Saturday, December 31, 2005

Well, Steanso has taken ill with a cold or cedar fever or some damn thing, so he may not be partying much this New Year's. However, that doesn't slow me down from wishing you all a great New Year's celebration and a happy upcoming year!
Peace, love, and happiness.

Steanso

Friday, December 30, 2005

Damnit, people. The American pika is almost extinct, and I never even knew they existed until this morning. How am I going to know about them and catch one to keep as a pet if I don't know that they exist until they're extinct?
And The Justice Department is launching an investigation to figure out who leaked the fact that the president has been engaged in an illegal domestic wiretapping operation. No one seems interested in investigating the actual illegality of the wiretaps, or how far the illegal wiretapping extends, or determining exactly whom the president has illegally been keeping under surveillance here in the U.S. Nope. Instead, the federal governemnt is going to use your tax dollars in yet another effort to bully and browbeat whistleblowers and defenders of American civil liberties- people who have stood up to this administration in an effort to tell them that they don't have a right to spy on the American people and take away our privacy simply because they feel like it.
Bush's claim that the declassification of this program has put our country in jeopardy is laughable. The real reason he's angry is that once again he has been caught with his pants down (once again bending the American people over a barrel, I might add). Were there really any terrorists out there operating cells who still thought it was ok to discuss confidential matters over a phone? Even before this program was revealed, I would think that most potential terrorists would have been worried about their phone and internet conversations because of the danger of LEGAL wiretaps gained through proper channels with warrants (and let's be honest- those warrants weren't all that hard to come by in the first place). I think Bush's wiretapping extends to tracking not only international terrorists, but political and/or ideological enemies of the White House as well (who are likely to have done nothing illegal).
This whole thing is really creepy, and it's about to become more creepy as the White House turns the investigation away from themselves and tries to create a witch hunt in pursuit of whoever did our country the service of leaking this information.
Impeach Bush.

OK, gots to run, but you guys keep it real. I may die a fiery death tomorrow night in Wimberly (all part of the Sensat fireworks extravaganza), so wish me well.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Well, Steanso's week off has been pretty good. Mostly.
Yesterday he wasted two hours of his life that he'll never get back by going to see Wolf Creek with Crackbass and Jackbart. Wolf Creek is an Australian slasher/horror movie, which was advertised as one of the grittiest, most realistic horror movies since The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. I read a few reviews of the movie before going to see it (The New York Times, The Washington Post), and they all said that although the movie was flawed, that it was worth going to see. I STRONGLY disagree. Wolf Creek was one of the single most generic, uninventive, predictable, and ultimately boring horror movies that I've ever had the misfortune to spend $6 on. Sadly, it wasn't bad enough to become truly funny (and, therefore, entertaining), but it just plodded along with its silly plot, ridiculous anatagonist, and main characters that were so mindless as to eventually cause me to root for their bloody and painful deaths. Don't go see Wolf Creek, kids. Rent it if the curiosity becomes overwhelming, but if you do that, get like twelve people together and split the rental cost so that you don't feel ripped off. And when you reach a point in the movie when you think to yourself, "Surely it's about to get better," then turn it off. It's not going to get better. Trust me.
Other from that, not too much to report. If we don't get some rain in Austin soon, things are going to get nasty. We're in the middle of a really bad drought, but no one's been bitching about it yet because we're also in the middle of winter, which means no one is watering their grass, anyway. When spring comes and the aquifer is empty, though, it's gonna be bad hoodoo. Right now the biggest ramification of the drought is the fact that small Texas towns seem to keep bursting into flames. I'm looking forward to watching Andy F. burn down Wimberly with his New Year's fireworks. I've seen Andy break and ruin a lot of stuff before, but it'll really be something to see him take it up a notch by burning down an entire town! Kickass.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

S'up, loyal readers? Did everyone have a happy holiday? I hope so. In Steanso's humble opinion, we've all been deserving a break. In some ways, it's kinda been a tough year (health problems in our family, my unemployment, war, the political climate, Katrina and Rita, the tsunami, etc.) although there've been some causes for celebration as well (recovery of health, gaining a new job, the birth of new kiddos in the Steanso tribal community). Anyway, I hope you all enjoyed your holidays.
Steanso got into town last night and immediately launched into a Mexican dinner with team Wilson just to prove to himself that he was, indeed, at home. Phoenix was good. Not exactly action-packed, but relaxing and fun. It was good to see Roundball and McSteans (as well as Melbotis, Jeff, and their newest ball of fuzzy, black chaos, Lucy). McSteans managed to pull off a tasty Christmas dinner, and we did some traditional Steans family Christmas activities, such as driving around looking at Christmas lights while listening to Mojo Nixon and going to see a giant Hollywood blockbuster. (By the way- King Kong was fun. Being a big, confused animal myself, I always get choked up when those pesky little humans pester that gorilla to death.)

To see what happened when things got a little slow on my trip, check out Roundball's site, The League of Melbotis.

Not a lot else to say tonight. I had fun in the desert, but I'm glad to be back at the Hop-A-Long Lounge with Cassidy. I can do more damage here.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Well, it's Christmas Eve here in Phoenix, AZ. I woke this morning to find my brother and sister-in-law standing in the yard looking at a flotilla of hot air balloons which were making their way across the cloudless Arizona sky. Pretty cool.
Steanso has also reentered the world of cable news since landing in Phoenix (Steanso's own cable having been cut off since sometime during his unemployment last summer), and I couldn't help but notice CNN reporting this morning that Bush's illegal wiretap program apparently extended farther than the White House initially admitted (what a surprise- see Monday, December 19th of the Adventures). The New York Times has reported that the White House's wiretapping program extended to large volumes of data gained from telephone and internet communication companies, data which related to domestic communications within the U.S. as well as foreign communication services (as opposed to strictly monitoring international communications, which the White House had previously admitted to). Anyhoo, I can't emphasize this enough people- Bush needs to be impeached. This whole program just seem to me to be way more illegal than getting a BJ from an intern. I don't get it.
Well, merry Christmas!!!! Drink some 'nog and sing some carols!

Friday, December 23, 2005

Hey kids! Merry Christmas! Steanso has successfully landed in Phoenix, met at Sky Harbor by Jamie McSteans, sister-in-law extraordinaire. Roundball, mi hermano, is still putting in a last few hours at the office before breaking for the Christmas holiday. Another piece of coal for the fire, Mr. Scrooge?
I have already met my brother's new dog, Lucy, and I can only say that she's a bloodthirsty monster that needs to be put down. (actually she's a good dog, a vewwy good doggy, aren't we Lucy?)
Anyway, just wanted to send a shout out.

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas.....

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Sometimes the devil speaks bits of truth, kids. That's what makes him so dangerous.

But when did Hussein become a governmental watchdog? Of course, it doesn't help that The White House keeps giving him so much ammunition to work with.
Well, Christmas is almost upon us, and Steanso is s'posed to fly out for Phoenix to visit the brother, Ryan "Roundball" Steans, and sister-in-law, Jamie "McSteans" Steans. It'll be good to see them, but it's a bit hectic trying to get out of here.
I hope that each and every one of you guys has a good, peaceful Christmas, no matter how you choose to enjoy it (good wishes to you Kwanza, Hanukkah, and winter solstice celebrators as well- Steanso ain't biased). I've got friends who are doing everything from the traditional Christmas at home with the family to jetting off to Thailand to light some incense in Buddhist temples and do some shopping in the 90 degree streets of Bangkok. No matter how you celebrate, Steanso wishes you happiness and peaceful coexistence with your fellow man. And tequila. Lots and lots of tequila.
OK, I have a surpising amount of work to do if I'm going to get out of here at a reasonable time today, but you guys enjoy yourselves! (and for heaven's sake, be safe)

PEACE!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Well, no time to really blog today, and Steanso will be in court tomorrow, so there may no blogging tomorrow either. Just want to say hi and that I hope everyone is hanging in there in as we ramp up for the holidays. I know it's a little stressful, but Steanso wishes all of you guys a whole pile of Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanza cheer. Okay. Gotta run. Peace, ya'll.

Monday, December 19, 2005

I just don't get it, guys. I really don't. Clinton lied about a consensual sexual indiscretion with an intern, and he got impeached. Nixon wiretapped campaign offices in a hotel building, and he was driven out of office in disgrace. Bush has (so far) lied about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq in order to help kickstart an invasion (after purposely clouding the issue of whether or not Al Qaeda had ever even operated in Iraq), and now Bush has been caught secretly wiretapping the phones of thousands of Americans without any proof or suspicion that those citizens were ever engaged in illegal activity. Where's the outrage? Where are the cries for impeachment?

Bush, of course, maintains that the wiretaps were/are legal, and that he was granted power to spy on Americans within the United States through the authorization to use military force which Congress granted to the president shortly after 9/11. Critics (and myself) strongly disagree, noting that there are no provisions in the constitution for the authorization of wiretaps on American citizens without judicial oversight (i.e., without a warrant signed by a judge), and noting that there was nothing in the congressional authorization for the use of military force which indicated that wiretapping American citizens was being made permissible without a warrant. Bush also tried to mitigate the damage that he is inflicting upon the civil rights of Americans by pointing out that he has only authorized wiretaps for phone calls between the U.S. and foreign countries. This doesn't satisfy me for two reasons: 1) wiretapping Americans who are making international phone calls is bad enough, and 2) I really don't believe Bush at all when he says that the U.S. isn't monitoring domestic phone conversations. I think that the feds are already up in our shiznit like
At any rate, this is just one more example of the lengths that the president is willing to go to as part of his "ends justify the means" policy in dealing with "the war on terror". Maybe the U.S. really is secretly waging a classified, large-scale battle against large numbers of enemy forces which have not only infiltrated our country but which are secretly plotting to do us harm from within. But I doubt it. I think that there are, at most, a handful of bad guys out there, and that some of those people who want to do us harm are probably from within the U.S. itself (anyone remember Timothy McVeigh?).
Here's the thing. You can't have 100% security without a 100% lack of privacy, and I'm not willing to make that trade. As long as two people can get together and talk behind a closed door somewhere we're going to have the possibility of conspiracy, and Bush is going to want to have the right to kick that door down.
You want to make Americans safer, George? If you want to trample on our constitution in a way that actually makes us a little safer, then you might want to start with some more restrictions on the Second Amendment right to bear arms. Didn't Clinton's ban on assault weapons get overturned? (I might be wrong about that, but I don't think so) As long as it's legal for people to drive around with small arsenals in their cars, the term "security" in America will continue to be a relative word. Keeping better track of the people who buy explosives and tons of fertilizer might be a good idea as well. Oh yeah, while you're at it, you might want to loan the border patrol and INS a dollar or two so they can actually try to stem the flood of illegal immigration that occurs in this country on a daily basis. If you're going to keep any eye on suspected terrorists, it might be nice to do something to prevent them from just strolling across the border. And last (but NOT least), you might want to quit pissing off every country in the world. I know that you don't want to pander to the world community, George, but jeez- remember when we had friends? We even seemed like we were kind of popular at one point...
Also while Steanso wasn't looking (getting ready for Festivus), someone took one of his favorite radio stations (102.3 FM, which was a sort of classic rock station- dubbed world class rock) and turned it into some kind of Christian rock station. I hate Christiasn rock. I don't care if you're the most devout Christian in the world- there's no excuse for the blandness and lack of style that have always permeated Christian rock (from Stryper to Creed to Jars of Clay). If you're religious, just try to carve out a little niche of respect for regular rock music, ok? Just because some of the songs are about sex and drugs doesn't mean that the world is going to fall apart around us. Rock songs are typically kind of like blues music, anyway- they usually bemoan mistakes and sing songs of tradgedy and regret- they aren't meant to provide instruction guides for better living. Some of the best classical (and obviously gospel) music in the world was written by and for Christians, so let's just leave rock music alone, ok?
But they've taken away the station that I listen to on my 'puter at work. I tell ya, you can't turn your back for one second...

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Festivus has come and gone. So many small moments of triumph, and oh so many small moments of travesty, tradgedy, and comedy.
Festivus 2005 will undoubtedly go on record as yet another Festivus success. As predicted, there were casualties (by the end of the night, three fallen bodies had landed in Steanso's house alone, with more across the street at Wilson Manor), but there were victories as well (two kegstands in less than 10 minutes? Kudos to Sarah. We loved your style right up until the moment you lost consciousness).
There were some critical meet and greets. Sadly, some of these people may never want to meet again. Such is the nature of Festivus.
I think the band played pretty well. Or we were at least entertaining. Mostly. Anyway, some people danced to our sh*t, so that's usually a good sign.
Steanso hopes to have some pictures to post pretty soon, but doesn't have them yet, kids. All digital and regular film photography from Festivus is currently being scanned by the federal government pursuant to little-understood portions of The Patriot Act.
Hopefully, there will be pictures soon.

Also, in the pre-Festivus buildup I've been missing the news. Did someone say that the president illegally authorized the NSA to spy on the phone calls of Americans without getting warrants? See, this is what I'm talking about. Steanso turns his back for just one little second and the president swipes another one of our constitutional rights. Motherf......
Transmission from Interzone; 12.17.05:
With Festivus only hours away, my stomach is churning and my pulse has become rapid and erratic. Already I can hear the distant pounding of drums as the natives begin to prepare for this vicfor an evening of ious, twisted winter ritual.
Through the trees I can see glowing lights. Several vehicles have already arrived, undoubtedly delivering ordinance meant to be used after sunset, under cover of night and away from prying eyes. Limber tribespeople hum and bounce, preparing themselves for celebration, battle, and endless dancing.
It won't be long now. Soon the the bounty of the earth will be exploited, warped and turned against the very workings of our innermost minds. Festivus is at hand.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Sweet! The Senate denies reauthorization of the Patriot Act!

Festivus takes place this Saturday. May God have mercy on our souls.

Also, Bush and McCain have finally come to terms on an agreement to limit torture. This seems to kind of signal a big change in Bush's policy, but Steanso's not going to spend too much time asking questions about the president's change of heart. I'm just glad that we're living in a country that limits torture. It just makes me feel better about who we are as a people and the kind of country that we're living in. It might sound like an overly simplified argument, but I just don't want to live in a place which lowers itself to the same moral standards as wicked people in order to fight the bad things that they're doing in the world. Some people will say that it's impossible to bring bad people to justice without getting your hands dirty, but I just can't accept that line of thinking. I just don't accept any line of reasoning which supports the abuse of human beings as a means to an end. Human beings are ends in themselves (to paraphrase Kant, among others), and to lose sight of this fact is to start down a very slippery slope.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Hey, guys. Not much news today. The County Attorney's party is tonight at Serrano's, so Steanso will be attending that.
Aimee Blanchard ( a valued FOS- Friend of Steanso) will be leaving our ranks tomorrow to go and live with her boyfriend, Alex, up in New Hampshire after a much deserved break in Hawaii. Aimee is a really great, fun person, and we'll all be very sad to see her go. Nonetheless, we wish her well up north with her new endeavors. Via con dios, Aimee! You are one of the good guys, and we will miss you a whole lot!
OK, well, the blog is kind of short today, but that's ok. Senator McCain apparently made some progress today on getting congressional limits passed on the use of torture in U.S. detention facilities, so that has to be a good thing, but I don't know a lot of details about it because I haven't had time to read up very much today.
Court tomorrow for Steanso, so have a good weekend if I don't get a chance to shout at you!

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Well, here are some reasons to remain positive!!!!
The House of Representatives has approved a renewal of the Patriot Act today, thereby continuing to grant the federal government almost limitless power to check up on who we are hanging out with and what we are reading, as well as increased powers for eavesdropping on our phone conversations and email and for (and this one's my favorite) sneaking into our homes to have a look around while we're away. Good thing we're in Iraq fighting for all of this freedom and democracy. Look, digital cable and credit cards with outrageous spending limits really aren't a good trade for our civil liberties. I know that things feel okay at the moment, but eventually you're going to miss all of those rights you've heard so much about. Trust Steanso on this one.

And here's some more good news! The U.S. trade deficit has now hit a record high of $68.9 blillion dollars. That basically means that we're buying a lot more stuff from other countries than they're buying from us, which is pretty darn bad for the U.S. economy (all of the money spent on foreign goods is basically helping to pay people who manufactured those goods in foreign markets rather than paying the salaries of U.S. manufacturers and employees). So far I've heard that our unemployment figures are actually not bad, but if this deficit continues, it's gonna be bad hoodoo for the U.S. economy. Maybe a little bit of protective taxation (on foreign goods) wouldn't be a completely terrible thing (especially in light of the fact that countries like China have already been using these kinds of tactics against American goods for years). I'm looking your way, George.

And last, but not least, crocodiles have now topped the list as the animal most likely to kill or maim you if you live in Zimbabwe. They've passed up the old favorite- the rampaging elephant- as the critter most likely to kill you before you can kill it. Apparently the crocs tend to snatch people off of riverbanks while the people are bathing or fishing or whatnot. Elephants, which I've always (apparently foolishly) though of as fairly peaceful, tend to stampede and trample people when they become alarmed, or maybe just annoyed. Crocs eat people just because they're hungry. Also, if you're in Zimbabwe, look out for the hippos because they'll charge your fishing boat and f*%k you up.

OK, that's it for now. Hope everyone is doing alright.

Peace.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Well, I'm in JP3 today, so I have almost no time for blogging, but I wanted to just refer my faithful readers (and my not so faithful readers) to a review of the Superman boxed set which was written by my brother, Ryan "Roundball" Steans for Texas Public Radio. Roundball may not know much, but he knows his Superman (and most other stuff related to the funny books).
Gotta go make the donuts of justice.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Last night Crackbass and I went to see what was allegedly the last live performance of The American Analog Set. They're an Austin-based band who play kind of mellow, atmospheric dance grooves with a lot of layered keyboard, vibraphone, and guitar sounds. Their show was pretty cool, but sort of strange as well. For one thing, it was just about the quietest show that I've ever been to. I guess that the sort of music that Amanset plays sort of makes people pay attention and maybe even get a little introspective, but for whatever reason, between songs the audience was nearly silent for most of the show (except, of course, for applause immediately following each song). It was kind of like seeing a show in a library. The music was good, but I felt like I should be laying on the ground on a pile of pillows to listen to it instead of in a club.
Anyway, these guys say that they're not breaking up, but that they're going to pursue individual projects for awhile, so I recommend that people go out and buy one of their CDs. Then, by the time they start playing live again you'll be ready to go see them.
Anyway, the show was good, but Steanso stayed out too late and now he is sleepy.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

By the way, I just wanted to belatedly point out that The Adventures accidentally breezed past its one year anniversary (November 30, 2004 was the first entry) without event or fanfare. I just wanted to send a shout out and some truly heartfelt thanks to each an every person who has read the blog, and a double dip of thanks to people who have posted comments (because the comments are really what make the blog worth reading).
I know that my blog is kind of ridiculous, but it keeps me in touch with friends, forces me to examine and reflect upon the world around me, and gives me a much-needed outlet for emotional venting. On the whole, I think it's a good thing.
If anyone has ideas for blog topics or wishes to do some guest blogging, you can email me at j_steans@msn.com or just post a comment in the comment section.

That's it for now. Thanks for sticking with me.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Richard Pryor has died. We'll miss him. He was an incredibly funny, intelligent, and insightful guy, and I think his style of brave, honest, self-revealing comedy is something that a lot of modern comics strive to emulate (some with more success than others). He was in some movies, like Brewster's Millions, The Toy, and Stir Crazy, but he was probably best known for his stand up comedy (he was also in Superman III, but that probably wasn't his greatest moment). If you haven't seen Richard Pryor: Live in Concert from '79 or Richard Pryor: Live and Smokin' from '85, go check 'em out. We probably wouldn't have Chris Rock or Dave Chappelle without Richard Pryor.

Friday, December 09, 2005

It's good to see that ol' "Wild" Bill Clinton is still standing up and trying to do the right thing, in spite of the disapproval of an administration which is beholden to special interests and which refuses to act in the best interests of the American people (and in this case, the world). Clinton showed up for the U.N. climate conference this week to make a pitch endorsing the Kyoto accords (international treaties through which various nations have agreed to limit their greenhouse gas emissions in the effort to combat global warming), a move which has kind of pissed off the Bush administration, given their refusal to have the U.S. join into this environmental agreement.
The Bush cronies maintain that putting limits on U.S. greenhouse emissions would put an unfair strain on U.S. industry and manufacturing, thereby hurting the U.S. economy. Their argument seems to ignore the fact that most of Europe (and, in fact, the majority of the world's industrialized nations) have joined into the accord (thus negating the argument that signing the accord would unfairly hamstring the U.S. economy) and the fact that building a strong American economy is going to do us very little good if we manage to melt the polar ice caps in the process (and, yes, the U.S. does account for a sizeable percentage of world wide greenhouse gas emissions- probably around 25% of total greenhouse gas emissions worldwide).
Anyway, Steanso thinks that the fact that we haven't signed the Kyoto treaty is just another classic example of American narcissism and ignorance. If we want other countries to like us more, we have to quit acting like jackasses- not pound our chests and shout about patriotism.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Old Man winter has once again visited his wrath upon us, but this time in the form of a sleety, slippery snow day! (thank goodness Travis County is way too chicken about lawsuits to force us to come in to work after the first bit of ice forms upon the roadway). Some ice this morning, but by this afternoon, the sun was shining and the birds were singing, and I went with Crackbass and Jackbart to the movies to see Aeon Flux (which was interesting, but not great). The theater, of course, was packed full of high school kids who also had the day off. Kind of ironic that we all got the day off because it was supposedly too dangerous to drive, but that the movie theater was packed full of people who had driven to the theater seeking entertainment for their snow day.
I had dinner tonight at Homeslice Pizza on South Congress. The restaurant was a cool place, the waitstaff was friendly, and the crowd was young and hip, but I found the pizza to be kind of mediocre. Not bad, mind you, but not really outstanding in any kind of way. I still miss Pizza Nizza, and I think that the Pizza Garden out near Oak Hill did a little more with their pies. We kind of debated the pizza on the drive home (The Pea loved it while Crackbass remained unimpressed), and although Crackbass said he thought Homeslice was better than both Rounders and Mangia, I think I would put it probably on a par with either one of those places (neither better nor worse). The advantage that Homeslice has, of course, over a lot of other places is the location. It was a brilliant marketing move to open up a pizza joint on South Congress, and the kids are already flocking there due to convenience and the simple fun of dining in the ever popular South Congress district. Anyway, it's a decent place and probably worth trying out, but I just wish they would step it up a notch (I don't know, do something with the cheese or the sauce or the crust to give it a little more zing).

Okay. Food critic duties are concluded. Incidentally, I heard that Homeslice was opened by a former food critic from the Austin Chronicle (this is a completely unsubstantiated rumor). If so, it makes the place that much more puzzling....

Wednesday, December 07, 2005


For those of you who missed the recent Crack gig, here's a bit of the action at the ol' Ruta Maya on South Congress from last Friday night. It's not entirely clear, but I believe that this shot was taken during the performance of our hit single "Crabs and Lice" (which is one of the few tunes in the rotation in which Rusty Trombone Bloom takes the mic for some lead vocals). From left to right, that's "Special Friend" Gary Meyer on guitar, Jeff "Crackbass" Wilson on bass, Sigmund "Rusty Trombone" Bloom on the 'bone, and "Cleveland" Steanso himself on drums ("Dirty" Andy Sensat, on keyboards is not pictured). Thanks again to everyone who came out to see us. For those of you who didn't come out to see us- a pox on your houses. Posted by Picasa
Well, Howard Dean is coming under a lot of fire this week for saying that he thinks that the war in Iraq is unwinnable. The president, surprising no one, immediately jumped on Dean, labeling him as unpatriotic and criticizing him for failing to support the troops. Going further, the president said that our troops need to believe that their fight is winnable and there is a sound strategy behind this war.
And right there I think the president shot himself in the foot.
What strategy? The White House has refused to provide a timetable for troop withdrawals or to even establish a set of guidelines under which America might be able to say that the war has been won. We're fighting a "war" which is not a war in the conventional sense. There is no nation or organized group which is going to surrender to us or organize a cease fire. The war in Iraq is more akin to the war on crime or the war on drugs than any kind of traditional war. We're waging a war against a tactic, and even if tomorrow we were to wipe out every single person who has ever made use of a terrorist tactic, there's nothing to prevent new people from turning to terrorist tactics the following day in order to further their own political agendas. As long as the poor and disenfranchised seek to rise up and fight vastly superior forces, there will be horrible actions committed against civilian or noncombat targets by some individuals who use terrorism as a means of striking back at the enemy.

Perhaps Dean should have phrased his comments a little differently, but I agree with his sentiment. Furthermore, I believe that Dean had nothing more than the interests of our American soldiers at heart when he made his comments. If the war is unwinnable, we need a new strategy before more American lives are lost. Patriotism only gets you so far. There's a difference between supporting the troops and herding lemmings toward the sea. This is not a war which is going to have a discernible end. America needs a policy of international intelligence and police action for combatting terrorism- not a policy of large-scale foreign invasion.

I listened to an old Vietnam-era Richard Nixon speech on Air America this week as I was driving in to work, and it was truly chilling how similar his comments were to the soundbites that we are currently getting out of the Bush White House.
We can't set a timetable for the withdrawal of troops from Vietnam because doing so would only send a message of encouragement to the enemy.
Questioning the war effort is unpatriotic and undermines the efforts of our brave, young soldiers.
If we just have faith in the secret plans of our leaders and hold out for a while longer, things will get better.

History is teaching us nothing, people. We're mewing, sheeplike putty in the hands of Carl Rove's propaganda machine, and people are dying because of our ignorance. We're idiots, but we're damn patriotic idiots.

"Convince an enemy, convince him that he's wrong
Is to win a bloodless battle where victory is long
A simple act of faith
In reason over might
To blow up his children will only prove him right
History will teach us nothing"
- Sting

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Steanso spent all day today in JP3 with no time at all for blogging.
Steanso finally got to spend about half an hour reading his newspapers, but he really didn't read anything that made him want to blog too much (Cheney is still claiming we're winning the Iraq War as insurgents set off bombs at the Baghdad police academy, Bush is still insisting upon larger and larger tax cuts, mostly for the wealthy, as the deficit grows and services are cut for the poor, and there's been some new kind of cat/fox creature discovered in Borneo which the World Wildlife Fund is trying to study and/or capture before the developers destroy its habitat).

Sorry the blogging has been suffering, but in addition to the fact that the new job is cramping my style, Steanso has just not been too fired up by the news lately. I'm just hanging back, waiting for inspiration to strike.
Steanso spent all day today in JP3 with no time at all for blogging.
Steanso finally got to spend about half an hour reading his newspapers, but he really didn't read anything that made him want to blog too much (Cheney is still claiming we're winning the Iraq War as insurgents set off bombs at the Baghdad police academy, Bush is still insisting upon larger and larger tax cuts, mostly for the wealthy, as the deficit grows and services are cut for the poor, and there's been some new kind of cat/fox creature discovered in Borneo which the World Wildlife Fund is trying to study and/or capture before the developers destroy its habitat).

Sorry the blogging has been suffering, but in addition to the fact that the new job is cramping my style, Steanso has just not been too fired up by the news lately. I'm just hanging back, waiting for inspiration to strike.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Well, Steanso's weekend was eventful indeed. I'd like to thank everyone who came out to Ruta Maya on Friday night to suffer through the savant garde musical stylings of Crack. Our gig wasn't necessarily "good" in the traditional sense of the word, but it seemed to be entertaining, if the reactions of the crowd were any indication. We really appreciated the crowd support, we had a great time, and Buttercup, Los Mescaleros (sp?), and F for Fake were all really good following Crack. I think F for Fake needs to be playing around town a little more often. They've got a good vibe going.

Saturday I had lunch with the Wilsons and Greg "Big" Johnson, who had motored into town from Houston to check out the Crack gig. Saturday night we celebrated Andy's birthday, having dinner with he and Rami (Sigmund was also in attendance). Afterward we met up with Hannah and Chris and Dan and Vicki and we all had a few drinks at Don's on South Congress in order to celebrate Dan's birthday as well (everyone wish Dan Hamre a happy birthday). After drinking a few rounds there, we retreated to the Wilson's pond for a nightcap before trundling off to bed.

Sunday I had a beaujolais nouveau tasting party at my house which was meant to take place before Mono E practice, but which ended up lasting through practice until about 9:30 p.m. (festivities started at 3:00). We had a decent practice and much wine-laden festivity was had. Hope everyone had fun!!!!

OK. Gotta run. Maybe more later.
Peace.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Stanley "Tookie" Williams, a convicted killer and founding member of the Crips street gang, is apparently headed for an execution date of December 17th after having exhausted his appeals with the California Supreme Court.
Williams, like a few other death row inmates, has done a lot of good, charitable work since being placed on death row, speaking out against gang violence and writing children's books, the proceeds from which go to organizations which combat gang violence. Williams was convicted in 1981 for having killed an immigrant couple and their daughter while stealing cash from their motel.
Steanso, to be honest, is not sure what to make of the death penalty. It seems like a truly horrible thing, but then again, the crimes which people commit that get them executed are typically equally horrible. There's the argument to be made that the government makes mistakes and occasionally executes the wrong person, but that doesn't really end the argument, because death penalty proponents will still want to use execution in so-called "airtight" cases (which involve multiple eyewitnesses, videotape, DNA evidence, etc.).
The death penalty definitely leaves a nasty feeling in the pit of my stomach, but how would I feel if one of my family members or close friends were killed? Then again, maybe we shouldn't be basing our decisions regarding justice on the emotional demands of a group of people who simply want venegeance. Then again, maybe we shouldn't discount the death penalty as a rational and just form of punishment just because it makes us feel very uncomfortable.
I guess that at the end of the day, I oppose the death penalty mostly because it scares me to think that the government has the right to kill anyone. The government does make mistakes, and it's machinery is susceptible to all of the errors and flaws that come with any large, decision-making body (and in my opinion, groups often tend to come to the easiest decisions, but not necessarily the correct ones). Furthermore, execution by the government tends to make everyone responsible for the execution, which in the end makes no one responsible for it. I'm not sure we're as careful as we should be when there is no one person that we can point to as being responsible for the taking of a life.
I'm also just not sure that the taking of human life should be in the government's job description, period (except in defense of our society, which, I guess [damnit] criminal execution arguably could be a form of....)

Plus, there are questions about what makes a life worth something, or alternately, what makes it worth nothing?
Tookie Williams has done some very bad things. He has killed innocent people who were just trying to make a life for themselves. He should definitely be punished, and punished quite severely. He should almost certainly never again be given the freedom to live a life outside of prison.
But should he be denied the opportunity to continue to exist, especially if he's now doing some good for his community for the first time in his life? (and, yes, I'm aware of the possibility that he may just be trying to save his own skin, but that neither diminishes the practical benefits of his contributions nor precludes the possibility that he may undergo a genuine change in his belief structure as a result of his charitable work).
It still comes back to those victims who never got a chance to decide their own fate, though, doesn't it?
It's been said that vengeance is a lazy form of grief. But that's easier to say when it's not your family member lying dead of a gunshot wound in a parking lot.
So Steanso is confused by the death penalty, and the case of Tookie Williams highlights many of the issues that make it confusing.
Enough for now.
I know it's an age old debate, but I don't think that makes it less worthy of discussion.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Apparently the national music scene has taken note of the fact that quite a few New Orleans musical refugees have relocated to Austin, at least during the New Orleans rebuilding effort.

I've blogged on this before, but I really hope that Austin takes full advantage of the opportunities presented by having world class musical acts like Cyril Neville and Tribe 13, Ivan Neville and Dumpsta Funk, the Hot Eight Brass Band, the Iguanas, the Caesar Brothers Funk Box, the Radiators, and Big Chief Kevin Goodman of the Flaming Arrows Mardi Gras Indian tribe in our town. The displaced New Orleans acts add a layer of diversity and a new flavor to the Austin music scene which, hopefully, our city will find both inspiring and invigorating.

I'm just not sure whether Austin's music audience can live up to the standards set by New Orleans, though. Austin's music audience tends to ebb and flow with the arrival and departure of big, festival events such as ACL Fest and South by Southwest. We're a smaller city than New Orleans, and we don't have a constant influx of tourists that can help to boost the attendance at nightly music events.

Nonetheless, Austinites love music, and I hope they seize upon this opportunity to support our neighbors.

By the way- for all you music lovers, Crack will be making some sounds that sound something like music on Friday at 9:00 at Ruta Maya on South Congress. Come one, come all, for the most ridiculous show on earth.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Well, sister-in-law Jamie McSteans is supposed to get out of the hospital tonight after being in there since last Wednesday for treatment of an infection gone awry (for the full story on Jamie's medical history, including kidney disease and transplant, you must consult The League of Melbotis or other non-Steanso sites- it's too complicated and scary for me to deal with here). Anyway, the Thanksgiving celebration continues as we all are thankful for Jamie's escape from the hospital!!! That sister-in-law of mine is one tough kid. (she surely puts the Steans boys to shame)

In other news, Whole Foods is gonna put an ice rink into their downtown parking lot! How cool is that? I'll probably never skate there, but I love the idea. Take that, nature!

Not much time for blogging. I was in JP3 all day, and now the dog needs a walk. Seriously. She keeps trying to jump up onto the kitchen counter to get her own leash. Kind of pathetic.

Hope everyone is doing well.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Well, I know that a lot of American companies have fallen upon hard times. GM has announced that it is going to have to cut at least 30,000 manufacturing jobs, Merck has announced that it is looking at some subastantial layoffs, and even Krispy Kreme has been forced to recently announce profit shortfalls and declining stock prices. The economy is struggling a bit, for sure, but can someone tell me what kind of a world we're living in when Playboy starts to suffer from declining profits? (last quarter Playboy's publishing revenues sank by 8%)
I mean, it's Playboy! I recognize the fact that the adult entertainment industry has grown exponentially since it's inception in 1953, and I also recognize the fact that the Playboy magazine has probably suffered considerably against competition provided by adult-themed websites (sexually-oriented sites accounting for 40% of all web traffic by some estimates), but isn't their a place in our... ummm... hearts for Playboy?
Playboy seems pretty tame in comparison to other forms of adult entertainment (I'm struggling to avoid using the word pornography over and over in this blog), but I think that's part of it's charm. Playboy has always been the magazine that your mom would giggle about upon finding in your room. Hustler or other magazines would get you the wrath of god speech, an extended lecture upon religion, ethics, and the objectification of women as well as sidelong, suspicious glances from female members of your family for days, if not weeks. Playboy got a giggle and the "shame on you" comment. Somehow, it's always just seems pretty harmless. Some of our favorite movie stars and entertainers have appeared in Playboy (everyone from Madonna to Sophia Loren to pro wrestling's China), and Hugh Hefner is treated more like a national icon than the world's most famous porn peddler.
I don't know- call me sentimental, but it just bothers me to see Playboy struggling after it's given us all so much. I remember looking at my first Playboy with a bunch of kids in my athletics class in sixth grade when some kid found an issue under the bleachers of our middle school. We giggled and looked at the pictures and read the cartoons and wondered, awestruck, at the pictures of naked women. I'm not sure what happened to that particular issue, but if I had to guess, I'd say that it was probably torn apart in the kind of feeding frenzy that could only be produced by the hormones of junior high boys.
I'm not sure what the point of this particular entry is, except to say- men (and women, who are so inclined), GO OUT AND BUY YOURSELVES A PLAYBOY!!! The company needs you, and god knows you owe them something for their hard years of work and determination in putting male fantasies into print. Buying an issue of Playboy is not only good for the economy, but it's good for America, damnit!!! Those bunnies need our help!!!

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Well, guys, I spent all day today in Justice of the Peace Precinct 1 working on traffic tickets, so I'm sorry there was no post, but them's the breaks. I just want to wish everyone a Happy Turkey Day.
Happy Turkey Day to Ryan and Jamie as they celebrate with Jamie's family out in Phoenix.
Happy holiday to the Wilsons as they head for New York City.
Gobble gobble to D.K. as she drives to Dallas to be with her mom.
Happy Thanksgiving to Jennifer as she enjoys it with her parents and to the Blooms as they entertain Kim's family.
Jolly Thankfulness Day to The Family Shaw as they celebrate with their respective families.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you guys, and though it may be a cheesey sentiment, I hope that all of you take a moment to be happy and thankful for the good stuff. I know I spend a lot of time bitching on this blog, but ultimately, I'm a very lucky mofo, and yes, I am thankful.

Peace.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

At first blush, I thought the idea of teaching videogame design at institutions of higher learning was pretty stupid. I mean, college is for studying philosophy and literature and science, right? It's not about Pong or Pac Man.
But then I started thinking about video games, what they really are, and what they will one day evolve into.
Already video games have a market niche which produces profits that rival Hollywood box office profits, and given the unexplored potential which video games are likely to fulfill as technology advances, it might be argued that the entire video game industry is still in its infancy.
When you think about video games from the reference point of the arcade games that we grew up with as kids (as simple games of point and shoot or contests of reflexes and reaction times), it's easy to dismiss the entire field as nothing more than a simple recreational diversion- a way to pass the time or take one's mind off daily stresses for awhile before moving on to more serious-minded pursuits.
But if you think of videogames as an interactive, computer driven means of both entertainment and expression ( a role which video games are likely to fill with greater and greater effectiveness as technology and programming skill increases), the need to explore the medium begins to become more clear.
Modern games involve orchestration, voice acting, cinematic direction, the visual arts, and even a sort of literary quality. Video games engage their audience and demand the audience's attention and participation in a way that movies or television cannot, and truly great games spur on the imagination and critical thinking skills of their participants.
Granted, video games still have a long way to go, and programmers are only beginning to explore their potential, but computer games have the capacity to engage, teach, and test us in ways that no other medium has begun to approach.
Wouldn't it be nice to learn musical theory by way of a game? Isn't it more fun to explore a beautiful (although possibly make-believe) enviroment on your own than it is to watch characters do so in a movie?
Video games provide artificial surroundings, characters, objects, and even abilities for the willing participant to use and interact with. Eventually people will learn to use "video games" to escape from reality in a way which invigorates and stimulates their minds, possibly learning new skills or reasoning abilities as a byproduct of interaction with a fictional enviroment. I'm not sure that passively viewing films or television can produce similar results.
So back to video game design as a course of study in a university setting. Maybe it's not such a bad thing. After all, film school and music school are widely accepted as normal parts of a modern university setting. I guess that I'm suggesting that video games are just as worthy a subject of study as films, although video games, at the moment, are still a relatively new medium and may take decades to hit their stride as something that the general public sees as a true art form.
That's it for now. Gotta go make some justice.

Monday, November 21, 2005

I was talking to Jeff "Crackbass" Wilson this weekend about space elevators and how cool they're going to be, and how once we have a few of them going, it'll probably only cost a few hundred dollars to go into space, and Crackbass rained on my parade by saying, "What kind of material do you think they're going to be able to use to make these elevators? Nothing is strong enough to stretch from earth all the way into space."
And briefly my hopes were crushed. No space elevators. No trips into space unless you're a billionaire with a few million in cash sitting around to help pay for gas money on a shuttle ride.
But then this morning a quick Google search turened up a potential answer to the materials problem (carbon-nanotube-composite ribbon), and we're off again on the great space elevator race. Who wants to ride up to heaven with Steanso on the great space elevator?!

Saturday, November 19, 2005


Well, Friday night (and the wee hours of Saturday morning) were spent hanging out with fellow Westwood Warriors, Sue Ann Horan and Reed "Weedo" Shaw. I met some of Sue Ann's friends, and then Reed showed up and they all ran away. We drank a lot of beer, listened to music, and talked about all of the silly things that we did in high school and the silly things that we continue to do. Sue Ann lives in Austin, laundering money for the mafia and trying to convince everyone that things are a lot better than we think they are. Weedo and Sue Ann. They're good kids.  Posted by Picasa

Friday, November 18, 2005

Here's the deal. The insurgents in Iraq aren't stupid. They might not be astrophysicists, but they are crafty and wiley and cunning, and, yes- frequently evil. They know that nothing gets the blood of Americans boiling faster than attacks on American troops (or for that matter, American civilians). The insurgents want the Americans to leave Iraq, and they want to take control of the country, but the insurgents are smart enough to know that by mounting large scale attacks on American troops, they may draw the ire of the American people, and in so doing, actually build support for the war back in the U.S. (the American people, being what they are, typically want to punish anyone who overtly opposes us).
Here's the new gameplan among the insurgents ( a strategy which has actually in place for some time now):

Attack whichever parts of the Iraqi population support the U.S.. Punish the Iraqi people for allying themselves with the Americans, and soon the Iraqi people will want nothing more than to get the U.S. out of their country as fast as possible. Meanwhile, the American people will be getting tired of our unsuccessful war in Iraq, and without continued insurgent attacks against Americans to stoke our anger (Americans, sadly, seem mostly indifferent to the suffering of Iraqi civilians), we will grow tired of supporting the war and want our troops and our resources to be brought back home. The attacks on Iraqi civilians are meant to turn the Iraqi population against the continuing American occupation, making the Iraqi people afraid to cooperate in the rebuilding process, and thereby causing the American mission (of establishing a free, American-friendly Iraq) to fail. The farther the wedge is driven between the Iraqi people and the Americans, the worse things get in setting up the new Iraq. Things move more and more slowly and the American people get more and more impatient with the whole process.

Anyway, here's the most recent implementation of the insurgent strategy. 70 Shiite Muslims were killed by insurgents today in mosque bombings in Iraq. Big bombs. Nasty bombs.
Most Americans won't care because the deaths didn't really involve American casualties. The attacks are indicative of the growing divide between religious and tribal groups as they struggle for power in the new Iraq, but also underline tensions regarding the new, American style of government in a country which has traditionally been led and ruled along ethnic and religious lines. Sunni Muslims, who make up 32% to 37% of the Iraqi population, had a good run under Saddam Hussein, who favored Sunnis and massacred quite a few Shiites. Apparently the Sunnis aren't crazy about simply giving up on their position of power, but under an American, democratic system, the previously powerful Sunni minority is seeing some dark times in the days ahead, and it doesn't like what it sees.
So bombs go off and the Sunnis try to encourage even their adversaries, the Shiites, to pull for an American extraction.
The tensions between Shiites and Sunnis have been longstanding and a constant source of violence and animosity. Under Hussein's iron-fisted rule, the tensions simmered under the surface because Hussein, for the most part, would not tolerate the chaos and disorder that came from the friction between the two groups (i.e., the Sunnis and the Shiites didn't like each other, but they didn't hate each other enough to launch attacks on one another, given the fact that Hussein might imprison or execute them simply for disrupting the efficiency of his government). Now, with America's attention focused largely on trying to quell attacks on American forces and to stamp out opposition to the new Iraqi government, tribal and ethnic tensions between Shiites and Sunnis have once again begun to mount, and the threat of civil war or ethnic conflict looms large in a time when Iraq is struggling to set up a democratic government. The Sunnis resent the fact that they seem to be losing power under our new regime (and they have little or no faith that the rights of minority groups will be respected in the new Iraq), and the Shiites, now holding more power because of their status as Iraq's majority population, have been using their newfound power, through the police and the military and so forth, to ferret out and interrogate Sunnis (the Shiites claim they are hunting for Sunni insurgents while the Sunnis claim that the Shiites are just using their new, official positions to harrass the Sunnis).
The whole thing is an ugly mess, and if it isn't brought under control, it will not only hamstring efforts to institute a new government, but it'll probably end in civil war.
And if you're really into the idea of seeing the U.S. set up a new, more democratic society in Iraq, you should be concerned- not only because some Sunnis have an active role in supporting the insurgency, but because the Shiites may be using their position in the majority to oppress and harrass Sunnis, the group in the minority. (I can't say I'm too surprised that the Iraqi people don't seem to really understand the "majority rule with protection for minority rights" theory of government seeing as how so many people in our country don't really seem to understand it after 200+ years of democracy)

Here's the bottom line, people. If you're gonna be mad when the insurgents blow up Americans, you should be mad when they blow up innocent Iraqis. Otherwise, you're not only way too ethnocentric, but you're actually playing into the insurgent strategy and kind of saying that you don't care whether the Iraqis tear each other apart in a civil war (a civil war which we didn't cause, incidentally, but which never would have occurred without U.S. intervention in Iraq).

Sorry this is so random. I've been on the phone three times while writing it, and now I have to go.

Anyhoo, toodles.
Peace.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Yes, I know that The Adventures are suffering this week, but Steanso has been truly swamped, my chitlins. Steanso knows that his time with all of you this week has been short, but Steanso is doing his best to make it quality time.

Anyway, I haven't seen too much that I wanted to write about this week, and I think Larry Lee provided enough of a rant for me to vicariously vent any anger that I had about the president's attacks on his critics.

I promise to be better this weekend or next week.

Hugs.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Well, I have absolutely no time for blogging today, between spending all day in JP1 and then Crack practice. Instead of my usual ranting, however, I am publishing an email rant which was sent to me by my former roommate and lifelong friend, Lee Thweatt. Lee is a father of three, husband, lawyer, and former JAG officer in the U.S. Marine Corps. Lee is a really good guy, and he is a an observant fan and critic of both the American political machine and the U.S. military. Heed his words carefully. If he wasn't living in the reddest state in the union, this guy might already be governor...

So without his permission, either explicit or implied, I give you the words of Lee Thweatt:

I would ask each of you to listen to the President and give pause before you have the temerity to ask whether or not the President or his administration played fast and loose with pre-war intelligence. In the name of civility and patriotism, refrain from participating in your right of free expression or your right to petition the government for redress on these unimportant matters. If you do not, by the President's express logic, you are betraying the troops fighting abroad and you are aiding and abetting the enemy's will, if not the enemy themselves. Instead, the proper measure is to remain mute. If you must act out, then do so appropriately by placing a yellow ribboned "support our troops" magnet on your SUV to demonstrate whose side it is, precisely, that you are on. After all, the war on terror permits no equivocation. Remember that you are either with us or against us. The President is asking the American people to trust him on this issue. That's fine. He is after all, the President of the United States and ought to be afforded some measure of credibility by the sheer magnitude position he holds. Putting aside whether there are legitimate reasons to question the President on this issue (e.g. the absence of any located weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, Colin Powell's near total abandonment of the speech he gave to the U.N., Scooter Libby's recent indictment, the more than $300 billion and counting spent on the war thus far, etc.), the President should remember that trust is two-way street. While he has every right to defend his actions and to do so vigorously, it moves from the defensive well into the deeply offensive to cast aspersion on the motives and integrity of the American people who question him. None of the President's critics wish to see even one more young American die or be harmed in Iraq. The feeling is identical I'm sure for the President's supporters. The fact of the matter is, however, that Americans, along with a whole host of others, are dying right now in Iraq. Some will be hurt of killed today. It is undisputed that nearly all of America's troops would undertake their duties in Iraq for as long as it takes or anywhere else for that matter if the President ordered them to do so. That is the nature of their jobs. For the most part, they wouldn't complain about it, or if they did, it wouldn't be anything more than quiet grumblings among themselves in the squad bays or chow halls. Under no circumstances would any of them refuse their duty--none that I ever knew at least. That loyalty and devotion is precisely why the greatest of care and consideration is demanded from any President, and indeed, any military leader, from a four-star general down to a corporal. These folks will do as they are ordered to do, and they will do so instantly, without hesitation or questioning pursuant to their training and the chain of command the President himself overlooks. So you'd better be right and play it straight with them and their families in the formation of orders they are under a legal obligation to follow. The President, above all others, should realize that you have to be very careful issuing orders to people who will follow them: if you are not, your troops will get hurt or killed. I'm not talking about death in the general sense that everyone dies eventually. That is far too distant and obtuse to have any real signficance. I'm talking about in the sense that someone's son, father, husband, brother or sister will cease to live because a sniper's bullet rips their carotid artery or an IED shears off their legs from their torso while they are thousands of miles away from their home. Compounding the death is this undeniable fact: given the makeup of the military, the likelihood is that they will die from any ill-considered orders at a very young age, leaving much ahead of them and world of pain behind. So it is a damned important job to lead soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines, and to do so with integrity. It is too much then, far too much, for a President to demand that citizens or opposition voices refrain from questioning him under the guise that doing so does violence to the lives, efforts, and memories of those serving in the military. The President has it exactly wrong and has made his large misjudgment in a small and petty manner unbecoming of his considerable position. There has been enough time in this administration for the sycophants. Perhaps that is one of the reasons the President is in this mess at all. It is the failure to question, the complicity and complacency of those who might have, and might still, otherwise remind the President of his solemn duty to lead without misleading which does violence to their memories and their ineffable heroism. Vote how you want, and support whomever you desire. That is the very essence of America. Do not, however, under any circumstances sit idly by and let any elected official in this country, particularly the President of the United States, get away with a personally attacking the loyalty and devotion of the American people when they have sacrificed their sons, their husbands, their daughters and their families for a policy of premption they neither created nor asked to install.

Semper Fidelis,

Lee

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Steanso still loves you kids, but he's going to be in JP court for three days this week instead of two (including tomorrow, Wednesday). Sorry about the crappy blogging, but Steanso is busy, busy, busy making the donuts of justice. Grrrrr.....

Monday, November 14, 2005

Alito is big, big trouble, folks. In some legal papers released during Alito's work for the Reagan administration, Alito speaks about how proud he is to have worked for an administration which holds the same core, conservative values that he shares. Alito's statements from documents produced during the Reagan years include arguments against affirmative action, arguments in favor of reinterpretting the Establishment Clause, and arguments against abortion (Alito has privately told senators that he respects the Roe v. Wade decision, but he won't go so far as to commit to upholding it). During these years, Alito also proclaimed himself to be a lifelong registered Republican and a Federalist Society member. In short, I think it should be becoming more apparent why I didn't bitch more about the Miers nomination. She might not have been a legal genius, but a little ineptitude would have probably done nothing more than limit the amount of damage that she was capable of inflicting.
Hope everyone had a good weekend. Steanso had a great weekend, but it didn't do a lot for his recovery from his cold.
Thursday we had a really good Crack practice after having a few beers with Yucky Marsha at Joe Turner's office to wish her good luck as she sets off on her sojourn to Guatamala (no, that last part isn't a joke- she's really going to Guatamala).
Friday we had no work (in order that we might more effectively party with the veterans on their special day), and The Wilsons and Ellie Gamble and I took advantage of this extra day off by going camping in Kerrville. It was a good time. I brought Cassidy along for the trip, and she did just fine out there in the wilderness.
On our way back into town on Saturday we stopped to eat at Mamacitas in Kerrville, and it was one of the most surreal dining experiences that I've ever had. The inside of the restaurant is designed to look like you're eating on the central esplanade of some kind of Mexican village (complete with fake store fronts, a false county court, and even the facade of some abogados offices), and in the middle of the whole affair stands a replica of the Alamo with an animatronic Davy Crockett overlooking the entire restaurant from the battlements. Overhead, a dark, night sky twinkles with fiber optic stars, and the globe of a large papier mache moon hovers in the corner. In the faux bread and pastries shop in the corner, real Mexicans make tortillas, thier bored faces not quite in keeping with their festive surroundings. I think the height of the absurdity arrived when a woman at a table near ours celebrated her birthday, not with the usual half-hearted singing of the indentured waitstaff, but with a salute to the Davy Crockett animatronic, which belted out a creepy vesion of happy birthday on his fiddle, a kind of mournful, herky jerky, robotic salute to the birthing process that he would never be a part of.
God bless you, robotic Davy Crockett.
That's it for the moment, cause the work keeps coming in.
I saw that George W. accused the Democrats on Friday of rewriting history in terms of describing how the war started. Who's rewriting history here, George?
War is peace.
Ignorance is knowledge.
Freedom is slavery.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

I also wanted to mention that I have tomorrow off for Veteran's Day, so there might not be a posting tomorrow. Happy Veteran's Day to my Dod and any and all other veterans who might read this blog! Steanso might bitch about the politicians a lot, but he's all about giving props to the troops!!!
Well here's a little bit of good news for a change. Apparently the House of Representatives has decided that it is not going to attempt to pass legislation (at least for now) allowing the Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge to be opened for oil drilling. I have to think that this is a very good thing. Drilling in the ANWR seems to be, at best, an ineffective, short-sighted attempt to alleviate our nation's energy problems (most of the experts that I've heard speak on the matter seem to think that the amount of oil available for extraction from the ANWR would make only a very small dent in our nation's overall demand), and the potential damage to the Alaskan ecosystems that would result from the drilling could be severe and last for many generations (if the damage is not, in fact, permanent).
There's probably a decent chance that I may never even see the Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge during my lifetime, but it's still nice to know that it's there, you know? It's just nice to be able to believe that the U.S. is still holding onto a few tracts of undeveloped, preserved wilderness so that future generations will be able to experience what North America was like before we stomped all over it.
Of course, I'm also kind of happy that this ANWR drilling bill didn't pass simply because it was one of Bush's top priorities for his energy platform- undoubtedly a top priority because ANWR drilling was one of the rewards meant for the cronies in the oil business that got him elected. I welcome any sign that that goofy bastard's grip on our country is weakening.

And in more depressing news, the Al Qaeda bombings in Jordan yesterday killed at least 56 people and injured at least another 110. The White House issued a statement saying that suicide bombings are really, really bad things, and that people who blow up other people are very bad people. They did not, however, mention how our war in Iraq is going to stop people from blowing other people up in Jordan, or for that matter in Spain, London, or Thailand.

And more good news! The U.S. trade deficit has hit an all time high! This means that the relationship between the stuff that we buy from other countries (thereby making these other countries wealthier) versus the stuff that we export and sell to other countries (thereby making America wealthier) is more out of whack than ever! We're buying way more stuff from other nations than they seem to be spending on American products. This makes for greater unemployment in the U.S., and typically a reduction in U.S. manufacturing. It also means that Bush's trade policies are doing nothing to protect the American worker. Hooray!!
Some analysts are apparently blaming the record deficit, at least in part, upon Hurricane Katrina and the damage which it did to American oil exports, but let's be honest people- the trade deficit wasn't exactly great at this time last year, either (we're at a deficit of $706.4 billion for this year versus last year's old all-time high of $617.6 billion).
That's bad juju for the economy, people. Bad juju.

Well, that's all for now. Steanso continues to recover from his cold. Let me just go ahead and put a plug in here for Emergen C. It's this fizzing fruit drink powder that has like 10 times your daily requirements of Vitamin C in it, and it's really the bomb when you have a cold. Thanks to The Pea and Crackbass for turning me on to it. Also the zinc. Although the zinc kind of makes you feel like you've been kicked in the gut after you take it, it really helps clear up a cold.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

As a kid who was raised, reared, and sent through college on profits of the oil industry, Steanso is a little bit reluctant to hurl stones at our nation's energy industry. Nonetheless, I have to admit that it seems a little unfair that oil companies have posted record record profits this year while home heating oil costs have jumped by as much as 50 percent and gasoline prices by 20 percent or more. Senate hearings took place today in which lawmakers questioned oil industry execs about possible price gouging in the wake of Hurrican Katrina and proposed possible windfall-profits taxes which could be imposed upon oil companies who are experiencing exceptional profits and used to help defray the cost of oil to lower-income consumers who have difficulty meeting their energy costs.
Let's be honest. Economics was never Steanso's strong suit. Steanso took economics in college from a professor whose nickname was "Sleepy Joe" because of the effect that his monotone lectures had upon his students, and Steanso never really developed anything more than a rudimentary understanding of supply and demand by poring over his textbooks before final exams. Anyway, the oil industry, of course, maintains that their record breaking profits are a short term anomaly, and that if new taxes are imposed upon them, they'll be unable to compete effectively with foreign markets in the future.
I don't know where the truth lies, but it feels fishy. I mean, we are, after all, paying more than ever for oil as consumers, and although the oil industry claims that their refineries were damaged by Katrina and that rougher times may lie in the near future, it's hard not to feel a little cheated when we can barely afford to fill our gas tanks and oil execs are picking out new Lamorghinis for their morning commutes to the office.

During our usual lunch the other day out at JP3, my partner in prosecution, Regan, asked me if I had ever heard about Peak Oil theory. I admitted that I had not, and he told me a little bit about it. Kind of scary stuff. Peak oil is the theory that we are not going to run out of oil all at once, but that it will gradually become harder and harder to get at the oil reserves that we have remaining (as the easier to reach supplies are used up). As oil becomes harder to remove from the earth, it will take more and more energy just to reach our remaining oil reserves, and in the process of using ever-increasing energy in order to extract the remaining oil, our energy problems will be compounded.
The fact that our economy and our society is based upon an ever-increasing supply of oil means that once oil production peaks and begins to decline (while the demand for cheap energy surges ever forward), we could, theoretically, be in for some major societal shifts. Although alternative energy sources do exist, very few of them have shown themselves to produce as much energy as oil with such a small amount of energy expenditure required to extract the energy source in the first place.
Anyway, if you're interested in this sort of thing, you should Google "Peak Oil" and ceck it out. Ever-increasing demand for oil coupled with a shrinking supply could make for some real Road Warrior-type sh*t. It's almost on a par with Global Warming for disturbing trends with significant worldwide impact, but you don't hear all that much about it. Hey, if we're lucky, maybe the globe will heat up just enough so that we don't need heating oil, and the melting of the ice caps will provide us with gentle canals and miles of new coastline that we can sail around in our wind-powered boats.
And you thought Steanso couldn't be optimistic.
Well, at least the people of Travis County voted against Proposition 2. Even when I'm embarrassed by the rest of my state, Austinites usually pull through for me. Then again, Austin is probably the most well-educated and highly literate city in the state. I'm not sure I could handle living anywhere else in Texas. God bless Austin.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Not much time for blogging today. Still struggling through a cold, Steanso was in JP 3 all day, prosecuting truant school children, speeders, and other miscreants, sneezing and coughing upon them as an added measure of punishment for their sins.

And surprise, surprise. Proposition 2 passed. Biggotry is now officially a part of our state's constitution. Kickass. The only thing that really surprises me about this is the fact that Texas was the 19th state to pass such an amendment. You think we'd lead the nation in that kind of ass-backward, redneck thinking. Oh well. Save marriage for the kind of people who really know how to f*ck one up. Straight people are champions at that.
My rants about Proposition 2 and Texas in general recently led my brother, Roundball, to lament that he wasn't sure that he wanted to move back to Texas anymore. I'm not sure I blame him. The only problem is that he lives in Arizona. Still, although they're pretty conservative, I don't think that Arizonians revel in their idiocy in the same way that Texans do. Today I am actually fairly ashamed to be a Texan (although I still love Austin). We're a state which hides its own insecurities and ignorance behind false bravado and a feigned spirit of independence.
Anyway, I'm tired and I'm sick. Nighty night, kids.

Monday, November 07, 2005

One more reason Steanso is in deep trouble in the dating arena....
And Bush claims that the U.S. doesn't use torture? Right. That's why Cheney has been struggling against the congressional drive to outlaw torture, and why the CIA has been hiding its captives in secret, foreign prisons. Let's ask the president this question again while he's in a "strss position"....
Let me start by saying that Steanso has come down with a slight touch of a cold. Therefore, the blogging may suffer a bit as Steanso sturggles to produce something readable while simulataneously enjoying the effects of the Tussin cough syrup that he chugged down this morning before toodling off to work.
Several of my friends have asked me if I'm going to do some blogging about Proposition 2, Texas's so-called Marriage Amendment. The Texas Marriage Amendment basically states, as a proposed joint resolution, that marriage in Texas will exist (as a legal entity) only between a man and a woman, and that while the State of Texas recognizes that many of the rights associated with marriage may be obtained through other means (such as contracts or guardianship agreements), that marriage itself is to be reserved for unions between members of the opposite sex.
Well, of course, Steanso tends to think that Proposition 2 is a stupid, stupid idea. In case you haven't picked up on it by now, we here at The Adventures are big fans of equal rights for EVERYONE, and we're definitely not big fans of writing discrimination into the constitution of our deeply flawed but still beloved home state.
I guess Steanso has avoided blogging on this topic mostly out of despair and resignation. Unfortunately, I'm almost as solidly conviced that Proposition 2 will pass as I am convinced that Proposition 2 is morally wrong.
Let's face it- most of Texas revels in a sort of knee-jerk conservativism, and although Steanso will be here to struggle against it until the bitter end, it isn't likely to change anytime soon (or at least until there's a fundamental shift in people's thinking about what it means to be a Democrat and people realize that "liberals" are just working to ensure basic rights for ALL people and to fend off the exploitation of America's working and middle class by the wealthiest segments of our society).
Anyway, Proposition 2 feeds upon one of those great Conservative fallacies- the belief that the traditional American family is under siege by "crazy liberal" forces which would seek to tear down traditional values and destroy them. By voting for Prop 2, conservatives would have their consituents believe that they are drawing a line in the sand- creating another safeguard which will protect the erosion of classic American values. Nothing binds people together more tightly than the belief that they are under attack from a common enemy. But there's no enemy here, people. Only your family, friends and neighbors- each of them trying to make a life for themselves in whatever way they can in order to feel comfortable in their own skin.

The truth about Prop 2 is more insidious. Proposition 2 isn't safeguarding anything. Instead, it is yet another attack against the rights of another minority group of people. It constitutes institutionalized biggotry. Nothing in the current law or within liberal ideology would seek to take away any rights from "traditional" American values. Proposition 2, however, ironically presents a further erosion of the American way of life. Ours is a country which was supposedly founded upon a concept of majority rule, with constitutional rights put in place to protect the rights of minority groups. Proposition 2 is one more example of how today's "traditional American families" cannot suffer dissent or even subject themselves to peaceful coexistence with a group which is different than themselves. Gay marriage (from what I can tell in my own experience) isn't about attacking anyone. It's about people trying to figure out how to make a life for themselves.
We were a nation of people who established this country because we felt oppressed in by other governments, but the conservative right, little by little, would have our nation converted into a country which is subservient to white, Christian values and beliefs, and it would impose those beliefs on whomever it can. I was raised in a strongly Christian home, and I think that religion can be a truly beautiful thing, but let me say this- there is a point at which evangelism becomes oppression, and I wish that the religious would be a little more mindful of where that line lies.

Crap. This rant is getting out of control and slipping toward the nonsensical. I can't think straight on this combination of motherscratchin' cough syrup and antihystamines.
I think you get my drift, though.
Vote aginst Prop 2.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Can someone please explain to me what the hell is happening in France? Ten nights of rioting? When I heard the initial reports and heard that the riots were kicked off by the electrocution of two teenagers, I thought that the rioters were protesting the death penalty. It turns out, however, that the teenagers were accidentally electrocuted while hiding in a power substation while fleeing from the police. I'm not even sure that France has the death penalty (the film La Femme Nikita made it look like France still had the death penalty, but Luc Besson movies are probably not the most accurate way to get your information about the legal systems of foreign countries).
Now the media is saying that the rioters are largely members of France's Muslim and North African immigrant population, and that the rioters are simply upset that they are trapped in a society which is prejudiced against them and which seems incapable of providing them with fair employment opportunities.
Well, it's saddening and a strangely comforting to see that we're not the only country amongst the Western, industrialized nations with some problems in the area of racial inequality. It also strikes me that it's probably a good thing that, for the most part, the American underclass doesn't resort to rioting and burning vehicles as a means of expressing their dissatisfaction. The fact that we don't have rioting in this country may mean that although things in the U.S. are far from perfect, at least people feel that there are some lines of communication open so that discussion can still take place about what needs to be done. When people feel that they've got no other options- I would imagine that's when the rioting begins. Then again, given France's history, maybe the people over there just enjoy a good riot every now and again.
Anyhoo, I don't really understand what's going on over there in France. I thought they just drank wine and nipped on cheese over there.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

I thought the Klu Klux Klan rally in downtown Austin today was worth mentioning for two reasons.
Number one, it just showed one more reason why I love Austin. Fourteen racist hicks showed up to throw a rally outside of town hall today, and 3000 Austinites showed up to give them the finger.
There really wasn't any notable violence, although a lot of shouting occurred. I saw one of the Anti-Klan protesters explaining on TV that he understood that the Klan has a right to express their views, but that he thought it was important for Austinites to respond by coming out and supporting our commitment to diversity in response. One of the local news broadcasts showed what I thought was a classic moment of Austin great-weirdness when some of the Anti-Klan protesters stayed behind after the Klukkies had left and scrubbed the steps of City Hall and the surrounding area with soap and water in order to "clean away all of the nasty hate-slime," that the Klan had left behind.
The second reason that I thought the story was funny is that the Klan came out to support Proposition 2, a bill which would effectively ban gay marriage in the state of Texas. I just hope that gives a few people pause who are going out to support Proposition 2. If you're supporting Proposition 2, you're on the same side that counts the Klu Klux Klan amongst its ranks! Right on! And you know what? The few soundbites that I heard from the Klan speeches at the rally today used a whole lot of the same mantras that you hear on Rush Limbaugh and other right wing talk radio programs.
We're not banning gay marriages in order to attack homosexuals.
We're banning it because God is against gay marriage and the church says that a true marriage can only exist between a man and a woman.
We want to the protect the American family.

It seems that the Klan has gotten a lot smarter about masking its naked hatred of gays and minorities. How scary is it when the stuff that the Klan spouts (at least regarding homosexuality, but also in terms of their constant reference to religious ideology in order to justify their viewpoints) doesn't sound all that different from the political talking points of many "mainstream" conservative politicans?

Friday, November 04, 2005

For the first time in my work on The Adventures, I didn't post yesterday simply because I totally zoned on the whole thing. Somehow I shifted from thinking, "I gotta remember to write a post today," to "Well, I'm glad I got my post out of the way," without ever actually writing the post. I'm not sure how that happened. I know you guys don't care all that much, but it's kind of weird to me.

And who would have guessed that Steanso had so much in common with the people of Argentina? Bush arrived at the Summit of the Americas in Mar Del Plata, Argentina, on Friday to a greeting of protests with participants numbering in the thousands, many of them referring to Bush as a "fascist" and a "terrorist". Former soccer great Diego Maradona (a name which was spoken with much reverence at the soccer camps that I attended as a kid) led one of the demonstrations while clad in a tee shirt which accused Bush of war crimes.

Well, I gotta wander back over to JP court, but I hope that everyone has a good weekend!!!

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Although my concerns regarding Judge Alito are far from assuaged, this does give me hope. The judicial nominee has been meeting with some moderate Democrats this week to reassure them that he does not intend to take a conservative agenda with him if he ascends to the Supreme Court. The move is undoubtedly meant to head off the possibility of a Democratic fillibuster during the nomination process, but it is worth noting that some moderate Republicans have posed questions and expressed doubts about some of Judge Alito's views as well.
Anyway, it's good to see that the Republicans are at least trying to play ball and make some overtures toward compromise rather than just cramming the nomination down the nation's collective throat. They may simply be lying in order to get what they want, but then again, maybe they really just don't want to rock the boat all that much when it comes to the Supreme Court- after all, fanatics can be unpredictable, and that's really not a very good thing for either side when it comes to the nation's highest court.
Our government once again has proven itself to be a model of democracy and freedom and a shining example of a leader in the fight for basic human rights around the world!! The Washington Post reported today that the CIA has been maintaining secret prisons around the world for years so that it might hold suspected enemies for years without judicial review and so that its interrogation methods (i.e., methods of torture) would not fall under the scrutiny of Amnesty International, The Red Cross, or other human rights groups.
Well, this is it. We've finally crossed the line from being a paranoid, narcissistic, out-of-control nation to just being a bunch of jackbooted thugs who drag our suspected enemies off into the dark alleyways of the globe so that we can have our way with them. No rule of law. No respect for human rights or civil liberties. We have become the very thing that we have allegedly been struggling against- fanatical, ethnocentric terrorists who believe that whatever means are necessary will always be justified in the name of preserving the end goal of "freedom" and "democracy". What a joke. Those words seem pretty meaningless (let alone being impossible to realize) when the U.S. tramples on human rights in its purported efforts to uphold these concepts.
But I'm probably being naive. We're not fighting for freedom or justice. We're certainly not fighting for the simple defense of our own country. We're fighting so that the richest, most powerful members of our society can stay rich and powerful. We're fighting so that we can continue to have cheap gasoline and drive SUVs. We're fighting because the religious fanatics in our country hate the religious fanatics in other countries. And last, but certainly not least, we're fighting because we feel our position as the world's most powerful nation slipping away, and we will use our dying breaths to fight anyone who defies our authority.
As a nation and a very powerful nation, we keep backsliding in our moral leadership. We keep lowering the bar for what people in other nations should expect from their governments.
Anyway, I'm not very happy about America's secret prisons. I would imagine that the rest of the world is not very happy about them either.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

And also this. The Democrats managed to shut down the Senate today until an agreement was made to move forward with the investigation into pre-war intelligence manipulation before the invasion of Iraq. This was a really neat trick, but I'm still not sure it accomplished a whole lot. Don't we already pretty much know that we were duped? And I'm pretty sure that no investigation is going to be good enough to find some kind of smoking gun which proves that the president actively chose to lie. But I might be wrong. After all, Monica Lewinsky did keep that little blue dress.... (wasn't it blue?)
The good thing, I guess, is that the Democrats are keeping up the attack and are not letting the American people forget that they were HORRIBLY lied to. Bush's lies led to a decision which has cost untold numbers of lives. In the annals of wicked liers, Bush is far worse than Clinton and Richard Nixon combined. Far, far worse. In fact, I think he's a war criminal. We should put him in some "stress positions" and ask him some questions about the lead up to the war. Grrr....
Well, Texas has once again shown the nation that our judicial system is a joke. Tom Delay's defense team, acting under the leadership of Dick Deguerin, has managed to have Judge Bob Perkins removed as presiding judge from Delay's case for no other reason than because Perkins made political contributions to MoveOn.org, a liberal political group which now supports Delay's removal from office (although they had taken no such stand back at the time that Perkins made the contributions).
The ruling, made by semiretired Bell County Judge C. W. "Bud" Duncan is nothing less than a travesty of justice. The defense team's sole ground for arguing that Perkins should be removed from the case came in the fact that Perkins is a Democrat who supports Democrat causes, while Delay is a Republican. Duncan's decision means that, in effect, no judge in Texas should be allowed to preside over a case for any defendant who holds political views which are different than his or her own. Which is, of course, absolutely absurd.
Judges in Texas are, by necessity, political individuals. Texas judges, unlike federal judges and the judges in some other states, are elected rather than appointed. Texas judges run for office in order to gain their seats, and this means that they need to be involved with political parties and gain political support in order to gain their jobs. It is impossible to gain a seat as a judge in Texas without some level of political campaigning and fundraising, and to say that a judge cannot preside over a case because he holds different political views than one of the parties who appears before him is to completely undermine the entire system of elected judiciary which operates in our state.
Having worked as a defense attorney for many years, I can guarantee you that as I write this tonight, a thousand jailhouse lawyers (i.e., inmates who do their own research and legal drafting while in jail in the effort to defend themselves) across the state are busy drafting motions to have their judges recused from their cases because their judges have "political bias" against the defendants and support different political parties than the defendants themselves. (and, ironically, by the reasoning which held sway on the Delay case today, these defendants should be allowed to have their judges recused, especially since so many defendants in Texas jails are poor, minority inmates who would probably have the most to gain by supporting drug rehabilitation programs and other items on a liberal agenda, while the majority of judges in Texas are wealthy, white, and Republican- seemingly coming from a political point of view which is far different than that of the average inmate).
In light of the fact that there was absolutely no valid legal reason to force Judge Perkins to step down from Delay's case, I believe the ruling by Judge Duncan to be nothing more than political corruption, pure and simple.
Just last week The Austin Chronicle ran a story about the corruption and malfeasance which has been sweeping through Bell County (Judge Duncan's home county). The article specifically targetted Bell County District Attorney Bobby Bell, pointing out his racist prosecution practices (blacks are statistically far more likely to receive prison time than whites for drug crimes in Bell County) have long involved manufactured evidence and trials which did little more than railroad defendants who protested their innocence. The article points out the outrageous political practices of Bell, but it is also clear that the entire judicial process has been compromised in Bell County for some period of time. Defense attorneys refuse to practice in the county, and judges shove cases through the courts without granting defendants either the time or the resources to adequately defend themselves. Judges and juries regularly hand out sentences for first time offenders (especially minorities) in Bell County which include prison sentences that are in excess of 90% of the allowable sentence. This corrupt, racist county is the home of Judge Duncan, the esteemed jurist who somehow found his way into the Delay case in order to make one of the worst (and most suspect) legal decisions in recent Austin history.
I believe that promises have been made and palms have been greased. The rest of the country is laughing at the Texas legal system- some out of joy and some out of frustration- and today they are more than justified in finding our judicial system ridiculous.