“All the news we feel like giving you.”
No Joke Left Behind
Austin Dispatches
No. 126
Aug. 10, 2009

The press reported McGraw-Hill is thinking of selling BusinessWeek. One story reported McGraw-Hill was asking for $1. I ran this detail by my contacts while counting up the loose change in my apartment – just in case. I was prepared to go as high as $1.75 in case of a bidding war. And I know enough pros in the business to make the magazine a must-read.1 

Too bad that detail didn’t check out. I was looking forward to the new challenge. The client isn’t taking its project seriously. My supervisor’s supervisor’s supervisor went on vacation right before a critical deadline. What’s that tell you about the project’s true criticality? What did my supervisor’s supervisor’s supervisor’s supervisor think about this? Nothing. Instead, he e-mailed everyone a snippy missive about the adjustment of the blinds at the office. 

Austin Death Watch

e126fig1 The toll road authority is considering forgiving millions in unpaid tolls and their resultant fines.2  This means I was a sucker for paying the few times I thought I had to pay.  I should’ve disregarded the tolls altogether.

City Manager Marc Ott is making noise about Austin’s racial divide, with whites west of Interstate 35 and blacks and Mexicans east thereof.3  At least that used to be the case, before housing costs spiked, East Austin became the most affordable section within the City limits, and thus desirable to whites, who’ve been buying blacks’ and Mexicans’ residences. Ott’s been in Austin for about a year, but this process has been going on for about 10 years, and is encouraged by governmental manipulation, including zoning ordinances, the mass transit projects and the subsidization of new, mixed-use developments that appeal to whites of a certain latte socialist sensibility – what Thomas Sowell calls “the anointed.”4 What the rest of us call them can’t be repeated even in Austin Dispatches. In fact, the same Chronicle issue on the opposite page fairly drools over a “New Urbanism” redevelopment plan for East Riverside Drive, “a blur of parking lots and strip shopping centers,” that, coincidentally, happen to be patronized by the predominantly Mexican residents, the same Mexicans who regularly shoot and stab each other there at night, according to police reports in the Statesman.5 

Now, Austin’s “anointed,” whether on the Chronicle staff or in the corridors of official political power, love to use nonwhites as pawns and props to beat other whites in a moral status game (i.e., “I care more about the plight of nonwhites than you, so that makes me a better person.”). According to the rules of this game, the nonwhites don’t actually have to be around to be deployed. It’s actually better if they’re not. It’s better if they’re drinking themselves to death in some distant ghetto, rather than living next door and driving down property values because they’re shooting and stabbing each other in barroom disputes.  The Chronicle staff is already sore because the causes of the recent spike in violent crimes downtown are just a little too obvious, and starting to crack the staff’s long-held assumptions.6 They’d rather swallow ground glass and wash it down with that new Indian urine soda than have to admit the rest of us were right, but there it is.7 

So it’s perfectly sound for these types to deplore the lack of affordable housing while simultaneously supporting policies that contribute to the unaffordability. After all, the point is to feel good, not do good. The blacks and Mexicans? They can move to the projects in Pflugerville.8 And the best part is getting Ott to be the high-profile man on the issue. Who’s going to accuse the black Ott of screwing over his own people when he’s insinuating that anyone who disagrees with his intent to “redirect resources to do something” about the issue he raised is racist?9 

Speaking of anointed types, the Statesman assessed outgoing Mayor Will Wynn’s legacy as “uncertain,” partly because he didn’t “grab the council members by the collar and try to move them toward some big vision.”10  I question whether that point was such a bad thing. The last time Wynn did something like that, he could’ve faced assault charges. Anyway, the raging reeve managed to do enough damage in his term.

Economic reality has finally penetrated the thick skulls of local governmental proponents of “green” energy – which isn’t as cost-effective as they’d claimed. Surprise, surprise. Now Austin Energy and the City are considering spreading out the cost to those of us who didn’t sign up for the program. Because being an environmentalist means never having to say you’re sorry.11

In other crimes, police arrested an uninvited guest who overstayed his welcome at fraternity party and stabbed one of the members. The assailant’s best bet is to get a lawyer good at picking a sympathetic jury. After all, he stabbed a frat boy.12 Maybe it’s the new trend instead of binge drinking. I don’t know what the kids are into these days. Police also arrested a 73-year-old man for threatening an ex-football player with a pistol in the parking lot of the Lions Municipal Golf Course for playing too slowly ahead of him. Perfectly understandable, if you play golf. The septuagenarian is out of jail on $15,000 bail because he didn’t scuff up the links.13

Burglars stole several Picasso paintings from a West Lake Hills house. Police are looking for a man with his eyes and nose on the side of his face.14

Political Follies

Former funnyman Al Franken, who once claimed to be fronting for the Communist Party, is finally a U.S. senator because doggone it, people in Minnesota like him – just barely.15  That election was in November and now it’s almost time for the 2009 off-year general elections.16  Maybe there’s something to the stereotype about Minnesotans being slow-witted.17 Besides his political views, Franken is unsuited to hold a position of public trust or responsibility in these United States because of his decades-long, massive drug use, as documented by his old partner, Tom Davis. To hear Davis tell it, Franken treated the Merck manual like a menu.18 It’s one thing for someone who’s chemically severed his synapses to write sketch comedy, but do you really want him deciding policies that affect your life? Worse, Franken is determined to be serious.19 Congress treats its constitutionally authorized responsibility – and dominance among the three branches – as a joke.20 The least Franken could do is give us a few laughs.

For his part, President Obama’s been busy … checking out distaff derrieres in Europe:21


e126fig4 ... just like his predecessor, Leonid Brezshnev.22 Pressing matters for heads of state.

Then Obama flew to Africa, where he urged an end to tyranny and corruption. So the Africans put him back on the plane.23 Unfortunately, he returned here.

Wes Benedict is now the LP’s national director.24 We at Austin Dispatches wish him luck – he’ll need it.

Cultural Canapés

Art DiBianca, an old associate from my days in the Libertarian Party – back when it was libertarian – surprisingly received a good review from the Statesman as Lord Chancellor in Gilbert and Sullivan’s “Iolanthe.” “Surprisingly,” because I would’ve bet the critic would use Art’s political affiliations to bash his performance. Oh, something like, “DiBianca, who relentlessly and predictably intrudes from the right wing, nevertheless can’t utter his lines in anything but laissez-faire fashion, like a Ron Paul supporter struggling to say something favorable about a social safety net.”25

Via the Web I watched the changing of the hosts for “The Tonight Show.” You might expect me to snark about that, but the show’s entertained me for years of inconsistent viewership. For once, Boomers didn’t wreck something before they handed it off to the next generation. Conan O’Brien, who with age resembles Dick Cavett, has succeeded in transferring his version of “Late Night” into “The Tonight Show” format.26  All slick, mainstream entertainment should be so satisfactory.27

Speaking of “The Tonight Show,” a former subordinate to the late Walter Cronkite, former Daily Texan reporter and college dropout, recalled that “He was friends with Johnny Carson, and they had a friendly competition to see who could take the most vacation time and get away with it. One legendary thing about him was he had like 13 weeks off in his contract. It would be summer and he’d be gone — it became a huge joke.”28

Neighborhood News

A July 19 fire damaged the Edge Creek Apartments at 12166 Metric Blvd.29 At The Domain, a Salvadoran restaurant chain will be moving into the space formerly occupied by Oakville Grocery.  I recommend the Death Squad blue plate special.30

Business Roundup

Whilst in the dental care aisle at the supermarket, I discovered Dr. Katz toothpaste. After I applied it, my teeth and skin looked squiggly and I could talk with my mouth asynchronous.31


“Businessweak.” FT 15 July 2009: 16; Perez-Pena, Richard. “McGraw-Hill Is Said to Be Seeking a Buyer for BusinessWeek.” NYT 14 July 2009, late ed.: B3.
2 Wear, Ben. “Amnesty for Toll Rogues?” AAS 14 July 2009: A1+.
3 Gregor, Katherine. “Ott Tackles Austin’s Racial Divide.” AC 3 July 2009: 19.
4 AD No. 86n5 (Nov. 13, 2005); Nichols, Lee. “What’s Next for the ARA?” AC 7 Aug. 2009: 26-28; Sowell, Thomas. The Vision of the Anointed: Self-Congratulation as a Basis for Social Policy. New York City: Basic Books, 1995.
5 Gregor. “New Urbanism Comes to East Riverside Drive.” AC 3 July 2009: 18.
6 Savlov, Marc. “Crime and the City Solution.” AC 26 June 2009: 48+.
7 AD No. 123n56 (Apr. 22, 2009).
8 Novak, Shonda. “Agency Opens Lower-Income Apartment Complexes.” AAS 28 Aug. 2008: D1.
9 Gregor. “Ott Tackles Austin’s Racial Divide,” op. cit.
10 Coppola, Sarah. “Mayor Wynn Moves On.” AAS 18 June 2009: A1+.
11 Toohey, Marty. “Costs Hurting ‘Green’ Power.” AAS 12 July 2009: A1+; Idem. “ ‘Green’ Price May Drop.” 25 July 2009: A1+.
12 Martinez, Andrew. “West Campus Party Ends With Stabbing.” DT 3 July 2009: 1+.
13 George, Patrick. “Man, 73, Accused of Aiming Pistol at Slower Golfers.” AAS 25 June 2009: B1.
14 Gonzales, Suzannah. “Blue Period for Collector: Picasso Stolen.” AAS 11 July 2009: A1.
15 AD No. 102 (Nov. 12, 2007); “Daily Affirmation.” Saturday Night Live. NBC-TV, 9 Feb. 1991; Fingerhut, Eric. “Franken Recount Victory Leaves Senate Without a Jewish Republican.” The Jewish Outlook Aug. 2009: A36; “The Franken and Davis Show.” Saturday Night Live. NBC-TV, 21 Oct. 1978; Sheehan & Coleman v. Franken. No. A09-697, Minn. Supreme Court, 30 June, 2009.
16 AD No. 119n30 (Dec. 7, 2008).
17 Fargo. PolyGram Filmed Entertainment/Working Title Films/Gramercy Pictures, 1996.
18 AD No. 119n31; Berkow, Robert. The Merck Manual of Diagnosis and Therapy, 13th rev. ed. Rahway, N.J.: Merck Sharp & Dohme Research Laboratories, 1982; Davis, Tom. Thirty-Nine Years of Short-Term Memory Loss. New York City: Grove Press, 2009: 26ff.
19 Daley, Steven. “Let Franken Be Franken!” Washingtonian June 2009: 56-57.
20 Burnham, James. Congress and the American Tradition. Chicago: Henry Regnery Co., 1959; Smith, Hedrick. The Power Game: How Washington Works. New York City: Random House, 1988: 712-713.
21 “Thinking About the Bottom Line?” The (London) Sunday Times 12 July 2009: 14.
22 Finder, Joseph. Red Carpet. New York City: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, 1983: 252.
23 Baker, Peter. “A Favorite Son Calls for Change.” IHT 13 July 2009: 7.
24 Alexander, Kate. “Austinite to Lead National Libertarian Party.” AAS 14 July 2009: B2.
25 Croft, Clare. “ ‘Iolanthe’ in a Class of Its Own.” AAS 18 June 2009: D7.
26 Cavett, Dick, and Christopher Porterfield. Cavett. New York City: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1974.
27 AD No. 123n36 (Apr. 22, 2009); Carter, Bill. The Late Shift: Letterman, Leno, and the Network Battle for the Night, rev. ed. New York City: Hyperion, 1995; Johnny Came Lately: An Autobiography by Fred de Cordova, Executive Producer of "The Tonight Show". New York City: Simon and Schuster, 1988; Fierman, Dan. “The Return of Anmdy Richter.” GQ June 2009: 77; Hainey, Michael. “The Hardest-Working Square in Show Business.” GQ May 2009: 96-99+; Perrin, Dennis. “The New Golden Age.” 2 June 2009 Dennis Perrin <http://dennisperrin.blogspot.com/2009/06/new-golden-age.html>; Tennis, Craig. Johnny Tonight! New York City: Pocket Books, 1980.
28 Mulvaney, Erin, and Benjamin Wermund. “Starting Here, He Changed the World.” DT 20 July 2009: 9.
29 Lorenz, Andrea. “None Hurt in Apartment Fire.” AAS 20 July 2009: B1+.
30 Eisler, Dan. Letter to Mike Eisler, 3 Aug. 2009; O’Rourke, P.J. “Christmas in El Salvador.” Holidays in Hell. New York City: Atlantic Monthly Press, 1988: 127-140; Salvador. Hemdale Film, 1986.
31 AD No. 36n23 (Mar. 9, 2002).