February 08, 2023

Taking stock after the latest ice storm

Another ice storm, another series of failures, tho this one isn't blamable on Strangeabbott, the PUC or ERCOT, contra #BlueAnon. Should Texas be more "hardened" against this? State Rep. Erin Zwiener says yes and wants some of the big budget surplus spent to that end. Of course, that might require the wingnuts in the Tex-ass Lege to admit climate change is real, and covers more than global warming. That's even though state climatologist John Nielson-Gammons has long sounded the tocsin.

One form of hardening? Bury electric lines.

Michael Webber, an energy resources professor at the University of Texas at Austin, said burying power lines underground would be more reliable and may be worth the cost in the long run. “We’re cheap,” Webber said. “And it’s very expensive to be cheap.”

If it's too expensive to do all of them? Require that all new ones be done that way. When I was at a group of suburban papers in the Metromess, cities there were requiring it of new developments. 

As for the claim that it would jack repair costs that much? Surely monitors, similar to those on gas pipelines, would allow for the location of a problem to be isolated.

Sadly, but not surprisingly, friend of Big Oil and Big Gas (among other things) Russell Gold co-signs all the claims that it can't be done.


Contra wingnuts, Austin Energy does trim trees even if residents get their dander up. And it has been doing so for 20 years. (There was plenty of wingnuttery on Twitter in the wake of the ice storm.)


And, as I noted last week, it IS ice, Yankees.

Texas Progressives talk death penalty, gambling, more

Various environmental groups called on the feds to investigate TCEQ over water quality issues, and the EPA says an informal review is underway.

Living in a major wind farm area, it's easy to think that Chapter 313 was a big boon to that industry. Truth? It was a much bigger boon to the awl bidness.

"Latinx" is a bad enough, #woke in the bad sense, academia-driven neologism. I just threw up in my mouth over "Chicanx," Texas Observer. I stopped reading and your link gets a no-follow. (Among actual politicians who hate "Latinx" is Arizona Congresscritter and possible Senate candidate Ruben Gallego.)

Tex-ass has lethal injection drugs that have gone past their expiration date but still wants to use them. State lawyers for the Department of Criminal Justice have been shady in supporting this issue, but — shock me — the Court of Criminal Appeals has sided with them so far.

Speaking of death, James Harry Reyos, convicted of murder 40 years ago, may finally get his rightful due in court.

SocraticGadfly, from up on the Red, for various reasons doubts the Lege will give people casinos or even a casino constitutional amendment vote. 

Off the Kuff took a look at the varying results in judicial races in Harris County in 2022.

After a short break, Stace returns with a spotlight on a couple of campaign announcements that give him some hope. 

Texas 2036 wants to modernize our state's child welfare system.  

Jef Rouner wonders why some people defend celebrities with such vigor.  

James Revels looks at the plague of police brutality through the lens of Black History Month. 

 Amanda Marcotte digs into the reasons why Republicans keep doubling down on anti-abortion rhetoric and strategy.  

Houston Landing announced itself as a new non-profit news source.

February 07, 2023

The future of Lake Powell, and the whole Colorado

First, per Yale Climate, and rightly so, it will NOT be "solved" by one year of heavy snowpack. (As of Feb. 6, we were at 129 percent of the 10-year average.) In fact, it won't be "solved" within current parameters, period. (The only problem I have with Yale's piece is way too much quoting and referencing of neoliberal Kumbaya environmentalist John Fleck and his partner in neoliberal environmentalism crime Eric Kuhn.)

The key on the good, yet bad, is that Powell (and Mead) are now only at 10 percent danger of "power pool," per a BuRec update. As Bob Henson notes at the Yale piece, this of course drops a sense of urgency among the member states of the Colorado River Compact. It also lessens the possibility of BuRec threatening a banhammer, let alone following through on it, after its fake banhammer last summer.

In fact, contra Kumbaya Fleck, I expect one, or more, lawsuits to be the nudge to a new version of the compact. One lawsuit would be by one individual state vs. another. (Looking at you, Aridzona, vs. California, given early post-compact history.) A second would be by Upper Basin vs. Lower Basin states. A third would be one or more American Indian tribes suing one or more states and/or the federal government.

Bob's piece is creative in some ways. As people who are from the Colorado Plateau and surrounding areas note, evaporation, from both the two big lakes and the irrigation canals, is a problem. And a growing one. So, why not cover them with floating solar panels? Boaters would push back on the lakes, but push back on the pushback. They can steer around. And absolutely on the canals.

That said, the price for this would be huge on one or both of the lakes. You'd have to have transmission antennas beaming the electricity to some grid connection, for example. Panels fixed in place over irrigation canals wouldn't have such problems.

Outside of Nevada's conservation — which Bob didn't note was largely a one-off effort — the biggie, especially on the lower Colorado? Agriculture. Sorry, Johnny Peace, but the alleged romance of grazing cows on river-raised alfalfa? De-romanticize it.

For the unknowledgable, Yale then gives readers the nickel version of the Colorado River Compact. They then talk about climate change's impacts — important, as the snowpack numbers are based on just the seven previous years.

The biggie? Can the Compact be saved? Bob says yes, if there's enough flexibility in a highly overhauled new Compact. Color me skeptical, since, per Bob and big snow, the seven Basin states procrastinated past Jan. 31, as I expected, part of the impetus for his article.

That said, there's a flip side to that bathtub ring at Lake Powell, even if the lake itself is never fully restored. 

That's the unveiling of Glen Canyon itself, and its own self-restoration, documented in detail at High Country News by author Craig Childs and photographer Elliott Ross. The recovery of the canyon, with people now knowing about it, might partially replace the recreation dollars of Lake Powell, even as Jim Stiles shudders. Lessening total boating would also lessen fuel burning of the boats, and of driving them to the lake, too.

As for the actual vistas? I'd love to see at least a fraction of the re-revealed natural beauty from before Powell started filling, as in, see it in person wearing my own hiking boots. Ditto on seeing if some of the Anasazi or Fremont or Basketmaker or Archaic ruins, petroglyphs and pictographs survived 50 years or so of inundation.

February 06, 2023

No more Chinese Red ballons?

Here's a blow-by-blow of Biden having the USAF shoot down the Red Chinese balloon, which was, per various updates, not the first on his watch, plus the one(s) on Trump's watch. Will China, per my snarky Twitter:

Send another 90 or whatever Red Balloons to hit the whole 99? 

More seriously, what was Xi Jinping hoping to do here, especially with another one sighted over Costa Rica? How sophisticated was the technology on this? I await examination. Why didn't Biden, or Trump, shoot one down before? Did none of them make it to the contiguous mainland, only Hawaii and/or Alaska? The Wall Street Journal has more on the previous incursions. And, I can't believe, per that link, that Chuck Schumer is dumb e-fucking-nough to give the full Senate a classified briefing on Feb. 15; that's going to be leaked and spun all over the place. Update: CNN has yet more — reportedly, one of the Trumpy-era balloons crossed Florida as well as Hawaii.

And, back on the snark side: Does Trump believe in "real disinformation" as well as "fake disinformation"?

As for the US doing this to China? Highly unlikely. Prevailing wind patters would mean a US balloon would have to cross most of Eurasia, including in all likelihood parts of Russia.


109 more reasons I'm not a Democrat

Per the Clerk of the House of Representatives, that would be the number of Democrat Congresscritters voting yes on a resolution "denouncing the horrors of socialism." 

NOTE: "Socialism," not "Communism."

The bill attacks not only the "obvious commies," but (natch, being sponsored by Florida Woman Maria Elvira Salazar, both Hugo Chavez and Nicolás Maduro of Venezuela, and Nicaragua's Danny Ortega.

It also, in its attacks on Stalin, refers to the Holodomor. Here's the first lie, a lie by omission. By percentage of population, the collectivization death rate was higher in the Kazakh SSR than in the Ukraine.

On inflation rate? Dependent on exact survey date last year, either South Sudan or Turkey may be higher than Venezuela. The wingers also ignore that the US has partial responsibility (but not total!) for Venezuela's inflation.

Here in Tex-ass, such non-shockers as Colin Allred, Henry Cuellar, Vicente Gonzales and Mark Veasey. (And, per Kuff, there's already blather about Allred challenging Havana Ted for the Senate in 2024.) To the west, ConservaDem Gabe Vasquez of the southern district in New Mexico. Among names I know from elsewhere? Dan Kildee of Flint. Knew his dad personally; my dad knew him better.

Then there's the "present" Dems, including Peanut Butter (and Eddie Bernice) Johnson replacement Jasmine Crockett, Houston fauxgressive Sheila Jackson Lee, California's Eshoo, and The Land of Disenchantment's other two Dems — Fanta Se's Teresa Leger Fernandez and Albuquerque's Melanie Stansbury

February 03, 2023

Biden to end COVID emergency; "justified"?

The announcement that this will happen in May appears to have caught many Congressional Democrats off guard. Why it did, I don't know; without having a "date certain," Biden had first announced this would happen last December.

Here's what it means, per items at this link.

The price of an mRNA booster will be $82-$130. But, they semi-suck anyway.

People kept on Medicaid who no longer qualify will now be booted.

Food stamp boosts will be gone.

The "why" is at that first link, in part. With the House now in GOP hands Biden figured money to continue to back an emergency declaration wasn't going to be there.

Per the first link, there's one other thing — it means Biden can't continue to invoke Title 42 at the border. #BlueAnon probably still thinks his hands were tied there. Rather, this was more a voluntary option on his part from early on.

Is it "justified"? Well, in a country without national health care, not really. But, in terms of where we're at right now on cases and deaths, per Worldomters? Yes. Sorry, People's CDC. Sorry, fellow travelers like Gregg Gonsalves and Walker Bragman. Or more, "sorry" than sorry. "Sorry," overwrought doom-mongers (especially for money) like Jessica Wildfire.

Is it "justified" and why is that word in scare quotes? It's because, per Walter Kaufmann, I generally reject the idea of "justice," and hence, of whether something is "justified" or not.