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.


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.

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.


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,


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, 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.