December 23, 2006

Weather is NOT the same as climate

It never surprises me anymore when a big snowstorm hits the U.S. and global warming deniers trot this out as "proof" that global warming does not exist. Couple that with the release of "An Inconvenient Truth" by Al Gore and you have the doubters, as in a letter to the editor at the Arizona Republic, telling the former vice president to buy a shovel.

First, shorter-term weather patterns are not the same as longer-term changes in climate.

Second, climate scientists have repeatedly said the massive human-caused increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide levels will make weather more volatile until the atmospheric system reaches an equilibrium.

Third, the El Nino effect, which may have contributed to the Denver snowstorm, has been shown to be intensified in power, and made semi-permanent as an atmospheric and oceanic phenomenon, by global warming.

December 22, 2006

Leaking clampdown at Lancaster High?

So we hear, and that it is all related now to the cosmetology classroom state inspection problems.

December 21, 2006

Starbucks in DFW Airport, closed at 7 p.m.?

At least the one in Terminal E was. What’s up with that?

Don’t buy Hudson Books’ “Euro” coffee at DFW Airport

It tastes like Starbucks watered down one-third with Folgers and one-third with water.

Now we know why Eddie Bernice Jonson has a share in Hudson and didn’t want the Wright Amendment repealed.

December 20, 2006

Pushing 500

I sure didn’t think I’d have 500 posts in 2006 and in less than a year’s time.

December 19, 2006

Met Uncle Barky at the Pegasus News breakout party

Former Dallas Morning News television critic Ed Bark had his blog picked up by Pegasus News when they launched. I spotted him, or who I thought was him, and asked Alan Cohen to confirm for me. I followed Alan over to Ed’s table, eventually introduced myself, and we talked 10-15 minutes about various media issues.

He sounded quite relaxed now that he left Belo. He “gets” a lot of the drive behind blogging and New Media, as well. Having a background from the alt-weekly world before Belo got him, he has previous experience to apply to that new angle.

Show Dallas blues some love, courtesy of Pegasus News

I met father/son duo Jeffry and Michael Dyson from Pegasus News at the Pegasus News breakout party Tuesday night.

Blue Shoe is a non-profit created to develop a love of the blues in today’s children. This includes official education programs in conjunction with local school districts.

It also works with other folks around the area to help preserve Dallas blues, and you can learn a lot more about Dallas blues on Texas Blues Radio, which runs Monday-Friday 6-8 p.m. on KNON-FM.

For more info, visit their website or e-mail Jeffry or e-mail Michael.

Why ethanol is NOT the answer

We can’t annex half a dozen United States for the energy needs of one

As the Sierra Club reports.:
If every vehicle in the United States were powered by ethanol, only one of eight would be driveable. Already, 20 percent of the nation's corn goes to ethanol production. Replacing just one-eighth of U.S. gasoline consumption would require the country's entire corn crop.

Corn-based ethanol's contribution to fighting global warming is marginal at best. A debate is raging, in fact, over whether ethanol takes more energy to produce than it provides. Ethanol burns cleaner than gasoline, but its production relies heavily on diesel-chugging tractors and petroleum-derived fertilizers, to the tune of some 140 gallons of oil per acre. Distilling corn into ethanol is also energy intensive, and while some forward-thinking producers are processing it with methane, biomass, and other alternative fuels, most of the 190 ethanol plants now in the works will be powered by coal.

All touting ethanol does is “enables” GM to feel good about itself, which fattening the pockets of Archer Daniels Midland.

Allen Group: $3,500 for politics, not a dime for Ronnie Lowe

Allen Development of Texas, the local arm of intermodal hub developer The Allen Group, contributed $3,500 to support the November Lancaster school bond election.

But, no money for Ronnie Lowe and the Lancaster Outreach Center, despite multiple requests.

Steve Topletz had the money for $500 for the bond, but no money for the LOC, nor any money for a discount price for the new Boardwalk school site.

No, the A+ Academy is NOT better than LISD, Jeff Melcher

Sorry, Jeff, I can tell you that. Re the last graf of your latest blog post, given allegations of graft and the number of times the state has had to step in there, money can buy all sorts of things.

Of course, since I’m “on the take” for LISD press box food, I can say that I don’t know who is on the A+ Christmas bonus mailing list.

Re your previous post, Jeff, some people lie even when they’re not sleeping. We’ve already shown you’re wrong about the district actually getting bad demographic info from Pat Guseman rather than “making it up.”

Jeff, you’re one of the people I won’t miss when I leave.

The latest installment on the LHS cosmetology class

Patrick Shaughnessy, public information officers at the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation’s headquarters, said Tuesday afternoon that TDLR is sending out more staff to Lancaster High to determine just what was measured, how it was measured and more, to get to the bottom of whether or not the class was indeed out of compliance at the time of the Dec. 6 investigation.

Note 1: Relevant to the bold-faced point above, I told him that Superintendent Larry Lewis told me, in the third or fourth phone call we had Monday about the classroom, that the district was in the process of converting a storage area not being used by the cosmetology class at the time of the inspection into a cosmetology locker area.

That’s fine and dandy if it helps the class pass a follow-up inspection. However, those changes were not in place at the time of the inspection. I also noted, in my e-mail to him, that the state statute is clear in not listing bathroom space as part of classroom space.

Note 2: I told Shaughnessy to encourage TDLR’s in the field personnel who do the follow-up visit to not accept initial answers if they weren’t comfortable with them.

Is it time to get out of Afghanistan, too?

Probably so. Even if we withdraw from Iraq ASAP, many of our Army and Marine units there are too battle-fatigued to do well in what could be even rougher fighting in Afghanistan.

Fact is that we haven’t taken more casualties there because our soldiers already there, as well as those of NATO allies, don’t even occupy half the country.

And, due to almost 20 years of war, from expelling the Soviets to civil war after that and on to post-9/11 action, the Taliban is more hardened, and more battle-smart, than Iraqi insurgents.

Has the U.S. killed more Iraqis than Saddam Hussein?

Sadly, the answer is yes, if you accept the controversial estimate of 600,000 Iraqi civilian deaths resulting from the U.S. invasion.

First, I do accept the estimates, and second, this does NOT count deaths from sectarian violence.

Fact of the matter is, American “smart bombs” just aren’t that smart. Nor is artillery fire.

The battle against TXU grows

At a Dec. 14 hearing, State Office of Administrative Hearings judges approved giving the Coalition of Clean Air Cities official legal standing in battling against Gov. Rick Perry’s fast-tracking the permit process for TXU coal-fired power plants.

In the one of the central issues of the hearing, the SOAH judges allowed party status to the Clean Air Coalition of Cities, which represents city and county governments from across the state and most recently, independent school districts.

More on this issue in the Dec. 21 issue of Lancaster Today.

Steve Topletz, maybe if you, Randall Currington and others gave Ronnie Lowe more money …

You might have somewhat better PR in Lancaster.

(It would help more, of course, if you stopped using the city as a guinea pig for just how much lower in quality you can go than up north.)

But, I’m sure Ronnie, the executive director of the Lancaster Outreach Center, would love getting money from at least one developer besides Kimball Hill.

That includes apartment developers who still haven’t come through on all the verbal promises/assurances you gave the Lancaster City Council and staff, Mr. Brian Potashnik and Southwest Housing.

Another not-so-happy New Year for Lancaster: another trucking industry lawsuit?

The Lancaster City Council approved a new truck route ordinance at its Dec. 11 meeting.

Unfortunately, expect the three more-established large trucking companies in Lancaster, and the Texas Motor Transportation Association, to sue the city just like they did two years ago.

However, this time, in light of judge’s comments from that suit, the city has done an official traffic safety study. Also, I-20 access road construction, including a special truck ramp to bypass the Houston School Road intersection, should address other legal challenges.

So, will Big Trucking waste more Lancaster taxpayer money, or will it do the responsible thing?

Sorry, but some NJ teachers don’t know what the First Amendment means on church-state issues

Publicly supporting a teacher who’s already received (slap on the hand) school district discipline for teaching in class that evolution and the Big Bang were unscientific, that there were dinosaurs on Noah’s Ark and talking about how a Muslim student would go to hell is NOT a First Amendment issue.

First, courts have consistently found public school classrooms to be “captive audiences,” therefore teachers on such matters do not have the same degree of protection as they would in making their statements outside the school.

Second, union solidarity nonsense be damned in cases like this? Why is his teachers’ union supporting this guy, period.

And this is in New Jersey, not Alabama — and just 10 miles from Manhattan!!!

Apparently Harry Reid doesn’t realize Democrats won the midterm elections, domestic division

The Senate Majority Leader-elect is now officially on record as a Republican-type last-minute pork-barreling earmarker.
Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid, who has pledged to stop “dead-of-night legislating,” did a little of his own in the final hours of this year's congressional session.

Reid slipped two home state projects into the last major bill Congress passed last week: a transfer of federal land in Nevada to state and private control that's almost two-thirds the size of Rhode Island; and a $4 million grant for a hospice. Neither had been approved by any congressional committee.

Given that Reid has stood accused in the media in the past three months of other shady land transactions, he’s off to a wonderful start.

Perhaps my title should better say: Harry Reid doesn’t understand why Democrats won the midterm elections.

December 17, 2006

Rick Perry: Wasting your tax $$$ wth Metroplex billboards

Do we really need a bunch of Trans Texas Corridor billboards cluttering up Metroplex freeways?

In a word, no.

Apparently Harry Reid doesn’t realize Democrats won the midterm elections

The Senate Majority Leader-elect is now officially on record as favoring a short-term increase in American troops in Iraq.

Reid did qualify himself by saying that should only be as part of broader withdrawal plan.

Wrong answer, Senator. Reid probably wasn’t in the military either; he doesn’t understand mission creep.

The ONLY reason something like that should be done would be as part of the withdrawal itself, to make it as safe, secure and expedited as possible.