SocraticGadfly: 7/31/22 - 8/7/22

August 06, 2022

Food review: Santorelli cheese

I'd never had Santorelli until earlier this week. It pushes a number of stylish varieties, but I had never found it on sale into I bought one of its smaller 7-ounce packs of "Heritage Cheddar" this spring.

I just opened it Monday night, and while I'm not going to throw it away, I won't buy Santorelli at all in the future.

If your idea of "Heritage Cheddar" is some vaguely more tangy, and definitely smoother and cream-richer, version of Kraft medium Cheddar, you've got a great product.

You've also got one I certainly don't want.

August 05, 2022

Top blogging for July

Again, these were not necessarily posts done IN July, but the most popular with readers here during July.

No. 1 was an old post that was also in the top 10 for June, which makes me wonder about bots or something. (Given the one comment was from a Chinese commenter, which after much scrolling through Blogger's crappy comments panel, which doesn't allow on-post deletion of comments before I turned on comment moderation, or something, I finally deleted it.) I called the Chevy Volt a lemon. And it was! It may be better today, but it sucked then.

No. 2 is from last month. I called out the Texas exceptionalism, neoliberal environmentalism and flat-out greenwashing of the "Deep in the Heart" nature documentary.

Third was definitely from last month and could be lather, rinse, repeat for this month: It's my notes on the ongoing heat and drought.

No. 4? A roundup of information on the BA.5 variant of the omicron variant of COVID.

No. 5? From the tail end of last month and related to my vacation, my skepticism about Ace Rental Car. Apparently I'm not alone!

No. 6? My thoughts on early polling on Strangeabbott vs. Beto-Bob.

No. 7? The drought and water over-appropriation are both real, but Aridzona still refuses to face reality.

No. 8 is from early last month, my extended review of a new book about America's national anthem.

No. 9? Even if Google is trying to downgrade search and monetization about things that don't toe the US warmonger party line on Ukraine? My blogging about duopoly leftist Noam Chomsky dialoging with, then refudiating, Ukrainian foreign nationals with US establishmentarian connections still made the cut.

No. 10 is my take, partly related to the Russia-Ukraine war, on developed nations and the climate crisis. The title says it all: "The G7 fiddles while Earth burns."

August 04, 2022

Russia-Ukraine week 17B: Clash of the capitalists

Here's a pretty good piece here reminding us all that, contra the Rainier Sheas and other alleged Socialists and Communists in Merika, it's capitalism — crony capitalism, of course, worse than America — that drives Russia. (It also drives Ukraine, but that's another story.) The story goes on to note that this may all backfire on Putin, though, and the Russian crony capitalist elite with him.

The news site does get European Parliament funding. It is partially honest about the Maidan, but does seem to have some omissions. It does note that the series of revolutions leading to the Maidan were ultimately flubbed in some way, but claims that Ukrainian crony capitalists of today aren't in the driver's seat the same way they are in Russia. Maybe not as much, but not at all? I reject that claim. Look at the oligarchs who helped get Volodymyr Zelenskyy elected.

It also pulls punches on connecting Western dots to the Maidan.

At the same time, it calls out Western media for labeling the anti-Western capitalism parties at the Maidan as "pro-Russian." And, notes how the West was exploiting the whole situation.

That said, it's good in noting that no ideology, even more than in Mother Russia, replaced that of the old USSR. That's why Putin uses Soviet symbols in conquered territory. The piece links to a poll a year ago that said almost 40 percent of Ukrainians thought the USSR was a good thing. Given that Ukraine is poorer, and arguably more corrupt, than Russia, this is understandable.

Can Ukraine find the center? The interview subject says full implementation of the Minsk agreements coupled with hands off by both the US and Russia offer at least a possibility. I have in the past blogged about how Ukrainian breaking of these agreements has been a factor in the ongoing tensions between the two nations.

Anyway, it's a fairly long piece; give it all a read.

Russia-Ukraine week 17A: The EU's 15% non-solution

A number of people who still are following the Russia-Ukraine war and its global spill-out may have noticed last week that the European Union voted to (try to) cut natural gas usage by 15 percent. 

UnHerd spells out why it won't work, and worse, with Germany embracing austerity again, as it did in the Great Recession, why the Eurozone economy is set for a major crumble unless Vladimir Putin somehow benevolently turns the taps on. Of course, if the war is still ongoing, he won't, and no, the US doesn't have that much LNG, and definitely won't in the winter. Could the somewhat parallel NATO wind up shattering over this?

Nobody should be shocked over any of this. 

Looking first at NATO, not the EU, it's part of why most of its member states have long resisted spending close to US amounts on defense. (Not that we don't spend way too much.) Spending more, especially if coupled with American minor reductions, would mean that Europeans would have to make decisions rather than following behind the US lead.

And, now that the EU has jumped in line with the US on sanctions, even while doing much more business with Russia than the US, it faces the same issue. Besides German austerity being likely to clusterfuck the whole EU economy, it now faces the problems of being the "leader" at least in part. It also faces the problems of being the leader after failure to do so. Remember post-Fukushima? Then-German Chancellor Angela Merkel ordered a hard — and fast — pivot away from nuclear. And, to dirty lignite coal. (It also appeased the former East Germany, which still mined some of that.)

But, she didn't address other diversification. (Personally, as long as the long-term waste disposal issue is solved, AND we build more efficient reactors — including breeder-type ones, as long as security is STRONG — I'm OK with nuclear.) Wind energy is more than in America, but, with no nukes, is still a kind of a patch. Yes, solar can provide SOME energy, but not as much as here. It's a matter of latitude, not just more cloudy weather.

Beyond that, when I hear about air conditioning in Hamburg, I shake my head. Germans are getting about as spoiled as Americans.

Independent Media Institute has more on the showdown, noting Spain and Portugal rejected the 15 percent call. Spain, to get to a 7 percent cut, has forbidden by decree public space AC thermostats from going below 27C, or 80.6F, which created a huge outcry. I could see them bargaining down to 25C/77F, but no lower. And, you know what? That's actually comfortable, and with box or ceiling fans, 27C is certainly "tolerable." I live in Tex-ass and it's where I keep our office AC set at. And, 19C in winter is 66.2F. Tolerable or even semi-comfortable. That said, unless all Spanish office buildings have "smart" thermostats, I don't see how you enforce this.

August 03, 2022

Texas roundup: TxDOT cheating, Alex Jones cheating, Three Percenters, Ike Dike

Wylie's Guy Reffert, described as a ringleader of stirring up Jan. 6 insurrectionist, now has his reward. It's seven years in the federal stir. Looks like sentences are getting tougher. Unfortunately, though legally understandable, the judge rejected a terrorism enhancement, and yes, why haven't prosecutors followed that angle before. 


The state is being sued for breaking the new Austin I-35 work into segments small enough to try to dodge environmental impact statements. It's by some of the same people who fought the I-45 expansion in Houston, and the story shows just how much TxDOT has used this dodge. This:

The case, filed in U.S. district court, raises larger questions about the federal government’s decision to give TxDOT the authority to approve its own environmental reviews.

is the key, and how it's laughable that the federal government outsources too much work to states. And whose fault is that?

Uh, Dear Leader's, not Shrub Bush and not Trump. Read the words:

In 2012, the Federal Highway Administration, or FHWA — which oversees the construction and maintenance of highways — created a program that would allow state transportation departments to assume federal responsibility to enforce NEPA.



Dan Solomon comments on the lack of free speech implications in the Alex Jones trial. That's because Jones and his attorneys didn't care to pursue First Amendment angles. They DO care to abuse other parts of the legal process, with Jones' parent company filing for bankruptcy last week, and using a part of the bankruptcy code intended for small business.

UPDATE: In a colossal self-own, Jones has now been busted in lies about never using email and not being able to find Sandy Hook info on his smartphone when one of his attorneys accidentally shared some of Jones' cellphone records with attorneys for Sandy Hook people suing Jones for defamation. This of course opens Jones up to perjury charges. It also opens both him AND his attorneys, if they had any inkling that Jones was lying about this, to other legal sanctions or charges.

As for the $45 million punitive damages verdict?

Not only will it likely be legally reduced, but, per Jones' bankruptcy cheating, how much money anybody from Sandy Hook will ever get out of Jones is debatable. Months ago, I blogged that anybody suing Jones needed to ask the judge in the case for an asset freeze order right off the top of the bat, and he's now proven why.


The Senate OKed the antienvironmentalist Corps of Engineers to start planning for an Ike Dike that isn't funded yet, but once the Corps has its claws in it, probably will get the bucks, even though it's not only environmentalist but won't do half of what most people think it will do, and even that much is only if it works perfectly. Stuff it on this one, any Houstonians with whom I've argued directly or indirectly. I'm right, and I collected past receipts on this when I called out The Fraud (aka "The Squad") and other allegedly environmentalist House Dems for voting in favor of this a month ago. David Bruce Collins doesn't fully like the Ike Dike but doesn't think it's the end of the world, either. Texas Greens, by webmail and email, as well as Twitter, haven't answered me yet. Maybe they're less environmentalist than even the #GangGreen Sierra Club, which expressed concerns about an Ike Dike when the idea was first broached?

Update? Adding to the fun, the email address doesn't work!

I would have searched on the website, but, guess what? The Texas Green Party's website ... doesn't have a search feature. This is 2022, not 2002. Seriously.

texas progressives: Roundup briefs

Off the Kuff writes again and again and again about the chaotic legal landscape we find ourselves in following the Dobbs decision.

SocraticGadfly, fresh off vacation to parts of the Southwest where he grew up, notes that Aridzona still refuses to face water reality

Stace hopes that President Biden's COVID-19 rebound casegives us some knowledge on how to move forward in this newer cycle of the disease.

Grits for Breakfast wants to know why the training curriculum for the Austin Police Department is unable to get rid of some John Birch Society propaganda.  

ProPublica is among many Texas media groups suing the Texas DPS for stonewalling over Uvalde.

John Coby provides some insight into the political contributions of Texas' current top oligarchs.  

Texas 2036 is worried about the effect of drought on Texas' agriculture.  

Space City Weather expects little to no tropical storm activity at least into early August.

Rice University announces an engineering breakthrough that shows how to repurpose deceased spiders as mechanical grippers, and y'all just need to see it for yourselves.

Gunter, not too far from me, came close to running out of water last week.

August 02, 2022

Middle-class precariat pseudo-leftist?

I wrote the following poem last month, and posted it on my second blog, since I discuss issues of aesthetics there, including some of my own poems, as well as philosophy, critical religion and general critical thinking.

Middle-class precariat pseudo-leftist

I know that I am the first and the second
And that they are intertwined.
Does this make me a pseudo-leftist as well?
Am I too afraid
Of giving up the scraps of security
In a bank account and elsewhere
That I have scraped for
To put myself in that middle class
And to try to avoid that precariat
(Even in a precariat career)
To be a "real leftist"?

As I get older
Maybe I'll know the answer
Or at least know it in larger part than now,
And as I learn it,
Maybe I'll be honest with myself.

It's easy to make excuses
But, in a dysfunctional life,
It's also easy to blame oneself,
Or to use the vocabulary of blaming oneself
To avoid deeper thought in general.

At the same time, where is there a dictionary
That can authoritatively, and unambiguously,
Define the term "real leftist"?
"If it feels leftist, then do it"?

Per old Idries Shah, sometimes overquoted
If there are more than two sides to this issue,
There's also a continuum of some sort.
And, I'm on that, and not at the zero point.
Real leftist in progress, or simpatico fellow traveler.

But, I wanted to offer some comments on it, so I reposted it here, with comment to follow.

I'm not Noam Chomsky, who has said that every president since World War II, not exempting Jimmy Carter, would swing from the gibbet if they were given a Nuremberg war crimes trial, but then continues to vote Democrat-only instead of moving outside the box. Ditto for the Adolph Reeds and Doug Henwoods of the world, and even self-proclaimed communist Angela Davis.

At the same time, I acknowledge, as an ex-Green, that too many Greens not only accept the unlikelihood of major Green Party candidates being elected, but perceive the party's ultimate role as nudging the Democrats leftward.

Ain't happening, and you're AccommoGreens, as I have called you, the Green equivalent of ConservaDems.

I also note the GP is not necessarily a "left" political party, unlike, say, the Socialist Party USA. Sorry, Greens, but the amount of "libertarian Greens" in the party, many "libertarian" on US terms, not European ones, and the anarchist Greens to somewhat lesser but not insignificant degree, negate the leftist claims for the party. (As if AccommoGreens don't.)

So, no, ultimately, I'm not a pseudo-leftist. I'm not a radical leftist, and I'm not an anarchist, but, in American terms (always a qualifier) per my header, I am a leftist. And more than some who are part of the problem, not solution, if they're voting Democrat only.

What I also am, as an ex-Green for now and probably through 2024, at least, someone who becomes ever more tired of electoral politics, even as I know the duopolists like seeing people like me drop out.

August 01, 2022

Texas Progressives roundup for last week

I was on vacation and just now hit civilization.

The Texas Progressive Alliance is ready for the Former Guy to be charged with some crimes as it brings you this week's roundup. 

Off the Kuff would like more people to pay attention to the Republican quest for vengeance against anyone who has ever had anything to do with an abortion in Texas.

SocraticGadfly had two environmental-related posts of note last week. First, he observed that MBS essentially announced Saudi Arabia is at Peak Oil, or will be in a few years. Second, he had a series of observations on the ongoing heat and drought, combined with a review of a new book on Freon and cooling. 

Stace points to APs report on deadly migrant chases by South Texas law enforcement as a cause for lockdown fatigue in Uvalde schools.

The Texas Observer tells the story of Haley Carter and the Friendswood Fourth of July parade.  

Juanita is not impressed with her current Congressman.  

Raise Your Hand Texas discusses the Texas teacher workforce challenge. 

The Dallas Observer lists five really dumb song selections by political campaigns.  

Robert Rivard finds a lot of blame to spread around for the Uvalde massacre.