February 28, 2003
Nice of the MRT to hand out a Laurel to one of its own, the departing Meta Minton. But it appears that in her absence, no one is manning the editorial helm. This little gem appears in today’s MRT concerning the Tetraco fire:
"One week ago today, the plant combusted into flames as employees managed to get out and help warn neighboring residents to evacuate the area."Geez, Louise…….what do you think we thought it combusted into…..poodles?
I was lucky enough to have been able to see an actual "Anti-War" protest the other week. It struck me then that the protest was much more Anti-Bush than Anti-War. It was very clear that these people hate Bush even more than they hate war.......Kosovo and Bosnia was "war" wasn't it? Sorties. Bombs. Boots on the ground. But that didn't break anyone out of the faculty lounges, now did it? James Lileks, as usual, finds the words:
".....and everyone's horrified that we've raised our hand to strike. Why? Perhaps because it's Bush who's made the decision to act.
I get this feeling, over and over again: it is better that the right thing never come to pass than let the wrong men make it happen."
Right now this DMMD thing is being billed as a plan where downtown property owners elect to "chip in" to create a fund to help improve downtown. An indication of the true nature of this plan will be whether unwilling downtown property owners can opt out of the plan. My guess is no. At which point it becomes a tax increase, albiet one for just the downtown area. But here is the big question: Can this thing that would be a de facto tax increase just be created (at the behest of just a few) by the State and run by the City with no vote or referendum at the local level? Paranoia is kicking in.....I need more details.
February 27, 2003
I sense Site Admin's disappointment that there was not more discussion on the local transit system. I chose to remain silent because the colossal idiocy of the whole idea was not worthy of comment. We all know that a transit system is doomed to failure in Midland; even the City Council knows that. They just couldn't help themselves. Pork was offered, so pork was taken. No big surprise here.
But if it's discussion you want, the Downtown Midland Management District should serve you well.
Let me get this right. The plan is to take money from the precious few remaining property owners in downtown Midland and with this money we will either build a Galleria, turn Wall Street into Sixth Street or clean up the sidewalks in front of Wes Perry's buildings. Councilman Perry asks the property owners to "chip in some money" to improve downtown. As a property owner, Perry probably likes this idea. After all he wouldn't actually be the one paying the increased taxes. That burden will fall to all of the tenants leasing from these downtown property owners. Office space being not exactly at a premium these days, most people will flee the high rent district for something more reasonable. Who wouldn't. That's why all this stuff just makes my head hurt. Why oh why do they think that increased taxes stimulate business? Can someone please explain this?
If the funds for the DMMD come from the building owners themselves there would be no problem......but if it is their own money why do they need anyone's approval? Hopefully more information about how this actually works will be forthcoming. The news article was just another uncritical rah-rah piece utterly lacking in details.
Walser: It looks like the Downtown Midland Management District (DMMD) money comes from the downtown building owners themselves. If it is their own money, what would be the problem?
Regarding the issue of Mr. Ard's letter concerning Abell Junior High Principal Deborah Jordan someone familiar with school district policy e-mails me that:
"Board policy states that an average numerical grade can not be lower than 50 on the student's permanent record. They still fail, but not as miserably as they could have. Students can receive less on individual work, but the average can not be lower than 50.Indeed, a check of Board policies on the MISD website shows that Ms. Jordan was carrying out Board policy.
The thought process......If a student experiences something traumatic at one given time in his or her life and scores a 15 average as a semester grade, what are the chances of that student pulling it back up to passing? Let me tell you, slim to none! A 50 is still failing, but gives the student a chance to get his or her act together. If the student keeps scoring 50's, even 60's, the student still fails. There are divorces, deaths, abandonment and other issues that some students face at various times in their lives. Most of these kids would probably drop out. If we can keep them in school, we can keep working with them."
More high praise for Jessica's Well!
"I think you're pathetic, a disgrace to democracy, dangerously idiotic ... and your mother probably was a sheep.Not sure if it was the Axis of Weasels graphic or the Double Croix de Guerre that drew this letter but there it is. My first official hate mail.
PS: sorry I'm insulting you, but you're doing just the same to us !"
Rolf from Belgium
I am pathetic. Can't argue with him there. But in my defense, I am only benignly idiotic.
What doesn't fit is his seeming concern for democracy.
UPDATE: Mom says, "Baaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhh."
Walser: It looks like Lileks is doing the same thing, sort of.
"I was looking forward to playing SimCity 4, but it’s not out for the Mac yet. This is probably a good thing, since SimCity is one of those games that does its damnedest to keep me from enjoying it. All I want to do is build cities. Design them, watch them run. That’s all. I use the cheats to build up huge amounts of money and build infrastructure for free, just for the pleasure of seeing the empty spaces blossom, the downtown grow."
Would this be an unfair headline?
UPDATE: Regarding the TIRZ:
"'The problem is that it is not increasing property value', Perry said."All things remaining equal, why would it? If property values don't increase, the TIRZ won't work.......well, won't generate funds anyway. If the property values are increasing, why do we need the TIRZ?
We didn't discuss it much, did we? Sometimes real work gets in the way of blog time. But it comes down to this: All we needed to know about the probable fate of the new attempt at mass transit in Midland we should have learned from the last attempt......the last attempt being not just a failure, but a massive failure. Councilman Dingus' attempt to justify spending the money that we sent to the Feds rather than to City Hall directly was based on the notion that this money was going to be spent anyway so why not spend it on stuff for us? The same argument could be made for federally funded snowplows could it not? No real consideration was given to whether or not these federal funds (that, true enough, would be spent anyway) would be spent in any sort of an effective manner by us. We have already proven once that this is not a good use of taxpayer funds be they federal or local.
Time will reveal the only remaining questions concerning this latest attempt at public transportation in Midland: When will they shut it down, and how much will it have cost by the time they do.
Now, if we let this new Downtown Midland Management District (DMMD) go unnoticed or uncommented upon we are nuts.
The new local transit system looks like a done deal. I was hoping for some more discussion on it here but it apparently didn't fire anyone's imagination.
Cool. A battle between the make-believe President and a real-life U.S. Senator!
February 25, 2003
Damn, Walser......I thought you had been kind of twitchy lately.
More bad news for Phil Donahue. First, his show gets cancelled. If that weren't bad enough, Scrappleface latches on to him.
How evil are you?
Admin......you are such a wuss.
Not a bad few weeks for this here pissant blog. Since January 1st of this year we have had 87,629 visitors and 352,082 hits. Keep up the posting guys.....we are getting meaningful numbers of eyeballs now.
Pliny: Check this out from today's Wall Street Journal Opinion Journal Best of the Web:
"The Tennessean reports that Nashville-area schools are considering a new grading scheme, in which the minimum grade for elementary-school assignments would be a 50. "These are six- to nine-year-old children," Sandy Johnson, the school system's chief instructional officer, tells the paper. "I think we have to be really careful about grading, that we don't do things that really devastate children." All this presupposes, of course, that the kids are too dumb to figure out that a 50 under the new system is the same as a zero under the old one."Original article here.
February 24, 2003
Meet Deborah Jordan, principal of Abell Jr. High School, Midland Texas. In this Sunday letter to the editor, James C. Ard, a teacher (perhaps ex-teacher at the time of this blog) at Abell tells us about the "high" standards for student performance demanded by Ms. Jordan. Students who make no effort at learning are given near passing grades so that if they decide to make some effort in the future, they will not be held back by their past malfeasance.
February 23, 2003
Because France did not currently have a prestigious enough award to confer upon Jacques Chirac for his valiant struggles against the great hegemon America, the French government has commissioned a new medal based upon the well known French "Croix de Guerre" or "Cross of War". Jessica's Well is proud to be the first in the blogosphere to gain an actual photograph of this newly commissioned medal. Ladies and Gentlemen, we present France's newest and most prestigious medal: "The Double Croix de Guerre".
Reading today’s MRT Letters page (it’s the only rag we get down here), I came across a brilliant piece by one June McBrayer, apologist for her grandson, a Mr. Heineman. If only she’d been available to spin my story I think I’d have made the 7th circle.
6th Circle, Hell
February 22, 2003
Charles Johnson over at Little Green Footballs notices something interesting. German and Palestinian "Anti-War" protestors carrying pre-printed "No War" signs that are exactly alike.
February 21, 2003
February 20, 2003
We have new stuff in the Jessica's Well Storefront! We don't have a tip jar like most bloggers but sales from this stuff helps defray our hosting costs. Take a look here!
February 19, 2003
You must read this great story from Reason.
No comment really needed here. Hat tip to Diablogger.
Heard on the radio this morning that the Midland Development Corporation is approving a second "incentive" package for Accutel. They are creating about 60 more jobs. Midland, Texas! Help Desk to The World!
Who won the big match-up this weekend? The Protestors or "Kangaroo Jack"? Apparently, it was a tie.
"Or, to be a bit cruel, the protests attracted about as many people this weekend as the movie "Kangaroo Jack." I'm sorry, but it's true."Read the rest of Ken Layne's post here.
February 18, 2003
New Term of the Week:
Site Admin: I would be willing to bet that the "Buddy West" Leadership Award that was given to....uh, what was the guy's name again?.....oh, Buddy West, is not an award at all. More probably it is the excuse for a fundraiser for the Presidential Museum. It goes like this: Organization needs funds. Organization holds fundraiser that "honors" local pol who happens to be the new Chairman of the House Energy Committee. Organization sends out letters seeking "Sponsors" for event. Non-Idiot businessmen in the energy business regulated by honoree's committee become sponsors of the event. They send big checks, get big tables, and then send employees to attend event. Everybody wins. It is not the Nobel.
But then, neither is the Nobel anymore.
I have to admit it. I thought Tony Blair was Bill Clinton writ small. He is not. Tony Blair is a leader. A leader in tough times. Faced with opposition at home he is staying the course because he knows what is at stake and is willing to risk political ruin to defend both his country and Western ideals.
Can anyone even imagine Bill Clinton doing this?
A local guy named Buddy West has been awarded the first George E. "Buddy" West Leadership Award. Gee, what do you think the chances of that happening are? Pretty small I would say....otherwise it wouldn't have been the friggin' headline this morning.
February 12, 2003
Say......doesn't "Elvi" have two i's?
The television show "The West Wing" is dead......or should be. Patrick Ruffini gives us a look at its replacement: "The Right Wing".
I’ve seen it all. Tonight on channel seven news two reporters did a “story” about Valentines packages at the MCM Elegante Hotel. They didn’t even look embarrassed as they sipped champagne in their robes while talking about the price of a massage. They cut to a room where the reporters discussed the “color television of ample size for complete relaxation.” The female reporter actually knelt on the bed. It was the most shameless commercial disguised as a news story I have ever seen. Somebody tell me, could the owner of channel 7 be the same guy who owns the MCM Elegante Hotel? Something about the word “elegante”…just oozes velvet Elvi doesn’t it?
February 10, 2003
February 7, 2003
You won't catch me linking to the Guardian often, but this article on the general morale and sympathies of the Iraqi army regulars is worth reading.
"The soldiers Abbas left behind, meanwhile, sit in their hilltop bunkers, pondering an unenviable fate. "We are all very tired," Abbas said. "I haven't heard of Tony Blair. But if George Bush wants to give us freedom then we will welcome it."Read the rest here.
February 6, 2003
POW! Right in the kisser!
February 5, 2003
Now that Midland has it's own "Economic Development" sales tax slush fund it is interesting to watch the thrashing around done by other Texas cities that think they need more funds to do this kind of development also. Just today I happened to run across an editorial in a Texas town's local paper advocating for the passing of a bond issue that would generate more money for, among other things, economic development. An excerpt:
"Should you [support] a $XXX million bond program, you'll be supporting a plan that addresses public safety, improves cultural, recreational and library facilities, and – most important – stimulates economic development for a brighter, richer future."Sound familiar? This poor town....still behind the times....not having enough funds for economic development....the economic development so critical to its future and survival. Concerns all voiced with the same alarm and urgency that our local paper employed in like editorials.
The town? Freakin' DALLAS.
What? You thought that you were ever going to be let off of this expensive ride? Think again.
February 4, 2003
Now that the bond has passed, the discussion needs to begin on how to improve the actual education of Midland students, because bricks and mortar alone will not do it. For those of you who think our students ARE getting a fine education remember the quiz asked of graduating seniors from Midland High in November, 1999, by Channel 9 News. Among the other brilliant results, only half of those asked knew that thirty-seven percent of one-hundred is thirty-seven. Only one quarter could correctly calculate that half of thirty-nine is nineteen and one-half (they were allowed to use pencil and paper and all the time they desired). Only one quarter could say what is grammatically wrong with this sentence: "Where does he live at?"
Texas Monthly Magazine has recently completed an evaluation of Texas schools, rating them on a five star scale; one star being the lowest rating possible and five stars the highest. Midland High was rated one star, the lowest possible, while Lee High received a better but still inadequate score of three stars. The rankings are adjusted for the number of disadvantaged students in the school. One of the evaluation criteria used by the magazine is the ratio of students taking the state mandated final exam in algebra versus the number passing it. Over one hundred students at Midland High took the algebra exam but only twelve passed. That is pitiful.
Let the suggestions pour in. I will offer this one: School Vouchers of $5,000.00/year for any student. With this system the educrats will at least try to find solutions.
February 3, 2003
"Members of the CFR could not be reached for comment..."
Boy, that's a first.
February 2, 2003
One member of the Axis of Weasels down. One to go.
Saturday, February 1, 2003. The date that Midland's Citizens For Fiscal Responsibility died....and probably took with it Louisa's hopes for an elementary school south of Interstate 20.
Site Admin, you called it here in your post of last September 7th. Perhaps it is you that is all-knowing and all-seeing.
This from one of today's Letters to the Editor on Caprock Electric:
"About 10 years ago, management and directors instituted a voting by proxy process whereby patrons could designate their votes to a proxy committee controlled by the board in return for a credit on their electric bill. This resulted in directors having an overwhelming number of votes and enabled them to control election of directors and conduct business as they pleased."I take it by the use of the word "could" that this was voluntary on the part of the patrons. Anyone who sells their vote for money can't really gripe about not having a vote anymore....can they?
And from the League of Women Voters:
"In addition the LWV opposes choice options such as vouchers that undermine racial integration and/or equal access to quality public education. Vouchers only take additional money away from the already strapped public schools."What? Just because they are "non-partisan" you thought that to mean that they weren't left-leaning? I love the qualifying "equal access to quality public (emphasis mine) education". Vouchers give parents the opportunity to choose and forces competition on the schools. This is good for both of them.
When computers and communications and mass storage became relatively cheap and easy Project Gutenberg was born. The aim of project Gutenberg was to utilize the mass storage and networking capabilities of modern computers to distribute widely (and therefore safeguard) classic literature. It is with that idea in mind that I post this drawing by Peter Ginz. Download it. Save it. Burn it on to a CD. Send it to friends and family. Make sure it never goes away.
February 1, 2003
Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I've climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of- wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov'ring there,
I've chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air.
Up, up, up the long, delirious burning blue
I've topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace
Where never Lark, or even Eagle flew -
And while with silent lifting mind, I've trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand and touched the face of God.
- John Gillespie Magee, Jr, 1922-1944