Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Just a quick blurb to celebrate the announcement that New Orleans' Jazz Fest will go on as usual this year (or as close to usual as possible) despite the ongoing rebuilding efforts in New Orleans. Last year was Steanso's first Jazz Fest, and he had a really good time (saw Widespread Panic, Trey Anastasio, and McCoy Tyner, among others). I still want to see a lineup before making any final decision, but I kind of want to go to Jazz Fest this year as well (although part of me is a little nervous about going back and seeing what's happened to the city). In addition to being a really good time, I think that attending Jazz Fest would be good for the Crescent City. I mean, attending Jazz Fest isn't going to get low income homes rebuilt in the poorer parishes, but supporting the Jazz Fest vendors, the local restaurants, and the hotels will help to give the city an economic shot in the arm.
Thank god. Alito's on the Supreme Court. The way things are going, I almost want to go live in some other country. But that would mean admitting defeat and handing my country over to a bunch of a**holes who don't care about a good portion of the citizens of this country, let alone the people in the rest of the world. They have control anyway, but at least we can fight them and challenge their policies. The last 6 years have given me a newfound, tremendous respect for the power that fear has in manipulating the voting populace. I think that absent the terror attacks of 2001 (and more specifically, Bush's manipulation of the public's fear of terrorism), people would have strung Bush and his crew up by now.
And I guess I need to go see Brokeback Mountain. It seems like a silly movie, but we all know that you're not supposed to criticize a film unless you see it. So I need to shell out 7 bucks to say that I think that Hollywood is primarily clinging to this film as an anti-conservative political move. I'm all about gay rights (and human rights in general), but this movie just looks lame. I may be completely wrong, but it just feels like people are going to see the movie more because of the novelty factor than because they like the characters or the plot. Kind of looks like a gay version of some kind of Lifetime movie of the week. I guess Steanso just isn't a big fan of romantic tear jerkers, be they gay or straight. Those are some handsome cowboys, though.
Not sure what I would recommend for Oscar contention, though. The only movie I saw this year which is in the running was Munich, and I wasn't exactly blown away by it (although it was pretty interesting). I still want to see Capote and Goodnight, and Good Luck.

Not too much else going on. Crackbass wants to go see Spoon on Thursday night, and although Steanso thinks their new album is pretty cool, he's not sure whether he wants to shuck out the $20 (property taxes and other expenses are weighing heavily upon him this time of year).

That's all for now. Hope everyone is having a good day.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Well, I thought that I would go ahead and post Steanso's weekend activities- not because I did anything interesting, but mostly just to placate the people out there who bitch about me just writing about politics all the time.
On Friday night Steanso finished watching The Constant Gardener (which he was sort of underwhelmed by) and then got together later in the evening to watch Predator with Crackbass and Jackbart. It was meant to be a testosterone-filled, action-packed viewing, but instead Steanso kind of nodded off during the movie and annoyed Jackbart with his snoring. I like the flick, but what can I say? I was tired.
Saturday I had a rainy morning brunch at Curra's with Crackbass and Chris Sanders (I should point out at this point that Mandy had gone out of town for the weekend to Beaumont to visit her family). The food was good. Saturday afternoon I went and saw Underworld Evolution with Crackbass. It was pretty much what I expected. Lots of vampires and werewolves filmed through blue lenses and an overly complicated plot which was ultimately pretty silly. Saturday night we ate hamburgers and listened to music and generally bummed around.
Sunday I took Cassidy to the dog park where I ran into my cousin, Susan, with her pooch, Pierre. We got caught up and watched the dogs play and Cassidy tired herself out. Mostly. I went home and got some exercise and took Cassidy for a walk and did some reading. Then I had band practice with the Mono Ensemble (which was good), and afterward I went to Reed's house and watched an episode of Battlestar Galactica (which has been hard for me to keep up with this season, given the fact that I don't have cable or satellite television). Then I came home and went to bed.
So that's the weekend. If anyone cared.
For those of you who don't remember (which is probably just about all of you), Steanso spent some time back on November 9, 2005, pondering possible price gouging by oil companies in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and in the face of shortages caused by The Iraq War (sorry there's no link for that blog entry here, but sadly, Steanso couldn't figure out how to link to a particular day within his archive section). Oil companies were posting record profits as consumers dealt with skyrocketing gas prices, but the oil companies assured us that this was a short term anomally which would be evened out by the need to rebuild hurricane-damaged oil refineries and future competition from foreign markets.
Well, it's the end of January, and Exxon said today that they will be posting the largest annual profit ever for a U.S.-based company. The announcement has prompted some political leaders to call for a windfall profits tax on the oil company in order to defray costs for low income consumers of gasoline and heating oil (who have suffered the most under rising oil prices). Exxon quickly responded that it intends to use the profits for exploration and refinement advances in order to more effectively meet the world's energy needs.
Anyway, it sure looks like we're all getting screwed by the oil companies (as prices continue to rise and company profits continue to increase). Thankfully, we have the Exxon PR department to explain to us how this screw job actually is a benefit to the entire world as Exxon selflessly searches for new sources of energy. So they can sell them. And jack up the prices. And post more windfall profits.
I know that we live in a capitalist society, but it seems coldhearted to profit off of wars and hurricane victims. Then again, maybe these high prices are what it will take to finally get consumers to move away from our gas-guzzling American lifestyles.
Steanso's got to run. Maybe I'll get a chance for more later.

Hope all's well. Steanso is very, very tired today.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

I spent some time last night going back and reading some of my old blog entries from over the last year or so (which is something that I almost never do). It occurred to me as I read these that I probably come across as naive or hopelessly idealistic in a lot of my entries. It's funny because I feel a lot more cynical than I come across, but maybe that's because despite my cynicism about the current state of the world on any given day, I guess that I am a pretty hopeful, optimistic person in terms of my belief in and desire for the possibility of change. Anyway, I guess it's a little late for me to start editing myself or trying to sound more "professional" at this point, so thanks for sticking with me, even when I sound like a wide-eyed college kid in my ramblings.

Friday, January 27, 2006

A new poll finds that there is mixed support for the president's illegal wiretapping program.

Here's the thing. I don't care how much support there is for soying on American citizens. It's immoral and illegal, and even if 99 people out of 100 think that it's ok, we still need to protect the privacy of the 1% minority against government intrusion and the tyranny of the majority. The ideal of protecting the minority against majority oppression played no small part in the founding of this country (remember those pilgrims that you learned about in elementary school who were fleeing religious and political oppression in Europe because of their unpopular beliefs?), and we shouldn't hand over our civil liberties now just because government and media hysteria has convinced everyone that there's a terrorist lurking around every corner. Look, people, I'm all about catching terrorists, but I think it would be naive to think the government will restrict their use of domestic wiretaps to their use against legitimate terrorist threats. Ideological opponents of the current administration will come under surveillance as well. The wiretapping program will make it easier for the government to illegally maintain surveillance upon the ACLU, environmental organizatons, anti-war groups, animal rights groups, Muslim anti-defamation groups, and other groups which hold views that are in opposition to the political views of the current administration. A number of these groups already suspect that they have been monitored and kept under surveillance by the federal government, and the ACLU (among others) have filed lawsuits seeking to expose the existence of surveillance programs that monitor American activist programs based on their ideological views. Steanso just doesn't trust the man, and the Bush administration has validated my feelings of distrust over and over again (just for starters, we've got their lies about Iraqi WMDs, their denial of any administration involvement in the CIA leak, and the very existence of this illegal wiretapping scheme).

This has been my fastest blog entry ever. It's 5:01 on Friday and I've got to split. Peace!

p.s.- speaking of reasons for not trusting the Bush administration...
Well, Steanso is staring down the barrel of what could potentially be a pretty slow weekend. Crackbass and The Pea are scheduled to be travelling out of town (to Beaumont, The Pea's homeland), and it's supposed to rain on Saturday, thus preventing trips to the dog park and other outdoor activities. Oh well. We certainly need the rain, and Steanso is usually fairly good at coming up with ways to keep himself occupied.

This was on News 8, and I found it kind of troubling. Apparently Texas now has just about the biggest disparity between the wealthy and the poor of any state in the U.S. (only New York may have a greater disparity). The wealthiest 20 percent of Texans earn over $119,000 a year, and the poorest 20 percent of Texasn make less than $14,700 a years. Only 1 in 4 Texans has an undergraduate college degree, and only one half of Texas have ever taken a college course.
Experts point to the large influx of Mexican (and other) immigrants into Texas as an important factor in explaining the discrepancy as well as the shift in Texas's economy over the last thirty or forty years from an agricultural and manufacturing base to a technology and service industry base.
Of course, Steanso tends to think that things like tremendous disparities in the quality of education and the failure of Texas to impose a state minimum wage (in excess of the federal government's statutory minimum) tend to account for some of the discrepancy. At any rate, if the gap between rich and poor continues to widen, Steanso thinks we're in for some real third world living.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

So what the hell are we supposed to do with this? The Palestinian people, in an election with a 77 percent voter turnout (the U.S. can only dream of that much citizen participation in its elections) have secured 76 seats within the 132 seat Palestinian legislature for Hamas, a group which has previously publicly endorsed terrorism and which includes the destruction of the nation of Israel as part of its party platform.
This is one of those times when I almost feel a little bit sorry for Bush (I said almost, damnit- settle down). The U.S. has been trumpeting the virtues of democracy and free elections ever since we set foot in Iraq (as soon as we realized that we weren't going to find any WMDs, installing a free, democratic goverment became our avowed reason for being there), but now Bush has had that beautiful, naive ideal thrown right back in his face. What if you threw an election, everyone showed up, and they all voted for someone who was ruthless, violent, and fanatically opposed to all of your political ideals? I give you Palestinian free elections. Bush and crew have been so busy convincing the world that democracy would solve all of the problems in the Middle East that they never stopped to think about what kind of results a democratic, representative government would produce in a land of intolerant, hardline, fanatically religious fundamentalists. Americans love to think of themselves as saviors- overthrowing the reign of a despotic dictator sure sounds great on paper- but as usual, our enthusiasm for making change led to some shortsighted decision making and a failure to fully appreciate the difficulties in restructuring a part of the world which is steeped in religion, tradition, prejudice, and custom.

Still, (and this is the reason I'm still not fully sympathizing with Bush as he deals with this whole debacle) I suspect that support for Hamas and other hardline, militant Islamic groups has increased exponentially within the Muslim world as the war in Iraq drags on and Muslims are tortured, hauled off to Guantanamo Bay, and photographed in the nude at Abu Graib. Americans are seen as invaders and occupiers of Muslim lands, and Israel is seen as our puppet.
A few nights ago on The News Hour I listened to an Arab-American commentator who explained that there is now a pervasive belief in the Middle East that the U.S. doesn't even really want to catch Osama Bin Laden- that we are using his continued elusiveness as an excuse to remain in Afghanistan and other portions of the Middle East so that we can combine these footholds with our new outpost in Iraq and slowly put a stranglehold on the Muslim world. To Westerners it sounds like a far-fetched conspiracy theory, but to citizens who get their evening news from Al Jazeera and who deal with U.S. or Israeli troops on a daily basis, the threat is undoubtedly much more real.
Muslim extremists have long sought reasons to demonize Israel and the U.S., and over the last few years, Bush has provided enough propaganda and recruiting material to last three lifetimes.

So now we're not dealing with radical fringe groups anymore. Now we've got the entire population of Palestine voting to put terrorists into power. The radicals have managed to drag the center to their cause, and the U.S. has given them the ammunition to do it.

Get back in there and safeguard the peace, Bush. Despite Hamas's declared intention of bringing about the end of Israel, you need to find a way to convince Palestinians that peaceful coexistence is in everyone's best interest. In the same week in which Hamas has risen to power in Palestine, the Pentagon has released a report stating that the U.S. army is stretched to its breaking point. We really can't afford a war between the Israelis and the Palestinians right now. We've tried the arrogant, chest-pounding, mightiest military on earth route. Now let's try to show some leadership at the diplomatic table.

Not too much other news to report. Hope everyone is doing ok.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Chris Penn was found dead in his home today. That sucks. I liked the guy and thought he was underrated as an actor (he was especially great in Reservoir Dogs).

Steanso thought that he was going to start his first jury trial as a prosecutor in county court today, but it didn't happen. Instead, fellow Court 4 prosecutor Holly McAfee is in trial. It's kinda nice to not be in trial, but I was geared up for it, so it's a bit of a letdown, too. Oh well- it's not like there won't be other chances. Holly's up against Chris Gunter, a really good, well known Austin attorney. Let's all wish her luck.

Well, not much bloggin' today, but not much time for bloggin' either.
Crack practice was especially nice last night. There's an internal Crack controversy occurring right now about whether we should try to flex our improvisational muscles at our nonofficial SXSW gig in March. Any opinions from Crack's devoted audience?

Later, skaters.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

This is an interesting article, if anyone has the time to read it. It's kind of a commentary on Democracy in America, a book written in the 1830s by Alexis de Tocqueville, a French aristocrat who travelled America in order to study democracy and its practical implications for everyday people. Tocqueville worried greatly about the tyranny of majority opinion under a democratic government, and he feared the consolidation of state power into a central authority. Written more than a hundred and fifty years ago, Tocqueville's book warns against "the avowed lover of liberty" who is actually a "hidden servant of tyranny", a warning which feels almost prophetic in light of the NSA domestic wiretapping program and the Patriot Act. Hearteningly, Democracy in America manages to also include some optimistic overtones, stating that despite the oppression of majority opinion and the centralization of government power, democracy invests people with a taste and need for free institutions, and that ultimately this taste for freedom will lead members of a democracy to ultimately reject anything which truly threatens their liberties. I hope he's right about that last part.
What else?
Not too much else to report. Got Crack practice tonight. Jeff Wilson planted two trees in his yard. My brother apparently wants to become a costumed crimefighter

Monday, January 23, 2006

Well, fellow Adventurers, welcome to what is predicted to be the worst day of the year (emotionally, anyway). Psychologists at Cardiff University in Whales have developed a formula for measuring emotional high and low points throughout the year (based on both personal and seasonal factors), and January 23 is supposed to be this year's biggest stinker. Lack of daylight, the accumulation of holiday debts, a lack of holidays to look forward to, and a lack of social interaction (often brought about by way of inclement weather) tend to make people feel gloomier this time of year. Of course, in Texas we have the vicious wrath of cedar pollen and other allergies to add to our woes.
I don't know if this prediction is accurate, but there does seem to be some kind of general blueness that kind of dominates the emotional spectrum this time of year.
So fight it, kids! Invite people over! Go out on the town! Plan something fun so you'll have something to look forward to! Plan on taking a day off at some point for a midwinter holiday! Don't give in to the winter blah.

Not too much other news to report. Steanso did a lot of rocking this weekend (including playing at party with Mono E) , so he's tired today. Hope everyone is doing alright. In a closing note, I saw "Hot" Karl Rove on TV this weekend arguing that this new Osama bin Laden tape is proof that the Republicans are right and the Democrats are wrong and that only conservative leadership can bring us through this time of danger and instability. My answer to that? Conservatives have already been running the country for the last 6 years, and despite the torture, The Patriot Act, the wiretaps, the secret prisons, and our endless war, we still haven't gotten Bin Laden and he's still out there planning his next big screw job for the U.S. In fact, I would argue that this administration is making it harder for us to catch the man (thereby making our country less safe), because all of our crappy foreign policy has resulted in a world in which no one wants to help us. In Pakistan, public sentiment continues to lean further and further toward sympathizing with al-Qaida as the U.S. blows up more and more stuff in the Muslim world.
Anyway, gotta stay positive. After all, it's January 23rd.....

Friday, January 20, 2006

Happy birthday Reed Shaw and Eric Gottula! It might come as a surprise to some of you that two of my fellow Mono Ensemblians were born on the same day and in the same year, but once you realize that they were both created in the same test tube and that they share a single brain, the news should come as less of a shock. Happy birthday, guys!

Well, it's been a rough week with Hobbes passing on, but as I was getting dressed this morning it struck me that maybe the greatest revelation to come out of his death is a realization about how quickly time passes us by. It seems like only months ago that I brought those ferrets home from the pet store, and now, suddenly nine years have passed. Time just flies by, not only with pets, but with the people in our lives as well. Two friends of mine from the County Attorney's Office moved away this year as well, Aimee Blanchard and Rosa Theofanis, and once people have moved on out of your life, it makes you sort of feel like you never appreciated the time that you had with them enough (although we're all still keeping our fingers crossed for future Aimee visits and possibly for Rosa to even move back to Austin). Anyway, I'm not trying to sound grim, and I know that you can't really live your life if you're clinging to people and things too tightly, but today Steanso just wants to encourage everyone to take a second out every once in awhile to appreciate what you've got. I've always been a big believer in the idea the quality of the story that you write with your life is more important than the length of the tale, but still, savor your moments, guys, because the time does fly.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Hey! I just wanted to thank everyone for their kind thoughts regarding Hobbes. As I've said, he was a good guy (or as good as he could be, given the fact that ferrets are born to a life of mischief), and Cassidy and I will both miss him. He had nine good years, and from what I understand, that's a pretty good run for a ferret (I've read that their average lifespan can be anywhere from 6 to 11 years, but eight years is considered a good, long life). He was happy and pretty healthy until right near the end.
Anyway, life moves on, but we won't forget Hobbes (or Calvin, either, for those who knew him).
Thanks for all of the support.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Via con dios, Hobbes! It was a good run. You were (and are) loved and we'll miss you! Posted by Picasa
Well, Steanso's pet ferret, Hobbes, is at the pet hospital today and not doing especially well. Although ferrets are admittedly quite silly creatures, they are quite smart and affectionate, and I'm very attached to Hobbes (kind of the same way that parents always seem to develop a special affection for the most badly behaved kid in the family). Hobbes is almost nine years old (which is very old for a ferret), and we've been through a lot together. I got Hobbes and his sibling, Calvin (who passed away several years ago), from a pet store when I was in law school. Those two ferrets pretty much destroyed my law school apartment, but they kept me amused enough through my last two years of law school to help me avoid some major depression (I really was not happy with the whole law school experience and I felt kind of lost trying to figure out what I was doing in terms of my future). The ferrets learned to steal my remote controls, hide my car keys, steal CDs, and climb up on various pieces of furniture to get onto kitchen counters or other places they weren't supposed to be. They were also smart enough to run and hide when I caught them doing something wrong, and to recognize my moods and encourage me to play with them when they were bored or when they thought that I might be bored. Basically, their tenacity in demanding that I help them have fun pulled me out of my own head and just kind of cheered me up.
Anyway, they were good companions. Now Hobbes is old and doesn't play as much as he used to and I've just been trying to keep him comfortable and relatively happy for the last couple of years. Even Cassidy seems to really like Hobbes, and though he's too delicate these days for her to run around and play with (which they used to do quite successfully- Hobbes is a lot smaller than Cassidy, but he could set her straight with a hiss or a nip if she got too rambunctious), I often still find her sitting beside his cage and just checking in on him.
Not sure why I'm posting all of this, except it's on my mind. All of you guys send Hobbes some positive vibes, ok?

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Well, Gore has suddenly woken up and come out of the woodwork to challenge the legality of The White House's domestic wiretapping program, a move which the White House (of course) responded to with denials, counter allegations, and name calling. Using the tried and true methods of the Bush White House, Alberto Gonzales went on the counterattack, accusing the Clinton White House of engaging in warrantless searches of their own (a fact which is, in fact, true, although warrants were not required by law at the time for the type of searches Gonzales refers to- thereby making the search conducted under Clinton legal while the wiretapping performed under Bush was specifically made illegal by statute). So the waters remain muddy, and the Bush camp assumes (probably quite correctly) that the American people are too lazy, distracted, or disinterested to sort out the truth on their own. Gore went on to request that Alberto Gonzales name a special prosecutor to investigate the situation, stating that Gonzales's position as both Attorney General and a Bush cabinet member created a conflict of interest which obviously made Gonzales unfit to serve in an investigation of the White House. Gonzales didn't indicate that a special prosecutor would be appointed any time soon, stating instead that individuals in the Justice Department (also working under Bush and Gonzales) had already reviewed the wiretapping program and found it to be completely legal. Well as long as you say so, Alberto, that's good enough for me (you rat).
Riding the wave of Bush hate, Hillary Clinton spoke yesterday during an MLK Day event and stated that the Bush administration was "one of the worst in U.S. history", and that the Bush White House has "been run like a plantation" in which dissenting voices are squelched and corruption, cronyism and incompetence have prevailed. As much as I agree with Hillary, I don't see her comments as anything more than an attempt to keep herself on the radar as she looks forward to a presidential bid in 2008. Unfortunately, I just don't see Hillary taking the presidency in 2008. I like the lady and I think that she's two or three times smarter than our current president, but I just think she rubs too many people the wrong way. Too many people decided that they didn't like her during the Clinton presidency (because she took on health care reform and other duties herself, because she forgave Bill too quickly after his transgressions with Monica Lewinsky, or maybe just because she's an aggressive, career-oriented woman and Americans still have a tendency to think of such women as bitches). Unless she changes a lot of minds, I think she's going to sink like a proverbial lead zeppelin. One factor that may help her to turn it around would be assistance on the campaign from her husband. Bill Clinton is one of the greatest campaign trail warriors that this country has ever seen, and the American public are likely to be more receptive to a sort of "Team Clinton" strategy than to the election of Hillary alone (and no, I'm not just saying this because Hillary is a woman- Bill used to frequently comment during his own presidency that the American people had elected the team of both he and Hillary when they sent him to the Oval Office). Without a considerable amount of active involvement on Bill's part, I think Hillary's goose is cooked. Gobble gobble.
I just hope that the Democrats don't put all of their eggs into her basket.

Monday, January 16, 2006

MLK Day. Steanso squandered most of it. I tried to blog about MLK earlier, but it just came off lame. Let me say that he was an amazing leader- maybe the best our country has ever produced- and leave it at that. Here's to hoping that any of us can live up to even a tiny fraction of what the man accomplished.

In other news. Not too much to report. Three day weekend. I watched a lot of movies and bummed around quite a bit. Friday I had Team Bloom and Giselle over, and Jennifer cooked a salmon dinner. We ate and we drank, and then the Wilsons stopped by when they got back from Eddie and Leigh's wedding, and then we drank and talked some more.
Saturday I went to the dog park with Cassidy and ran errands and watched Hustle and Flow and Murderball. Both movies were worth seeing.
Sunday I went and saw Munich in the morning over at the Westgate (which was a pretty good movie, but if there was a moral lesson in there it pretty much went right over my head). In the afternoon I had band practice with the Mono E, and that evening I went bowling with Crackbass, Pea, Andy F., and Elf Rami. Steanso's bowling skills were a little lacking, but I am happy to report that he did not come in last in every game. Also, we drank a number of beers which were in large, bowling pin-shaped bottles. Cheap beer tastes better when it comes in a bowling pin bottle.
Today I really kind of just screwed around. Went to some Italian cafe on West Lynn (or nearby it) and had brunch with the Wilsons. Spent the afternoon trying to get my wireless router to work (I was finally successful, so now I can blog from my easy chair), and this evening I watched Red Eye, also with Crackbass and The Pea.
All in all, a good weekend.
I just read an article in which the FBI is basically accusing the NSA of wasting the FBI's time by having the FBI run down a tons of pointless "leads" which were gathered through this illegal wiretap operation which Bush has going with the NSA. Apparently there were thousands of leads handed over to the FBI which the NSA had gathered from surveillance on American phone traffic, and despite the innumerable man hours spent following up these tips, the FBI has stated that the information resulted in very few solid links to terrorists or terrorist activities, typically resulting in the investigation of innocent Americans instead.
That's good. Bush's wiretap operation not only illegally invaded the privacy of thousands of innocent Americans, but it also wasted tremendous numbers of law enforcement man hours which could have been spent developing other investigative leads and tracking down actual criminals or terrorists.
I wonder how many enemy combatants whom the U.S. is holding without due process got tortured (or put in "stress positions") today, on MLK Day.
Grumble grumble.
Still. It was good to have the day off.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Was I the only one who found it funny that it took a bunch of Catholic schoolgirls to point out Bush's hypocrisy as he stopped by New Orleans for a pep talk and some publicity shots on his way to a fundraiser in Florida yesterday? The ladies of The Academy of the Sacred Heart (most of them teenagers) appeared in New Orleans's Jackson Square on Thursday wearing life jackets and carrying placards which asked the president for funding for hurricane levees to prevent their city from flooding again in the case of a major storm. Bush stopped off to visit New Orleans on his way to a $4 million dollar fundraiser for the Republican National Committee in Palm Beach, Florida, and gave a speech in which he suggested that New Orleans was well on the way to recovery and that the city would make a great place to visit or to have a convention if someone were so inclined. Bush's visit took him only to the edge of The Garden District, an area largely untouched by the storm, and although the president met with some city leaders, he did not venture into New Orleans's hardest hit areas to survey the damage or measure signs of progress. Bush also failed to comment on the fact that he has thus far refused to allocate more than ten percent of the money which would be required in order to strengthen New Orleans's levees enough to allow it to weather a Category 5 storm (thus far he has allocated $3.1 billion for improvements on the levees and flood control system, a system which experts say needs at least $32 billion in improvements if New Orleans is to survive another strong Category 4 or Category 5 storm).
I'm no city planner, but it intrigues Steanso that the president feels that people will want to invest their time and money to build homes and businesses in an area which may get flattened or submerged by another storm within a matter of years. But Steanso is also a realist. He knows that those New Orleanians are asking for a lot. $32 billion! Wow, that's a lot of money. Where are we supposed to come up with that kind of money just so that we can keep one of our oldest, most prestigious, and unique cities from being inundated with flood water? If only there were some other foolish, costly enterprise which the U.S. were engaged in which we could put to an end in order to free up some funds.....

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Well, last night Steanso joined The Mono Ensemble at Terra Nova's studios where we did some mastering work with Austin's own Jerry Tubb, a guy who is fairly famous in the Texas music scene as a master of mastering (meaning that he's a sound engineer who is especially good at producing final, mastered copies of recordings which have been fine tuned and perfected, with a lot of the blemishes taken out and the finer points highlighted). It was really interesting to watch Jerry work (the guy has worked for and with a lot of amazing musicians, including Tom Waits and Willie Nelson), and his studio and his equipment were out of this world. To make a long story short, The Mono Ensemble hopes to have a CD ready for public consumption in the relatively near future. But don't rush us. We're the Mono E and our CD will be released when we're good and ready. Darn it.
Not too much other news at the moment. Hope everyone is having a good one.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Well, Steanso hasn't had a lot of time for blogging today, but on the up side, Steanso got his first conviction today as a family violence prosecutor! It was just a bench trial (with a judge- not a jury), and the defendant was headed for prison anyway on an unrelated drug charge, but I'm glad I stuck it to him, nonetheless. The wife beaters who won't admit that they did anything wrong have always been one of my pet peeves (even as a defense attorney), so it felt good to get a conviction against one of them.

Crack had a three man practice last night in which we rocked fairly hard, albeit sans Sensat (just me, Crackbass, and Sigmundo). Following our holiday gig we've gone back to just a lot of free range jamming, and it suits me just fine. Strange soundscapes sprinkled with crashing moments of psychosexaceutical rage. It kinds of unclogs the psychic and spiritual pipes, you know? Next week, back to full strength with Andy F. and Gary back in the mix.

Okay, gotta run. Hope everyone's doing okay! We got a comment from Rosa! Hi Rosa! Hope all's well on the east coast! Also, speedy recovery to Kraber who's at home with the gunk.


Tuesday, January 10, 2006

'Tis Tuesday. The president is back at it, telling critics of the war in Iraq that debate over U.S. occupation is doing nothing but "lending comfort to our adversaries". Bush went on to say that individuals who believed that the war in Iraq was motivated by a desire for oil or to increase the strength of Israel's position in the Middle East were not being "honest critics".

Needless to say, Steanso really hates it when the White House tries to tell the American public what they can or cannot talk about without being branded as unpatriotic. This kind of rhetoric has been a mainstay of the Bush administration, and I don't think that it really plays with anyone except Bush's mindlessly loyal political base.
I understand that it's important to move forward in the dialogue regarding future plans for Iraq, but at the same time, understanding how we got into this quagmire in the first place might help us avoid similar entanglements in the future. The White House doesn't want us to re-examine its policy-making processes because a close inspection of how we got into the Iraq War would undoubtedly lead many people to disturbing revelations about exactly how screwed up this administration's decisions really are.
I don't know about oil or Israel, but I know that a lot of bullying and fear mongering went into getting us into this war, as well as a lot of willful misrepresentation and distortion of the facts (go ask Colin Powell or Louis Freeh about the subjective meaning of "the truth" under the Bush regime). Bush wants to refocus the debate- to move it into a strictly forward-looking debate about what should be done with the future of Iraq so that people won't look at the way that they were manipulated into accepting the invasion of Iraq and then realize that this very same manipulation by the White House is ongoing and continues to this day (don't like the fact that the feds are monitoring your phone conversations and reading your mail? Well, you better get used to it because it's the only way the federal government can protect you from being horribly murdered by terrorists. Plus, only commies who hate their country whine about their civil liberties being violated....). Anyway, Steanso still thinks that it's every American's duty to question the war and the motivations of our leaders. We owe it to the troops who are risking their lives for our country and to the world community whom are troops are unleashed upon.

Whoooo. This ranting is tiring. But keep your eye on the ball, kids. On a differentr note, I'm sure that the Republicans couldn't be happier that the Alito confirmation hearings are taking so much heat off of them as this Abramoff thing continues to play out. Don't get too distracted, though. The Abramoff story is huge, and I hope it brings about some changes in the way that lobbyists, big business, and special interests mix with policy makers in Washington. For a nation which prides itself on populist rule through democracy (a model which we repeatedly hear that we are spreading thoughout Iraq and the world), our government could use some refocusing in terms of requiring representatives to serve their constituents rather than exploit them. Man, do I sound naive or what? Still, I believe that these things are possible. You just have to take most of the money out of the equation and require public servants to profit only when the lives of their constituents are improved (this is, in theory, how things work now, but in practice, a politician with financial backing from special interests can manipulate facts and perceptions through campaigning in such a way that the public may actually vote against their own interests- this is especially possible in times when The Fourth Estate [the media] fails to check facts and provide objective, critical analysis of depictions of world events as presented by opposing political sides) .
I don't know. I'm tired and confused.
I quit.
For now.

You should really look at these photos from the bottom up, but here's the Mono E, rocking the night away at Festivus. Although we look pretty tame from the front, we're all wearing buttless pants, titillating the crowd with our buttocks in true David Lee Roth fashion. Note the inverted pentagram which demonstrates our drummer's, Weedo's, true allegiance to the dark armies of Satan. Posted by Picasa

Monday, January 09, 2006

Rosa and Channing reconcile after ridiculing each other during the airing of grievances and a subsequent kickboxing match during the feats of strength. Damn, I miss Rosa already. Posted by Picasa

Santa got his elves, but Festivus got..... ELF RAMI!!!!!!! Posted by Picasa

Remember when I promised to post some pictures from Festivus? I bet you thought I'd forgotten! Well, here's one of those scenes that only Festivus can really produce. Here we find "Dirty" Andy Sensat lounging with Crack groupies Kellie and Jennifer. Can you guess what kind of Festivus treat each of them has imbibed in from a simple examination of their faces?  Posted by Picasa
Well, the weekend was kind to Steanso, but it went by much, much too quickly. Steanso would like to kick things off this week by sending a shout out to Sharon "Mad Dog" Shaw, mother of superdrummer Reed "Weedo" Shaw and longtime member of the extended Steanso family. It was brought to Steanso's attention this weekend that Mrs. Shaw has covertly been reading The Adventures for some time now while making nary a peep in the comments section. Anyway, Mrs. Shaw is a good lady who has put up with many ridiculous Steanso/Weedo hijinks over the years without much complaint. She's also fed me a number of meals and used to let me crash at Shaw manor quite a bit in high school when I needed to escape from the shenanigans of Roundball. I'm glad to hear that she's still in the fold. I guess I'll really have to start watching my P's and Q's on The Adventures (not really- it's kind of a caveat emptor philosophy for the readership here at The Adventures, Mad Dog).
Well, Vince Young announced his intention to go pro this weekend in a move which was disappointing to Steanso, but not at all unexpected. We're going to miss you Vince, but you did give UT a national title, and to be honest, I think some people would have felt that you weren't living up to your potential if you didn't go pro after that Rose Bowl performance. Good luck in the NFL, man. The Texans are fools if they don't draft you.
In other news, Alito began his confirmation hearings today with Senators essentially begging him to be honest during his confirmation. Yup, that's what it's come to, folks. Senators begging supreme court candidates to be honest about their views and to discuss the issues candidly, but without any real hope that any such honest dialogue will actually occur. Alito is gonna screw the poor, civil libertarians, enviromentalists, minorities, and probably a bunch of other groups that I can't even think of at the moment. Alito is the reason I was halfheartedly cheering the Miers nomination. Crap.
Last, but not least, Steanso sends a shout of congratulations out to Hannah Temple and Chris Sanders as they prepare to have their first baby (Steanso actually attended their baby shower on Saturday). Hoorah for the kid. I really hope that Chris was joking when he said they were going to name it Buddy Ray. Family name or not, a name like that is bound to turn the kid into a serial killer.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Steanso sends out his best wishes to Ariel Sharon and Israel in general as the nation deals with the serious stroke which their prime minister suffered on Wednesday night. Ever the model of brotherly Christian love, Reverend Pat Robertson used his position on the 700 Club to promote the idea that God had stricken Sharon with his ailment as retribution for giving away God's land, a reference to Sharon's participation in peace negotiations with the Palestinians- a process which included the withdrawal of Israeli settlers from the West Bank. Kudos to you, Pat Robertson. You've reminded us all once again of the hypocrisy and self-righteousness of the religious right, and of the fact that even more pharisees cloak themselves in the robes of Christianity nowadays than ever existed during the days of Jesus.
Steanso thinks that Ariel Sharon is ultimately a good man who had to make some very hard decisions in seeking peace and in the pursuit of the best interests of his people. Pat Robertson, on the other hand, bilks old people out of their money. Steanso isn't overly religious, but he still has a very warm place in his heart for the type of Christianity that he was raised on- Christianity which was about helping and serving people rather than judging them and which focused more on understanding people and their needs (pursuant to the belief that we are all children of God) rather than imposing your beliefs upon people or turning your back upon them or attacking them if they don't share your views. The Jesus that I came to know as a child was basically all about putting other people before yourself and trying to make the world a better place for all of the people in it. The kind of religion I was raised on probably isn't gone from the world, but it certainly isn't the type of thing that the "religious" right is embracing. I honestly don't understand how most of these super conservative people claim to be trying to model their lives after Jesus (and isn't that kind of the point of Christianity?), which leads me back to an examination of who these people are and what they're really up to.
Pharisees. Liars and hypocrites who slip into the church under false pretenses and use the faith of followers to further their own evil ends. I'm looking at you, Pat Robertson.
If you want to follow the Bible, at least make sure you read it and make some attempt to understand it yourself (and I'm not just talking about mindlessly quoting scripture) before you start letting other people tell you what it means and what your faith should stand for.
The gospel of Steanso.
Here endeth the lesson.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

As a quick addendum, I also just wanted to say how impressed I've been with the support that the Longhorns have gotten from our traditional adversaries over there at Texas A&M. I think it shows a lot of class and good character for the Ags to support their fellow Texans. Now that UT has won a national title, Texas fans might even sort of root for A&M to contend for a national title (which probably won't happen for awhile). Texas is a tremendous football state, and it would be cool to see another team from Texas vying for a national championship sometime in the foreseeable future. If nothing else, it would help to bring our state even more attention and respect for our football program on a national level. Anyway, thanks for the support, Ags. It won't make us want to beat you any less next Thanksgiving, but at least we know we have worthy rivals!! (as if this year's near-upset didn't teach us that)

Vince Young, man. Sometime during that last drive there was a quick, close up camera shot of him coming out of the huddle, and although I was about to sh*t myself from nerves just from watching the game in the comfort of the Wilson's home, that motherf*cker was just kind of smiling and chuckling to himself. A college kid trying to come from behind in a last minute drive, playing for the national championship, and he was still having fun. When I got that one look at the expression on Vince's face, I knew we were going to win, and I knew that we were watching the best quarterback in UT's history. I think Vince is going to continue to be a great player for many years to come, and I hope he continues to enjoy himself the whole damn time.
Longhorns win! Longhorns win!

Steanso is not the world's most devout or faithful UT fan, but having spent most of my life in Austin and having attended UT for law school, this championship still means a lot to me. I grew up watching UT football, and watched the exploits of the Longhorns through both good years and bad. So many ups and downs- victory celebrations and depressing defeats. A national championship is something that UT fans always have spoken about, but always in kind of guarded tones, afraid that in truth, our best days were behind us (way behind us- as in before I was born) and that we would never see another national championship within our lifetimes.
But we got one, and it feels good. It's a great victory for UT, the people of Austin, and Texas in general.

Alright, I gotta get some work done, but I just wanted to send a victory shout out. I hope that everyone has a great day and enjoys this moment.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Just another quick post today. Of course, sympathies go out to the families of the miners killed in that mining accident in West Virginia. Steanso's grandfather, Victor Johnson, was an iron ore miner in Upper Michigan, so when I was a kid I used to hear him tell stories about the many friends that he had lost during cave-ins and mining accidents. I remember sitting with my grandfather and looking at black and white pictures of he and his mining buddies standing arm in arm, and then listening as Grandpa pointed at the various faces, and recounted the tales of their various deaths. ("...and this one, he got killed in a cave-in, and this one in an explosion...") Mining was dangerous work back then and apparently it's still very dangerous today, and I've got a lot of respect for the people who go down to work in those mines in order to provide for their families.
Also, tonight marks the night that the University of Texas Longhorns will take to the field against the USC Trojans in a Rose Bowl competition which will undoubtedly be remembered for decades (for good or for bad) by University of Texas fans. There's been a lot of hype and a lot of armchair quarterbacking, and Steanso is ready for the big game if for no other reason than to get the damn thing over with. USC's offense is supposed to be unstoppable, but Steanso thinks Texas has a good shot if they're on their game (we do, after all, have a kickass defense, and our offense really isn't that shabby either when all pistons are firing). In the end, I think that the game will come down to mental toughness. Texas has to be on their game and not make foolish mistakes (which is easier said than done- I'd imagine that a few nerves kick in when you're playing for the national title). Steanso would like to go ahead and post the fact that his friend, drummer, and resident football expert, Weedo, has gone so far as to predict a win tonight for the Longhorns. Actually being an Aggie himself (and along with "Rusty" Sig Bloom, being one of the biggest football nuts that Steanso knows), Weedo has no vested interest in the outcome of this game, so it's good to hear him endorsing UT. Maybe we got a shot.
Also, despite the Republican-red lunacy which has overtaken most of the rest of the state, apparently Steanso's home in Austin's Travis County is, for the time being at least, remaining a bastion of Democrat strength. Super cool.
Oooops gotta run. More later.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

I know it seems like I'm always making excuses as of late, but Steanso is starting with a new position in the Domestic Violence section of the County Attorney's Office, so he is very busy and has very little time for blogging. Once I get my feet under me a little more, I'll be back, though.

Steanso wants to take a moment to wish his good friend Rosa lots of luck as she begins her journey eastward to start a new life in D.C. Good luck, Rosa! You know we'll all miss you. Come back very soon!

And are you guys all ready to watch a bunch of greedy, corrupt, self-serving elected officials run for cover like cockroaches when the light comes on? Jack Abramoff, superlobbyist and bribemaster extraordinaire, pleaded guilty today to 3 counts in federal court, including tax evasion, conspiracy, and fraud. Abramoff has been closely associated with a number of high profile(mostly Republican) politicians, including Texas's own beleaguered and besieged Tom Delay.
It's gonna be one heck of a fun time watching the feds see what other indictments they can squeeze out of Abramoff's testimony. I have a feeling that Delay's legal problems in Texas are going to be fondly remembered as a quiet diversion by the time that this thing is over. Go get 'em, boys.

Well, I got lots to do, but happy 2006, ya'll!!!