Austin Dispatches No. 235 Jan. 22, 2022

Sometime next month marks the 50th anniversary of my earliest verified memory.

One night in February 1972, I dined in a dimly lit Mexican restaurant off Interstate 5 with my parents and paternal grandparents. They indulgently let me have dessert, some sort of Mexican ice cream in a parfait dish, garnished with little black plastic bulls that afterward resided at the bottom of my toy chest for many years and provided a mnemonic aide. Also, my parents remember that dinner.

Soon, more dateable recollections lodged vividly in my brain, along with many more that can't be dated precisely. I didn't much divulge them until I began dating Miss KT. She liked hearing my childhood anecdotes, mostly happy. Nevertheless, she, who possessed keen, vast memory, exclaimed astonishment at the degree of esthetic and emotional detail that I summoned.

Until then, I thought everybody could do that. Some 21st century research suggests children can form memories as early as 18 months.1 Anecdotally, though, the people who can tend to be writers.2 My notion: Between the ages at which we can form impressions and must attend school, we have no obligations, so we have the luxury of noticing things that adults, too inured or preoccupied, don't.

e235fig2Unfortunately, much as these memories have been a source of joy and even inspiration these many decades, they exist in contrast to my too-oft boring adulthood. Ask me what I did three weeks before the date of this issue, and I'd have to check my planner, notes and e-mails to tell you if the day were memorable. No wonder I have to rant about politics so often.

As a child, I quickly learned self-reliance, but after a point, one needs others to accomplish goals.

However, a great many people I've meet can't remember what it was like to be themselves at an earlier age, any more than they can image what other people think, or how things might be different from how they are. Instead, they just exist, usually as passive or static obstacles between me and what I'm trying to attain.

In short, my fundamental problem is not, as I've long insisted, a relative dearth of money.3 Rather, the real fundamental problem is ... other people.

Why I Can't Have Nice Things

The aforementioned problem rears in two broad categories: esthetic ("I'm sorry, sir, we don't make it in that style anymore.") and political ("I'm sorry, sir, we can't oblige your request because of regulations."). These subproblems predate the pandemic, which has provided a convenient cover for others to intensify their unhelpful behavior during attempted transactions.

For a grander example, combining the categories, let's consider cars.

His Fraudulency's administration managed to get one bill through Congress, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.4 Among other things, the law commits the federal government to supporting electric vehicles, which means Democratic apparatchiks, with their malevolent, crabbed, zero-sum mentalities, intend to discourage gasoline-powered vehicles.5

Currently, EVs represent about 0.5 percent of all vehicles in the United States.6 In general, the people most enthusiastic about electric cars are the least cognizant of the technical and financial hurdles that must be overcome for EVs -- if they can be overcome -- to be as convenient for drivers, buyers and owners as gas-powered cars, thereby spurring greater demand.7

For example, General Motors just recalled its 2019-2022 model Chevy Bolts for battery defects that risk fires.8 For another example, the other day, as I left for a walk, a neighbor was recharging his vehicle at the station the landlord installed. When I returned an hour later, he was still recharging. In that same time, I could've driven my car to a gas station, filled the tank, added air to the tires, squeegeed the car windows, and bought a beverage from the convenience store.

But with the administration attempting to distort the market in favor of electrics, in a few years we could be stuck with the choice of spending a lot more money on cars that still don't work reliably, or enduring crappy mass transit -- which may be the administration's real intent. In other words, I'll be even further from having what I want automotively than I do now.

Last month, I drove a gas-powered loaner while the dealership serviced my car. The loaner handled OK, but it felt sluggish compared to my 2007 model, particularly after the tune-up. I concluded the increased electronic controls caused the sluggishness, most notably when the engine ceased while I idled at traffic lights. Furthermore, the greater number of electronic safety dashboard features cumulatively functions as a nagging passenger. Whenever the tires encountered rills or indentations in the road, the dashboard flashed warnings about my car drifting out of its lane (it wasn't). Moreover, the flashing itself was distracting.

I'm not the only one so vexxed. A friend from San Antonio wondered whether his Toyota rental's computerized dashboard features were intentionally condescending to him.

The Art of the Wheel

Speaking of second thoughts, Elon Musk moved Tesla headquarters and operations from tyrannical California to Travis County.9 But his recent remarks, sounding like a Randian industrialist, can only displease the local power elite who control the likes of zoning permits.10

I half suspect Musk, having finally perused Austin Dispatches, realized the county's a bad place to do business, and having impulsively moved here, is trying to back out by antagonizing the power elite. In turn, the power elite may have regrets attracting an EV manufacturer plagued with personnel turnover, defective parts, and shaky finances.11 In other words, a real American car company.12 Based on the new book about Tesla, the biggest beneficiaries are the speculators who short the company stock.14

Tentacles of Empire

Right after fleeing in disgrace from the battlefields of Afghanistan, the U.S. government dumped Afghanis in Austin.15 After all, we need more more Muslim foreigners to take synagogue congregants hostage16 -- as if the coronatarian-minded local power elite doesn't do that already.17

Austin Death Watch

Meanwhile, the Travis County Sheriff's Office arrested a corrections officer for bringing contraband into jail.18Austin police recorded a record number of traffic deaths in 2021, despite civic efforts to the contrary.19

Already I'm seeing people driving the wrong way on the new diverging diamond intersections built in the metro.26 In particular, I'm so concerned about the newly opened stretch of East Pecan Street between Dessau and Immanuel roads that I called the Pflugerville Public Works Department, despite the likelihood it'll do nothing until somebody dies because the counterintuitive design makes it easy to turn into oncoming traffic. Even the Chronicle acknowledges the new scheme to ban cars from Guadalupe Street next to the UT campus will contribute to difficulties traveling north-south until about 2035.27

Austin bureaucratic bungling during the February 2021 snowstorm cost the city the new Samsung semiconductor plant. Instead, Samsung will build in Taylor, out in the boonies.21 A TV shopping network is moving its headquarters from Austin to Cedar Park.22 The Dec. 31 Chronicle incoherently, if predictably, blames "whiteness" for rising reports of alligators at a southeastern subdivision.23

Neighborhood News

The November Community Impact Newspaper leads with a feature on the rise of studios and galleries in Northwest Austin, including one in the neighborhood proper.24 The City Council OK'd cramming more development, next to the soccer stadium.32

On Oct. 24, I witnessed a dead deer on Gracy Farms Lane. On Oct. 25, I witnessed the aftermath of a collision at Lamplight Village Avenue and Metric Boulevard -- probably the same drivers who killed the poor deer. On Dec. 1 and Jan. 4, I witnessed the aftermath of a collision at Metric and Bittern Hollow. On Dec. 28, I witnessed the aftermath of a collision along southbound Metric near the Sunhillow Bend-Stonehollow Drive intersection. KXAN-TV's traffic Web page reported collisions at Metric Boulevard and Cedar Bend Drive on Oct. 22, at Rutland and Metropolitan drives on Nov. 2, at Highway 183 and MoPac Expressway on Nov. 24, at Parmer Lane and Scofield Farms Drive on Dec. 28, and at Research Boulevard and Burnet Road on Jan. 12; and a rolled-over vehicle at MoPac and Parmer on Nov. 19.

Twelve businesses have opened in or relocated to the neighborhood, and two have closed.25 PNC Bank has taken over U.S. locations of BBVA Group, including one at Parmer Crossing shopping plaza.26 A Cajun restaurant has replaced Mangia's at the Gracy Farms Center strip mall.27 A brewery off Metric has expanded.29 Amazon.com plans further expansion at The Domain.30

On Dec. 7, I found a quarter in my apartment complex parking lot.

On the Metro

Oct. 22: Witnessed the aftermath of a rush-hour collision at East Pecan and Biltmore Avenue.

Nov. 5: Witnessed a near-collision near Wells Branch Parkway and Interstate 35.

Nov. 16: Witnessed a near-collision near Howard Lane and I-35.

Dec. 3: Witnessed the aftermath of a collision at East Wells Branch and John Henry Faulk Drive.

Jan. 20: An 18-wheeler ran red lights at the Howard/I-35 intersection.

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1 Cleveland, Emily Sutcliffe, and Elaine Reese. "Children Remember Early Childhood: Long-Term Recall Across the Offset of Childhood Amnesia." Applied Cognitive Psychology Jan. 2008: 127-142; Tustin, Karen, and Harlene Hayne. "Defining the Boundary: Age-Related Changes in Childhood Amnesia." Developmental Psychology Sep. 2010: 1049-1061.

2 The Getaway Car: A Donald Westlake Nonfiction Miscellany. Ed. Levi Stahl. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 2014: Ch. 1; Oates, Joyce Carol. The Lost Landscape: A Writer’s Coming of Age. New York City: Ecco, 2015; Updike, John. Self-Consciousness: A Memoir. New York City: Alfred A. Knopf, 1989.

3 AD No. 187 (March 16, 2016); AD No. 219 (Aug. 19, 2019).

4 Pub. L. 117-58, 2021.

5 Ewing, Jack, and Neal E. Boudette. "Automakers Feel the Heat on E.V. Shift." NYT 6 Aug. 2021: B1+; Frazin, Rachel. "Harris Rolls Out Plan for Electric Vehicle Charging Network." The Hill 14 Dec. 2021: 17.

6 Morano, Marc. Green Fraud: Why the Green New Deal Is Worse Than You Think. Washington, D.C.: Regnery Publishing, 2021: 196.

7 Pridle, Alisa. "Flipping the Switch." Motor Trend Jun. 2021: 54-59.

8 "Keep Your Diesel ... GM Just Recalled Every Single Chevy Bolt EV." Diesel World Jan. 2022: 12.

9 Hardison, Kathryn. "Austin-Area Tesla Factory Rises at the 'Speed of Elon.' " ABJ 14 Jan. 2022: 7; Hardison. "Tesla Closer to Opening Austin Factory." ABJ 7 Jan. 2022: 3; Hardison. "Tesla Plant Specs Detailed in New State Filings." ABJ 3 Dec. 2021: 6; "Tesla Makes HQ Move to Austin Official." ABJ 10 Dec. 2021: A6.

10 Ball, Molly, Jeffrey Kluger, and Alejandro de la Garza. "Visionary. Showman. Iconoclast. Troll. How Elon Musk Is Reshaping Our World -- and Beyond." Time 27 Dec. 2021: 36-50+.

11 Carlson, Kara. "Cybertruck on Hold for Tesla?" AAS 15 Jan. 2022: 7-8B; Carlson. "Is Trouble on Horizon for SpaceX?" AAS 4 Dec. 2021: 7-8B.

12 AD No. 49 (Mar. 23, 2003); AD No. 125 (June 20, 2009).

13 Higgins, Tim. Power Play: Tesla, Elon Musk, and the Bet of the Century. New York City: Doubleday, 2021: xi.

14 Quinlan, Maggie. "Afghan Refugee Families and Students Brought Into District." CIN Sep. 2021, Northwest Austin ed.: 13.

15 Taher, Abul, and Caroline Graham. "4 Held Hostage As Backer of 'Lady Al Qaeda' Terrorist Storms Synagogue." Mail on Sunday 16 Jan. 2022: 46; Tozer, James, Rebecca Camber, and Richard Marsden. "Terror Probe Past of Synagogue Gunman." The Daily Mail 18 Jan. 2022: 14.

16 "Austin, Travis County Pen New Orders for Businesses." ABJ 21 Jan. 2022: 6; Sullivan, Beth. "New COVID Orders for Businesses Now in Effect." AC 21 Jan. 2022: 10; Sullivan. "Stage 5, Take Two." AC 14 Jan. 2022: 13.

17 Contreras, Natalia E. "Officer Charged With Bringing Contraband Into Travis County Jail." AAS 14 Nov. 2021: 3B.

18 Osbourne, Heather, and Ryan Autullo. "Austin's Record-High Traffic Deaths Raise Questions." AAS 3 Jan. 2022: 1A+.

19 Graham, Benton. "TxDOT Expands Diverging Diamond Intersections." CIN 23 Dec. 2021, Northwest Austin ed.: 1+.

20 Barbaro, Nick. "Cars Off Guadalupe?" AC 10 Dec. 2021: 10.

21 Clark-Madison, Mike. "Brightness on the Edge of Town." AC 10 Dec. 2021: 8+.

22 Osborn, Claire. "Shop LC Moving to Cedar Park." AAS 26 Nov. 2021: 3B; "TV Network Shop LC to Move HQ." AAS 20 Nov. 2021: 7-8B; Sayers, Justin. "1,000-Job HQ Moving Out of Austin, to 'Burb." ABJ 26 Nov. 2021: 8.

23 O'Hanlon, Morgan. "Chomp! Chomp!" AC 31 Dec. 2021: 16-18.

24 Oldman, Iain. "Artists Look to Connect Neighbors to Talent in Their Own Backyard." CIN 20 Nov. 2021, Northwest Austin ed.: 1+.

25 Oldman. "High Density Planned Near Q2 Stadium." CIN Nov. 2021, Northwest Austin ed.: 13; Rohit, Parimal M. "Big Buildings to Sprout Near Q2 Stadium." ABJ 22 Oct. 2021: A8.

26 "Impacts." CIN Oct. 2021, Northwest Austin ed.: 6-7; "Now Open." CIN Nov. 2021, Northwest Austin ed.: 6; "Now Open." CIN Dec. 2021, Northwest Austin ed.: 6.

27 "New Ownership." CIN Dec. 2021, Northwest Austin ed.: 6.

28 AD No. 177n33 (Aug. 23, 2014).

29 "Expansions." CIN Nov. 2021, Northwest Austin ed.: 6-7.

30 Thompson, Paul. "Amazon to Throttle-Up Its White-Collar Workforce." ABJ 31 Jan. 2021: 6.