Sunday, June 08, 2008

Sunday Ramble

What with the closing of the S-T comments and some new interest here, I thought I'd throw out some topics of local interest, something to get conversations started.

Of course everyone is concerned with gas prices. I share your pain, it hurts me every time I mow the lawn. Otherwise, my 32 year old pickup runs on propane, an engine-friendly, domestic fuel which has sky-rocketed to $2.53/ gallon. If that sounds like a gloat, well yeah, it is. Rate I'm going, I will send perhaps $8 to our buddy Hugo in Venezuela this year.

Last time I was able to attend a school board meeting, I advised some polling and lots of public push. We seemed in agreement that not much attention would go that way until after the May election, some notice of the FLDS headline-eater. OK, SAISD, the election is gone, FLDS is winding down for better or worse, where are you? Looked at the website today, I could find the 300+ page facilities plan from 2007, if the current bond is there, it is artfully hidden. I thought to call my more computer-savvy co-author, but what the heck; if one needs tech support to find it, SAISD has not presented it properly.

I advised them they were swimming upstream by going for a Nov. ballot when all eyes are going to be Presidential. We really do need a bond, probably a larger bond than they dared. If they don't clean up the proposal and drum up support, we could see a second bond go the way of the last. Dr. May, Superintendent Bonds, Board members; the ball is in your court, make your case.

The news on the windmill factory is encouraging. Texas, for all it is supposed to be the oil patch, is way ahead of the rest of America on wind power. At this time, wind is the closest to self-sustaining of the alternative energy sources, though there are some promising developments on solar. God knows, if we have a solar breakthrough, West Texas will be at the top of that list. Going west from here, we have as our biggest stock in trade, miles and miles of miles and miles. Congress left the two cent per KWH subsidy for windmills out of our last energy bill, but either winner in Nov. is almost certain to restore it. Kudos here to Ralph Hoelscher, our Commissioner has been working to make wind power a local reality for a while now. If this comes about, it would be a huge boost for northeast Angelo, a long neglected part of town.

Just to try for a dig for comments, one of my last jobs in NC was working the Shearon Harris nuclear (note: nook-kli-ar, not nucular as every President since Eisenhower has pronounced it, our peanut-farming nookiar engineer from Plains included) power plant, I believe the last commercial plant built in America. I hold that anyone wanting to reduce "greenhouse emissions" and simultaneously refusing to consider nuclear power is at best blind, at worst conciously wants us to freeze in the dark in penance for past sins of consumption

Next week will see three public meetings, evening hours, to talk about the new federal rules on stormwater abatement. This is the poster-child for unfunded mandates. The Feds have had this in the hopper since at least 1980, now they and state TEQC drop the hammer on us at a time we as a city are dealing with a plateful of costly issues. No way around it, we do not have the option of ignoring it and hoping it will go away. If you want to be heard on this, show up and rise on your hind legs.

Baseball, the American sport we are told (tell that to the NFL, but that's another column). Congratulations to the Grape Creek Eagles. Hard loss to a great team, but you did one fine job getting there. As to the SA Colts, good start. Hope your hitters continue to produce, some big scores out there. This brings back fond memories. If you remember the movie "Bull Durham", I was living in NC and attending games in the ballpark the movie used, normally the home field of the Durham Bulls. Literally, the only changes the producers made was to repaint the outfield ads to make them contemporaneous with the movie. The extras in the stands were proud Bulls fans happy to do it. On a good night, might hold 4,000 fans. Get there early, one could sit right above the dugout, players at this stage are almost all friendly, autograph requests are taken as a compliment, not a per/pay item. A body could get a luke-warm 16 oz. draft beer for a buck and usually see a pretty good game.

One final item I have to throw in: personal thanks to Dr. Brad Baker at La Esperanza. I presented to him with what I thought might be a melanoma this week. He told me he could do it, but strongly encouraged me to see a dermatologist. I plead finances, I will have to pay for what I get. Talk about put one's money where one's mouth is, Dr. Baker offered to no-bill me for his visit if I would spend that money for a specialist. I go in Monday to have this carved off my face, it is small, early, great prospects, but Dr. Baker, my heartfelt thanks. If I ever win the lottery, you and La Esperanza will get a generous donation.

San Angelo is a great town to live in. Anytime one is tempted to doubt it, move away for a while. If I sometimes sound as if I am always kvetching about something, well, that's kind of my job, but I wouldn't bother if I didn't care and didn't think things were fixable.

Enjoy the "cold front", pray for rain today, otherwise I will be forced to water the pecan trees.


  1. Thanks for the updates. We certainly have a variety of issues at hand. I still need to do the basic reading on the issues to lend any honest insight.

    I agree, we need more rain. I'm wondering if we will be looking at increasing water conservation soon. I see lots of people watering their yards and playing in the water. I wonder if conservation ever crosses their minds. My yard, definately needs some water right now.

    I have been seeing predictions that the economy could be in for some tough times if the oil situation doesn't change. Its true oil is linked to every aspect of our economy and society. Yet, so far there is nothing but talk.

    From my perspective, it could be because people believe the current prices are the result of manipulation by the wealthy, especially the big oil tycoons.

    Collectively, the progress in society has been slow. True, there is talk of alternative energy and we are starting to see a little progress, however, not the earth shaking progress that may be needed.

    I would certainly agree to nuclear, because it would offer us a quicker way. Then ultimately, if we can gain enough energy from solar and wind, thats even better.

    I know that nuclear fission can be inherently dangerous because of the possibility of a meltdown. An event where the nuclear chain reaction gets out of control.

    I would imagine reactors today have a great deal of safety built in. Also, if they are careful on the location, that certainly helps. It would certainly generate some jobs.

    Ultimately, I think what we are looking at for the economy and energy policy will be directly determined by the November election.

    Its obvious, two totally different approaches are on the horizon. If the Dems get in, we will see sweeping changes.

    If I was a multimillionare, I would do this. I would bring in the Germans, and design and build the most comfortable and convenient mass transit system every built within San Angelo. Then, any day of the week, we could jump on that dude and go grocery shoppin, super walmart, work, or even bar hoppin. Then make it all free. Then we could save our cars for special occasions or driving out of town.

  2. Jim, I had an idea on the topic of moderating a web comments section. As you mentioned, moderating the posters is one aspect. I wanted to lend another idea. Since most of the posters like to think and write, we could have a rating system.

    Basically, the system would be based on criteria. New posters have to an entry level rating. They are judged on grammar, staying on topic, relevence, research, brevity, intelligence, expertise, idea development, and the number of times they have consistently contributed (writing skills). Those are just some ideas, but I hope you get the idea.

    Then, we simply need ideas to draw traffic to this site. Maybe we could link to AP articles and then open them up for comment. Its important to maintain anonymity.

    Maybe you could talk with a web site designer and develop something similar to what the standard times provides but really nice looking format.

    Once, you get it all set up, a little advertising could do the trick. I don't know if your interested in this at all.

    Obviously, it would need to be open and accomodating to all views.
    You might even limit certain topics to only..say 4 star members.

    I especially like the live type blogs, not chat room. I think the idea situation is like the times uses, live responses.

    I didnt agree with limiting the responses. I do agree with pulling the plug on certain out of control posters.

    Angelo is ready for this..and I am certain the Times will go to the non anonymous setting.

    If you offer another option, then we can view the difference in discussions... I am thinking once they remove anonymity, we will see..only the self important power folks making comments, sorta like an echo chamber.

  3. Why not have a reader-written local news site with reader-moderated comments?

    As fast-shrinking newspapers have discovered, the day of "news gatekeepers" has come and gone.

    Why must we wait "30 days" so some stuffed suit at the local paper can decide if we may voice our opinions?

    Reader-driven content is the key.

    Build, Jim, it and we will come.

  4. Anonymous the First; from all I hear, the price of oil is well above anything justified by straight supply/demand ratio. Seems to be a lot of speculative trading driving the price. Last Friday's saber-rattle by the Israli minister off defense didn't help. Probably had to be said, but it soothed no feathers in the Middle East.

    On nuclear, I noted last week they re-ran the old China Syndrome movie. I grind such teeth as I have every time that damnable thing comes up.

    It and Three Mile Island effectively killed nuclear for a generation and for no good reason. Had I bothered to row a boat to TMI and clung to the perimeter fence, I could not have received more additional radiation than generated by the typical medical X-ray of the time. I've never found the stats on it, but it is a certainty that more people were injured and killed in traffic as 200,000 poorly-informed panicky residents fled screaming into the night than were damaged by rediation, as the latter number is zero.

    It took almost willful idiocy by operators to make TMI as bad as it was. Today we have the option of going with a "pebble-bed" tech that requires no coolant at all. There is a corresponding loss of efficiency, but acceptable.

    The most inefficient thing in America's nuclear program is the total lack of reprocessing. Simply put, we take spent fuelrods and want to encase them in glassine blocks and bury them two miles deep. This is IDIOCY. Someone recently used the metaphor; it is as though we have gone deep in the woods to cut down a huge tree for the fire, we bring it home, burn the bark off it and then, rather than burn the rest of the log, we go to even greater expense to bury it so deep no one can ever use the rest of it.

    If a spent rod is hot enough to be dangerous, it is by definition a better source of new fuel rods than any ore on Earth! The French suffer none of our delusions, they reprocess their fuel and generate about 80% of their electricty from nuclear.

    This idiocy has its origins in our nookier engineer President, Jimmy Carter. He saw banning reprocessing as necessary to nucler weapon non-proliferation. That certainly worked well, didn't it.

    So now our energy policy has us "burning the bark", ignoring our own production possibilities, while the Chinese help the Cubans drill for offshore oil our own idiot laws won't let us get to!

    Anonymous the second, and I'm guessing the third as same person, This Blog is basically a two person operation which Jim Turner, the computer savvy person, and I operate in such spare time as we get from making a living.

    We were talking about something on the lines of your suggestion this weekend. We do believe this thing of ours has potential, we intend to (well, really Jim Turner, he is the tech side of this) build it and hope they come.

    Stay in touch this summer, and meantime, thank you all for reading and contributing. I think I can say with confidence, anyone posting anonymously will remain anonymous here.

    BTW, I dropped off an editorial to S-T this AM on the anonymity question and Ty assures me he will get it in, no date at this time. I will likely post it here with permission of course, after print. That's part of the deal, I ask for their ink, they get first publication. Beyond saying I dissent from Mr. Griffin's letter of Sat. that's about all I can say now. I don't really expect it will change Mr. Archuleta's decision, but at least a case will be made.