Friday, May 30

death sentences handed out by Dallas City Council

Earlier this week, the Dallas City Council handed out am unknown number of death sentences, to begin in January 2009. The most likely victims will be innocent, living in the poor parts of town, but .. they'll all be random and it could happen to anyone.

Okay, so The Council didn't hand out the sentences directly; this is the result of Unforeseen Consequences Legislation. For me, this is a no-brainer but that's probably because I have the audacity to Think Before Voting.

These upcoming death sentences are due to a combination of two laws: one already on the books and the other (apparently) coming in January. It's already well publicized that the Dallas Police [DPD] have a "no chase policy" which forbids them from commencing a chase if it would endanger citizens. Now, add the new 2009 rule which will force the towing of any vehicle being operated without insurance (estimates of 10% come to mind) and the race is on.

What will happen is that the DPD will attempt to pull over someone for a minor traffic violation - broken tail light, for example. The driver, knowing that she has no insurance, will envision her car (the only means of getting to work, grocery, etc) taken away if she is stopped. She also knows (word travels fast) that the DPD won't stop her if she goes into Massive Evasion Mode, so .. she takes off at a high rate of speed. Being new at this Evasive Mode Thing, she hits/kills a pedestrian, or (more commonly) T-bones into a small 4-door sedan and kills the occupants. Thanks to the Dallas City Council, this is exactly what to expect in early 2009.

Sure, in a perfect world I'd like to see everyone insured, too. I think the fairest way is to incorporate minimal insurance (think: Liability) in the price of gasoline. Yes, gas prices will rise slightly, but this will be mitigated by the slight reduction of insurance premiums for the 90% of us who are financially responsible. And it won't subject the rest of us to an out-of-control motorist whose only crime is that she chose to buy food for her family instead of liability insurance.

Wednesday, May 28

Go ahead, regulate my day

After reading Geoff's narrative "Heathrow works, Chicago sucks, Edam isn’t" I'm prone to muse about a conversation I had with Judy-Bob recently, regarding the possible return of regulation to the US airline business. I don't recall flying (much?) before the Airline Deregulation Act became law in 1978. Apparently it was implemented in stages.

What would regulation entail? Simply, the airlines would be told what routes to fly, and at what price. Given existing passenger demand, the airlines would have to accommodate the traffic, rather than creating it via incentives (long gone are the $99 LAX-NYC flights, with free-flowing champagne and gourmet meals).

Southwest wouldn't have more of a price advantage than American Airlines, but the former would probably be less profitable since they'd have to deviate from their short hop mantra (locally .. who wants to endure the grief of DFW airport when you can enjoy yourself at DAL (Love Field)? Then again, American still finds it impossible to turn a plane in less than an hour, while Southwest has the twenty (20) minute turn down to a science.

Regulation/deregulation isn't something that can be turned on or off like a switch, but I suspect that's due to incompetence more so than feasibility. Let's assume the FAA mandates the return to regulation on 1.1.2010 .. this would give everyone more than enough time to plan the routes, sell the tickets, staff the facilities, etc.

One comment J-B made astounded me: "there are seldom more than 28 different fares on any given flight". Twenty eight?? In the regulated days, there were apparently four ticket prices on a given flight: First Class, Full-Fare Coach and two (2) discounted coach fares. Why the airlines have so many different fares has been written about ad nauseum, but I still find the number 28 absurdly high .. complexity leading to increased cost and all that rot. Certainly, there's a subset of the public who takes great glee in excavating the lowest possible fare between points (using the airline's own silly rules* against them) but I suspect they're truly in the obscure minority.
* hidden city fares come to mind as one example
Honestly, I can't see the return to regulation in my lifetime. The US air travel system is so horribly broken (with enough politics to make even Karl Christian Rove go batty) that it cannot be fixed. Ever.

PS to Geoff: regulation would most certainly not fix ORD (Chicago O'Hare). Suggest you hub through CVG (Cincinnati) in the future, when making the LHR-SEA run.

Monday, May 26

Memorial Day 2008

I don't recall the Uniform Monday Holiday Act to be controversial; I had completed the fifth grade at the time, and still found "the news" to be tediously boring (I recall a black-and-white television with Huntley & Brinkley every evening).

With that in mind, I do remember when Memorial Day was celebrated on the fixed holiday of May 30, versus "the last Monday in May" as it is now. I've blogged about my father's military service before and don't have anything to add now, excepting his repeated mention that he served on a heavy cruiser during the war - maybe the USS Tuscaloosa - although I really don't recall. His photo collection includes quite a few from China.

Sadly, dad's grave is more than 850 miles away, so it's not easy to visit.

In reading the Wikipedia page re: the Uniform Holidays Bill, I remembered that Washington's birthday and Lincoln's birthday were celebrated separately (later, Lincoln's birthday disappeared and President's Day appeared, then Martin Luther King's birthday was added to our holiday mix). I suspect 9/11 will evolve into a mandatory holiday, although December 7 never did, so ...

Friday, May 23

Texas: where we am stupid an proude of It!

Today's must read: Texas education board passes new English, reading standards shows that we am gonna English like are fundamelnatlist Don McLeroy (a puppit of Guvinir Pretty Hair Perry).

An the Bes Part is that theses new Rulez! will be in plaise for the nexst TEN YEERS!

Neck Stop: Science! Let's see how Fundy Don McLeroy guts that (we All No the worlds 6000 years old rite) ?!?

Parents - if you live in Texas nows the time to move to a more edjicated stait. The good news am that there is 49 the chose from, incluiding Alabama and Misssisipi. Thin again, there is one way to be efen dummer: you could hoam school yer Childern so thay don't half to micks with Meksicans an Nigras (jusst like in real life!).

Sunday, May 18

cabrito? check!

I can now cross another item from my Bucket List: eating cabrito.

Mary was in town this weekend and wanted to check out a museum, so we sauntered over to the Dallas Museum of Art. It turns out that The Nasher is closed on Sunday, and logistics dictated we not try the Kimball or Amon Carter Museums in Fort Worth. While the DMA's featured J.M.W.Turner paintings didn't do much for either of us, the crowd was respectable -- so this must be one of those "beauty in the eye of the beholder" things.

After that, we made a quick stop at Northpark Center for some haute shampoo (something about the 3oz TSA limit was said), followed up by dinner at Javier's Gourmet Mexicano Restaurant, where the waiter explained that "the entire menu is available" .. meaning, to me, that I'd finally get to sample cabrito (seasonally available). Sadly, I wasn't impressed, and can now affirm that goat tacos won't be my usual, henceforth. Maybe this regional delicacy simply lost something in translation as it crossed the border into Téjas. Or maybe it just needed more ketchup.

Saturday, May 17

fertilizing the grassroots

I hope the Democrats are preparing themselves for the aftermath of that awful (right wing) SCOTUS ruling about photo ID at the voting booth. Without so much as ONE instance of voter fraud, the SCOTUS decided to make sure that about 8% of poor people CANNOT vote. Most of us take for granted that we have both a photo ID and a place to secure it.

For the poor, this can be a major PITA, as they need to gather the original documents (birth certificate, etc); transportation to the issuing authority; and TIME to wait in line. Many of the poor don't have that luxury, and the Republican-controlled SCOTUS doesn't care; they're only here to serve their Republic Party masters and keep them in power as long as possible.

It appears that this disenfranchisement won't be attempted in Texas until next spring (the legislature only meets on odd years) but in this state, the Stupider The Legislashun The More Possibiler It'll Pass. Apparently there's no requirement that Texas legislators have even a grade school education (I suspect many of them are Home Schooled).

Until then, the Democrats would be wise to finance a Photo Identification Drive which will fund The Procedure outlined above. I'm not sure how many tens of thousands of Texans don't have a Photo ID but odds are they're not the Rich White Oil/Cattle Barons (read: Republic Party Financiers), who could care less if The Little People were ever allowed to vote.

Wednesday, May 14

Kentucky battles West Virginia for "Most Racist" Title

The upcoming Oregon and Kentucky primaries (next Tuesday) will tell which one is more racist than West Virginia - my money's on Kentucky, easily.

A long time ago, I lived in Kentucky and know that they are indeed racist .. the question is .. how much? They didn't appear to be more inbred than West Virginia, but we'll know next Tuesday night, after we see if The Clinton's new pro-Klan tactic* equates to votes.

Meanwhile, every time I see Hillary yelling at Her remaining supporters, I can't help but think that even Don Quixote would be laughing.

Oregon, beside having more electoral votes (52 v 51), is a far more sane place, and is expected to vote for Obama. Then, to wrap it all up, there's Puerto Rico (55 delegates) on June 1st, followed by Montana (16) and South Dakota (15) on June 3rd.

* targeting uneducated White [sic] voters

Update: Kentucky went Clinton by 35 points, while West Virginia went Clinton by 40 .. making West Virginia the Racist Capital of the Country .. by 5%. Kentucky vows to become more racist in the 2012 election, since they don't like to be second.

Monday, May 12

what do China, Burma and New Orleans have in common?

Recent news items:
  1. 77,738+ dead in Myanmar (Cyclone Nargis, 3 May)
    ** see Irrawaddy for updates
  2. 51,000+ dead in China (Sichuan earthquake, 12 May)
  3. "only" 1,577 died in Louisiana (Hurricane Katrina)
Deep Thought: I wonder if both China and Myanmar were gonna have Really Big Gay Pride Parades?

The big question remains: How long will it be before (McCain's soulmate) John Hagee notices and rants accordingly? If only the Chinese shared Hagee's religion, this never would have happened, right?

Ref: 230,000+ died in Indonesia/Sri Lanka (26 Dec 2004 : "Boxing Day Tsunami"), triggered by a 9.3 earthquake

Thursday, May 8

Arianna in Plano

I'd never been to a book-signing before, so when I heard that legendary Arianna Huffington (of fame) was going to be in town, I decided it was High Time for me to cross another item from my personal bucket list. The event was sponsored by The North Dallas Democratic Women. Oddly, there were very few Republic Party members there, even though Plano is the epicenter of their North Texas lair.

Since she participated in an interview on KERA (90.1 in Dallas) on Tuesday, I already knew most of her talking points, and thus wasn't surprised when she stayed On Message during the lecture followed by Q&A.

Only one (acknowledged) Republic Party member was brave enough to approach the microphone and ask Arianna a question, and she ever-so-graciously gave him a copy of her book (Right Is Wrong) .. for him to examine his own rationale for supporting John McCain. As she explained, the primary target for this book are the 20% of the people "in the gap" between the die-hard Bushies (28%) and those who say they'll consider voting for McCain in November. She hopes the book erases all remaining doubt that McCain (2008 version) is a terrible choice (I've just started reading it, so please allow a few moments for me to analyze this epic).

Bonus: Arianna looked better in person than on TV! She mentioned that she'll be on Steven Colbert's little TV show tonight, so I suppose I should program the TiVo event, then plan to sit about one foot away (as close as I was during the autographing) and make that comparison. Too bad I don't have HD .. hmmm.

Note to Arianna: I hope your DFW-NYC flight was uneventful. Come back real soon?

Wednesday, May 7

stick a fork in it, Hillary

okay, the time has come. you've all been waiting on it. Hillary's been waiting on it. And now, the nation is waiting on it.

The time has come for me (Gene Bob) to demand that Hillary Clinton abandon her campaign, and go back to whatever it is she was doing before. The fact that she won the Indiana primary by only 2% (*) when she was expecting a blowout (two weeks ago), and the fact that she got bulldozed by 14% in North Carolina .. means that the bulk of the Democrats are finally on to her tactics.

Hillary .. it's Gene Bob. It's time to call it quits. Be a man and make the announcement today. Your presidency was never meant to be (despite Rush Limbaugh's adoration of you and your "devoted" husband).
"When you've lost Cronkite Gene Bob, you've lost America."
If you won't do it for me (hard as that may be to believe), do it for West Virginia.

(*) 12 May update: now, there's speculation that Obama might have won the Indiana primary, had it not been for the interference of the Republic Party (via their servants on the SCOTUS)

Monday, May 5

Clintonomics: effect on Indiana

Go ahead, Hoosiers .. vote for Hillary (and her summer gas tax holiday*). By the way, as a result, 6000 of you (construction workers) are now out of a job. Are you happy now?

Honestly, did none of you ever go to school? Hopefully you learned more than the average Texas student, whose only post-graduate ability is taking TAKS tests.

* the calculated 30 cents a day savings will buy you enough more gas** to drive about 1.3 miles (in the GOP Dream Machine Chevy Tahoe, which gets 16 miles-per-gallon on a good day). That assumes today's average $3.62/gallon price.

** Everybody Knows(tm) you're not going to use your 30 cents to pay rent, or buy food. Maybe you'll put it in your savings account, where it'll earn 1 cent interest by the end of 2008.

By the way, did you see the report which said that Bush's Reading First plan (a $1B part of No Child Left Behind) has accomplished absolutely nothing? What a great (Republican) waste of my tax dollars.

Sunday, May 4

praying on the immigrants

The churches in this area have long been known to prey on society's weakest. There are occasional stories in the local newspaper about how the homeless (growing in Dallas at 15% last year) are subjected to religious ceremonies while they're getting a meal. Most of the homeless feel they have no alternative but to tolerate it, as the hidden cost to be paid.

Job seekers will find many gatherings during the week - almost always in churches - where they can discuss job leads, at the cost of not-so-subtle Bible stories (to illustrate a point, of course) or more blatant public prayers. Job seekers who wish to avoid the religious angle will be forced to fend for themselves, mostly.

Likewise, I found it interesting to see that the non-Catholic churches are reaching out to the Latino community to offer free ESL [English as a Second Language] classes, in addition to the more common "Church in Spanish". While on the first take, you make think it's because they're trying to serve the community, it's probably more self-preservation than anything else.

TANSTAAFL: There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch

The churches which promote these events want the immigrant's money, pure and simple. Each week, they'll make pleas (subtle at first) that the newcomer should join their church and then - like protection money extorted by gangsters - coax them into turning over 10% of what they earn to The Church, thus ensuring the church's continued domination over the membership, not to mention its very existence.

If the immigrants can't (or won't) make their voluntary contribution ("tithe"), what are the odds that a phone call to ICE [La Migra] will have them on a bus back to Guatemala by morning?

It's also amusing to see that some churches are more savvy than others, translating their signs into Spanish:

to placate the locals, they printed the top line en Inglésthe wrong way - although the 3 stars are a cute touch

It's also interesting to note that they get away with not asking about the immigration status - since that's far secondary to the money.

I recently read an article that money being shipped back home has mostly stayed flat, even though there are more illegals here now than ever. The inference is that each immigrant is sending less money back than before. It's only logical to assume that part of that money is going to The Gringo Churches, sí?