Friday, August 17, 2007
CD celebrates 25th anniversary
It was August 17, 1982, and row upon row of palm-sized plates with a rainbow sheen began rolling off an assembly line near Hanover, Germany. An engineering marvel at the time, today they are instantly recognizable as Compact Discs, a product that turned 25 years old on Friday -- and whose future is increasingly in doubt in an age of iPods and digital downloads.
I didn't get my first CD until 1990 and I won’t be getting rid of them anytime soon. I still have my record collection and most of my cassettes boxed up somewhere for that matter. I just don’t trust computer hard drives for storing all of my music. I had a hard drive crash on me a couple of years ago and we lost a lot of digital pictures that weren’t backed up.
But it is probably only a matter of time before everything is stored on multiple hard drives and CDs will be cast aside like all those old floppy disc drives.
Speaking of anniversaries, my 18th wedding anniversary is this weekend as is my son's 4th birthday and two weeks later we will be going to College Station for my 20th college reunion.
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
Where's our football team?
San Antonio is the 7th largest city in the United States. That’s right, seventh. We have an estimated population of 1,256,509 that just bumped us ahead of San Diego for the No. 7 spot. That means that there are only six cities in the U.S. that can claim to be bigger than San Antonio: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, Philadelphia and Phoenix.
That’s it. Everyone else is smaller, including San Diego, Dallas and San Jose which fill out the top 10. Detroit even got bumped down to No. 11.
I’m just blown away by this fact. My wife is not impressed because she grew up in Houston, the No. 4 city. But I grew up in small-town South Texas so I feel like I am in a metropolis.
The nice thing about San Antonio is that even though it is so large, it still has a small-town feel to it. But this also leads to a lot of disrespect from other parts of the country. For example, there is the anamoly that San Antonio has been short-shrifted on professional sports teams. Lets look at the professional sports teams (MLB, NFL, NBA, NHL) in each of the top 10 largest cities (I include Anaheim with L.A. because it is practically a suburb, the same with Arlington and Dallas.):
New York Yankees
New York Mets
New York Giants
New York Knicks
New York Islanders
New York Rangers
Los Angeles Dodgers
Los Angeles Lakers
Los Angeles Clippers
Los Angeles Kings
Chicago White Sox
San Antonio Spurs
San Diego Padres
San Diego Chargers
Is there anything wrong with this picture? Los Angeles doesn’t currently have a football team, but they’ve had two in the past and San Diego is less than two hours away.
San Antonio, on the other hand, doesn’t have a baseball, football or hockey team. All we have is a basketball team, which just happens to be the reigning NBA champions. There is no question that San Antonio could support at least one and probably more professional sports franchises. The overwhelming response to the brief stay of the New Orleans Saints after Hurricane Katrina proved that. But for now we are a one-team town with no prospects for change in the near future.
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
Rove: Draft dodger/tax evader
All of the news stories say that Karl Rove is coming back to Texas after leaving the Bush administration and plans to live in Ingram so that he can be near his son who is attending Trinity University in San Antonio. Ingram is a little Hill Country town just down the road from Kerrville about an hour’s drive northwest of San Antonio.
The interesting thing is that Rove doesn’t actually have a home in Ingram. He has a cottage. From his Wikipedia entry
: "The residence that Rove claims on Texas voter registration rolls consists of two small rental cottages, the largest of which is 814 square feet. The cottages were part of the River Oaks Lodge that Rove and his wife, Darby, once owned on the Guadalupe River near Ingram. The Roves sold the lodge in 2003, after renovating it, but kept the two cottages, which the lodge rents to guests."
Rove had been using the lodges as his “place of residence” so that he could avoid paying property taxes on his million-dollar home in Washington, D.C. But that came to an end in 2005 when the District of Columbia changed its law and Rove ended up having to pay $3,400 in back taxes. I doubt that Rove plans to stay in the Hill Country for long. He sold his Austin residence a few years ago and now owns another million dollar house in Florida.
I read through Rove’s biography on Wikipedia trying to glean any sense of humanity that I could empathize with. He apparently suffered some hard breaks growing up with his biological father abandoning the family shortly after he was born. His adoptive father and mother divorced when he was 19 and then his mother committed suicide when he was 31.
He was a college drop-out who appears to have used his on-again, off-again college status as a means to avoid the draft.
In December 1969, the Selective Service System held its first lottery drawing. Those born on December 25, like Rove, received number 84. That number placed him in the middle of those (with numbers 1 [first priority] through 195) who would eventually be drafted.
On February 17, 1970, Rove was reclassified as 2-S, a deferment from the draft because of his enrollment at the University of Utah in the fall of 1969. He maintained this deferment until December 14, 1971, despite being only a part-time student in the autumn and spring quarters of 1971 (registered for between six and 12 credit hours) and dropping out of the university in June 1971. Rove was a student at the University of Maryland, College Park in the fall of 1971; as such, he would have been eligible for 2-S status, but registrar's records show that he withdrew from classes during the first half of the semester. In December 1971 he was reclassified as 1-A. On April 27, 1972, he was reclassified as 1-H, or "not currently subject to processing for induction". The draft ended on June 30, 1973.
Rove was one of the major architects of the Iraq War, but did everything he could possibly do to avoid the War in Vietnam.
I like this post from Atrios
and I've provided a cleaned-up version below:
Imagine if the Bush administration had gone into Iraq, found a nuclear arsenal, the ponies had appeared, happy fun time Democracy spread through the Middle East like wildfire, 6 months and a few billion bucks later we mostly got the hell out of there, having to wade through piles of rose petals on the way out, and a grateful Iraqi population lived happily ever after in their secular pro-Israel, pro-US Democracy.
Now imagine just how marginalized all of the war opponents would have been? Imagine how none of these people would've ever appeared on the teevee again, having been proved so wrong that none of them were ever welcome back as participants in our mainstream public discourse again.
Oh wait, that part isn't hard to imagine, because even though they weren't proved wrong, it's already the case.
I share Atrios' frustration in that the people who were dead wrong about every aspect of the Iraq debacle are still being treated like experts by the media while the critics of the invasion who practically nailed every problem before it developed are still sidelined and ignored.
Monday, August 13, 2007
It’s hard to believe that Karl Rove is abandoning President Bush during his time of need. Now that Bush is at the lowest point of his presidency in public opinion polls, Rove has decided it’s time to cut-n-run.
Rove should stick around and take his lumps with Bush since this disaster of a presidency is largely of his making. This notion that he can slip away and shed responsibility for this mess with the lame excuse that he needs to spend more time with his family is pathetic.
Rove is one of those political figures with whom I have a difficult time imagining any redeemable qualities. He is right up there with Tom DeLay, Ralph Reed and Kenneth Starr among the people in politics who I like the least. There are lots of people in politics who are just as hard-right and just as partisan, but nevertheless have certain traits or characteristics that I can still find admirable. While I might disagree with their politics, I still imagine that I could like them on a personal level. Rove has never struck me that way. Perhaps that is unfair, but this latest move strikes me as the height of the “I’m out for me, the heck with everybody else” mentality that is the core of today’s Republican political philosophy.
Sunday, August 12, 2007
Don't blame it ALL on Bush
George W. Bush may very well be the worst president in U.S. history. But Democrats are making a mistake if they try to pin all the blame for everything that is wrong with his administration on him personally. We should not focus so intently on Bush. Sure, he's exceedingly stubborn and unwilling to change even in the face of overwhelming public disapproval, but just replacing Bush with some other Republican is not going to make things better. In fact, it could make things much worse.
The real culprit that we are up against is the Republican governing philosophy. It has been especially awful under George W. because he had a Republican-controlled Congress for most of his presidency and was thus unfettered in his pursuit of Republican goals. Fortunatley, Bush's incompetence prevented him from fully achieving all of the Republican's goals, but we might not be so lucky if another Republican president is elected. Imagine how bad Ronald Reagan might have been had he not been somewhat constrained by a Democratic Congress.
Look back at the string of awful presidents we had during the early part of the 20th Century: Warren Harding, Calvin Coolidge, Herbert Hoover. Do you think that it was coincidence that we just happened to get three really bad presidents in a row? Not if you realize that it wasn't Harding, Coolidge and Hoover as individuals that were so bad, it was the Republican philosophy of making government serve the interests of big business and not regular people that made them so bad.
If we allow people to think that it was all Bush's fault individually they might conclude that there is no problem electing another Republican like Guiliani or Romney or Thompson, as long as it's not George Bush. But Bush was only a part of the problem, and a small one at that. Remember that Bush did fine as Texas governor mostly because he was following a conservative Democratic governing philosophy under the tutelage of Bob Bullock and Pete Laney. It was only after he jettisoned that philosophy in favor of a non-compromising partisan Republican one that started to spiral downward.