 model you know.” One more bit from TV - watch Big 2 on weekends when Mel Hudman anchors and I swear to God more often than not he opens the show with, "Good evening everyone I'd Mel Hudman." When he's in a hurry it sounds like "one-eyed Mel Hudman" and you expect to see a pirate's patch on the guy.
July 23, 2002
"A fund has been established to assist the family of Scott Perry with medical and related expenses. Scott was severely burned Sunday, July 14, at a gathering with some friends.
A gathering with some friends? Well, that is one way of putting it. More info here.
Topping today's list of things you would pay to see in print but didn't have to:
"Texas A&M has its outstanding veterinarian program. Texas Tech is probably best known for its nursing school. The University of Texas has its business school. And, Odessa College has its rodeo team, one of the best - if not the best - in the nation."The rest of the article is here.
I'm sorry, but this kind of swooning over a football stadium is just unseemly. Even if it is a "palace" or a "pearl".
Noticed this morning that Gary Ott attributes a quote to “Harry James, the late American author.” He should read his Bartlett’s a little closer and correct it to Henry James. Harry was a big band conductor in the forties. Well, we all make mistakes – me more than most so it wouldn’t really be worth mentioning except…does anyone remember how Gary used to introduce his quotations with a feigned familiarity like, “if memory serves, it was the late US author Logan Pearsall Smyth Smith who once said,…” or “I believe it was the French author Voltaire who died in 1778 who said,…” like he just put down freaking Candide before correcting Stuart Doreen’s grammar. Before launching into this diatribe on Mr. Ott, I was reading Winston Churchill, the British statesman who died in 1965, (ok I really found it in Bartlett’s while confirming that Harry James wasn’t worthy of a quote) who said, “It is a good thing for an uneducated man to read books of quotations.” Hear, Hear!
July 22, 2002
A good clarification here by Jane Wolf on the difference between MISD's Maintenance and Operations (M&O) budgets (and more importantly, the restrictions placed on them by the state) and Interest and Sinking Fund budgets (I&S) used for capital improvements. It should help a couple of those who have submitted letters to the editor on the school bond issue.
It should more than answer Mr. Briley Mitchell's concern:
"In correspondence with Mr. Strauss, he has stated that MISD is already at the maximum state tax rate allowed for maintenance and operations. This is something that I am not only confused about, but need real, hard evidence and answers on."
Alas, Mr. Josh Knight wanders in a logical wasteland:
"First, this bond election's three propositions are not, in reality, three separate choices for consideration. As reported, MISD acknowledges that Propositions 2 and 3 won't be considered unless Proposition 1 passes first."It is four separate choices actually....the fourth being a No vote. But I am being over technical. Later in his letter (below) Mr. Knight asks what are the priorities? The short answer is, obviously, the items in Proposition One.
"By creating this unnecessary symbiosis, MISD has again given Midland voters a Take-It-All or Leave-It-All proposal. At close to $166 million to be spent in only three years, many voters may choose to leave it all. Even though the Citizens Facilities Advisory Committee (CFAC) reported on all MISD facilities, why does MISD have to adopt an all-now proposal? Exactly what are the priorities?"
It is not a take it or leave it proposal at all. The committee has specifically laid out what the most pressing priorities are (spread across eight schools) and placed them into Proposition One. Proposition Two expands on that with some newer facilities for performing arts classrooms and physical education (no, not new stadium stuff but dressing facilities et al for the rest of the kids) instead of renovated and updated older facilities. Proposition Three expands on the previous two even further and includes a new Midland High School at its current location. The way it is being presented to the voters is anything but an all or nothing package.
"Second, the three propositions, as presented, don't represent realistic financial management. For example, Proposition 1 establishes $19.46 million to renovate the current Midland Senior High (MHS) facilities, while Proposition 3 separately establishes $45.64 million to build a completely new facility on campus. Not only do these two proposals cancel each other out, but according to CFAC's online reports (http://www.midlandcfac.org/), MHS's existing facilities cannot meet current academic and safety standards even with extensive renovations -- only new facilities will suffice. Why spend $20 million to renovate a campus deemed unrepairable? Or, why waste $20 million for an ineffective patch?"
Of course Proposition One and Three don't cancel each other out. Should both Prop One and Three pass does he think that the school district will renovate Midland High School and then tear it down to build a new one? He needs to recognize that there will be some consolidation of costs depending on the passage of Prop Two or Prop Three. As far as MHS facilities not currently (or even after a theoretical passge of just Prop One) meeting state standards, he is correct on that. But that is why there is a Prop Two and Three.
"As stated before, MISD does not present the bond election originally promised. Instead of a cornucopia of projects and proposals to rank and choose from, voters must either accept or reject everything at once."
A cornucopia of projects? Never mind the added design and construction costs that would be incurred in doing these kinds of major renovations across an entire school district using Mr. Knight's "cornucopia" model, I can't even picture the ballot for such nonsense. The proponents are providing three viable options each with a different level of scope and cost with their stated highest priorities right up front in Prop One. I can't get why he thinks this is an all or nothing deal.
This article on the City Council agenda is just full of little nuggets. Where to begin? How about with the possible naming of the Sports Complex inner loop after Martin Luther King. This issue should have been over and done with two years ago with a renaming of Fairgrounds Road. Someone somewhere told us that Fairgounds Road had great historical significance somehow sometime. Much more than did the actual fairgrounds themselves obviously. I challenge you to locate them. The closest thing I can remember to actual fairfrounds was the old quarterhorse track close to the intersection of Business 80 and, uh, Fairgounds Road. The last thing I remember happening there was a concert in 1975 by the one hit wonders "Blues Image" (you know....Ride captain ride, upon your mystery ship....). After that the place either fell down or spontanously combusted. Then there was the idea to rename Front Street:
"Still, there were some who believed Front Street was appropriate because it was a main thoroughfare and could lead to economic development opportunities on Midland's south side."
Short of a small one time boom for the stationery printers how exactly was this going to lead to economic development opportunities? Rename it and they will come! I thought the last election showed that we have to shove fistfulls of public monies at them before they will come.
And finally this:
"Due to vacancies caused by the resignations of May Ann Pearce and Tim Leach, Mayor Mike Canon and Councilman Scott Dufford have recommended Jimmy Carmichael, president of Bank of America, be appointed to the managed competition committee.I will have to plead ignorance here. Anyone know what the "Managed Competition Committee" is or what it does? I just get real antsy when someone purports to be "managing" competition. Someome e-mail the Site Admin if they know what these guys do.
July 17, 2002
Site Admin: Surely you are mistaken about Schorr’s intelligence! To say that someone on NPR is stupid is an oxymoron. The very act of being on NPR means you’re smart. That’s why they need the government subsidy; their listeners are also smart and therefore limited in number.
Ignatius: Bush’s responsibility for the current state of Corporate America is a Zen thing. Remember that everything is connected to everything else, so that when the universe knew that Bush would be elected, that information was translated to the minds of CEO’s allowing them to take advantage ahead of the curve so to speak. The only thing that puzzles me is why the current dustup was not also translated to their minds allowing them to avoid it. When I figure it out I’ll let you know. By the way did you cut out a picture of Schorr's head and paste it on that suit?
Have you ever seen anyone driving a monster truck that wasn't 5' - 3" tall and weighed 150 pounds.....man or woman? That would be as rare as seeing someone driving a Corvette that looked like they could afford any new car let alone a $50,000 one.
July 16, 2002
Daniel Schorr should thank his lucky stars that NPR is out there to extend his career as far as it has. He is too stupid for commercially viable radio and while this leaves plenty of smarts left over for television news, he is too ugly for that. What a Godsend for him.
July 15, 2002
Speaking of squirrels, I heard the worst ever radio editorial on NPR today from none other than the speech impeded saucier, Danny Schorr. He took 2 & 1/2 minutes to recite the former job titles of all of the high level Bush administration appointees. He couched it all in a "What's My Line?" theme, but really no effort was made to tie into the old game show - he just wanted to tell the world that most of Bush's closest advisors were not lawyers or career politicians or bureaucrats but former CEO's and other captains of industry (he warned us that his question about Don Evans' job would be more difficult: "Tom Brown Energy.") He never made a point, just the implication - shoddy accounting never took place until these guys started condoning the practice. He said that President Bush came to the White House from "Harken Energy", conveniently forgetting that Bush had been with the Texas Rangers for 6 or 7 years after Harken. But Bush's sports/entertainment credentials would not have fit Mr. Schorr's worldview that he lifted straight from one of those Disney Channel teen programs where all businessmen are either crooked or stupid, and all entertainers, athletes and beautiful people are brilliant, honest and ready to save the world. I can see him crying over his scotch and soda hoping to tell his grandkids he'd interviewed Cher or Bono that day, but he was stuck with a nobody like Dick Cheney.
OK, they were cute a couple of years ago, but I am willing to pledge my vote and a $100 campaign contribution to anyone running for a city council seat that will vote to declare open season on these rats with good publicists. They tear up seat cushions, bother the dogs, and if you are really unlucky they get in your attic and romp a bit before dying and stinking to high heaven.Any advice out there on what kind of muzzle velocity is required to kill one of these varmints? I want a half-dead one flopping around on my patio even less than a healthy one.
July 13, 2002
The paper was no cheerleader for the bond last time. In fact, they gave an insane amount of ink to the opposition brain trust (Ernie, Woody & the king of Smarm (Kimball.) They published hand-wringing editorials saying, "a good idea, but the wrong time" for a bond election. They ran headlines about the "Pipeline Danger at New High School." Meanwhile, the costs continue to rise, the kids continue to go to school in shoddy facilities but on Friday nights, their sports guys get to sit in a fancy press box and pretend that they are covering the Cowboys vs the Bears.
July 12, 2002
Don't overlook the mindset revealed by the "Laurel: Voters who appear to be much more willing to listen this time around." To the editors, the only people who voted against the bond last time were those who refused to listen to the truth. They don't recognize any other explanation for a negative vote.
I have a suggestion for the Midlanders For Our Schools, Our Future committee. The argument for much of the bond is that poor conditions at the high schools are hindering the education of our students and therefore dimming our future. This argument can be supported easily, by finding and publishing data showing that other schools that have recently been refurbished, have seen significant improvement in their TAAS scores and in their SAT scores.
Most of the "MetaValentines" handed out are pretty inocuous and serve their main purpose well enough: Fill up the paper.....with anything. Just fill it up. Every now and again, though, you get a glimpse into the mindset of the editorial board at the MR-T. Here is a good example:
"* Dart: The 310 members of the House of Representatives who voted to arm airline pilots with guns -- even though the Senate will probably reject it and President Bush opposes the idea of arming pilots. Are there 310 House members who want to put a vote on the record just to be able to tell their constituents that they're tough guys?"
Three thousand people die in three buildings when they are hit by hijacked aircraft and ever since that time we have been inundated with report after report about lapses and inadequacies in airport security nation-wide. Yet the MR-T cannot see anything behind a "Yes" vote here other than 310 members of Congress wanting to look like "tough guys". Sure, we can teach these guys how to handle muli-million dollar aircraft and be responsible for the lives of thousands of men, women, and children each day.....but to let these guys handle (shudder) guns???
C'mon, guys, if you are going to stake out a position on this let's have an editorial column....and a locally written one at that... not just some snarky, knee-jerk, gun-hating MetaValentine.
We built it. They aren't coming.
July 11, 2002
Mel: Pissiness is the last refuge of a dolt.
July 8, 2002
I won't even get close to saying this story is heating up. It isn't. But reports indicate that Mel didn't just get a little pissy on KCRS' morning show about the World Cup non-broadcast but actually took the time to double up on Big 2's obvious strategy of defense by indignance by getting more than pissy on an actual Big 2 broadcast. Anyone see this happen? What was the angle.......the massive backlash that would have come from the International Brotherhood of Insomniac Anglers Local 359? Or was it the "Hey, we are the broadcast professionals here, and we'll make the decision on what you want to watch" angle? I still think that no actual "decision" was ever made. It was simply a case of Big 2 not even knowing what was in the offing that given morning and just letting the standard programming stand. Although, Mel's bio says that he is a sports guy, kinda sorta. Click on Mel's picture to e-mail him!
July 4, 2002
Do you ever see those faxes from the guy who owns the bed & breakfast on the top floor of the building in downtown Midland? They're a pitch for his telecommunications business written in a real chatty style, always talking about how great it is to live in America and Midland where you're free to worship how you want and vote how you want - with the underlying message being that a truly patriotic person would use his services. Strangely enough, during today's 4th of July parade he had two girls sitting in front of his parking lot charging $5.00 to park for the parade. As of game time they were at zero occupancy. Maybe he should have sent out a fax.
July 3, 2002
More on Large 2's decision to air bass fishing instead of live coverage of the World Cup Final. Mel Hudman on KCRS Talk this morning defended the "decision". Apparently, someone at the Odessa American really took them to task...so much so that Mel was getting kinda pissy about it on the air this morning. I will try to find a link to that column.I really don't think that the programming gurus at Big 2 actually ever made a decision to not air the World Cup as much they were probably clueless as to events surrounding them and just let the usual programming stand. Hence, we get bass fishing instead of the final game of the World Cup. This theory also has the advantage of explaining a lot of their news coverage.
July 1, 2002
By the end of this Ed Todd column I really needed a drink.
"Directly from the rain clouds or from streams and springs and cisterns and aquifers and lakes, water alone has the power to truly quench thirst.
Water, which is as free as the wind in Nature, again and again has been doctored up, often sweetened, colored, carbonated to make it effervescent, bottled up, marketed and sold for a handsome price."
Don't miss next week's column on air.
"Air. Breathe deep. Breathe it in. Good, pure, precious air. Air that fills our lungs and gives us life. Air that separates us from the cold dark recesses of outer space, which contains no air, and no water. Air all too often mixed with smoke from yet another one of Ott's damned Marlboros two desks over....."
If this is front page news (albiet below the fold) I need to submit my story about the time I blew out the freeze plugs in my '73 Galaxie 500 on the way back to college one summer.......boy, the stories I could tell. The article didn't say whether or not they were going to hire a young indian girl to act as their guide or not. Has the Have you Heard?" column been discontinued or was this just too big a story for that to handle?
Hey Walser: Remember that Large 2 is the same station who has consistently dazzled with impeccable timing - not long ago, just as the ball was being lowered in Times Square, our market was treated to an off-key weatherman, one J. G. Lunn as he crooned "I Did It My Way" at the Speedway or some other Redneck venue. Here's the sad part: I have been known to watch bass fishing on TV. The fishermen are every bit as funny as say, Bill Walton, and they certainly don't put on airs, a la Dennis Miller, but sweet jesus the world cup comes once every 4 years and these guys (after editing) catch a 4 pound bass on every cast. At first I thought they were pre-empting so that more people would watch their more expensive tape delay later that afternoon, but now I'm guessing that this was not a conscious decision on their part - in fact no one very conscious works at the station. It just happened. One more thing...have you memorized the promo for their exclusive interview with Laura yet? It's getting more air time than Kelly Griswald.
Big 2 has outdone themselves. The World Cup Finals, scheduled for live broadcast at 6:00am on Sunday morning...a show expected to be watched by 1.5 Bbbbbbbbbillion people worldwide...was pre-empted by a show on bass fishing.
Now I understand that this is West Texas and that football is King, but a couple of trips out to Windlands Park and/or Butler during any Saturday in the Fall or Spring and you will see soccer field after soccer field loaded with players of all ages along with their parents. I am not saying that the Championship Game of the biggest tournament in the world of the world's most popular sport should be broadcast in favor of something of more local interest like, say, yet another Bob Knight interview or even the Spike Dykes Celebrity Roast. But surely we could forego a lame-ass bass fishing show for just one Sunday...couldn't we?
Perhaps the MR-T will award a "Laurel" to the Spanish language station Univision who did broadcast the game live on channel 18.
For more info on local soccer go to the Midland Soccer Association website. For more information on bass fishing stay tuned to Big 2.
UPDATE: Here is the link.