SocraticGadfly: 2/25/07 - 3/4/07

March 03, 2007


Moon in the window
Late night riser, past the full;
Pale, cold, white and dead.

A pale distraction
Dissociative focus
Object of escape.

A hurt eight-year-old
Seeks to flee his own bedroom
His last refuge gone.

No one hears or knows;
Two a.m.’s heart of darkness
Envelops the room.

His own young mem’ry
Shattered, scattered, exploded
Childhood lost and gone.

Was it once? Or was it more?
Does it matter? And it was.
He still is missing.

March 02, 2007

More hard-hitting Lancaster reporting from the Snooze

When I read the headline, I thought DMN must have assigned former Focus wonder Joanna to this incredible puff piece. Instead, Herb Booth gets it.

I feel your pain, or your boredom, or both, Herb.

We’re still waiting to see if and when Kathy Goolsby has an actual story about the firing of Nathan Smith, rather than writing a story about minor league baseball coming to Grand Prairie that should have been done by somebody from their sports department.

March 01, 2007

It’s Texas’ “second fall”

The live oaks’ early spring dropping of their leaves, especially on a sunny, clear day with a north wind, reminds me of a second autumn. However, as I’ve already seen three or four redbuds in bloom in Far South Lancaster, it’s kind of hard to fully hold onto that idea.

A reader who saw my bird comments in my latest column said some sandhill cranes are nesting west of town as part of their northward flight, and will be there for several days. I’ll get out there soon and hope to get a few pics.

Craigslist or Can-Spam list?

Sure, corporate advertisers may prefer Craigslist to alt-weekly print ads, but individuals?

Let’s put it this way: my position wanted classys on Craigs’ have drawn nothing but spam. I’m clearly asking for writing/editorial jobs, and what do I get?

NOTHING but sales-type offers. Now, not all of them are mall marketing jobs for 19-year-old kids, let alone pay money to work for us type stuff. BUT… any sales job in response to my position wanted ad is by definition spam.

And, on the personals side… well, I’ve been getting other junk in my e-mail junk folders recently, too.

Sorry, Craigs. You ain’t even close to “all that.”

February 28, 2007

Another fluff story on the positives of immigration

I get so tired of stories like this that don’t distinguish between legal and illegal immigration, whether as to economic boost or lower incarceration rates.

There’s a hell of a lot of difference between an Indian software engineer or a Pakistani doctor coming here, on the one hand, and a peasant Mexican farmer wrecked by NAFTA, or worse, on the other hand.

But, you can mine for gems that undercut this story within its grafs. Take this, for example:
Those of Asian descent generally showed lower incarceration rates and higher educational levels than Latinos.

Yes, there are illegal immigrants from south or east Asia, and unskilled ones whether legal or not. But, it’s not a stereotype, but a generalization to point out that our primary problems in these areas is Latin America, not Asia.

The problem is, many people try to view immigration, both legal and illegal, in a vacuum. And you cannot.

It must be seen light of free vs. fair trade issues and globalization. As I mentioned, NAFTA pretty much wrecked the Mexican agricultural sector. And, its effects headed further south.

At the same time, H1-B visas for the software engineers are a government subsidy, in essence, in a free-trade heavy industry.

And, this isn’t even touching on issues such as birth control and birth rates. (Guatamala’s is as high as Saudi Arabia’s.)

February 27, 2007

China sighs, Dow sags

Anybody who doesn’t believe BushCo’s massive, Chinese-financed debt is a long-term Sword of Damocles should think again The Shanghai stock market gives up 9 percent, and the Dow and other industrialized exchanges get tugged down with it.

This also illustrates how “Wall Street” is NOT real capitalism, nor reflective of the working person’s economy.

Self-interested, self-serving CEOs and boards of directors have trading caps when the Dow starts falling, but let it rise exorbitantly and “hey, that’s great.” If the Street had caps in both directions, we might have avoided the dot-com bubble.

But that wouldn’t be self-serving enough.

February 26, 2007

Who’s KKR going to whack from TXU?

You don’t make promises like this:
As a result of this transaction, TXU Energy will provide more than $300 million in annual savings through a 10 percent price reduction for residential customers in its traditional service area who have not already selected one of TXU Energy’s other lower-priced offers. Customers will begin receiving a 6 percent reduction in approximately 30 days and an additional 4 percent reduction at the close of the transaction. This will strengthen TXU Energy’s position as having the lowest prices among the major providers in their traditional markets.

without doing some major slash-and-burn on jobs.

And KKR has done that before.

More on the TXU buyout

Still some fine points to read

The Gray Lady, the New York Times, reports that Her Honor, Dallas Mayor Laura Miller, still has some concerns. (And why wasn’t this reported in the initial Dallas Morning Snooze story? Answer: It was not even their own story; it came off the AP wire. Maybe the Snooze's Mong and Dechard are right that most people have not a care whose byline is on a story.)

Namely, the Waco plant that’s already drawn heavy opposition, being the closest to Dallas, and also being likely to make Waco itself an Environmental Protection Agency non-attainment zone, is one of the three plants still scheduled to be built. Interestingly, I've not yet seen an official statement from the Coalition of Clean Air Cities.

The Times story was also fascinating in its description of the role environmentalist group Environmental Defense played in the sale. In short, neither KKR nor Texas Pacific, the two private equity funds planning to buy TXU, wants their private lives to be public. So, asked ED to confidentially work on making this deal more acceptable. ED President Fred Krupp then recognized leverage when he saw it, and pushed for yet more changes. (Some of my environmental donation dollars at work!)

However, besides’s Miller’s worries, there are other caveats.

First, this is not a done deal; second, it’s not an exclusive deal. TXU’s board of directors is still free to negotiate elsewhere until April 16. Third, the eight apparently discarded plants weren’t going to be built for years anyway.

Nonetheless, the victory has HUGE symbolic value. TXU blinked. And, when you can get that to happen, you’re winning.


I’m just starting to realize how much anger I have buried, as far back as more than 35 years, how intense some of it seems to be, and how deeply it has been buried.

Note that I said “has been.” It — both 35-year-old anger and the confidence, or whatever, to feel free to express anger over events of today — actually started coming out late last fall.

I know other people in the Today editorial office were surprised, maybe even stunned, when they heard me get in a 10-minute shouting match on the phone with Lancaster Superintendent Larry Lewis. (No doubt he was surprised, maybe even stunned, too, especially when I showed myself ready to escalate each time he tried to “push me down.”)

Anyway, that’s the first time in my life I’ve gotten angry at another adult like that. And no, to the best of my memory, that’s not hyperbole.

Now that I’ve found a counselor in Bryan, I will be working on this amongst various issues of my “past history.”

February 25, 2007

TXU to be bought, sans most the new coal-fired plants

Takeover firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts will buy TXU — with TXU dropping plans for eight of its 11 proposed coal-fired power plants.

And, they might actually clean up TXU’s act:
KKR and Texas Pacific Group agreed over the weekend to drop most of TXU's ambitious plans for building eight new coal-fired power plants, a move designed to win support for the deal from environmentalists and other critics of the company.

The new buyers also agreed to support a mandatory national program to cap emissions of greenhouse gases and pledged not to build coal-fired plants outside Texas.

Sounds good to me. Plus, it, indirectly at least, kicks Rick Perry in the shins, and you can’t beat that.