Potato Salad in the Sun

Austin Dispatches
No. 144
Aug. 6, 2011

e144fig1 The Electric Reliability Council of Texas recommended raising the thermometer temperature setting to avoid brownouts. I tried being civically responsible, but I sweltered when I returned from work. I’ll take my chances with brownouts.1

Because of the drought, the City canceled the Independence Day pyrotechnics. Because of that, the Austin Symphony Orchestra canceled its annual concert.2 Furthermore, Travis County Judge Samuel Biscoe banned the sale and use of fireworks in unincorporated parts of the County.3 Actually, since the local power elite has more allegiance to international corporatism than to the principles of the Founding Fathers4 or to the Texas Revolution,5 they might as well dispense with the pretense.6

The cops certainly have. The June 24 Chronicle cover feature delves into their propensity for abusing their authority under the guise of public intoxication arrests.7

As for the Austin City Council, a Conroe activist has forced councilmen to pay a total of $1,500 in small fines in ethics violations, in retaliation for the City’s boycott of Arizona because Arizona is cracking down on illegal aliens.8

A resident’s complaint about a zoning violation prompted City bureaucrats to force eight food vendors to close or relocate from a church parking lot.9 The bureaucrats also yanked the business permits of three Eastside barbecue joints for buying stolen meat.10

At its June 29 meeting the Council approved spending $4 million for the Formula One racetrack,11 on top of the $25 million Texas pledged.  Now the City bureaucrats are thinking of annexing the area so the City can collected millions in property and sales taxes.12  Nevertheless, the bureaucrats are pushing higher property taxes and utility fees for everybody in the City budget draft for next year.13

To keep the trains running, Capital Metro has been bleeding the other mass transit options, including eliminating taxi vouchers for cripples, to the Chronicle’s dismay.14 What’s next, Cap Metro stealing from widows and orphans? Wisner Construction Co. quit in the midst of building flyover ramps at the MoPac Boulevard/U.S. Highway 290 intersection.15

The Austin “Independent” School District flunked the goals set by the federal No Child Left Behind (Because No Child Ever Advances) Act for the third successive year. The Statesman article contains the usual finger pointing and buck passing from the guilty parties.16 We should end the charades, admit that some children, especially in Austin, are just chronically stupid and fit only for menial labor or catching a bullet in the Middle East. Cletus, you’re not the man or yeoman your forefathers were, so shut the fuck up and do as you’re told. Then we won’t have to import the foreign hordes for that sort of work. Such an approach would also be a good step toward abolishing mandatory schooling and its one-size-fits-all method of teaching.17   

Even the Chronicle has doubts about the wisdom of banning plastic bags as the Council prepares to do just that.18

Missing the Point

It’s one of the rare recent sensible realizations from that rag. Editor Louis Black authored another convoluted column in the July 15 Chronicle. This time, he spewed a lot of words to write about the paper’s redesign, increasing distinctiveness of the online edition, and shorter length of his column.19 Despite those and other changes, I'm confident the Chronicle news staff will continue to miss the point when it attempts conclusions to articles. Let's consider some recent examples.

The Chronicle continues to excuse evil in its July 1 edition, where it laments the use of the death penalty for duly convicted felons. The article’s scribe praises Washington, with a confessed serial killer sucking up tax money for life in prison, and contemns Texas for executing 470 felons since 1976.20 So few? Back when I contemplated running for governor,  I intended to advocate stepping up the pace of executions as a long-run savings. Moreover, I was going to use Abdelkrim Belachheb, illegal Muslim foreigner and convicted mass murderer, as whipping boy No. 1. What was he gonna do, sue for libel? He’s sitting in solitary at some cost to us Texans.21 Alternately, I could’ve supported public stonings of said felons for the same rationale.22

Speaking of the Muzzie menace, the Chronicle’s July 15 issue tut-tuts the conservative concern over the presence of Harmony Public Schools, 30 Turkish Muslim religious charter schools in the state, including Northwest Austin. You’d think religious education, and particularly the Muslim worldview, would be anathema to the secularist scribes at the Chronicle, but if “right-wingers” are again’ it, they’re for it.23  Their knees jerked so fast their shoes indented their foreheads, exacerbating their brain damage. The real issue, of course, is that Turks or other Muslims shouldn’t be in Texas any more than they should be outside the Gates of Vienna.24  

The same edition covers how bureaucrats from the City Code Compliance Department are harassing artists at the forefront of gentrifying East Austin.25  Predictably, the article avoids the real issues: the existence of zoning and housing code regulations as a means of intrinsic governmental harassment, with a) the local angle of said harassment undercutting the artsy ambience Austin supposedly wants to cultivate; and b) the way in which artists have been used as pawns by the local power elite to drive blacks and Mexicans out of newly desirable neighborhoods.26

I caught some of that when I made the mistake of attending a special meeting of the North Austin Coalition of Neighborhoods and spent 90 minutes listening to old white women plan how to stick their noses into others’ business and businesses at a glacial pace (three to five years) with the backing of government, in this case represented by a trio of shifty-eyed cops and a hyperactive City employee. Most of the talk specifically was of how to solve the problems of North Lamar Boulevard, roughly from Highway 183 up to Parmer Lane, which doesn’t conform architecturally, esthetically, or racially to old white women’s notions of How It Ought to Be. They talked around that last part, of course.27 Also, perhaps because of the audience composition at the meeting – they looked like a lot of losers beaten by life, which is to say they were aging hippies on the verge of senility – nobody questioned whether these improvement schemes were realistic when the federal government’s been teetering on default.28  

Cultural Canapés

On the other hand, for once Black’s artistic enthusiasms merit praise: his July 22 reference to the French art movie “Celine and Julie Go Boating.”29 But if lottery odds were this good, you’d go broke.

A free arts magazine new to me, Origin, lumps the major Texas cities in with San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York City – and covers them with the same pompous yet wafty prose. One article, “Children and Their Love of Art,” inadvertently delivers a twist on the old criticism of modern art being something a child could do. The article’s artwork not only rivals that done by adults in the rest of the magazine, the children also make better use of color.30  

On the Town

June 22: After a satisfying evening at Enzo’s, I encountered a St. Bernard-poodle mix that resembled Sammy Hagar. Since it didn’t bark approvingly when I said “Cabo Wabo,” it probably wasn’t the red rocker.  

July 10: While brooding about my circumstances while operating heavy machinery, at the intersection of Highway 290 and South Congress Avenue I saw someone who looked like a serious bicyclist, down to the bright European bicycling attire, while simultaneously puffing on a cigarette. We’ll see which endeavor wins.

At Ruta Maya, I told this to “Melanie Ordones Welker” over coffee and dessert. Rather, she was having coffee and dessert. That I bought for her. Because she forgot her wallet at home. So she wrote me a check with a smiley face on the memo line to compensate my favor for somebody with clout in the salsa scene. “Do I need to hang on to this for any length of time before I cash it?” I asked with enough inflection so she’d think it was more of a joke than it was, and the sparkle in her eyes indicated that she did.

Most of the conversation we were trading down-at-the-mouth anecdotes about our separate recent petty aggravations in life. Hence my brooding. I might’ve wondered if it were tentatively romantic, bittersweet variety, if I didn’t remember our past history.  I’m not that fond of her now, and I don’t want our relationship, such as it is, drifting perilously into Albert Brooks territory.31  

July 23: The Independence Day celebration at the newly revived Pedro’s Place was nearly 100 percent Colombian. Unfortunately, this meant endless cumbias … that no one danced to. The other men were grumbling that the women had their bitch shields up and their backs to them, simultaneously talking to each other while texting. Their behavior stunned even the veteran salseros.32   

Neighborhood News

Northland Investment Corp. took over management of my apartment complex on July 14.33

Sometime in June as I was on my way to an important social engagement, some fat, stupid bitch accosted me in a hick whine about waking her and her baby with noise from my apartment around 1:30 a.m. “It sounded like gunshots.” I had no idea what she was talking about, but I was certain she didn’t. She definitely doesn’t know what gunshots sound like. And if were firing gunshots, do you think I’d be firing them in my own apartment, surrounded by potential witnesses?34  I hadn’t even seen her – or her baby – around before – blessedly so – and she’s breaking my balls about some bullshit sick fantasy, probably concocted while she was drunk or stoned. I didn’t give her the satisfaction of an apology. Time for her to move the fuck out, like the rest of my so-called neighbors. Bad enough Muslims inhabit the same building.

On a positive note, a cheap generic spray I picked up at the supermarket Independence Day weekend did the job of wiping out several vespine nests on my balcony.

On June 20, emergency services responded to an auto collision near the intersection of Stonehollow Drive and Gracy Farms Lane.

e144fig2 Construction of a pedestrian path between Balcones Community and Walnut Creek Metropolitan parks has halted. The trail, funding with federal stimulus money, is supposed to be done by March, but the builder blames a bad design plan.35

A New York online marketer bought ProfitFuel, a search-engine optimization service.36 Several industrial buildings are under new management.37 An office building is under construction in the 12300 block of North MoPac. Nearby, a urologist has moved to the Medical Oaks Pavilion.38 At the Gracy Farms Center, a convenience store has opened, Moonie’s Burger House replaced Maggie’s Café,39 and a delivery-only breakfast-and-lunch café replaced Sodade Coffee House.40 At The Domain, a restaurant and a gallery have opened, and a salon and two sweets shops have closed. Another salon has opened in the 2500 block of Rutland Drive.41 A precious metals dealer has opened at the Kramer Center.42  

National Instruments hosted a trade show Aug. 2-4.43 Admission was $10, $50 if you wanted to actually meet someone who works there. The June 26 Statesman ran a real estate feature on Scofield Farms, former neighborhood of the late Joe Stack.44

Tentacles of Empire

Texas House Speaker Joe Straus, who even looks like a Kraut, helped quash the second legislative effort to ban groping by security screeners at airports.45

¡Viva Castro!

Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-San Antonio, plans to challenge incumbent Lloyd Doggett in next year’s Democratic primary for the gerrymandered U.S. House District 35. If the GOP-dominated Legislature’s gerrymanders withstand court challenges, the new boundaries will do what they’re supposed to: squeeze white Democrats out of Congress.46  

Occasionally, you’ll hear from good-government types who wrinkle their noses at gerrymandering and propose some technical solution to a non-existent problem, like redrawing legislative districts after each Census with a “neutral” computer program. It’s an expression of dismay that politics exists in politics.

Gerrymandering is a political tradition inherited from the Founding Fathers that works as intended. In the bogus solution, the computer code, the programmers and whoever does the actual work of redistricting can be influenced, in multiple meanings. They aren't neutral substitutes for an inherently partisan political process. But such an approach would likely mislead the public into thinking the redistricting process is more honest and unbiased when it's actually worse than an openly partisan approach.

Also, these anti-gerrymander types don't ever seem to recognize that their ideal approach to redistricting used to be the norm until Wesberry vs. Sanders and Reynolds vs. Sims, and the tacit but plausibly deniable racial considerations upheld in Hunt vs. Cromartie. If they did recognize it, they probably wouldn’t have the stomach to deal with either race or the legitimacy of court rulings as a judicial usurpation of powers. The best way to redistrict to one's satisfaction is to take power in the legislatures.47

In other political follies, Izzy Sanabria48 lookalike Anthony Weiner resigned from Congress after getting caught in a sex scandal without real sex, i.e., body-to-body contact.49 The whole scandal is funnier than any joke Weiner’s college roommate, Jon Stewart (nee Jon Stuart Leibowitz) ever uttered.50

Now that Gov. Greaseball Jr. signed a law letting homosexuals wed in New York,51 does that mean we’re supposed to forget about his role in looting savings and loans during the ‘80s?52 Also, the new law gives New Jerseyites reason to feel superior.

Business Roundup

One financial analyst estimated the gross value of LinkedIn, business-professional social networking Web site turned hot stock offering, at $10 billion.53 By the same financial logic, that means that my contacts are each worth approximately $400 million. But my contacts often have contacts in the hundreds, meaning their contacts are worth less. So if you don’t want to dilute the value of your contacts, don’t add any more to your LinkedIn account.

The other day I received an unsolicited e-mail about becoming a doge minder. I responded and thought the interview went really well, until I gave my answer to the question, “How do you make a Venetian blind?”54

Top of the World Wide Web, Ma

In a related vain, Mat Honan at Gizmodo.com concludes that a social media background check on him could make him unemployable for the rest of his life.55 If he’s chronically unemployable, I’m getting the death penalty for sure. For example, recently one of my original readers lost his shit over an offhand crack about queers in the U.S. military,56 and has jeopardized a friendship of nearly 25 years as a result of his flamboyantly sanctimonious tone.  The fuck he thinks he’s been reading all these years? On the other hand, to the rest of the world, my Web sites are almost invisible by being about four media trends behind,57 from what Steve Sailer calls “The Golden Age of White Male Antisocial Media.”58  

Copelin, Laylan. “Despite Unrelenting Heat, State Avoids Rotating Outages – for Now.” AAS 5 Aug. 2011, final ed.: A1+.
2 Alsdorf, Will. “Dry Weather Tampers With Travis County Fourth of July.” DT 30 Jun. 2011: 1-2; Faires, Robert. “Austin Symphony Orchestra July Fourth Concert & Fireworks.” AC 1 Jul. 2011: 26; Wear, Ben. “A Fourth Without Fireworks, Concert.” AAS 4 Jul. 2011, final ed.: A1+; Wear, and Patrick Beach. “July Fourth Concert Snuffed Out.” Idem., 17 Jun. 2011: B1.
3 “Ban Extinguishes Fireworks Plans.” DT 30 Jun. 2011: 1+; “County Bans Fireworks With Disaster Declaration Due to Drought.” CIN Jun. 2011: 10.
4 Bailyn, Bernard. The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution, rev. ed. Cambridge, Mass.: The Belknap Press of Harvard UP, 1992; McDonald, Forrest. Novus Ordo Seclorum: The Intellectual Origins of the Constitution. Lawrence, Kan.: UP of Kansas, 1985; Rothbard, Murray N. Conceived in Liberty, Vol. IV: The Revolutionary War, 1775-1784. 1979. Rpt. Auburn, Ala.: Ludwig von Mises Institute, 1999: Ch. 33; Wood, Gordon S. The Creation of the American Republic 1776-1787, rev. ed. Chapel Hill, N.C.: U of North Carolina P, 1998.
5 Brands, H.W. Lone Star Nation: How a Ragged Army of Volunteers Won the Battle for Texas Independence – and Changed America. New York City: Doubleday, 2004: Pt. 3; Cox, Mike. The Texas Rangers, Vol. I: Wearing the Cinco Peso, 1821-1900. New York City: Forge, 2008: Ch. 2; Fehrenbach, T.R. Lone Star: A History of Texas and the Texans, rev. ed. New York City: Da Capo Press, 2000: Ch. 11-14; Myth and the History of the Hispanic Southwest: Essays by David J. Weber. Albuquerque, N.M.: U of New Mexico P, 1988: Ch. 8.
6 Churchill, Robert H. To Shake Their Guns in the Tyrant’s Face: Libertarian Political Violence and the Origins of the Militia Movement. Ann Arbor, Mich. U of Michigan P, 2009: 4-7, and passim.
7 Smith, Jordan. “Proof of Nothing.” AC 24 Jun. 2011: 22-25.
8 Toohey, Marty. “Activists’ Plan for Payback Nets Small Fines.” AAS 4 Jul. 2011, final ed.: A1+.
9 Tollins, Karina. “City Forces Trailers to Relocate or Close.” DT 27 Jun. 2011: 1-2.
10 Smith. “Slow-Cooked Felonies.” AC 5 Aug. 2011: 16.
11 Dunbar, Wells. “Skid Marks on the Dais.” Idem., 1 Jul. 2011: 14.
12 Garza, Vicky. “Austin Ponders Annexing F1 Racetrack.” ABJ 8 Jul. 2011: 1+.
13 Coppola, Sarah. “Higher Bills in Draft of Budget.” AAS, 28 Jul. 2011, final ed.: A1+; Dunbar. “City Budget: More Vuts and Hikes on the Way.” AC 29 Jul. 2011: 18.
14 AD No. 108n29 (Apr. 28, 2008); AD No. 127n17 (Sep. 21, 2009); AD No. 138n57 (Jan. 13, 2011); Nichols, Lee. “Access Denied.” AC 8 Jul. 2011: 20-22.
15 Wear. “MoPac/U.S. 290 Flyover Work Is Grounded.” AAS 19 Jul. 2011, final ed.: A1+.
16 Taboada, Melissa B. “District Says It Missed Targets.” Idem., 22 Jul. 2011: A1+.
17 AD No. 48n14 (Feb. 15, 2003).
18 Cruz, Diego. “City Council May Ban Plastic Bag Use.” DT 4 Aug. 2011: 5; Garza. “City Debates: Plastic Bag Ban or New Fees?” ABJ 5 Aug. 2011: 3+; King, Michael. “Bag It.” AC 5 Aug. 2011: 15+.
19 Black, Louis. “Program Notes.” AC 15 Jul. 2011: 6.
20 Smith, Jordan. “Death Penalty: Older but Not Wiser.” Idem., 1 Jul. 2011: 19.
21 Lavergne, Gary M. Worse Than Death: The Dallas Nightclub Murders and the Texas Multiple Murder Law. Denton, Texas: U of North Texas P, 2003.
22 North, Gary. Victim’s Rights: The Biblical View of Civil Justice. Tyler, Texas: Institute for Christian Economics, 1990: Ch. 2.
23 Deis, Amy. “Harmony Charter System Expands in Northwest Austin.” CIN 22 Jul. 2011, Northwest Austin ed.: 1+; Whittaker, Richard. “Dis-Harmony From the Right.” AC 15 Jul. 2011: 20.
24 AD No. 31n98 (Nov. 17, 2001); AD No. 53n34 (July 30, 2003); Fregosi, Paul. Jihad in the West: Muslim Conquests From the 7th to the 21st Centuries. Amherst, N.Y.: Prometheus Books, 1998: Ch. 45, 53; Schwartz, Jeremy. “Death Possible in Hasan Trial.” AAS 7 Jul. 2011: A1; Schwartz. “Suspect Shouts Hasan’s Name in Courtroom.” AAS 30 Jul. 2011, final ed.: A1+.
25 Kanin, Mike. “East Austin Studio De-Tour.” AC 15 Jul. 2011: 22-24+.
26 AD No. 133n13 (May 4, 2010).
27 Behunek, Sara. “City to Begin Camera Surveillance Program at Rundberg and I-35.” CIN June 2011: 1+.
28 Hoover, Kent. “Debt Deal Creates New Challenges for Business.” ABJ 5 Aug. 2011: 6.
29 Black, Louis. “In the Moment.” AC 22 Jul. 2011: 6.
30 Farb, Carolyn. “Children and Their Love of Art.” Origin July/Aug. 2011: 25.
31 Modern Romance. Columbia Pictures Corp., 1981.
32 AD No. 86n42 (Nov. 13, 2005); Lozano, Carlos H. “Rumba Frenektia por la Independencia.” El Mundo 28 Jul. 2011: 9.
33 Shapiro, Fred, Michael Gershenson, and Steven P. Rosenthal. “Notice to Tennants,” 14 Jul. 2011.
34 “Boston T. Party” [Kenneth W. Royce] et al. Boston’s Gun Bible, 6th rev. ed. Ignacio, Colo.: Javelin Press, 2008: Ch. 3-5; Minnery, John. "Kill Without Joy!": The Complete How to Kill Book, rev. ed. Boulder, Colo.: Paladin Press, 1992: 29-32, 37, 49-53, 64-67, 77-84.
35 Behunek. “Austin Delays Construction of North Walnut Creek Trail.” CIN Jun. 2011: 9; Toohey. “Trail Unbuilt 2 Years After Stimulus Grant Awarded.” AAS 31 Jul. 2011, final ed.: A1+.
36 “In the News.” CIN Jul. 2011: 5.
37 Lyon, Cody. “Industrial Sites Change Hands.” ABJ 8 Jul. 2011: 3.
38 “Relocation.” CIN Jul. 2011: 4.
39 “Coming Soon.” Idem.
40 AD No. 139n50 (Apr. 1, 2011); “Impacts.” CIN Jun. 2011: 4.
41 “Impacts.” CIN Jun. 2011: 4-5.
42 “Now Open.” CIN Jul. 2011: 4.
43 Ladendorf, Kirk. “Experts, Competitors Join During ‘Geek Fest.’ ” AAS 2 Aug. 2011: B5.
44 Plohetski, Tony. “ ‘Why Did This Have to Happen?’ ” AAS 31 Jul. 2011, final ed.: A1+; Santos, Michelle Chan. “Quiet Stability in the Heart of North Austin.” AAS 26 Jun. 2011: G1+.
45 Eaton, Tim. “Pat-Down Bill Called Stunt.” AAS 25 Jun. 2011: A1; “Curtains (Finally) for Pat-Down Theatrics.” 30 Jun. 2011: A8; Herman, Ken. “A Song and Dance, and Our One-House Wonder Bows Out.” Idem., 30 Jun. 2011: A8; Ward, Mike. “Session Wraps Up.” Idem., 30 Jun. 2011: A1.
46 Embry, Jason. “Castro Eyes New District.” AAS 25 Jun. 2011: B1; King. “A Bridge Too Far.” AC 15 Jul. 2011: 12+; Nichols. “Doggett Draws District 35 Challenger.” Idem., 1 Jul. 2011: 20.
47 Eisler, Dan. “Re: Two Documentary Movie Screenings Tomorrow.” E-mail to Bob Ruliffson, 23 Jan. 2011.
48 Salazar, Max. Mambo Kingdom: Latin Music in New York. New York City: Schirmer Trade Books, 2002: 96-97, 112, 200, 214-216, 246-247, 257, 262, 273.
49 Chen, David W. “Election to Replace Weiner Is Set for Sept. 13.” NYT 2 Jul. 2011, late ed.: A15.
50 “Weiner Roast Fails to Sizzle.” Gold Coast Bulletin (Queensland, Australia). 10 Jun. 2011: 20.
51 “Cuomo’s Pride.” The Economist 2 Jul. 2011: 22.
52 Pizzo, Stephen, Mary Fricker, and Paul Muolo. Inside Job: The Looting of America’s Savings and Loans, rev. ed. New York City: HarperPerennial, 1991: 13.
53 Rusli, Evelyn M. “Bank Analysts Shower Praise on LinkedIn.” NYT 29 Jun. 2011, late ed.: B6.
54 Mel Brooks’ History of the World: Part I. Brooksfilms, 1981; Norwich, John Julius. A History of Venice. New York City: Alfred A. Knopf, 1982.
55 Honan, Mat. “I Flunked My Social Media Background Check. Will You?” Gizmodo < http://gizmodo.com/5818774/this-is-a-social-media-background-check>.
56 AD No. 140n57 (May 4, 2011).
57 AD No. 50n68 (May 14, 2003); AD No. 82n2 (Aug. 18, 2005); Eisler. “Re: Stealth Mode: Making Yourself Nearly Invisible on Facebook.” E-mail to Steve Adams, 8 Feb. 2011.
58 Sailer, Steve. “The Golden Age of White Male Antisocial Media.” Taki’s Magazine 22 Jun. 2011 <http://takimag.com/article/the_golden_age_of_white_male_antisocial_media/print>.