Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Cadillac was alive with party goers for Halloween!...

and the winner of the costume contest is...

Friday, October 30, 2009

Enjoy your Halloween but be safe!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Going back for a few days...

Monday, October 26, 2009

Self-jiving Nation

The scene in the White House these days must be a sort of Opera Bouffe, in which an earnest and rather grave young man moves from one roomful of lesser officials to another in which all agree to pretend that they have prevented the nation from falling into something they call "the abyss." At the end of Act I, a young deputy FDIC commissioner in the Little Mary Sunshine mold gets down on one knee, belts out a show-stopper about the glories of a bright and shining "tomorrow," and the audience goes out for intermission to discover that the city has been burning down around the theater all night.
Out in America-the-Real, Halloween time in this year of 2009 has an interesting "Day of the Locust" flavor. There's more than a whiff of smoke in the air, along with an odor of dead carp wafting out of all the the offices and institutions we depend on to define reality. Like the Hollywood of Nathaniel West's dark 1939 novel, America today seems poised in the gate of some harsh judgment. When the historians look back at this era - especially at the time between January 20th and the holiday season of 2009 - won't they marvel at how well-understood our predicament actually was, by so many parties to it, and the gulf between that comprehension and the story we told ourselves: that we were "recovering."

Like a lot of other observer-interlocutors, I'd like to know what folks imagine we are recovering to. To a renewed orgy of credit-card spending? To yet another round of suburban expansion, with the boys in the yellow hard-hats driving stakes out in the sagebrush for another new thousand-unit pop-up "community?" For a next generation of super-cars built to look like medieval war wagons? That's the "hope" that our officials seem to pretend to offer. It's completely inconsistent with any reality-based trend-lines, by the way.
Perhaps it's time to redefine "hope" in the greater social sense of the word. To me, hope is not synonymous with "wishes fulfilled." In fact, hope should not be about wishing at all. Hope should be based on confidence that the individual or group is reliably competent enough to meet the challenges that circumstances present. Hope is justified when people demonstrate to themselves that they can behave ably and bravely. Hope is not really possible in the face of patent untruthfulness. It is derived from a clear-eyed and courageous view of what is really going on. I don't think that defines any of the behavior in the United States these days. We've become a self-jiving nation intent on playing shell games, running Ponzi schemes, and working Polish blanket tricks on ourselves.

It begins to look now as if the Obama team is determined to run this creaking vessel right over the falls. We could have bravely faced the structural perversities in banking the past year, but we decided not to. So far only a tiny minority of the public - unfortunately the "tea-bagging" race-baiters - have been the only ones to squawk. I look around at my fellow baby-boomer ex-hippie, ex-political radical age-cohorts and I see a sad-ass claque of passive, played-out, defeated dreamers too depressed to form a coherent thought about what's really going on... lost in sentimental fantasies about "world peace," or free heart-transplants-for-everybody as they, the boomers themselves, lurch toward the graveyard.

Obama was not a boomer, not one of "us," so I had expectations that he'd rise above the fog of wishful thinking. But he begins to look more like Millard Fillmore and less like an earlier president from Illinois who got elected on the eve of a terrible national political convulsion. I think about Lincoln a lot these days, about how circumstances shoved him to act when Southern secessionists fired on Fort Sumter barely a month after the new president took the oath of office (which was done in March back then). There was no spinning the news on it, no wiggling away from reality: an organized insurrection led by rogue U.S. military officers fired on their fellow officers... and that was that. The issue, as the saying goes, was joined.

If you think we have been in a crisis of finance and economy for the past year or so, consider that we have also been sunk in a comprehensive crisis of leadership. Nobody in authority is willing to face the truth, state the truth, and offer a reality-based idea about how to meet the truth, This is a leadership failure not just in politics and government, but also in business, in the university faculties, in the editorial and production offices of the news media, and even among a barely-breathing clergy.

Americans look around and see nobody standing up for their interests. Their greatest interest is a vision of a fruitful society that they can help build and be a part of beyond the current wreckage of revolving-debt consumerism. It will have to be a vision based on fewer resources and on new arrangements for daily living. It will have to recognize losses frankly, and enable us to let go of things whose time is over, whether that is Happy Motoring, college-for-everybody, vast industries devoted to vanished leisure, or procedures geared to getting something-for-nothing.

For now, I still see the inflection point as coming by the holiday season, when the masters-of-the-universe on Wall Street will have to publicly post their Christmas bonuses (and as publicly held corporations, they will have to). It is also well within the realm of possibility that a Black Swan the size of Rodan the Flying Reptile will swoop through the stock markets to breath fire on the computer terminals and melt the glorious rally of 09 away. In the meantime, I wonder about that man in the White House, and those ever more comical meetings he attends every day. He must emerge from them spinning like a nine dollar gyroscope. Nobody wants to imagine what happens to him when the spinning stops.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Trying to meet life's challenges...

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


Monday, October 19, 2009

Marching Towards Zombieland
by James Howard Kunstler

When sober-minded individuals begin to regard an enterprise within a nation as "an enemy of the people" you can bet that some serious blood is going to flow. This is now essentially the situation for the Goldman Sachs company, which last week announced third-quarter earnings of over $3 billion largely derived from converting zero percent loans from taxpayers into zero risk profits off of anything paying more than zero percent in interest, revenue, or dividends.

The "people" across this big country may not have a clue how any of this is done, and there may be much to fault them on from the care-and-feeding of their own bodies to the content of their dreams, but you can't argue with the fact that they are heavily armed to an extreme. And although it may be hard to measure with precision, one might venture to state that they are increasingly pi$$ed off. How else explain popular entertainments like "Zombieland?"

The political part of what has to date appeared to be an economic problem is resolving into a crisis of authority and legitimacy. When those in charge of a nation's livelihood prove to be comprehensively false and dishonest, the economic automatically turns political. Nobody believes the bankers anymore, of course, and nobody believes the interlocutors of the bankers - the Federal Reserve chairman, the Secretary of the Treasury, the heads of the SEC and a dozen other regulatory bodies - and increasingly the charming figure in the White House cannot be believed on these issues of the nation's livelihood.

The questions lately revolve around whether the nation is destroying itself by inflation or deflation - by the willful destruction of the value of our currency to evade the repayment of debt, or by the hapless destruction of households, companies, and governments by default and bankruptcy. It's a fire-or-ice debate. Either way the nation is going down as a viable enterprise. The fiction that we can return to a Crate-and-Barrel credit card orgy has sustained the false of heart and mind for some months now, but even that pleasant reverie will come to an end as the foreclosures mount. Only remember, men living in their cars who have lost nearly everything else will still have guns.

All these tensions beat a path into the holiday season when emotions run high, when blessings are counted and sorrows taste most bitter. So the big question now floating above the sheer data of Goldman Sachs profit announcement is: what kind of year-end bonuses will they dare to pay their executives and minions, and how will the "people" react? It seems to me that conditions are ripening for a bloodbath. The kind of heinous acts that we have feared emanating from foreign "evildoers" since the awful stunt of 9/11/01 are now most likely to come from among our own "people" - a few pounds of Semtex in the lobby of Goldman Sachs's New York headquarters... a few men with market-grade small arms converted to full-automatic outside on the Wall Street sidewalk one evening at holiday time when the suits are leaving work for the day.... It won't take much.

President Obama had better strike first. He's about the only figure left in the whole termite mound who has a shred of even potential credibility left because he still has the power to act. He can instruct the people who work for the executive branch to "claw back" any and all ill-gotten bank bonuses; he can direct the Justice Department to investigate everything from the uses of federal bailouts to grand-scale accounting fraud; he can fire people in high places who have failed to act and lost legitimacy. If he doesn't do these things soon than he's finished, too. In the wake of such a failure things will get fractal fast.

The sense that Wall Street has pulled off a coup d'etat and taken over the machinery of the United States is the most powerful meme out there now, and its power is growing in magnitude every day among all classes of Americans. I can't say how much it reflects reality. Even if it is a result of sheer happenstance - the tragic evolution of an industrial economy into a financial finagling economy - the citizens will still experience it as a stealing of their future. Whatever else one might say about American culture, it is keenly attuned to a sense of heroes and villains. We take great pride in our ability to blow away the bad guys. And life imitates art, as Oscar Wilde observed. If a zombie virus is on the loose in America, the first infections showed up in the zombie banks, among the zombie bankers. Watch out, Lloyd Blankfein! Woody is on his way....

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Trying my luck with comps...this is what happens when I get bored at 2AM...

Friday, October 16, 2009

Blythe from a while back...

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Khamenei in Coma, a rumor that could be true?

by ramintork

Rumor has it that yesterday afternoon at 2.15PM local time, Khamenei collapsed and was taken to his special clinic. No one except his son and the doctors have since been allowed to get near him.

So far this has not been confirmed by any reliable News agencies, or the IRI state News agencies.

If true and if he dies then one could expect a three day chinese whispers game similar to Khomeini's death announcement being played by the authorities. The security forces would be deployed, but this time with the added fear of an uprising from Rafsanjani, Karubi. Mousavi camp.

Rumors of Khamenei's ill health have been circulating for a while and it is possible that given his ill health the Billions of dollars that ended up in Turkey was a measure to have funds outside the country ready for his family or the conservatives to have the resources to fight back or perhaps settle somewhere else if the current turmoil proved too much.

The Blog which seemed to have triggered off this News seemed to be this:-

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Recent People

Monday, October 12, 2009

Booby Prize
by James Howard Kunstler

on October 12, 2009 5:36 AM

When that phone call came around six a.m. last week telling President Obama he'd been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, I had to think he turned to Michelle and said, "Honey, our life together has just gotten more surreal." I was hoping that he would politely refuse it, perhaps making a statement later that morning along the lines: "...since circumstances have placed me in the unfortunate position of prosecuting two wars at the present time, I cannot accept...." It would have introduced a refreshing note of truthfulness among friend and foe alike.

Much of the chatter on the Web about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, especially regarding causes and justifications, I regard as childish and silly. I especially follow the political podcasts issued by Slate and The New Yorker Magazine. They are garrulous without being especially astute. They seem to think we're in Afghanistan, for instance, in order to stabilize a central government, presumably a democratically-elected one. I don't think the Pentagon or the State Department give a rat's ass about the Afghan state or how its hard-bitten denizens scratch a living out of the tortured landscape there. Our motive there since the initial whacking of the Taliban government in 2001 has been to use it as the eastern geographic wedge against Iran, with Iraq as the western wedge, making a nice sandwich of Iran between two garrisons of US Wonder Bread. Hold that thought for a moment while I digress.

The debate about Iraq has been equally dumb for the past six years. The Left still thinks it was about the contingent "lies" employed around the "weapons of mass destruction" issue. Their indignation is pegged to their own swallowing of these "lies" at the critical moment of voting to support military action -- that is, they are pissed off at themselves, especially for making people in a foreign land feel bad. I always believed there was a larger motive for invading Iraq: the strategic need to kick the ass of an Arab nation as an answer to the 9/11 attacks -- regardless of whether Iraq instigated 9/ll or not. My view is not a popular one, to put it mildly, especially among my fellow Democrats, but I think it is closer to the truth.

Why poor Iraq? Because Iraq as a geographical entity was best situated as a US Middle East police station between Iran and Saudi Arabia and because Iraq's leader at the time, Mr. Saddam Hussein, was addicted to mischief-making in the region. Finally, because Saddam Hussein was ethnically Arab and the Arab world needed to get the message that knocking down skyscrapers full of American citizens was not okay (again, whether Saddam had any part in 9/11 or not). And, no, the invasion of Afghanistan was not enough because the Afghani people were not ethnically Arabs, so whatever we did there in 2001 did not really count except as a desperate prophylactic measure.) In summary: Iraq was therefore the best candidate for an ass-kicking in the Middle East. I will get to the consequences shortly.

Before I go a step further, I must anticipate the angry mail that will pour in from the 9/ll conspiracy sector -- the people who believe Dick Cheney or GW Bush or both (along with thousands of CIA and Pentagon worker bees) directed the attacks, or secretly placed explosive charges to bring down the buildings, or fired a missile at the Pentagon.... I regard the true believers of this ****ing nonsense as hopelessly brain-damaged -- and warn that I will delete your tiresome rehearsals of these scenarios, so don't bother trying to "correct" me.

Many are no doubt wondering what could possibly be of "strategic" value about kicking anybody's a$$ geopolitically. Let me put it this way: there are varieties of discourse between the different peoples of this planet that occur on a plane above the conventional understanding of diplomatic push-and-pull, especially where acts of war are concerned. These varieties of discourse are not recognized by the current dominant American mentality, which is of the therapeutic type, based on the idea that the behavior of individuals and groups can be modified and even improved if they feel better (especially about themselves). I blame my own generation, the Boomers, for establishing this wishful ethos as the basis for all the policy of our time, foreign, domestic, municipal, classroom, household.... The Millennials, when they out-grow their adolescent angst, will not be so foolish, I guarantee you. And my fellow Boomers will feel it personally as the Millennials cut the funding for their bedpan service.

The strategic value was in sending a message to Radical Islam: the dogs of war are now loose... any further major shenanigans will be opposed violently. Whatever else might be said about the beef between the Radical Islam and the USA, there have been no further acts of war here on the scale of 9/11. Perhaps our adversaries are content that we have committed suicide by securitized debt and they are enjoying the spectacle of watching the American economy slide down history's cloaca maxima. Personally, I think if another violent aggression had been staged by "terrorists" on the 9/11 scale soon after that, our response would have had to be the turning of some Islamic capital cities into ashtrays -- but I venture into the realm of the hypothetically unutterable.

I would argue that to some degree the Iraq War has been a more successful project than many think, if only temporarily and partially. For one thing, it has mostly taken the form of a hazardous occupation, that is, a kind of ugly post-war, rather than a high-attrition "hot" war as normally understood, even by Vietnam standards. But it has been successful in a way that few well-intentioned foreign policy kibitzers would probably grant: it has allowed the USA to operate a police station in the Middle East for a decade. Why is this necessary or desirable? Because the world depends on a reliable oil supply out of the Middle East and would descend into chaos if that supply was interrupted. This is apart, even, from the USA's desperate need for the 10 percent of our oil that we get from the region. Have we prevented chaos in the Middle East or only provoked it? That will be an interesting question for the next generation of PhD candidates. Maybe postponing it for a decade was the best we might have hoped for under the circumstances, though we did nothing at home to make use of that lull. You might say the US military presence in Iraq and Afghanistan has prevented Iran from assuming hegemonic domination of the Persian Gulf. If you are one of the kibitzers I cite above, and you are enjoying the ride in your Toyota Prius and the heat in your house, the regular re-supply of your local supermarket, and maybe even the electric juice to your broker's Bloomberg terminal, then you'd better include these amenities in your ruminations over the ongoing geopolitical calculus.

The combination of extreme resource dependency and religious fanaticism is a fatal equation for the Middle East. They are angry, crazy and often savage people who own something we can't live without, and we are overfed buffoons, often savage ourselves, who think we can make them like us -- whether they like it or not. Again, personally, I don't believe the status quo will persist a whole lot longer. The US economy is radically de-complexifying (i.e. crashing). Part of this will be expressed in the bankruptcy of US military capacity -- at least where supporting troops-on-the-ground in foreign lands is concerned, and probably overseas bases, too. The US could get in trouble with other sources of foreign oil (think: Mexico) before anything chokes off the Middle East. But in one way or another, the US will soon become both capital-and-energy-resource-challenged to an extreme, perhaps to the extreme where we can't feed ourselves. Our problems in running the nation as it has been set up to run -- as a colossal demolition derby with sideshows of bargain shopping and infotainment -- are insurmountable if one accepts the majority view that it is "non-negotiable."

Our only hope, really, is a conscious campaign to manage our own process of de-complexifying, before the universe manages it for us, whether we like it or not. One tragic part of this -- among many and for many parties -- is that we did not use the last decade of relative world stability to get that process underway here. Even President Barack Obama is complicit in this failure. For instance, instead of cash-for clunkers, he could have gotten the trains running on time between New York and Chicago. I wonder, is there a prize for leaders who can get their nation's priorities straight.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Fog!... Life is sometimes like that!...

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Was pretty funky out there tonight, but several of us braved the trip into town for a DPS mini-meet...which turned out to be a blast!

Friday, October 02, 2009

IESI Going Green: First for North Texas in McKinney

Published: Friday, October 2, 2009 9:24 AM CDT
Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson, Congressman Sam Johnson, State Representative Ken Paxton and McKinney Mayor Brian Loughmiller on hand this morning for opening

McKinney Courier-Gazette

On Friday, IESI, a North Texas based leader in the U.S. solid waste industry, will unveil its new 28,000 square foot Material Recovery Facility (MRF) in McKinney. Upon the U.S. Green Building Council’s approval, this facility will be the first privately funded single-stream LEED certified Material Recycling Facility in North America.

The grand opening of the first North Texas LEED certified recycling facility will be at 9:30 a.m. Friday at 2138 Country Lane in McKinney.

To inaugurate the innovative new facility, Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson, Congressman Sam Johnson, State Representative Ken Paxton and McKinney Mayor Brian Loughmiller will participate in opening ceremonies. In addition to brief remarks, area school children will assist company executives in sealing a recyclable time capsule and company CEO Mickey Flood will christen the facility with a giant truck delivering the first load of recyclables.

IESI, a leader in the U.S. solid waste industry, just unveiled its new Material Recovery Facility (MRF) in McKinney. Upon the U.S. Green Building Council’s approval, this facility will be the first privately funded single-stream LEED certified Material Recycling Facility in North America.

“This is an exciting day for not only our company and residents of North Texas, but for anyone who cares about making a difference in reducing our environmental impact,” said Mickey Flood, IESI president & CEO. “We have essentially succeeded in making recycling even greener by processing the collected materials in a state-of-the-art environmentally conscious facility. We are not just talking about being green, we are showing our dedication to the environment with our actions and investment.”

The 28,000 square foot facility will annually process more than 144 million pounds of non-hazardous materials including glass, plastic, paper, aluminum, tin and cardboard. The facility itself incorporates sustainable features such as certified wood, building materials containing recycled content, low-emitting materials, water-conserving fixtures and features to reduce the heat-island effect.

Developed by the U.S. Green Building Council in 2000, and regulated by the Green Building Certification Institute, LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is the nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction and operation of green commercial structures.

“With the public becoming even more committed to recycling, it became apparent that we needed to expand our facilities,” said John Gustafson, IESI vice president, Texas Region. “We decided it was important to do it right and make the investment to build a LEED certified facility. Our new Material Recovery Facility more than triples our capacity. It will process collected recycled materials from residential and commercial customers across North Texas.”

The IESI McKinney MRF also houses a second-floor community room and observation deck overlooking the recycling operations area. Here, IESI invites area schools, scouting groups, after- school programs, chambers of commerce and other organizations to tour the MRF and learn about the importance of recycling. The education room also contains a time capsule filled with items individuals and businesses currently recycle.

IESI is a full service solid waste management company founded in Justin, Texas in 1995 with just two trucks, two drivers and one and a half routes. IESI now employees more than 2,700 associates and operates a fleet of more than 1,200 routed vehicles. IESI is a subsidiary of IESI-BFC Ltd., one of North America's largest full-service waste management companies, providing non-hazardous solid waste collection and landfill disposal services for commercial, industrial, municipal and residential customers in five provinces and ten U.S. states.

To find out more about IESI-BFC Ltd., visit