Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Hold the Spit?

Ha! Looks like being a cop in Burnet County isn't all fun and games. Seems the fellow to the left had a grudge against the local sheriff and messed with his burger when he came in for a bite to eat. What's worse is that this dapper gent's co-workers have ratted him out, and the dude could spend up to 10 years in a federal prison for "harrasment of a public servant." Here's what one witness had to say, "He told me he had taken the buns and wiped himself with it," said Robles, who worked at a different restaurant. She said Perez then told her that he had put vegetables for the sandwich in his mouth before placing them on the hamburger and that he spit on the burger."

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Greenhouse Gas improvement?

According to this little "stat-shot" from The Economist, although global emissions of Carbon Dioxide (one of several GHGs, actually) has risen since 2007, "measured from 1990, the base year for Kytoto protocol targets, emissions fell by 4%." Russia, Germany and Britain are leading the decrease with Spain, Australia and Canada at the forefront. China is notably absent.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Rod Blagojevich is trapped inside his own brain

Parts one through three of John Stewart interviewing the latest of the Illinois Inglorious Guvners... In all actuality, I bet that Fitzgerald and some of the Democratic machine probably doesn't want the entirety of these tapes to come out. By the time we get to part three, Blago is saying that Hillary "stepped out of" Obama's way in exchange for $10 million in fundraising to get her campaign debt retired and a position for her as Sec of State. Rod and Rezco were in the same circle too, I bet there's a ton of juicy politics in those tapes.
The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Exclusive - Rod Blagojevich Extended Interview Pt. 1
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorHealthcare Protests

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Exclusive - Rod Blagojevich Extended Interview Pt. 2
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorHealthcare Protests

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Exclusive - Rod Blagojevich Extended Interview Pt. 3
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorHealthcare Protests

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Uncle Trouble?

Apparently there's a new method for making meth that's causing an uptick in the drug's usage after years of declining numbers. The AP has a lengthy piece discussing the new "shake and bake" technique, which involves common drugstore substances being shaken up in a 2-liter, airtight bottle.

The best part of the piece, however, seems to be a warning from Marion County Sheriff Kevin Williams. "It simplified the process so much that everybody's making their own dope... It can be your next-door neighbor doing it. It can be one of your family members living downstairs in the basement."

For some reason it doesn't strike me as terribly odd that a relative living in your Alabama basement could be a meth head. Williams should have added that "it could be scary, scraggly guys living in beat up vans in the holler."

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Memories of a Private Dick

Dick Cheney is apparently writing his memoirs of the Bush administration, which is sure to be a fascinating read regardless of your political tilt. The Washington Post has a story about it today, and though they play up the "Frustrated with Bush" headline, what's interesting is that Cheney has long assailed insider accounts of administrations arguing, perhaps correctly, that it compromises the privacy and therefore honesty of closed door discussions. An interesting passage from today's piece,"Cheney himself has said, without explanation, that "the statute of limitations has expired" on many of his secrets. "When the president made decisions that I didn't agree with, I still supported him and didn't go out and undercut him," Cheney said, according to Stephen Hayes, his authorized biographer. "Now we're talking about after we've left office. I have strong feelings about what happened. . . . And I don't have any reason not to forthrightly express those views."

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Louisiana 'Hizzy' of Representatives

Hurricane Chris blows up the Louisiana Legislature! Apparently he was given the mic as part of an appreciation or resolution honoring him. Halle Berry!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009


I'm assuming this contraption is a joke and not actually intended for consumption.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Changed Opinions?

After watching the June 2nd Daily Show, I realized I had a growing disdain for how the feds were running things. Strangely, P.J. O'Rourke, whom I don't usually like, seemed like he had some good things to say. Am I just tired, or was this a particularly good episode?

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

You Know How I Know You're Gay?

Apparently, Kim Jong Il is passing over his middle son's ascension to power because Kim thinks he's too lady-like. From the AP,
"Kim considers the middle son, Jong Chol, too effeminate for the job, according to his former sushi chef." Perhaps nobody has told Mr. Jong Il that he has a girl's name?

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Tag Team Intellect

Whilst in Denver enjoying cocktails on the roof of the MCA, I took notice of a flyer I tucked away for future reference. The museum, in a blend of wit and knowledge and seemingly born out of a Dave Eggers publication, hosts Mixed Taste: Tag Team Lectures on Unrelated Topics. The list looks great, so I guess it's no surprise these sell out. I'd be into "Stan Brakhage & Machine Guns," "The Human Genome & Leadbelly," and "Hot Sauce and Jewish Mysticism." Apparently two experts give half hour presentations on their topic and then collaborate on the Q&A. They aren't allowed to draw any parallels about the other topic during lecture - during the later half, apparently "anything can happen."

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Denver Are You Ready?

The beloved management of 303 Magazine is chipping me a few bucks toward a dirt cheap Southwest plane ticket, giving me a few assignments to keep busy in Denver for three days and letting me attend their bash at the MCA. My primary assignment in the next three days is to write about five "classic" Denver establishments. After a week of soliciting opinions from interns, perusing online forums and discussing things with my editor, we still hadn't arrived at establishment number five. Until now, that is. White Fence Farm, it is on! Aside from a Disneyland-like map of the place, they have live animals and live music.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Water you looking at?

Now that the EPA has finally sprung into gear acknowledging climate change as a looming threat, it's go-time on figuring out how exactly we're going to price these so-called "carbon trades." It's an interesting problem that some pretty excellent minds are tackling. Last Friday, I attended the Environmental Defense Fund's 9th (and final) State Water Conference where the final panel consisted of a lengthy discussion of the Water/Energy Nexus.

Apparently, it is cutting edge thinking to associate water usage with energy production and to measure the amount of energy it takes to pump, treat and manage water (and wastewater for that matter). Amy Hardberger, by far the most entertaining presenter of the day, walked the audience through the basics of energy and water's mutual dependence. It's a rare feat to get several dozen people alert and chuckling after 5 hours of previous presentations, but Amy was somehow able to do it. Her paper (written with several others) is available online and easily accessible reading. I'm currently putting an unprecedented level of effort into learning about resource management, but was grateful to have such handy schematics and simplistic explanations at my disposal.

To paraphrase the discussion, reductions in energy can result in reductions of water usage, because water is most often the agent used for dissipating waste heat generated by power plants. Similarly, water conservation can save on energy costs by reducing the amount of work needed to process and pump water. A more complicated problem resides in the valuation of these respective environmental effects, but at least we've got some talented, entertaining people working on it.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Wrath of Khan

check out China Shop Magazine to see a story I did about the glorious rhythm and rock of King Khan and the Shrines.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Saaaa-wing, battabattabatta, saaaaa-wiiiing!

With my future looking relatively busy, I had to opt out of fantasy baseball this year despite it being the best $20 I ever spent in 2008. In the midst of a hectic day I came across this little short about batting stances on ESPN and it really lifted the burdens of the moment and made me think back to my own young days imitating the Big Leaguers.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Jesus in time for Easter

It looks like fundamentalist Christians are beginning to realize that legislating their particular blend of morality is a lost cause. Here's what Kathleen Parker has to say in a recent column: "For Christians such as [E.Ray] Moore — and others better known, such as columnist Cal Thomas, a former vice president for the Moral Majority — the heart of Christianity is in the home, not the halls of Congress or even the courts. And the route to a more-moral America is through good works — service, prayer and education — not political lobbying."

In Texas, where Christianity is famously our state's first religion the fallout from Dobson and others abdicating political power could have major ramifications for an already beleaguered Texas GOP, not to mention our Christian-courting Governor.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

So It Glows: Nuclear Power in America (Pt. 1)

It looks like the Obama administration is moving in the direction of an economic carbon policy for our fair country. Europe already has "cap and trade" in place, and it's been the recommended course of action from a number of intelligent minds and publications. The Economist eschews subsidies and regulations saying, "The alternative is to let markets to find the way forward, through a carbon-trading scheme or a carbon tax. At least in theory, the profit motive should help entrepreneurs figure out the cheapest ways of cutting emissions, and thus save us all money. Clearly, The Economist is keener on the latter strategy, as Mr Obama and the EU seem to be."

The WSJ recently ran an interview with J. Wayne Leonard, chairman and CEO of Entergy Corp., which the Journal says is "one of the largest U.S. energy companies and the No. 2 generator of nuclear power." Leonard poses an interesting example of an energy company CEO who is in favor of both cap-and-trade (with some caveats) and the politically unpopular carbon tax. . While both the publication and Leonard himself are straight forward with the benefits such a system may have for a company whose portfolio is primarily nuclear, I think the subject of nuclear merits some further digging.

Given the City of Austin's recent debate between solar and nuclear power, and the resultant approval of a 30 MW solar station rather than a 438 MW nuke plant investment, I figured my own experience, interests and sleuthing could provide some insight into the role that nuclear energy will play in our nation's future. It also provides me an opportunity to explore this question a bit further (plan on this being an installment piece). Consider this, Part One, a background on nuclear energy.

The first nuclear power plant was constructed in Obninsk, Russia in 1954 . By splitting atoms in a controlled environment, scientists are able to trap the heat generated by the atomic decay and use it for giant steam boilers. The steam then powers electrical turbines generating electricity. If you need slightly more details, a friendly Canadian will tell you about it below.

Since then, a 435 nuke plants have sprung up around the globe. In that time, several bits of conventional wisdom have seeped into the American popular and media consciousness. These would be: a) Americans are fearful and/or wary of nuclear power, despite the French loving it, b) nuclear power generates clean energy, c) it is cheaper than solar and wind power.

As it turns out, the French supply 76% of their power through nuclear plants. America gets a measly 20%. Yet, despite the grumbling of cultural conservatives who tend to malign the environmentalists as 'fraidy cats who stymie America's construction of nuke plants, (see 5th comment down) the USA actually has more nuclear power plants and generates more nuclear power than anyone in the world. And, going back to that Frontline piece I linked to above, the French in fact use American technology for their own plants, courtesy of Westinghouse. France has 59 nuclear power plants generating 63,260 MW while the US has 104 plants cranking out more than 100,000MW, more than 27% of the world’s nuclear energy, far beyond #2 France.

So why is it then, that Americans (and especially the left-leaning, presumably French appreciating environmentalists) are characterized as reluctant to embrace nukes? My research points to three main reasons: Hollywood, the timing of nuclear accidents, and the real problem of waste disposal. The later could also include concentration of nuclear energy, as opposed to simply the effects of a single plant. I'm also inclined to look into the financing and capital costs of nuclear plants. Scalability issues and financing were cited as one of the reasons Austin didn't spring for nuclear power recently. It's also one of the reasons no nuclear plants have come online since 1996, and no new orders since 1973.

Freakanomics authors Stephen J. Dubner and Steven D. Levitt wrote an insightful piece about the media aspect of nuclear power. The China Syndrome opened on March 16, 1979. With the no-nukes protest movement in full swing, the movie was attacked by the nuclear industry as an irresponsible act of leftist fear-mongering. Twelve days later, an accident occurred at the Three Mile Island nuclear plant in south-central Pennsylvania. Befitting the critically acclaimed thinkers, they string this analysis out to a showdown between risk and uncertainty. How do people weigh risk versus uncertainty? Consider a famous experiment that illustrates what is known as the Ellsberg Paradox. There are two urns. The first urn, you are told, contains 50 red balls and 50 black balls. The second one also contains 100 red and black balls, but the number of each color is unknown. If your task is to pick a red ball out of either urn, which urn do you choose? Most people pick the first urn, which suggests that they prefer a measurable risk to an immeasurable uncertainty. (This condition is known to economists as ambiguity aversion.) Could it be that nuclear energy, risks and all, is now seen as preferable to the uncertainties of global warming?"

Of course, the other accident was Chernobyl. According to National Geographic “The fallout, 400 times more radioactivity than was released at Hiroshima, drove a third of a million people from their homes and triggered an epidemic of thyroid cancer in children. Over the years, the economic losses—health and cleanup costs, compensation, lost productivity—have mounted into the hundreds of billions of dollars. As evidence of government bungling and secrecy emerged in its wake, Chernobyl (or Chornobyl, as it is now known in independent Ukraine) even sped the breakup of the Soviet Union.” Pretty powerful stuff.

I’m not exactly inclined to extrapolate an entire history of the Cold War and America’s defeat of Japan, but having conducted an extensive literary critique of John Hersey’s Hiroshima and watched plenty of 1980s propaganda I do know that the heroic power of atomic energy (wielded destructively) was exalted after V-J day, complete with re-enactments in California stadiums.

Once the Reds got the H-Bomb, and a full global armegaddeon was suddenly the psychological white noise of two generations, Americans were primed for the Ukranian meltdown. Without having gone back to review news footage of the event, I’m going to make a leap and say that the devastating power of the nuclear weapon’s grasp on the American subconscious essentially was depicted as an own-goal with the Russians disaster. It could simultaneously depict both the power of nuclear energy (read: weapons) and the folly of our enemy, the hated Commie Bastards. I just imagine the effect on the collective unconscious as being similar to a younger brother stealing your Porsche and running it into a pole.

Next up… waste. I’ll look into the relative cleanliness of nukes, costs and drawbacks. Mostly I want to find out if the economic impact (derived from political conditions or environmental ones)of waste is factored into the price per Megawatt. I’m going to save the funding and economics for part three I think.

Fool's Day

You've got to love the dry humor of the Beeb. Check out this April Fool's segment about Switzerland's bumper spaghetti harvest, shot in 1957.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

What the gently caress are you talking about?

Flipping through the ol' internets and looking at the Vince Offer shots I noticed a curious phenomenon. Apparently, because internet forums restrict coarse language (fuck, amongst many other words) the users at the website somethingawful.com have begun inserting "gently caress" where the f-bomb would go. Fan-gently caressing-tastic.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Techn-opolypse, courtesy Barry Goldwater

Now that the Republican Party has apparently declared intellectual jihad on such bastions of knowledge as academia, the news, and scientists I've been rooting through some old thinkers of the conservative movement to see if there once existed some good ideas. I came across these videos of old campaign commercials on the internet archive, and was extremely impressed by Barry Goldwater's mix of homespun imagery, an almost literary conceptualization of Evil, and the verbosity of his own language. The second video takes you through some of the boilerplate talk show points about "big government," but then Goldwater adds a much colder element: that large government is eroding our very identities as individuals. His descriptions of government touch on physical aspects of everyday life creating a poem of a weakening substance. The tag line further promotes the viewer to absorb the subtle implications of Goldwaters message, "in your heart... you know he's right." Here's the downloadable file.

Also, Barry G. looks a little bit like Bevis, no?

Thursday, March 5, 2009


This story makes me want to kill Bill Cosby just so his ghost can look down from heaven and smile.

Apparently, those wacky scientists at the South Pole have been getting into some Jello wrestling. Every dyed in the wool nerd I know is a pretty strange person who often didn't get a lot of ass. It looks like all that changes in the South Pole. Binge drinking (and murder), 16,000 condoms and 5 months of darkness!

Monday, March 2, 2009

The Red Menace

Doing some daily reading, I enjoyed this piece in the NY Times about the rhetoric of socialism from the conservative camp. I found it interesting because a) I'm taking my first Econ class right now and b) I got into a heated email exchange with my uncle late in the campaign because he was insistent on calling Obama a socialist/communist without actually knowing the differentiation between those terms.

I suppose if an attack line works, use it. But still, it's a bit like the old days of playing Tekken against some kid who just uses the same combo move the entire match.

Aside from, as the article points out, the different shades of San Fran, Swedish and Venezuelan socialism, my Economics text keeps reminding me that we actually live in a state of Welfare Capitalism, where the government regulates and manages whole aspects of the economy. As the GOP casts about for a new leader, they may want to look at a famous pseudo-socialist of their own: The trust busting, environment preserving, Cuba invading TR!

UPDATE: Apparently, some in Fort Worth think a "Marxist Revolution" is being conducted in the White House! You know when Ron Paul's kid shows up at a rally you've got a message that's sticking.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

What This Country Needs is an Awesome Depression

Running in the March issue of 303 Magazine

I think the time is ripe for an Even Greater Depression. It seems like every week economic data bear even worse news. Three years ago if you heard, “credit crunch” odds are it was a candy bar or exercise. Now, it provokes a looming sense of uncertain dread everyone has thus far only associated with terrorists.

Imagine life two years ago – the weather was always sunny, everyone busied themselves with self-indulgent internet posts and it seemed like every zip code had its own glamour and lifestyle magazine. My friend actually thought he could sell homemade t-shirts that proclaimed “Fuck War” for $45 a pop. He used to give sushi to homeless guys too, and is now unemployed.

An Awesome Depression would put the Great Depression to shame. It would be more severe, yes, but also more full of character-building struggle and their attendant anecdotes. A Depression with less comfort than any other Depression would teach everyone thriftiness and resourcefulness. Suddenly disposable anything seems pretty silly. Why throw away what you can reuse and recycle? Why not wash out that plastic container for lunchmeat and store other food in it? What about changing your old bottles into decorative candle-holders or cups for that homemade beer you’ve begun brewing.

We’ll have all kinds of stories like my 5th grade teacher Mrs. Wilson used to tell us. She made dresses out of shoes and ate the leftovers for dinner. She saved everything and could fix anything and could have survived the apocalypse had it occurred in 1952.

In an Awesome Depression people will be more careful with how they spend their entertainment dollars. Luxury boxes always have been dumb, but when unemployment starts bumping into double digits it’s going to take more than glass to protect the champagne swilling, over-paid douches who somehow created a caste system of their own for sports.

After years of bling and brand names being forced down everyone’s throats it’s nice to know that advertising is on the run for a change. And imagine how much better at math our children are going to be when they all stop getting allowances because pennies are more valuable than wishes again.

An Awesome Depression would toughen everybody up. Why do you think we’re having trouble fighting the Taliban? They sleep in snow and live in caves! They herd goats on mountains and build houses out of mud and rocks. Meanwhile, our kids are raised on video games and central heating and air. Wimps!

People are going to have to learn real jobs and no longer pass themselves off as insufferable “producers” or “graphic designers” when everyone knows that their parents are merely supporting them. And what in the fuck are rappers going to rap about if no one can afford to “make it rain”? Although, it will be fun to see hobos resurface– even though they will probably have to invent new, even poorer ways to get wasted.

An Awesome Depression is going to knock the wind out of pretentious hipster fashion and emphasize well-made, long-lasting clothes (and cars for that matter). Our children are going to look back at 10 years of Club Rap and SUVs and think we were retarded. Then they’ll be glad that we learned how to snare squirrels using twine and our own ingenuity in order to survive the Food Scarcity Crisis of 2011.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Satellite Cloud

I found this cool shot of what earth may look like what with all the satellites in low-orbit.