Austin Dispatches No. 191 Oct. 9, 2016

After far too many years, I was able to purchase a modular rack for my stereo system, compatible with the units once made by Per Madsen Design, as a preliminary transaction. If only we can solve ObamaCare[1] and Microsoft Windows[2] so satisfactorily.

On the Town

Sep. 1: Every lithe young thing in town attended the South Congress Hotel’s first anniversary party. They accessorized their wrap dresses with cell phones in one hand and dog leashes in the other. Even their dogs had cell phones.[3]

Sep. 8: I attended a wake for the spouse of a former supervisor and resume reference at a bar on the far edge of Pflugerville. Unfortunately, doing so extended my melancholia at my grandmother’s death by several weeks.

Sep. 30: I finally visited C-Boy’s Heart & Soul to catch a set by Mike Flanigan and Jimmie Vaughan, heavy on the shuffles and boogaloos.[4] I’d been there all of 10 minutes when a woman approached me, batting her long lashes. Then she asked the whereabouts of the women’s restroom. This sort of thing happens to me all the time in Nevada casinos, and not just because I’m dressed like an executive. As long as people think I look like someone who knows what’s what, I’ll get by.

Cultural Canapés

Late summer is a wonderful time to shop supermarkets for New Mexican produce, but some of them may be carrying things a bit too far: Hatch chile scones, Central Market?[5]

After years of hearing about it, I finally tried a bottle of Jones Soda for 75 cents. It’s OK.[6]

And after 35 years of sneers, the Chronicle finally has something good to say about the suburbs, now that musicians have moved there for affordable housing.[7]

Business Roundup

Wells Fargo punished underlings after the bank was caught opening sham accounts without their real customers’ OK.[8] Based on my dealings with banks, I’ve long suspected the discrepancies of a nickel or less that showed up intermittently on my monthly balance statements might’ve been part of some embezzlement scheme. Unfortunately, we can’t rule out the possibility that bank employees are just incapable of maintaining accurate accounts. Years ago, I nailed First Interstate Bancorp on a $200 discrepancy on my checking account, because the teller failed to enter a deposit into its electronic records. That aggravation was almost worthwhile when the branch personnel grinned queasily after I produced my deposit receipt.

Speaking of which, electronic paycheck deposits reportedly will now clear automatically through the Automated Clearing House Network into your accounts within the same day, with settlement periods at 1 p.m. and 6 p.m. EST, instead of the one- to two-day delay that’s existed for decades. However, same-day service comes with a fee, so banks don’t feel like they’re losing out from the interest they used to earn from the “float” on your money. Also, the increased efficiency will likely make it harder for people to “float” their own money when they write checks on accounts they haven’t transferred money to yet to cover the amounts.[9]

Dell headquarters is getting rid of cubicles for some trendy open workspace concept that’s failed since the hippie days when it was tried in classrooms, including my last high school.[10] It’s the logical progression on my last contract there, where I had to threaten to walk to get a computer manufacturer to provide me a computer, a cubicle and other tools to do my job.

Austin Death Watch

The September issue of TODO Austin manages to surpass the Chronicle for sheer pinkoesque obtuseness and incomprehension, a difficult feat, but one assisted by its masthead self-description: “TODO Austin is a free print and online journal for all of Austin highlighting our multicultural heritage and promoting the concept of community in an ethnically diverse city.” Even though ethnic diversity means you don’t have community – just rival ethnicities using the power of civil government in a given polity to fuck each other over.[11]

For example, in so many words, the Democratic nominee for Travis County sheriff, Sally Hernandez, promises Latin American-style corruption and stereotypical dereliction in law enforcement by refusing to detain foreign trespassers wanted by Immigration authorities.[12] Such as the suspected serial rapist deported five times.[13] Well, she would, wouldn’t she? Perhaps for that reason, The Daily Texan reports an increased enrollment in self-defense classes.[14]

Some enragé group complained that white men dominate the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization. In other words, corporatist masterminds are the real racists. These enragés, however, think lack of “diversity” – more non-whites and women – is the problem with CAMPO.[15] Obviously, they don’t read Austin Dispatches. In real life, a black woman representing Pflugerville in the Legislature plans to resign her seat before the Travis County District Attorney’s Office prosecutes her on corruption charges.[16]

Violent crime rates are up in Austin’s suburbs, according to FBI statistics.[17] It’s of a piece with Austin’s power elite fobbing off the city’s problems. The police chief suspended a Latina cop for Tasering a handcuffed arrestee.[18] An audit concludes the police department thwarts and sidetracks complaints of officer misconduct.[19] A Labor Day domestic dispute turned deadly after police shot a gun-wielding man in the parking lot of the egregiously named San Paloma (English translation: “St. Dove”) Apartments, which I used to know to quite well. Apparently, the complex has gone downhill since Miss KT moved out.[20]

The owner of a long-standing local Mexican restaurant blames rising property taxes for having to close his business.[21] A new regulation requires “food-permitted businesses 15,000 square feet or larger” to recycle food scraps to feed animals. Most likely, the first animals to feed will be the local rats.[22]

The Texas Taxpayers and Research Association points out Austin’s homestead exemption comes with a higher tax rate, meaning homeowners, businesses and renters have to pay more.[23] City government is feeling the pinch of losing millions of dollars the past five years in providing services for special events, according to the Sep. 16 Business Journal.[24] Concert organizers who canceled a music event in spring for fear of flooding have been hit with two lawsuits.[25]

The Sep. 8 Statesman reports the MoPac Expressway toll lane will open in early 2017, six weeks behind schedule.[26] Likewise, the Texas Highway 71 toll project is “way behind” schedule.[27] Perhaps for these reasons, the Statesman has been openly skeptical of a $482 million City bond measure for road improvement projects, the so-called “smart corridors.”[28]

The effort just to rewrite Austin’s land-use rules – an inherent infringement on the rights of property owners – has cost $4.6 million – more than double the original estimate.[29] Even the Chronicalistas, at least for the Oct. 7 issue, are showing rare good sense and questioning the regulatory thickets that hinder local businesses and affordable housing. They’ll be back to statist solutions this week.[30]

Bevo and Butt-Heads

Street bums must’ve annoyed too many connected people, because the University of Texas’ new safety policies call for ridding their presence around campus.[31] That’s merely an overdue start, because in the Sep. 28 Daily Texan, some coed clutches her pearls and caterwauls that the Texas government’s withdrawal from the U.S. Refugee Resettlement program “hurts Muslims.”[32] Like that’s a bad thing?[33]

The student government is pushing to lower UT methane emissions. Henceforth, nobody attending campus will express “left-wing” opinions.[34] But not before the University feted Angela Davis, Communist Party vice presidential nominee in the ‘80s and client of a top tax lawyer who set her up with the same type of offshore tax shelter as capitalist pigs. As you might expect, this tenured academic talked about how the honkies oppress her, rather than sharing tax avoidance strategies with the masses.[35] Tax Freedom Now!

Neighborhood News

I actually exchanged pleasantries with residents of the neighborhood association during my excursion on National Night Out. However, the number of neighbors hosting block parties was down from previous years.[36] This growing social introversion is something captured years ago by the Sunbelt’s poet laureate, Frederick Barthelme:

Roscoe joined Edward at the window, standing beside him, staring out at the kids. “My thinking is, you know, we’re in here, in this dark little room, behind this shaded glass here, behind these blinds, and we’re standing here, the two of us. They’re out there. I mean, look how much space they’ve got and look how much we’ve got. It’s as if we can’t handle it. We start out in the open, and as we get older, we find smaller and smaller spaces, smaller houses, smaller rooms, until we get to the pine room.”[37]

Contractors replaced the foyer tile and kitchen linoleum with laminate flooring in my apartment. I used an 8 iron to remove a paper wasps’ nest from the balcony ceiling after spraying it with insecticide.

I found a quarter while shopping at the neighborhood H-E-B. Then, in the checkout line, a Millennial dad tried to engage his toddler in the shopping cart. The toddler looked unimpressed. So even children disdain Millennials.

On Sep. 28, I witnessed the aftermath of a smash-up near MoPac and Scofield Ridge Parkway. The Statesman’s Traffic Web page reported incidents on Sep. 8 at Burnet Road and Braker Lane, on Sep. 13 at Metric Boulevard and Bittern Hollow, and at Metric and Parmer Lane; on Sep. 18 and 29 at MoPac and Duval Road, on Sep. 25 at Domain Boulevard and Rose Rock Avenue, on Sep. 26 at Burnet, on Sep. 27 at Highway 183 and MoPac, on Sep. 30 at Braker and Metric, and on Oct. 5 at Burnet and McNeil Road, and at Metric and Sunhillow Bend.

National Instruments is experiencing a change of management.[38] Numerous businesses have opened at The Domain, and more building projects are planned there.[39] Meanwhile, a fine hat shop closed its Domain location “because of air conditioning and humidity issues.”[40]

The September Community Impact Newspaper includes a profile of a retailer of tactical gear for police and the military, off Brockton Drive.[41]

Science Roundup

A new study concludes Latins genetically age slower than any other ethnicity, according to the Aug. 25 La Prensa.[42]

Media Indigest

Speaking of the Chronicle, it finally demonstrated some auxiliary worth when I used a rolled-up copy to swat an intruding firefly in my apartment.
Home Archives


[1] Abelson, Reed, and Margot Sanger-Katz. “More Are Insured, but Obamacare’s Future Is Very Much in Play.” NYT 16 Sep. 2016: B1-2; Blackman, Josh. “Obamacare on Life Support.” NR 26 Sep. 2016: 18-20; Clark, Charles S. “Obamacare Exchanges at Risk for Fraud, Watchdog Finds.” Government Executive 13 Sep. 2016: 1; Clason, Lauren. “Will the Blues Be Next to Leave ObamaCare?” The Hill 15 Sep. 2016: 16-20; Herman, Bob. “More Americans Gain Health Coverage, but Their Cost-Sharing Keeps Rising.” Modern Healthcare 19 Sep. 2016: 12; Pear, Robert. “Insurers Got Funds Meant for Treasury, Auditors Say.” NYT 30 Sep. 2016: B3; Saltzman, David A. “Seeing It Coming.” National Underwriter/Life & Health Financial Services Sep. 2016: 20; Sanger-Katz, Margot. “Football Team at the Obamacare Buffet.” NYT 25 Sep. 2016: 2; Suderman, Peter. “Public Option Revived.” Reason Nov. 2016: 10-11; Sullivan, Peter, and Alexander Bolton. “Dems to GOP: Help Us Fix ObamaCare.” The Hill 22 Sep. 2016: 6; Surowiecki, James. “Sick Business” NYR 5 Sep. 2016: 22.

[2] Chacos, Brad. “Fearing Forced Windows 10 Upgrades, Users Are Disabling Critical Updates Instead.” PCWorld Jul. 2016: 57-61; Gralla, Preston. “Microsoft’s Tin Ear for Privacy.” Computerworld Digital Magazine Oct. 2016: 6-7; Hernandez, Pedro. “How to Thaw Out PCs Frozen by Windows 10 Anniversary Update.” eWeek 16 Aug. 2016: 15; Hernandez. “Time’s Running Out for Old Windows 10 Preview Builds.” eWeek 22 Sep. 2016: 1; Kerner, Sean Michael. “Windows 10 Credential Guard Risk Exposed at Black Hat.” eWeek 3 Aug. 2016: 1; Newman, Jared. “Windows 10 Upgrade: Don’t Use Express Settings If You Value Your Privacy.” PCWorld Sep. 2016: 212-222; Paul, Ian. “Microsoft Faces Two New Lawsuits Over Aggressive Windows 10 Upgrade Tactics.” PCWorld Sep. 2016: 67-68; Peers, Nick. “Reclaim Ownership of Your PC.” Maximum PC Nov. 2016: 38-46; Prescott, Shaun. “Windows 10 Is Determined to Be Your OS – Even If You Don’t Want It to Be.” APC Jul. 2016: 17; Spector, Lincoln. “You Can Safely Use Windows 7 Until 2020, but I Won’t Be Answering Your Questions.” PCWorld Sep. 2016: 246-247.

[3] “Community.” AC 2 Sep. 2016: 40.

[4] AD No. 48n17 (Mar. 10, 2003); AD No. 150n61 (April 16, 2012); Caliguri, Jim. “The Drifter.” AC 14 Aug. 2015: 60-61; Corcoran, Michael. “To C-Boy, With Love.” AC 31 Jan. 2014: 44-45.

[5] Carpenter, Cindy, and Sherry Fletcher. Images of America: Hatch Valley. Charleston, S.C.: Arcadia Publishing, 2015: 127.

[6] “Jones Soda.” International Directory of Company Histories. Ed. Jay P. Pederson. London: St. James Press, 2005: LXIX, 218-220.

[7] Freeman, Doug. “This Must Be the Place.” AC 9 Sep. 2016: 60+.

[8] Cowley, Stacy. “Wells Fargo Workers Claim Retaliation for Playing by the Rules.” NYT 27 Sep. 2016: B1-3.

[9] Buchwald, Art. The Buchwald Stops Here. New York City: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1978: 268; Demos, Telis. “Banks’ Plumbing Gets an Upgrade.” Dow Jones Institutional News 24 Sep. 2016: B1.

[10] Rockwell, Lilly. “Dell Revamps Space, Startup Style.” AAS 2 Oct. 2016: F1; Strauss, Bill, and Neil Howe. 13th Gen: Abort, Retry, Ignore, Fail?. New York City: Vintage Books, 1993: 73.

[11] Putnam, Robert. “E Pluribus Unum: Diversity and Community in the Twenty-first Century -- The 2006 Johan Skytte Prize.” Scandanavian Political Studies June 2007: 137-174.

[12] Philips, Sarah. “Sheriff Candidate Promotes Sanctuary Policies.” DT 9 Sep. 2016: 1-2.

[13] Kendall, Jennifer. “Austin Sex Assault Suspect Previously Deported Five Times.” Fox 7 News. KTBC-TV, 7 Sep. 2016.

[14] Cobler, Paul. “Self-Defense Classes See Increase in Enrollment.” DT 9 Sep. 2016: 1-2.

[15] “Headlines.” AC 16 Sep. 2016: 14.

[16] Whittaker, Richard. “Still No Charges for Dawnna Dukes.” AC 7 Oct. 2016: 24.

[17] Jankowski, Philip. “Austin’s Violent Crime Rate Down 6% in 2015.” AAS 29 Sep. 2016: A1+.

[18] “Headlines.” AC 16 Sep. 2016: 14.

[19] Findell, Elizabeth. “Police Complaint Process Criticized.” AAS 29 Sep. 2016: A1+.

[20] Huber, Mary, and Tony Plohetski. “Police Kill Armed Man in Apartment Faceoff.” AAS 6 Sep. 2016: A1+.

[21] Barnes, Michael. “$17.53: After Rise From Humble Beginnings, Beloved Eatery Closing Its Doors.” AAS 25 Sep. 2016: D1.

[22] “Businesses Required to Reduce Wasted Food.” PowerPlus Sep. 2016: 2.

[23] Craymer, Dale. “How the City of Austin Cuts Taxes – by Raising Taxes.” ABJ 30 Sep. 2016: A19.

[24] Theis, Michael. “Is It Money Well Spent?” ABJ 16 Sep. 2016: A4.

[25] AD No. 188n30 (May 11, 2016); Dinges, Gary. “Canceled Music Fest Leads to 2 Suits.” AAS 29 Sep. 2016: B5.

[26] Wear, Ben. “MoPac Toll Lane Debut Finally Near.” AAS 8 Sep. 2016: A1+.

[27] Wear. “Texas 71 Tollway Work Way Behind.” AAS 5 Oct. 2016: A1+.

[28] Kelso, John. “City’s ‘Smart Corridors’ Plan: So What’s So Smart About It?” AAS 2 Oct. 2016: B1+; Wear. “Road Bond Would Add Lanes but Also Eliminate Some.” AAS 2 Oct. 2016: A1+; Wear, Ben. “Road Work Bond Map Calls for Closer Look.” AAS 3 Oct. 2016: B1.

[29] AD No. 133n13 (May 4, 2010); Findell. “Austin’s Code Fix Cost Hits $4.6M.” AAS 23 Sep. 2016: B1.

[30] Black, Louis. “Pay-to-Play City Politics.” AC 7 Oct. 2016: 6; King, Michael. “All Grove All the Time.” Idem., 14+.

[31] Keenan, Katie. “UT Implements New Safety Policies.” DT 1 Sep. 2016: 1-2.

[32] Larcher, Audrey. “Abbot’s Exclusion of Refugees Hurts Muslims.” DT 28 Sep. 2016: 4.

[33] Robbins, James S. “Trump Wins Terrorist Narrative.” USAT 20 Sep. 2016: 7A.

[34] Cobler, Paul. “SG Pushes to Lower UT Methane Emissions.” DT 28 Sep. 2016: 1-2.

[35] Barber, Hoyt L. Tax Havens Today: The Benefits and Pitfalls of Banking and Investing Offshore. Hoboken, N.J.: John Wiley & Sons, 2007; “Davis, Angela.” Encyclopedia of African American History 1896 to the Present: From the Age of Segregation to the Twenty-First Century. Ed. Paul Finkelman. Oxford, U.K.: Oxford UP, 2009: I, 13; Ford, Lynne E. “Davis, Angela (1944- ).” Encyclopedia of Women and American Politics. New York City: Facts on File, 2008: 143; Greene, Bill. Win Your Personal Tax Revolt, rev. ed. San Francisco: Harbor Publishing, 1981: 210-212; Spearman, Kahron. “Angela Davis Closes Out UT’s Inaugural Black Matters Conference.” AC 7 Oct. 2016: 22.

[36] “Calendar.” CIN Sep. 2016, Northwest Austin ed.: 33.

[37] Barthelme, Frederick. Two Against One. New York City: Weidenfeld & Nicholson, 1988: 238.

[38] “Companies to Watch.” ABJ 2 Sep. 2016: 12.

[39] Denney, Amy. “North Austin Businesses Seek to Inspire Others Via Consumerism.” CIN Sep. 2016, Northwest Austin ed.: 34; Dinges. “ Domain Northside Stores Open Friday.” AAS 30 Sep. 2016: B6; “11-Story Office Building, Parking Garage Planned for The Domain.” CIN Sep. 2016, Northwest Austin ed.: 19; “Impacts.” CIN Sep. 2016, Northwest Austin ed.: 4; “Making Moves.” ABJ 30 Sep. 2016: A8.

[40] “Closings.” CIN Sep. 2016, Northwest Austin ed.: 5.

[41] Denney. “GT Distributors.” CIN Sep. 2016, Northwest Austin ed.: 9.

[42] “Latinos Do Age Slower Than Anyone Else – and Their Genes ‘Hold the Key to Prolonging Youthfulness.’ ” La Prensa 25 Aug. 2016: 1.