SocraticGadfly: 4/1/07 - 4/8/07

April 07, 2007

Labor “etiquette” and labor-management issues

This post has been a while in developing.

Not too long after I relocated to my “not fully desired, not at all looked for” — on either job or city location side — current spot, about three months ago, I had already indicated I didn’t plan on pitching a tent here for too long.

My best friend talked about “job etiquette” and what was a “reasonable” time to stay. Of course, I’ve already had eyes and ears open, but I said, given the fact I was downsized out of my previous job through no fault of my own, I thought six months was plenty.

Well, let me add to that.

Given the fact that the job I interviewed for, the job posted on a job bank, is NOT the job I was offered, and that I’m not even sure the posted job was OPEN/AVAILABLE at the time (I never heard, within my current newspaper’s ownership group, or state press association, about it being filled), I think six months was too generous.

That said, obviously, unless I had taken that job at the Focus, nothing was likely to open up right around Dallas, in traditional newspaper journalism. (Of course, I’m more looking outside that than inside that now… environmental activism, for example, would be a prime target area.)

But, this has made me reflect. How much of “labor etiquette” is really dictates that came down from the management side, got blended with the Calvinist work ethic opiate of the masses, and sold as timeless social truth?

At least 50 percent, in my book.

Lancaster’s white elephant on Bear Creek … the Nature Preserve?

The Bear Creek Nature Preserve (ahem, Carol Strain-Burk) is ONLY a “draw” for better quality residential development than the latest abortion-type rebirth of the Tommy Tompkins/ Steve Topletz “Preserve” IF it’s open to the public like an actual park.

Yes, I supported it when I was still the editor there.

BUT, that was on the understanding that it was going to be an actual park, not a “preserve” that was off-limits to the general public. And, after it opened, still before I left, I was informed that, “soon enough,” it WOULD be open to the public.

Well, from what Herb Booth wrote, that obviously ain’t the case.

If Parks and Rec doesn’t have the operations money for even this, then not only is Bear Creek Nature Preserve on “iffy” ground, isn’t the whole department?

Oh, and you may not have to worry a lot about this year …

BUT, if you want to succeed Joe Tillotson as mayor next year, a LOT of people will ask questions, or worse, just state opinions, about this. Not just about why it isn’t open, but why the council didn’t look at the Parks and Rec budget before it was built, to see if it could be operated open to the public.
The school district first, now city government …

The Masters at the cut

Well, I was right about The Big Easy, Ernie Els, taking an early vacation in Augusta.

And, my man Vijay is in striking distance of the lead.

So is my actual pick to look out to win it this year, defending U.S. Open champ Geoff Ogilvy.

Looks like my pick of -4 to win could be too low. Unless they have easy pin placements tomorrow (and with a former U.S. Open director now in charge of that, that ain’t likely), -2 might be your money bet. Obviously my cut line was set too low; little did I know.

But, I like it like this. Pins will probably be a BIT easier on Saturday. Will Tiger charge? Will Vijay? It’s going to be great golf.

China to participate in “Kyoto II”

OK, with Beijing officially agreeing to participate in the next global warming treaty talks, the Bush Administration and Shrub personally have zero, zip, zilch, nada excuses for us not getting on board Kyoto the original now.

And: In addition, Japan would announce that it would assist China with energy-saving technology, the (Japanese paper Yomiuri Shimbun) added.

Make that LESS than zero excuse.

April 05, 2007

Can TXU be any bigger babies than this?

Threatening to close power plants if they actually get slapped on the hand for manipulating prices is the definition of a corporate crybaby. Hey, all you dereg-favoring politicians in Austin, want to still boast about how dereg has made power so cheap?

Even the swanky developers get bit by the subprime snake

Custom developer Lake Ridge has a suburban Dallas development in Cedar Hill that is in a lot of trouble, in fair part over subprime mortgages now starting to head south.

And “unexplained house fires” sounds like code for “arson not yet investigated as such.” Question there is, who's setting the fires - a homeowner fixing to go upside down or a “pre-homeowner” (ahem) possibly stuck with a house that the development can't move.

The fact that some of these burning houses are unoccupied could support either the homeowner OR the developer theory:
The three story brick-and-stone house at 419 Golden Pond caught fire on December 3. Cedar Hill Fire Marshal Randall Jordan said it was intentionally set.

The house was unoccupied - without gas or electricity - yet somehow fires started in several places on lower floors.

Now the charred ribs of what used to be a peaked roof stick into the sky. It was the most expensive house on the block, listed on tax rolls at $640,000.

Darrell Mosely, who lives across the street, says the house at 419 was not the first to burn. He points to one farther down the block that's burned twice (That one, according to Fire Marshal Jordan, was caused by faulty wiring). But Mosely is irked that these homes and others with questionable value are jacking up his tax rates.

But there wasn't a homeowner to even light a match on this one:
On Mallard Point, about a mile away, a bare foundation is what's left of another home that burned. It was still under construction. Grand Prairie fire inspector C.J. Griffin said it is impossible to determine the cause

These are houses at $400K and more. For you outside Texas, know that this is definitely on the higher side of the Dallas Metroplex housing market, even if this would be mid-market in Chicago and a bungalow in L.A. Double these prices or better and you get an idea of their worth in Los Angeles. In other words, somebody is torching the SoCal equivalent of million-dollar homes over subprime mortgage problems.

So, that's the interesting thing - the subprime crisis is spreading, and spreading upward. For people who think this isn't serious, think again.

Cardinals: Time to start worrying?

Here’s my take on the 0-3 start for El Birdos.

First, let me bitch once more about Walt Jocketty trading Dan Haren to the A’s. We can give you credit for getting Wainwright, Walt, but you have to take your well-deserved lumps, too.

Second, let’s wait and see Edmonds in the lineup. Then, the not-so-great but better-than-Preston-Wilson Juan Encarnacion.

Third, let’s hear more about what’s up with Carpenter’s elbow. If this shelves him for more than one start, it’s officially OK to start worrying.

Third, if he continues to improve, let’s stop platooning Chris Duncan and start playing him against some lefties.

April 04, 2007

Bush ignores Senate on ambassador, as well as attorneys

The Smirkster named Sam Fox, a leading contributor to Swift Boaters for Lying, the group that lied about John Kerry’s Vietnam service in the 2004 presidential election, to be ambassador to Belgium, using a recess appointment to avoid the Senate.

Such appointments are usually only used during longer Congressional recesses, not a four-day weekend. Sen. Chris Dodd intends to see if the action is even legal.

Just look at the smirk on the Smirkster’s face in the linked story. Like the 8-year-old thinking he’s getting away with something.

Yes, in some ways I’m glad to be out of Lancaster, even for where I’m at now

Besides continuing to butt heads with Lancaster ISD Superintendent Larry Lewis, and likely starting to butt heads with new Lancaster City Manager Ricky “fingerprints” Childers, the criminal element like this, a former denizen or hanger-on at my River Bend apartment complex, make me kind of glad to have moved on in some ways, even if Far South Lancaster wasn’t a place I would have freely chosen. I feel sorry for old-time residents there; much of the new retail development in the area isn’t going to DeSoto now, nor Lancaster; it’s driving down I-35 or Dallas Avenue to Red Oak. At the same time, places like Town Square never did piggyback on other events, such as staying open late on Musicfest Thursdays, nighttime Christmastime events on Town Square and such. In other words, moving beyond the 1994 tornado, a fair amount of the town’s wounds are self-inflicted.

Will seawater save the Southwest?

The same Nation story cited in my previous source notes that American technological man believes seawater can replace drought losses.

Fat chance, unless SoCal starts buildling a lot of nuke plants. New climate regs there mean the Golden State will never see a new coal-fired plant, unless it’s the cleanest of clean coal. The U.S. has already hit Peak Natural Gas, and Canada will by the end of the century.

Passive solar evaporation can’t desalinate seawater in that quantity on that fast of a time scale, and it would require a lot of active solar panels. Australia uses wind power for some of its desalinization, but I can picture a huge NIMBY factor in SoCal. Plusa, wind for desalinization will have to compete with wind power for other electric uses, since California is more than 50 percent more populous than Australia.

Frankly, comments like this exemplify not just what’s wrong with American conservatism, but the largely self-inflicted delusionalism of the American middle class.

It wants to believe in the magic quick fix, the technological silver bullet. Well, “American exceptionalism” wayyyy aside, there is no such guarantee. I’m sure the Romans were hoping for one about 1,600 years ago; it didn’t happen either, and the Dark Ages were bad enough, despite some historical revisionism of thought, that some Roman knowledge, like Portland cement, was actually forgotten for more than a millennium.

The last one to leave the Southwest, please turn out the lights

Between the effects of the subprime crisis, repeatedly blogged about here, on the Southwest’s major cities (Las Vegas foreclosures up more than 70 percent), and the drought-like weather of the 1950s becoming the new norm, I’d say the Desertlands will soon be facing a long-overdue population collapse.

Sooner or later, even modern American homo sapiens will learn he has to learn one simple lesson, first taught in ancient Sumeria 5,000 years ago, and retaught many times since:

The desert always wins.

Taking child abuse seriously

Improperly funding Child Protective Services in Texas is just as criminal as improperly funding Mental Health Mental Retardation services. And, like that, improper CPS funding is NOT a “liberal/conservative” issue. Also, to reduce it to coldly financial terms, if you don’t want to pay more in state tax moneys, you’re going to pay more in local school district property taxes, or county property and sales taxes, to deal with either problematic students or young criminals, as part of the fallout of abusive childhoods undetected or unaided.

Here’s much more on the problem.
The affects of abuse include learning disabilities, children disruptive in class for many, usually unconscious reasons, extra burdens on school nurses and more.

Superintendent Jennings Teel in Navasota and the other superintendents must bear these burdens, and the financial costs for their districts. And their teachers bear often being the first "eyes and ears" on noticing abused children.

It’s National Child Abuse Prevention Month. Let’s take it seriously.

Subprime fallout — a 10-15 year real estate crash?

One market analyst says it will take us about as long to bounce back as Japan's 16-year recovery period from its late 1980s-early 1990s real estate crash, with “bottom” still five long years away!
The data being reported at the state and county level speaks of an unfolding disaster many, many times larger that what is being reported on TeeVee. There are daily updates of housing related media links here and here (both excellent sites) for those that care to read more, so I won't go and deeper into the gory details.

My opinion is that the housing crash that is now before us will last far longer and be far worse than is commonly recognized. If we are lucky, the housing market will bottom in 2010-2011. When all is said and done I expect as much as a 90 percent price crash in some markets and an average of 40-50 percent across all markets. I see nothing in the trajectory of this housing bubble to suggest a reason to suspect it will play out any differently financially or psychologically than any other bubble in history. In short, it's NOT different this time. It's very probably the same. If, however, we're unlucky, housing, retiring boomers and peak oil will press their serious demands upon a concurrent stretch of the future and housing will never reclaim the peak seen in 2005.

Please not, especially, where I added emphasis. Note also that the author, in the article linked above, has linked to several newspaper and business journal stories. The Poughkeepsie, N.Y., newspaper, for example, had a story with local real estate analysts predicting a 40-50 percent drop there, before the dust all shakes out.

In other words, this could be the biggest thing since the 1979 Iranian oil embargo, if not since the Great Depression, in a worst case scenario.

As in Japan, part of the reason a crash could be so long, and so painful, beyond the degree of overvaluation of housing, is the size of the ripple effect:
The first-wave victims of the housing bubble implosion are tapped out and must begin their lives anew with statistically no savings. I suppose that means they will no longer be buying flat-screen TV's, new trucks or trinkets for a while. And you know those Mercedes-driving, $700 purse-toting realtors, loan brokers, appraisers and title company folks? They'll be hunkering down for the foreseeable future, too. How about the subprime, predatory and other assorted, irresponsible lenders and mortgage "securities" dealers? I imagine they've stopped buying original Monets and Picassos at this point but, hey, I'm just guessin'.

All together now - can you say, “drag on the economy?” All of this - and it's really just beginning - is only going to make matters even worse.

This could be far, far worse than the 2000 bubble, in other words.

Take note that the subprime crunch is already hurting the used housing market in many metropolitan areas. On the new house side, in Detroit, home of the car, you can buy a repoed house at auction for less than a Motor City new car.

Next, new housing stock one level above subprime will be hurt. Mortgage brokers will have so much bad money on their hands they'll be trying to figure out ways to get it back. Once this happens, smart buyers will stand pat and let them sweat.

And, we haven't even talked about home equity loans yet.

How many subprime borrowers had held their houses long enough to get somebody to give them a home equity loan? Probably not a lot, but those major metropolitan area 20-30 year old used home owners?

A whole lot of them, I don't doubt. If the subprime crash is driving their house values seriously downward, they've got new trouble on their hands.

That, in turn gets back to the second quote I have above. If you have to refinance a home equity loan, that means less spending money. That affects jobs at Best Buy, Home Depot, and a Chili's or similar restaurants.

There's a waggish saying that Americans can't handle or face more than one crisis at a time. Well, old dogs may have to learn new tricks.

Bible as literature in public schools? Yeah, but look who’s behind the idea

It’s gay-baiting Texas State Sen. Warren Chisum who’s pushing this baby, so when he claims this is to treat the Bible as only literature “and not a worship document”, don’t believe him for a second.

Besides, IMO, this still runs into church-state separation First Amendment issues if the Bible is the only scripture so treated. (And, please do NOT trot out the “Judeo” fig leaf of “Judeo-Christian” beliefs, scriptures, etc., because it is, ultimately, just that — a fig leaf.)

So, if I counter Chiusm by saying, fine, let’s also teach the Quran as literature, including the sections about jihad, or if I say, fine, let’s teach the Norse Elder Edda, about Ragnarok and Valhalla, what then?

First, I’ll say, let’s teach the Bible as myth (by literary definition), alongside the others. Then let’s watch him blow his stack.

Then, I’ll say, Warren, are we going to have kids reading Song of Songs? The passage in Genesis where Lot is willing to substitute his daughters to rape rather than visiting angels? The passage in Judges where a man abandons his concubine, then, after finding her raped to death the next day, dismembers her body and sends pieces around tribal Israel as a cry to jihad of his own? The chapter after that, where the tribe of Benjamin is left so male-decimated they are officially encouraged by other tribes to abduct women from a village that didn’t show up for battle, as a means to replenish their numbers?

So, yes, Warren Chisum, Bible as literature? Bring it on. I’ll go get my teaching certification and gladly teach the most juicy parts as literature.

What a nutbar.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder — what’s that?

It’s a series of stress- and anxiety-related physical and psychological problems suffered by people who have been in severely stressful situations, especially chronic, ongoing ones. That would apply to groups like combat soldiers, prisoners of war, Bush’s “illegal combatants,” and victims of child abuse, especially more severe abuse.

As many of the groups above fall under liberal political issues important to me, and the last group includes me and this is National Child Abuse Prevention Month, I want to familiarize people with this issue more.

But, rather than just quote from psychology studies, or reinvent the wheel too much, I refer you to PTSDandME, a blog written by a fellow sufferer.

This also leads to the old question of “why some, not others.” Short answer — I don’t know. Longer answer? Length of exposure to trauma seems to be one factor. In child abuse, how early it started is another. And, there’s what we bring to the table in genetically-oriented personality traits. A pre-existing susceptibility to depression or difficulty with anxiety seems to be part of the mix. A deficiency in the neurotransmitter cortisol also stands indicted.

An “outsourced Guantanamo”

That’s what John Sifton of Human Rights Watch says the U.S. is doing with Ethiopian prisons, calling the U.S. the “ringleader” in how these prisons have been operated.

The FBI is clearly involved, but surely has a lighter fingerprint than the CIA.

Wishful thinking by the electric power industry

In light of the April 2 Supreme Court ruling that the Environmental Protection Agency has the power to regulate carbon dioxide, Scott Segal, director of the Electric Reliability Coordinating Council, which represents power utilities, had this to say:
“We may have years into the future before a finding today — that carbon dioxide is a pollutant — actually results in a regulation.”

What he really means is that his corporate masters HOPE any such regulation can be stalled by them until years in the future.

Unconscionable bastard.

April 03, 2007

Trapped — first comments this year on National Child Abuse Prevention Month

I became VERY afraid of being “trapped,” whether in physical spaces, social gatherings, with another person, bad or potentially bad jobs, geographic locations and more, from my childhood experiences.

One specific example.

When I was 12, after having had WAYYY too much instruction in different elements of life from two of my older brothers, one of them drove up outside a friend’s house (an acquaintance’s house, rather — I had no friends, really, until college). He, with a friend or two of his with him, said, “I’ll sneak you into the drive-in for free if you get in my trunk.”

Well, first of all, I’d heard, from the same brother, that Cheech and Chong routine about Chong getting locked in a trunk.

Second, though some of my memories from earlier childhood were already fading, or being repressed, I still didn’t trust this brother on something like this.

Third is something that I didn’t even think about until earlier this week:

As memory serves me, there was still almost two hours of daylight left. NO drive-in movie was happening.

Anyway, it’s my blog, and I’ll still blog about this (sorry, Chuck, or others) because this isn’t just about me. The various forms of child abuse, our failure as a society to take them seriously, and our refusal to admit how much of this happens at home are all serious societal issues, and this IS National Child Abuse Prevention Month.

BECOME aware.

TWO big environmental victories — one with Texas ramifications

The Supreme Court’s ruling that the Environmental Protection Agency DOES have the power to regulate global-warming inducing carbon dioxide as a pollutant is getting all the press.

And, it should get a great deal of this. The ruling doesn’t force the EPA to do anything, but, it turns the heat up, pun intended, on the Bush Administration’s EPA to do something. Also, carmakers who have sued California in its regulations to control CO2 at the state level had a major prop knocked out with this decision.

But, it’s not the only major Supreme Court decision on global warming-related issues. The High Court also ruled, unanimously on this, that Duke Energy must use the latest pollution controls when upgrading its power plants.
Environmental Defense had sued Duke:
Our suit against Duke Energy, the country's third-largest power company, centered on its costly renovations to 30 coal-fired electric generating units at eight power plants in North Carolina and South Carolina. Many of these facilities had been operated sporadically or not at all and were due to be retired and replaced. Instead, Duke Energy extensively rebuilt them, resulting in significant increases in particulate- and smog-forming pollution, but did not obtain permits nor install pollution control equipment as required by law.

Of course, then the Bush Adminstration tried to weaken these requirements, Duke said, in essence, “Sign us up,” and the suit was necessitated.

Here in Texas? Of HUGE importance if TXU wants to expand output at any of its coal fired plants. Or any other utilities.

Larry Lewis also tried to control media in Austin — the Reagan High stabbing aftermath

During Lancaster ISD Superintendent Larry Lewis’ time as an area superintendent with the Austin Independent School District, the most major issue he faced, in all likelihood, was a fatal stabbing at Reagan High School. I talked with a couple of reporters from the Austin American Statesman about how Lewis dealt with the media on this issue.

Because these e-mails were given to me as “backgrounders,” I’m omitting names, and not completely or directly quoting from any of them. Nonetheless, as the incidents mentioned all occurred in public, I don’t have a problem referencing them in a general way.

One set of e-mails refers to an off-campus memorial for the student, at an area church. A Statesman editorial section writer was there, looking for ideas for a future column. The writer was talking to students when Lewis (and other officials) approached her and told her to leave.

Well, a church isn’t a school facility; Lewis had no legal authority. Allegedly, he said he was trying to protect students. Well, a writer will try to not be too “in your face” in most cases, in a situation like this.

But, the story doesn’t stop there.

Lewis then reportedly talked to the district’s public information officer to try to get an official complaint lodged against the paper. (Facing me more directly, he tried leaning on the managing editor of Today Newspapers, and the owner at the time I first wrote something less than perfectly PRish about Lewis and Lancaster ISD. He later approached that now-former owner last fall, when I first started doing investigative reporting about problems at the new Lancaster High School.) Anyway, the PIO didn’t do anything with that idea.

Before that, when the Statesman was covering the story itself, he tried to order a reporter and photographer to leave Reagan, despite them being with the school’s principal and district flaks.

Now, again, one incident of this, we might excuse as protecting students, or, as Lewis would say, “putting children first.”

BUT, he did the same thing at the student’s funeral, which again was at a public place where he had no legal standing.

Of course, the bigger issue might be whether the district could have done more to prevent the tragedy in the first place, and if THAT behind why he attempted to control the media.

From the Statemen’s April 4, 2003 coverage:
The Austin school district will launch an independent investigation into the death of sophomore Ortralla Mosley, who was stabbed March 28 at Reagan High School.

Mosley’s ex-boyfriend Marcus McTear, also a sophomore, was charged with first-degree murder.

Since Mosley’s death, school officials have said they were baffled by the tragedy. But parents, the Rev. Sterling Lands and a prosecutor with the Travis County district attorney's office said school officials had previous reports of violence by McTear against female students.

On Friday, school board President Doyle Valdez announced in a statement that the district will review how Reagan officials “handled events leading up to the tragedy to ascertain whether more could have been done to prevent the incident.” …

The board and Superintendent Pat Forgione will also review all discipline data and procedures at every campus, which could lead to policy changes. [Note: Lewis also had a “history” with Forgione in his last months in Austin.]

Lands, who conducted Mosley's funeral Wednesday, asked Valdez to investigate the campus. He said a Reagan security staff member, whom he wouldn't identify, said McTear had been sent to security the morning of Mosley's death after fighting with her.

Elaine Gifford, the mother of a former Reagan student who dated McTear, said McTear pushed her daughter down some stairs at Reagan, a charge backed by prosecutor Melissa Douma in McTear’s detention hearing Monday.

That “previous history” of problem behavior McTear had? From another story:

Melissa Douma, chief prosecutor of the juvenile division for the Travis County district attorney's office, told a judge that McTear brought two knives to school Friday. She also said he had a record of at least six disturbances at Austin schools, including one at Reagan that involved him pushing a girlfriend down the stairs.

That girlfriend was Rae Spence, 15, said Spence's mother, Elaine Gifford.

Gifford said her daughter and McTear were involved in a tumultuous relationship for more than a year, starting at the end of eighth grade. Gifford, a pharmacy technician with Albertson's, said she grew so concerned that she eventually enrolled her daughter at Anderson High School.

Trouble started soon after their freshman year began. Gifford said Spence would come home in tears because of arguments with McTear over her choice of clothes.

“He was nice and polite at first,” Gifford said. “As they got into high school, it became more possessive.”

When Spence came home with bruises, Gifford’s concern turned to fear. She said that she called Principal Nolan Correa several times and that he never called her back. [It’s unknown from this story whether she then went the next step above Correa’s head and called Lewis.] …

When Spence and McTear had another argument, this time on a school bus last April, Gifford filed charges against McTear with the Austin Police Department. She decided to move to Northwest Austin and enroll Spence in Anderson High School for her sophomore year.
On Aug. 20, the two families appeared in municipal court. Gifford said the judge dismissed the case. [It’s unknown whether Correa knew anything about this, let alone Lewis.]

And, from a Statesman editorial:
A high school must be a house of learning, not the seat of fear. One incident, even one as violent as Mosley’s stabbing death, doesn’t mean the campus is out of control. But it is a question school officials must probe as they search for answers in order to prevent similar assaults in the future.

Austin Superintendent Pat Forgione and Reagan Principal Nolan Correa should be forthcoming about the events that led to this unfortunate assault and about the atmosphere at Reagan. The Austin school district must guarantee that students are in a safe environment while at school. [Note 2: Forgione wasn’t forthcoming AT ALL with me when I tried to get him to talk about other issues related to Lewis. In fact, I never got the chance to directly talk to him via phone or e-mail, thanks to (the same?) PIO, playing gatekeeper.]

All said? Even with multiple attempts to obstruct the media, if it were limited to this incident alone, I might, just might have given Lewis a free pass on looking at his past, or at least a lighter scrutiny. But, as he repeatedly did the same thing in Lancaster, it has to be considered part of a pattern of behavior. (I don’t know how the Dallas Morning News has related to him, as Kathy Goolsby’s never done any of the tougher pieces, and instead a non-beat reporter, education-specific, tackles the tougher stuff.)

Sorry, Larry, but like I said in this space last fall, you don’t always get to have things go exactly your way. Beyond that, I do not see a smoking gun, but I do see a pattern of behavior.

Support Texas HB 2612 — Texas needs to do a study of its hate-crimes law to put teeth into it

From an e-mail sent to me:
Testimony on House Bill 2612 was taken in support of a study of the James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Act before the House Criminal Procedure Subcommittee on April 2. HB 2612, filed by Representative Marc Veasey, (D - Fort Worth), would provide much needed data to evaluate whether the provisions of the James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Act
are being enforced. HB 2612 calls for identifying successful strategies to overcome barriers to the prosecution of hate crimes, such as: lack of training, lack of knowledge about the provisions of the law, and reluctance to prosecute a hate crime based on the jury’s own bias and prejudice.

This last clause is important. (Emphasis added.) Given that Denton’s only gay bar apparently got torched just two weeks after an acquittal on a gay assault case, illustrates the need for getting prosecutors to take hate crimes of all types more seriously.

April 02, 2007

I agree with AP’s clamping down on “AP” courses at high schools

Here in lower east Texas, I saw a “feel good” car-dealer ad about a “good kid” at Madisonville High School, which is centered on a town of 4,500.

Said he had a 5.4 GPA, and I’m assuming that’s on a 4-point scale, with double extra points for AP classes, single extra point for non-AP honors classes. Even if that’s on a 5-point scale, it’s some ridiculous grade inflation. The kid may be smart, but I’m pretty sure he ain’t THAT smart.

Anyway, sorry I’m not giving a link, but the AP, as in Advanced Placement, not Associated Press, announced last week it is REALLY going to crack down.

In the future, high schools are going to have to provide a ream of documentation that each alleged AP class they offer is actually an AP-level class.

How much more unhealthy can fast food breakfasts get?

Whataburger’s flogging a ham/egg/cheese biscuit with a sweet apple glaze. Good doorknob. The Chinese won’t have to “overtake” us — America will have a collective mass coronary.

April 01, 2007

Wave hi to the Texas Education Agency, Larry Lewis

As you further shoot your May 12 bond issue in the foot
A TEA visit to the Lancaster School District could, among other things, damage district bond ratings, thereby driving up interest rates, thereby leaving less actual principal for construction costs.
“Because they missed this year's deadline, they've already failed School FIRST, which could have an effect on their bonds and bond rating,” Rita Chase said.

(Of course, that ain’t even counting the allegedly missing $17 million, which would buy a new school itself with cash on the barrelhead.)

Two further comments.

One: Will Ms. Goolsby have anything on her interviews with students about the other fired Smith — the allegedly “five-fingering” one?

Two: One or two occasional posts about Lancaster after this, and I’ll be loosening my ties. That’s for my own detachment as well as Lancaster residents, ISD staff etc. needing to accept that, sadly, things on the media side there won’t be changing.

You don’t have to apologize when somebody uses you

Or even if it feels like they’ve been using you and they give you no evidence to the contrary, whether it’s a current “using” event or in the past.

Oh, and you can withdraw past apologies, too, or modify them.

Widening the voice about getting out of Iraq — meet the members of the Out of Iraq blogroll

I’ve been kindly invited to join the Out of Iraq Blogroll. We will hold the feet of Congress, as well as the President, to the fire.

With 20 members and counting, plus the variety of local, regional, state, national and international political and nonpolitical issues on which I blog, it's easier doing this here than listing all members in the rail under an Out of Irag blogroll. Plus, regular readers of my blog will note that I don't list a lot of “top shelf” blogs on my blogroll anyway.

Members are:
After Downing Street
American Leftist
And, yes, I DO Take It Personally
Big Tent Democrat
Blue Girl, Red State
Democratic Left Infoasis
Dr. X’s Free Associations
Drawing the Line
Drawing the Line
Hill Country Gal
Jelly Pizza
Just a Bump in the Beltway
The Left End of the Dial
Let’s Try Democracy
Lotus — Surviving a Dark Time
Peace, Love and Erica Campbell
My Thinking Spot
Real’s World
Skippy the Bush Kangaroo
The Barefoot Bum
The Mandarin

Hire a real lib

Still looking for a bigger city, different mindset to where I am currently and semi-compulsively, with a bit of false advertising, relocated. Interested both in traditional newspaper journalism, as well as journalistic and non-journalistic advocacy work and other communications positions.

Matthew Dowd falls out of love with W; why was he ever in love in the first place?

The question is, besides his talking about being in denial about Bush’s out-of-touchness, what he originally saw in Bush’s “Texas style of governing” to trust him in the first place?

After all, as a consultant to Lt. Gov Bob Bullock, he’d surely been enough of an Austin insider to hear about Bush’s Karla Faye Tucker imitation cackle, Bush’s funeral home crisis troubles and more.

In other words, Matthew Dowd was in denial in 1999, long before his claim to have recognized his denial in 2004. Dancing with the devil called Karl Rove is proof enough.