Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Radio 101

I really appreciated, back in the days when this was done, the really quick radio commercial breaks, back when it wasn't necessary to have eleventy songs in a row. Stations would play three songs, break for one or two ads, and be right back to the music. I have airchecks that illustrate this nicely. Back then, I was willing to wait when I heard, "More music in 60 seconds!"

However, today's bloated breaks send me straight to the preset buttons. But what makes this worse is that it appears that we are simply expected to sit through these commercials as long as it takes. I don't know about anyone else, but I am not inclined to wait around for something to happen when someone blithely says "We'll be back in 3½ minutes." (That would be you, Bobby Bones.)

That moment I heard that, I flipped to Bob FM, and sure enough, Bob got a whole song, "Devil Woman", in before Kiss-FM even came back from their break. "Devil Woman", by the way, is longer than 3½ minutes, so either Bob faded the song early, or Kiss took a longer break than promised. Either way, that's not a good way to get your listeners to stick around.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Okay, now I feel old...

Thanks a lot, KITY. (Warning: page has embedded streaming audio.) KITY is Austin's oldies station (yes, Austin does have an oldies station; listen at 102.7 in most parts of town to hear it), and I have heard more and more 80s tunes in their mix. This morning, Lou Christie was followed by Lionel Richie's "All Night Long".

Is my music really that old?

Al Gore loses historical perspective

In the middle of Matt Lauer's fawning interview of Al Gore this morning on Today (when Mr. Gore could get a word in edgewise, what with Mr. Lauer's continual pleading with Mr. Gore to run for President, and his shilling of Mr. Gore's DVD), Mr. Gore stated that Iraq is the "worst strategic mistake in the history of the United States". (I believe "worst strategy mistake", as the page reads currently, is a typo.)

Ummm...not to downplay the admitted mistakes made in the Iraq conflict, but I can immediately think of at least one strategic mistake that was much worse, and that is Jimmy Carter's disastrous mishandling of Iran in 1979, withdrawing of support for the Shah, and basically setting the stage for everything that has happened in the Middle East since then, including the current Iraq conflict.

But I don't really think Mr. Gore was nearly as concerned with historical accuracy as he was with rhetoric and sound bites.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Why was I missing Christmas commercials???

'Twas the month before Christmas
And all ads were the same
They showed unrealistic situations
And they were all really lame

Monday, November 20, 2006

Scarlett Johansson as much as calls herself a slut...

In the midst of criticizing President Bush for his "staunch conservative views on sex", Scarlett Johansson made some of the dumbest statements I've heard in a while. To wit:

* She is so "socially aware" that she gets an HIV test every six months. No, honey, that just means you sleep around a lot.
* The article doesn't make this completely clear, but it appears that Ms. Johansson thinks President Bush wants to make abortion illegal in all states. I don't remember him bringing that up in the last, well...ever.
* This is an actual quote, referring to President Bush's so-called views: "Every woman would have six children and we wouldn't be able to have abortions." Or maybe you'd have to learn something called personal responsibility. Anyway, I don't seem to recall the president stating this desire, either. If you're going to make up someone's views, try making up worthwhile viewpoints for yourself first.

Anyway, why do we have to rely on schools for our sex education? Why is it that so many people are unwilling to teach their own children, well, anything? Why are so many willing to let their kids watch badly written, badly acted "love scenes", but won't say a word to them about the subject?

Perhaps if parents, collectively, would grow a spine and have the kinds of talks with their children that life demands, they would learn that "love" in the media has nothing whatsoever to do with real life love. Real life relationships, romantic or not, require character development. TV, by and large, doesn't show this. And Ms. Johansson could use it.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

The votes are in...

Once again, after the votes were counted, countless people were complaining about the results, saying the fix was in, and calling the whole thing simply a popularity contest.

Of course, we all know what I'm talking about here: Dancing With the Stars!

I've never watched the show myself, but I did find the suggestion of a "dance-off" between the two finalists (Mario Lopez and Emmitt Smith) to be an interesting idea. Why can't we have this type of redo for our election? I don't think seeing the Democrats and Republicans dancing would change anything, but it would give me a good laugh. And that's really what's important here.

Friday, November 03, 2006

More Tony Romo fallout...

Don't you think Dish Network is kicking themselves over paying for a full season's worth of ads featuring Drew Bledsoe? At least one local station (okay, it was 101X) took to offering a disclaimer before airing one of the ads the other day.

265th District Court: Get rid of this guy!

Tonight's "20/20" discussed the completely unequal treatment given two offenders. Both received ten years probation, and both violated the terms of that probation. One offender, who has connections, is caught with cocaine twice, and gets nothing. (Incidentally, he murdered a man and got a really nice plea bargain.) The other, who did not have connections (and happens not to be the same race as the first guy), smoked one joint, and was given a life sentence. (He, as you might expect, didn't murder anyone.)

How in the world is this equal treatment under the law?

By the way, the judge for both cases was Keith Dean, who ducked all questions about the case when asked about it, at least once misstating the law regarding discussing cases in his court. (He certainly could have discussed a case in which all appeals had already been exhausted, but he tried to hide behind a law that didn't apply.)

And here's the kicker: Per the Dallas Morning News voter's guide, Judge Dean's stated views on punishment don't match his actions. His statement on punishment was, "A judge should never impose more punishment than is necessary and never for the wrong reason." Try reading your own statements, sir.

Judge Dean's opponent is someone named Mark Stoltz, who doesn't appear even to have a campaign website. This race, from the small amount of research I did, appears to be over already, but this guy deserves to be tossed.

(If 20/20 ever gets around to putting this story on their webpage, I'll link to it.)

TX-Gov: Bell & Strayhorn: Real Men of Genius?

I wouldn't have believed these ads existed, had I not been tipped off by a co-worker this afternoon. Apparently the ad mentioning Ms. Strayhorn bothered her by its use of the word "woman". (Would she have preferred the term used for Mr. Bell, "guy"?)

TX-22: A completely useless poll

Last we heard, Shelley Sekula-Gibbs was facing a long, uphill fight in her write-in campaign against Nick Lampson for Tom DeLay's old seat, with Bob Smither showing appeal as an alternative.

Surprisingly enough, the write-in campaign now seems to be doing better than expected. Pollster shows Dr. Sekula-Gibbs only down eight points, 36% to 28%, with Smither apparently not showing.

Well, that's all well and good, but it's completely useless as a poll. A quick look further down the page, the percentages of Democrats and Republicans in the 504 likely voters is shown. Guess what: the distribution is Democrat 36%, Republican 28%. That is not even close to the actual distribution in TX-22, according to Wikipedia. (Determining whether Wikipedia is accurate today or not is left as an exercise to the reader.) Perhaps the pundits who have already called this district (that would mean you, Robert Novak) might want to rethink things.

TX-Gov: Kinky on Letterman tonight

Apparently Kinky Friedman will be on the Late Show with David Letterman tonight. (The transcript may be found here, courtesy Texas Politics.) If you're awake, check it out, even if you don't plan to vote for him. Of course, if you watched the debate, you'll already have heard a few of the laugh lines, but somehow I doubt the debate and the Late Show have many audience members in common.

In a related note, there is no truth to the story that a confused Phil Angelides showed up at the Ed Sullivan Theater and demanded equal time.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

HD-47: why isn't Welch's idea getting attention?

Two of the three candidates for Texas State House District 47, Valinda Bolton and Bill Welch, were recently at the Oak Hill Cruise and Blues festival. (Yvonne Schick, the Libertarian candidate, was not there, pretty much as I expected.)

I spoke with Ms. Bolton at last year's festival, and she is definitely concerned about education. But this year, I met Mr. Welch, and his idea is one I had not heard before. Mr. Welch's proposal is to fund the state's education priorities and expenditures first, before the rest of the state's spending. That could be a really good thing, if it is done well. The education budget should be funded before the rest of the budget is considered. This would present a marked difference from how other "education first" proposals have worked, particularly in Nevada, where with its law, everything can still be considered all at once, just so long as the education spending is done first. My understanding of Mr. Welch's proposal is more like how it should be; I seem to recall his saying that the education needs would be apportioned before the Legislature even touches anything. If so, why isn't this being touted? As far as I can tell, the less the Legislature can mess something up, the better it is for Texas.

(It should also be noted that Mr. Welch's tent was much more festive, with free ice cream sundaes and water bottles, while Ms. Bolton's booth seemed rather subdued when I stopped by, and not really giving out anything except stickers. I wonder if the moods I saw reflect how the respective campaigns are going.)

I never thought I'd miss Christmas commercials...

But I'd rather have Christmas ads instead of the onslaught of political junk now polluting my television. (During the morning news, it seems to get worse as a half-hour is neared, as if the candidates think people will leave on the half-hours. Strange...)

Here are the highlights and lowlights I've seen around Austin:

1. Far and away the worst: Mina Brees. Her ad is lame, with or without her son in it. That is, the son who told his mother to remove his image from her ad. (See the report for yourself, courtesy the Statesman.) Wow, your family's in sports! Big deal. It still doesn't mean you're a good choice for a judicial role.

(By the way, her son's doing pretty well this year.)

And yes, I know, the State Bar voted Ms. Brees more qualified than David Puryear. The question is, how much credence should one give to a bunch of trial lawyers?

2. Kinky Friedman: I finally saw an ad for Mr. Friedman this morning. Was he holding them back until now, or is this a last-ditch effort to get out of fourth?

3. Valinda Bolton and Bill Welch: Both have now gone negative in at least one ad. But Mr. Welch's ad rings much truer than Ms. Bolton's. First of all, Ms. Bolton's first ad places the blame for education in Texas solely on the Republicans. Let's see...who ran this state for 150 years? And by the way, where were the Democrats during some of these sessions of the Legislature to which she refers? Oh, yes: in another state. Nice try.

Anyway, Mr. Welch pointed out that Ms. Bolton moved into this district solely to run for the Legislature. Ms. Bolton just released an ad trying to tie Bill Welch to, among other things, Rick Perry's toll road advocates and Tom Delay. It's 30-seconds full of half-truths and false implications. For example, Mr. Welch is on record strongly opposing the tolling of already-paid-for roads. Nice try.

One more thing, before I forget again: Ms. Bolton claimed in her first ad that nothing had been done about education. The other day, this ad ran on either KEYE or KVUE immediately before Mark Strama (HD-50) came on and talked about what he helped accomplish for...get ready...education! Get your talking points straight, people.

4. And why does everyone have to use black-and-white, slow-motion videos of their opponents when they want to make them look bad? It's a massive turnoff, at least for me. (Then again, at this point all the ads are annoying me.)

Bring on Santa already!

TX-21 and TX-25 update

With five days to go (and thank God for that!), TX-21 and TX-25 pretty much remain the way the conventional wisdom has called them: fairly safe seats for their incumbents. Lamar Smith, who still doesn't have a campaign website, and Lloyd Doggett, who still doesn't have much of one, seem content to coast through November 7. Mr. Doggett, in particular, was painted by the American-Statesman (in this article) as having no "real opposition".

However, to win, the incumbents (or anyone, of course) must receive over 50% of the popular votes in their district; otherwise, we get another month of ads and a runoff. Most sources seem to paint both districts as safe for their incumbents, but we'll see soon enough.

Neither incumbent, however, seemed to help their causes with their rather pompous statements in declining to debate their challengers. Both of them basically stated that since they are set to win at this point, they did not want to bother possibly upsetting the tea cart. (That was pretty much a paraphrase of the Smith campaign statement; Mr. Doggett's statement of not debating because he hadn't seen his opponents really just sounds lame.)

That said, KEYE has the best voter's guide I've seen for Texas, allowing you to find the races for your address. It also has position statements for many of the candidates, allowing you to compare two candidates at a time. I know it does leave out some races, particularly the judicial ones, but it's better than what Texans have been getting to determine which races apply to them. (California, I'm told, sends out a sample ballot to voters; why can't Texas take this online voter's guide and allow people to view their sample ballot online?)

Oh, I did promise earlier to have more on Jim Strohm in TX-21, even though the race remains basically Smith vs. Courage, as it was before the redistricting. Mr. Strohm wants to introduce articles of impeachment against the President...as his first act. At least he's honest about it.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

19 days of commercials to go...

The sequence of ads during KVUE's 5:55 am break this morning:

1. Carole Keeton Strayhorn: Rick Perry shafts education
2. Greg Abbott: I've collected a lot of child support money
3. Chris Bell: Rick Perry shafts children's insurance
(And by the way, Mr. Bell: Making a trite statement and having a couple of rows of sycophants applauding does not a great commercial make.)
4. Buick: We're ending our model year two months after everyone else did
5. Susan Combs: Putting students first
6. Rick Perry: Protecting our borders

I'm thinking of voting for Buick.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

TX-Gov: The debate continues, kinda

The Libertarian candidate for governor, James Werner, when not threatening to sue Belo for deliberately excluding him, has started posting his answers to the questions the other four candidates faced (and, in some cases, mishandled).

There are some interesting tidbits to be found (such as the idea of supporting the FairTax on a state level), and in most cases, his ideas are clearly articulated. Of course, he wasn't in a shoebox with harsh lights on him, answering within a one-minute time limit, either.

By the way, he has stated that Belo's invitation to the others constitutes their giving them "a giant TV commercial". (No, Belo gave themselves a giant TV commercial, with their name in the top left corner throughout...and I noticed at least KEYE making an obvious effort not to show any of the Belo journalists in the clips--take that, Christine Haas!) How is the Statesman's offer (made only to Werner, as best as I can tell, and mentioned repeatedly in the Statesman's coverage of the debate) of blogspace that much different? Sure, it's not quite the same as statewide TV coverage, but by what factor? After all, the televised debate was competing for attention with Texas-OU and Deal or no Deal, so how many people, aside from me, really watched the thing?

TX-Gov: Just what is a reasonable contribution, Mr. Bell?

From Chris Bell's site:

Texas is currently one of only 13 states that allow unlimited contributions to candidates for legislative and executive office. Consequently, a small number of large donors contribute the vast majority of the money raised in Texas politics. For example, in the 2002 election cycle, 76 percent of all contributions came in checks of $5,000 or greater. The lack of reasonable contribution limits allows this small group of wealthy individuals to buy special influence and play on an uneven playing field.

From this morning's American-Statesman:

After Friday night's see-saw gubernatorial debate, Houston personal-injury lawyer John O'Quinn gave Democrat Chris Bell a potentially record-breaking lift, promising to give his campaign $1 million now and to give or raise $4 million more later.

I don't think any further comment is necessary.

Friday, October 06, 2006

TX-25 Update

I actually meant to post this, oh, about a month and a half ago. Now I've taken so long that the Statesman article I referenced to get the candidate information has disappeared. However, Politics1.com has pretty much the same stuff, which rather helps the procrastinating blogger.

Our candidates:

Lloyd Doggett (D, incumbent): A lot of people in Austin really love Mr. Doggett. I appreciate that his staff did answer a question I sent him years ago (don't remember the subject), but that said, his website now is rather uniformative. It used to have placeholder links for items like "Issues", but these have disappeared. Now, the only mention of issues is his statement in which he says he has worked "to encourage economic growth and job creation, improve our public schools, provide retirement security to our seniors and veterans, keep our communities safe, and promote affordable housing and child care." Specifics would help here...can anyone come out against these generalities? Oh, and his site touts his seniority.

The rest, in alphabetical order:
Barbara Cunningham (L, oil engineer, Caldwell): her website mentions three issues (immigration, education, and taxes). On immigration, she has a long, single-spaced, and rather difficult-to-read essay about how none of the current ideas will work. She seemingly likes a consumption tax to replace income taxes, but she specifically dislikes the FairTax. Her education idea is to remove all federal funding for schools. Apparently she is not courting the teachers' votes, then. (Her endorsements page, as well as her campaign blog, are sadly empty.)

Brian Parrett (I, systems analyst, Austin): I could not find anything about positions on any issues, but hey, he's got a picture on his site. He also invites questions via e-mail, but who's going to take the time?

UPDATE (24 Oct): Mr. Parrett's website now includes ideas on "Protecting America", "Reducing Our Tax Burden" (which doesn't spell out specifics, but his ideas smell a little like a FairTax...), and "Winning the War on Drugs".

Grant Rostig (R, computer programmer & chiropractor, Dale): recently endorsed by Ron "Dr. No" Paul, Mr. Rostig, like Dr. Paul has Libertarian-leaning views. (Ms. Cunningham, who has very similar views herself, showed up when Mr. Rostig dared to run as a Republican during the open filing period in August; previously, he had been the Libertarian candidiate.) He is against the idea of open borders (and pro-Minutemen, drawing criticism from Mr. Doggett) and pro-FairTax.

TX-25 is still majority-Democrat (albeit less so than it was before August), so it appears that Mr. Doggett will have smooth sailing at this point.

TX-Gov: Did anyone win besides maybe Belo?

Here's a great idea: let's put four gubernatorial candidates, four journalists, and a somewhat lost moderator in a shoebox for an hour and see what happens! So, here's how it looked from here (at least what wasn't drowned out by a small child):

Chris Bell: Ducked at least one question entirely, referred to all three of the others in the debate as Republicans, but seemed to handle the lightning round questions well.

Kinky Friedman: Generally articulated his point well, but seemingly got rather flustered in the middle, just after all three of the others assailed him for certain remarks which had been brought up in a previous question. Didn't really seem to have fully articulated solutions for problems, just an awareness of those problems.

Rick Perry: Looked mad for some reason...maybe he didn't want to be there. Explained pretty well his rationale behind pushing the Trans Texas Corridor, even if the TTC (and tolled roads pretty much throughout the state) isn't the only solution to future traffic problems. He also ducked at least one question entirely.

Carole Keeton Strayhorn: Ducked several questions entirely, including the question I have wondered myself, that of whether she is a political opportunist. (She ducked that question at least twice.) Blew her lightning round question, proving she knows about as much about foreign leaders as Paris Hilton.

James Werner: What do you mean, he wasn't invited? He liveblogged the debate for our friends at the American-Statesman, and while he promised to answer the questions asked of the other candidates, his blog shows that he discarded that idea in favor of snarky "awards".

Belo: Great move, taking the focus off the actual debate by placing it instead on your exclusivity clause. This, no doubt, allowed KVUE's coverage to be completely stomped in the ratings by KXAN's "Deal or no Deal". Hey, KXAN had to show something, why not something that might draw a lot of viewers? I can't imagine that most people watched this debate all the way through. (Granted, this was in Austin, but I don't believe Belo owns an NBC station anywhere in Texas.)

And by the way, I don't remember who moderated the whole thing, but way to blow your signoff by forgetting when Election Day is. Even Ms. Strayhorn remembers that.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

So who was the secret holder, anyway?

Ted Stevens.

Mr. "Bridge to Nowhere" himself.

I suppose I shouldn't be surprised.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Why can't an Army of Davids teach?

Recently I read An Army of Davids (by Glenn "Instapundit" Reynolds, for those not in the know). Overall, it was a good read, with discussions of how "we the people" make the advances that spur our civilization along (as opposed to our government, which is making advances toward bankruptcy). I really don't need to go into all that, as countless other blogs and websites have reviewed this book already.

Anyway, with all these changes and advances, Mr. Reynolds supposes, the schools, "will have to adjust to train kids for different career options." But should they? And should we have to continue down the same path, with regard to public schools, that we have travelled for decades? If government is not the answer for most other advances, or, really, for anything of real value, then why should government be the only answer for educating our children?

Surprisingly, education gets short shrift in the book, and nothing whatsoever is said regarding home schooling. Home schooling is a passion of my wife, who is a former teacher (she left to have our first child), and we know at least one other family that home schools its children and does so very well. (Of course, we've also heard the horror stories about home schooling gone wrong; as with anything, you get out of it what you put into it.) The idea of people trying different solutions to the question of education seems to be the same idea that Mr. Reynolds discusses with regard to other questions/problems. Seemingly, having an army of Davids teaching children (and knowing how best to spur them not only to learn but to want to learn) would be the best thing that could happen to the children of this country. Let's encourage it.

Does Courage lack courage?

The first candidate at which this blog will look in regard to these questions will be John Courage. Mr. Courage was the Democratic candidate for TX-21 before the redistricting, and if I recall correctly (the information is no longer on his webpage) he easily received enough signatures to requalify for the ballot without paying the filing fee. The Democratic party establishment has rallied around Mr. Courage (which is no surprise, given that the only other Democrat in the race is perennial also-ran Gene Kelly).

I assumed that Mr. Courage was all for openness and dialogue; this was based on this post from his blog slamming incumbent Lamar Smith for closing a public meeting when Mr. Courage and his supporters arrived. So, I thought Mr. Courage would be happy to articulate his positions, especially given his personal passion for education. Unfortunately, Mr. Courage waited a week and then finally declined to answer the questions. So much for openness. His communications director directed me to his blog and his webpage. Quite frankly, if I had found all the answers I wanted, I wouldn't have needed to send the questions.

With that being said, a study of Mr. Courage's website yielded the following information:

Fiscally: Mr. Courage wants to keep Social Security and Medicare solvent. He wants a prescription drug program "that actually works for our seniors". (That means a much larger one than the boondoggle President Bush signed.) He's big on veterans' benefits and the environment, and he "is committed to develop a real plan for American energy self sufficiency". (That means he doesn't have one now.)

Foreign policy/Iraq/War on Terror/National Security: Says "the United States cannot be the policeman for the world." He also says protecting our borders should be the primary aim. Couldn't tell what that is saying about immigration, since from what I can tell, he never once mentions it on his site. Maybe if we ignore it, it'll go away...

Differences from Other Candidates: He concentrates solely on Mr. Smith, assuming, most likely correctly, that the two of them will be the top vote getters. He's attacked Mr. Smith for not supporting a direct vote on the annual Congressional COLA, and also for his sitting on the ethics committee when it appeared Tom DeLay might be brought before it. His website mentions Lamar Smith's name possibly more than his own.

Education: Fix No Child Left Behind, have smaller class sizes, and pay teachers more. Those are all nice enough, but he doesn't really offer any way to pay for all this. And really, what exactly does fixing NCLB involve, anyway? Somehow I'm thinking it involves more federal government control.

I do want to thank Meredith of "Team Courage" for taking the time to talk with me, even though her boss wouldn't. More on TX-21 in later entries.

What are our defining issues for TX-21 and TX-25?

A couple of weeks ago, this blog attempted to interview by e-mail several TX-21 and TX-25 candidates. Should I have expected any answers? Who knows; this blog isn't that old. Anyway, the interview was a rather short four questions:

1. What are your opinions on President Bush's fiscal policies? His foreign policies? In what areas, if any, would you like to see changes made?

2. In which areas are your views most different from those of your opponents?

3. What should the federal government's role in public education be?

4. How should the United States resolve the Iraq situation? What is the best way for the US to handle the War on Terror (assuming, in your opinion, that
such a war exists)?

The rationale behind these questions was something like this:

1. I cannot believe that the Republicans are going to march in lockstep with President Bush on every issue. Of course, the Democrats surely aren't, either. Clarifying the differences between the candidates' ideas and the president's, rather than either saying nothing or issuing blanket statements slamming the president, would help. (Or, if no differences exist between the candidate and the president, articulating those positions would help also.)

2. Same thing, basically. I want to know what each candidate sees as a strength that distinguishes them from the others. This is especially helpful in 21 & 25, where we now have seven and four candidate, respectively.

3. What can I say; I have kids. I want to know what to expect from my representatives: will it be more mandates, more money, or a whole new paradigm.

4. Hey, guess what...every candidate is going to say let's support the troops and bring them home as soon as possible. Let's have some details.

Future entries will explain candidates' positions on these issues.

And what should the other important issues be for these districts? (aside from bringing this area a cell phone throwing contest, that is...)

Monday, August 28, 2006

TX-21 update

Thanks to the third round of redistricting since 2000, the Texas 21st Congressional District now will have an open election.

Our candidates (per our friends at the Austin American-Statesman):

Lamar Smith (R, incumbent): apparently so confident in his win that he hasn't bothered to have a campaign website, Mr. Smith is tied by his detractors to a certain former House Majority Leader over in TX-22. Pretty strict on immigration, pretty lousy on tax policy.

The rest, in alphabetical order:
Tommy Calvert (I, consultant, San Antonio): his website states that he is "running on a centrist platform". That is the only issue-related statement on the whole site.

John Courage (D, teacher, San Antonio): his website is well organized, with statements regarding many issues. One of the most important to him appears to be veterans' benefits. Another, as one might expect from a teacher, is education. As I have said before, his ideas give no indication of how they are to be funded. More on Mr. Courage in a later entry.

Gene Kelly (quasi-D, perennial candidate, Universal City): no website, and he is apparently banking on the hope that a lot of people don't realize that Gene Kelly, the actor, has been dead for 10 years. And since this guy doesn't articulate any positions, I'll go off the board and just say that the other Gene Kelly was quite a good actor, and I really enjoyed Singin' In the Rain.

James Lyle Peterson (I, computer programmer, Austin): couldn't find anything online for him, either. Also, he does not share a famous name. In a seven-man race, those two points together can't help your chances.

Mark J. Rossano (I, automotive management, Austin): several empty pages on his site (plus solitications for signatures for the May deadline), but he does have a platform page spelling out his positions, which apparently include heavy government involvement/interference (take your pick) in health care and energy. This includes reinstating the wildly popular windfall profits tax, which will make those people nostalgic for the 1979 gas lines happy.

James Strohm (L, technical writer, Austin): he readily admits that his website is still under construction. His three issues of choice appear to be immigration, taxes, and "good government", though only the Taxes section has any information. As has been mentioned on this site, he is a FairTax supporter. More on Mr. Strohm in a later entry as well.

This race was originally dominated by Mssrs. Smith & Courage, and honestly, it probably still will be. The loudest supporters are definitely those of Mr. Courage, but TX-21 is still majority-Republican, so it appears that Mr. Smith will retain his seat. But we'll see.

How far can you throw a cell phone?

Well, some guy tossed a cell phone 292 feet to win a competition in Finland. (How come Austin hasn't picked up on this? We're supposed to be weird, after all...)

What this contest really needs for competitors to achieve really great distances is for each entrant to have to take a call from an angry customer just before they throw the phone. I would almost guarantee that each throw would have about 20 more feet on it.

And where do we find these angry customers? Ask UPS or FedEx, for starters...

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Some Refreshing Hot Air

Sure, Dave Ramsey has been seen in places from CBS News to Oprah, and he certainly doesn't need the scant attention he'll get from my site, but everyone, particularly those interested in a quaint, forgotten concept called fiscal responsibility, needs to check out Bethany's profile of him.

Sure, it's not the usual Vent one would see over there, but this definitely has a more practical application, as most people I know (myself included, as I am a somewhat successful graduate of Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University) do better when they remember to live within their means. Too bad the federal government hasn't figured out how to do that...

Saturday, August 19, 2006

A better alternative for TX-22...

Okay, TX-22 isn't anywhere close to being my district, but since I keep getting ads for the one remaining mainstream candidate in my AdSense ads, I thought I would point out that rather than trying to mount a futile write-in campaign (has one ever worked?) to replace Tom DeLay, perhaps those who do not want the other guy to win (maybe if I don't mention his name the ad won't seem so relevant to Google's servers) should support the Libertarian candidate, Bob Smither.

A Second Hand Conjecture has links, comments, and generally more information.

(Hat tip: Instapundit)

Why I really don't love UPS...

UPS and I have never really been on good terms. Maybe it started when UPS managed to route a package we were awaiting to Corpus Christi, apparently under the misconception that perhaps we didn't enter our own city correctly when we ordered it. The merchant was so embarrassed by the incident that they refunded everything. I hope they hit UPS up for the chargeback. (We did get the package eventually...a month later.)

So, this week I received a nice little e-mail from UPS explaining ever so helpfully that an item I had ordered had shipped and that I could track it online. And, I suppose I could...if the package hadn't already arrived seven days earlier.

Yes, that would be UPS, where the U stands for "unhelpful".

So who is the secret holder, anyway?

There is a great bill in the Senate that would further the cause of federal transparency (so we the people can see where our money is going), thanks to Senators Tom Coburn and Barak Obama. Unfortunately, thanks to a really stupid Senate procedural rule, one or more senators have put a "secret hold" on the bill, so that there cannot be a vote on it. It seems a fitting way to kill a bill promoting transparency, yes?

Anyway, Porkbusters.org has a special page with more details, including how you, the reader, can help. Give your senators a call and ask them to state for the record whether or not they are responsible for the "secret hold". As for the great state of Texas, Senator Hutchison's office could not give me a definite answer, stating that her response would appear on her website, which hasn't been updated anytime recently. Senator Cornyn's office sent me to someone's voicemail, which, of course, was never returned.

(Hat tip: Club for Growth)

Update: Senator Cornyn's office called me this morning (22 August) and denied that he placed the hold. I had assumed he didn't, given that he was a co-sponsor of the bill, but it's good to know nonetheless.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Which Veggietales character are you?

What Veggie Tales character are you?

(Hat tip: Batesline)

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Commitment? What commitment?

Over in Texas House District 48, Republican candidate Ben Bentzin has decided to drop out of November's election. Mr. Bentzin blamed his late withdrawal on the tone of the special election campaign from earlier this year and a new business opportunity.

A new business opportunity? You know, when you run for office, you are committing to serve out the term of office. Mr. Bentzin should not have been considering a new business opportunity when he told thousands of voters who trusted him that he would serve if elected. Way to let them down, Mr. Bentzin.

Just noticed: it's a teaching opportunity at the University of Houston. Yeah, that's worth letting down a district-full of supporters.

I'd think twice before trusting this guy again.

By the way, there are still two options for the abandoned supporters of Mr. Bentzin: Donna Howard and Ben Easton.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Maybe someday Texas will get it right...

How nice...thanks to the third redistricting process in Texas since 2000, I now longer find myself in TX-21, but in TX-25, in which my new Congressman is the same as my old one before I moved, Lloyd Doggett. Not a great development...Mr. Doggett has not shown himself, in my experience, to be as responsive as Lamar Smith was with regard to inquiries from constituents. (Not that I won't continue to try...) As shown here by the Club for Growth, Mr. Doggett scored a whopping 7 out of 100 for being pro-growth. But then again, this is Austin, the home during the 80s and 90s of the "if we don't build it, maybe they won't come" mindset regarding infrastructure, or lack thereof. (Drive I-35 or Mopac at 5:15 any weekday afternoon and tell me that's not true.)

Mr. Doggett's opponent, before the redistricting, was to be Grant Rostig, who was running as a Libertarian. Since the redistricting, it was decreed that there would be an open election, with a possible runoff in December. In the meantime, Mr. Rostig's name has mysteriously disappeared from the Libertarian Party's list of candidates. (However, I did notice a FairTax-supporting Libertarian in TX-21...check out his website.) Mr. Rostig's site now lists him as a Republican (though the state GOP site doesn't list him there either). In any case, Mr. Rostig is a FairTax supporter who is in favor of limited government, so at this point, if in fact he is still running, I know who is getting my vote.

My assumption is that the candidates for the redrawn districts will fall into place pretty quickly, so that we can get on with the usual three months of annoying advertisements (followed by the two months during which signs remain up on Mopac). But we'll see.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Stars Are Blind...To World Affairs, Apparently

It must be nice to be Paris Hilton. Per this article, Ms. Hilton could not recall who Tony Blair was.

If it hasn't happened already, I expect someone to compare Ms. Hilton's inability to remember world leaders when spotted their names with then-Governor Bush's performance on his world leader pop quiz in November 1999. Doesn't look as if this has been done yet (Kos and HuffPo are both still fawning over Ned Lamont at the moment), but give it time.

Remember, you heard it here first. And hopefully last.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Pork: the only white meat...for Lamar Smith

After having lived in the Texas 21st Congressional District for a few years, I thought I had a handle on Lamar Smith. I appreciated the fact that he faced a generally angry mob last year just to hear his constituents' comments. I definitely appreciated his listening to my comments on the FairTax, and I appreciated his (office's) writing to me to explain why he didn't support it. (The short answer apparently involves his not having read the bill, it seemed to me.) I also appreciate that he hasn't rubber-stamped the immigration amnesty proposals swirling around Washington at the moment.

And, as it turns out (from the Club for Growth, he scored a 57 out of 100 for being pro-growth. About what I expected, in that regard.

Maybe that's why I'm so disappointed that, per this article, he voted in favor of 19 pork barrel projects ranging from a swimming pool in California to tourism development in Kentucky (I'll save them the money on that: there's this horse race in May...). Each and every time an amendment came up to strip a pork project from a bill, dear Mr. Smith voted to keep it in. Apparently he believes our government isn't already wasting enough money as it is.

And, while I expected Ron "Dr. No" Paul to have the best score, out of the Austin-area Congressional delegation, on these 19 amendments (which he easily did, voting yes on all 19), I would have expected Mr. Smith to have a better score than Lloyd Doggett, the neighboring Democrat. Yet, as it turns out, Mr. Doggett voted yes on three of the amendments, which is three more than were supported by Mr. Smith. Pathetic.

Of course, his November opponent, John Courage, really doesn't provide much of an alternative in that respect. Content to watch Social Security slowly run dry, Mr. Courage also seems to support throwing money at other problems (of course, without mentioning how he intends to fund it), most notably education, in the hope that somehow it'll help, this time. Somehow that doesn't seem terribly pro-growth either.

Sadly, TX-21 seems stuck with no really good choices and another two years of more of the same. But just in case something actually changes, we'll keep an eye open.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Intentionally Misleading?

Drudge currently is carrying the headline, "Cynthia McKinney Missing In Action; no-show this week in Congress..." That's all well and good; it's been all over Atlanta news that she's skipped out this week, or at least Boortz was talking about the story.

The problem is that Drudge has included a picture of Ms. McKinney in a group of people dancing. It appears as if Drudge is wanting the viewers to think that she's out partying instead of going to her job. Now, I certainly don't care much for Ms. McKinney's previous statements/actions, but come on. Is it really necessary to attempt to mislead people in this way?

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Joe Wilson, Your 15 Minutes Are Up

Check this article detailing the truth about Joe Wilson and Valerie Plame. So why was the media so quick to pile on Bush for making a claim in his SotU speech that Wilson actually corroborated? Why were the Democrats so quick to adopt Wilson & Plame as their cause du jour (you know, till Cindy came along)?

Really, why is this still a story?

Monday, July 17, 2006

Thursday, June 29, 2006

so maybe it does buy happiness after all...

Money doesn't buy happiness, so they say. But apparently it does buy sleep.

As for me, I'd be happier if I slept more.

Just so long as it doesn't include the "eagle pose"...

Is Yoga for Geeks an idea whose time has come? I know I probably need it.

"All the news that's fit to print"...and then some

James Lileks gives a good idea of the kind of helpful scoops we can continue to expect from the New York Times here. Given that my father continues to get his news from the Times Online (and send stories to me at least twice a week...), he should be able to corroborate that they're heading in a bad direction.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Social Isolation

According to this article, Americans are more socially isolated than we used to be.

And by pointing this out here, I suppose I'm not helping that trend.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

I am so glad I don't use AOL...

...because I'll never have to deal with a customer service rep like this one. Language warnings apply.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Hi Mom

It's amazing the depths to which some people will go just to post comments on other people's blogs. Given my reason for creating this blog, don't expect much, and you won't be disappointed.