Thursday, May 31, 2007

I want to be a part of BA, Buenos Aires, Big Apple

Nice to learn the meaning of "feria" as it is in the name of one of my favorite restaurants here in Austin.

That Ernesto Guevara de la Serna (Che) is considered a hero to anyone still boggles my mind.

Can't argue with the international Bush hatred, if LJ saw/heard it I believe him.

Kerry on Edwards

From Robert Shrum at Time:

Kerry talked with several potential picks, including Gephardt and Edwards. He was comfortable after his conversations with Gephardt, but even queasier about Edwards after they met. Edwards had told Kerry he was going to share a story with him that he'd never told anyone else—that after his son Wade had been killed, he climbed onto the slab at the funeral home, laid there and hugged his body, and promised that he'd do all he could to make life better for people, to live up to Wade's ideals of service. Kerry was stunned, not moved, because, as he told me later, Edwards had recounted the same exact story to him, almost in the exact same words, a year or two before—and with the same preface, that he'd never shared the memory with anyone else. Kerry said he found it chilling [emph. added], and he decided he couldn't pick Edwards unless he met with him again.

That is just creepy...not so much the thing about his son, if that is true [though what is it they say about remembering one's lies] I'm not going to judge...but having forgotten he'd already told the story.

Nineteen Minutes

I wouldn't call myself a huge fan of Ms. Picoult, but I have read several of her books and have enjoyed the ones I have read. I knew the basic plot (a school rampage shooting at a high school) beforehand, but what made this interesting to me was how she explored the event from many different angles (the shooter, the shooter's parents, the lead detective, the best friend of the shooter, the judge who is the mother of the best friend) and from different points in time from years before the shooting to months after. You do find yourself, while perhaps not condoning the shooting, sympathizing with the shooter and what drove him to get to that point. Of course there is a plot twist that to me seemed rather predictable (I had mostly figured it out at page 108), but even with the ending not being a total surprise, I found this to be a very good read. It did, at times, take me back to my middle school and high school days, wondering if my schools had anyone that was a "walking time bomb".

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Buenos Aires Story #1

One of the bigger attractions of Buenos Aires (BA) are the various weekend ferias (arts and crafts markets), which can range from small to large, depending on the neighborhood. One of the biggest, and most famous, is the one in San Telmo. It is geared more to tourists and is mostly tango and antique oriented. It is held on Sunday. On our first trip to BA 2 years ago, we didn’t get to go because I went to futbol (soccer) matches on the 2 Sundays we were there (C shopped on one; the other she also went to the soccer match with me). The feria spreads from the main square in San Telmo outwards, mainly going down the major E-W street of the district. This is the “official” feria, with booths and what looks like permits from the city. Once you get to the intersection of the main E-W street and the main N-S street, the “unofficial” feria starts – mainly young people with blankets on the ground with the stuff they are selling. It was packed (people as far as you could see) and it got rather warm in the afternoon – at least warm enough for us to stop in at a local heladeria (ice cream shop). Even though C and I have mastered the ordering technique, it is still obvious to all that we aren’t Argentine. The following is the exchange we had with the counter people as they were making our cones:

Counter person #1: “Ah, you are American, yes?”
Me: “Yes, we are.”
Counter person #1: “Where are you from?”
Me: “Texas, Dallas.”
Counter person #1: “Oh, Texas….George Bush. I don’t like George Bush.”
Counter person #2: “Me either. I don’t like him.”
Me: “Well, that’s OK. I don’t like him much either.”
C: “Many Americans don’t like him. But we are having elections next year and he will not
be President any longer, so that will make those who don’t like him happy.”
Counter person #1: “Who will be the new President?”
C: “We don’t know – it’s too soon to tell. We don’t even know who our choices will be.”
Me: “Thank you – gracias.”
Counter person #1: “Good day – enjoy your time here in Argentina.”

As C and I walk out of the shop, she comments that my cone has twice as much ice cream than hers. I hadn’t really noticed and look and sure enough, mine is huge. I ask C why and she laughs and says it was because I told the girl that I didn’t like George Bush. And she was probably right. As we walk down the street looking at the booths and what they are selling, I notice a booth selling t-shirts. They have the usual blue and white striped Argentina shirt (modeled after the soccer jersey of the national team), the “Che” shirt and then I notice another. It says…..”KILL BUSH” with a drawing of GWB. I was shocked. I mean, that is pretty extreme. I thought about buying one, not to wear or to condone the message, but to have. But then, I worried about the possibilities if it was seen by US Custom agents upon our return. We did take a picture of it (as proof of its existence). I wanted to ask the seller how many she sells, but I was afraid of the answer. You see anti-GWB graffiti all over the place. To say that he is not well liked down there is an vast understatement

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Victoria Jackson a Believer?

Who would have thought it of...the zany blond on SNL?

Update: must go to bio to see my point.

Even a bit of CS Lewis in there.

Christopher Hitchens and Dennis Prager on Religion

Very interesting discussion of the book by Hitchens on "god" to be found at Prager's radio show (hour three, May 29, 2007).

May God bless Christopher Hitchens. He is so good and smart and so wrong.

Texas Funeral at the Corner

First, LJ, welcome back.

Second, this post at the Corner almost brought tears to my eyes.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Observations from Buenos Aires

Well, C and I are back from our trip. I'm just going to share a few general observations for now, then relate 2 stories a bit later. First, it sucks to have a cold when you are on a plane for 10 1/2 hours. I had just gotten over a cold/flu before we left and on the day we left to come back, suffered a bit of a relapse. Didn't feel too well yesterday, today a bit better.

It was obvious to us that prices had gone up in Argentina. While the exchange rate is still good for U.S travellers ($1 = 3 pesos), prices for most all goods and services had gone up since our last trip 2 years ago. Even our Argentine friends commented that they had noticed that prices had risen. The said that the government says prices have risen about 12-15%, but they say it's closer to 35-40%. Their economy is getting stronger and you can see the results in new construction, rebuilding of infrastructure, etc.

This trip, we noticed military personnel at various locations throughout Buenos Aires. We did not see that our last trip. We thought it might be because of a national holiday on Friday (perhaps military parades), but our friends said that normally the military only parades on the Argentine independence day. Our friends could not explain the presence of military in the city.

The subway workers were on strike while we were there. As it was explained to us, the government (which either owns or controls the subway) offered the workers a 16% raise. The workers wanted 24% and thus went on strike. Now, an Argentine strike is a bit different than what we are used to. What they did was for 2 days, not charge anyone for riding. They just opened the gates. For the rest of the time we were there, it was free during both morning and afternoon rush hours, but you had to pay during all other times. As it was explained to us, the average Argentine didn't understand how you reject a 16% pay raise and had the workers done what we would consider a normal strike, they would lose the support of the people. Needless to say, the subways were packed, and not just during rush hour. In the middle of the day, there were times when we were crammed in like cattle and could barely move.

It was the beginning of fall and the weather was great - low 60's and blue skies during the day, upper 40's at night. We had only 1 day (out of 9) that it was windy and thus felt cold. But it was strange to see many, many people bundled up like it was the depth of winter in Buffalo when I was walking around in a short sleeve shirt.

We noticed many more English speaking tourists this time around. Not just Americans, but British and Australians. We went to a tango show (geared to tourists) and there were folks from Israel, Japan, Russia, Canada among many others.

Guess that's all for now - in the next few days, I'll relate a couple of stories that I feel will be very enlightening concerning how America, Americans, our President and our policies are viewed by Argentines (many of whom have travelled not only to the USA, but to Europe as well).


Victor Davis Hanson spent three hours with Hugh Hewitt for HH's Memorial Day program. It was great but he did reiterate disconcertingly that he is still a registered Democrat.

P. J. O'Rourke

I should have posted this during my reading of his book On The Wealth of Nations but was derelict.

When I read Peggy Noonan’s What I Saw At The Revolution, I came across my favorite P.J. O’Rourke quote.

From page 219 of her book:

Well, I’ll tell you how I feel about European tastes. I love Europe, we all love Europe. But there’s that European attitude, the snide superior smirk you get sometimes in Paris or Bonn. I have only once seen it properly responded to, by the writer P. J. O’Rourke in a 1986 essay for Rolling Stone about his vacation in Europe. It was at the end of the trip and he was having an argument about America with a “Limey poofter” and he finally blew his stack. “We’re three-quarters grizzly bear and two-thirds car wreck and descended from a stock-market crash on our mother’s side. You take your Germany, France and Spain, roll them all together, and it wouldn’t give us room to park our cars. We’re the big boys, Jack, the original giant economy-size new and improved butt kicker of all time. When we snort coke in Houston, people lose their hats in Cap d’Antibes…. We drink napalm to get our hearts started in the morning. A rape and a mugging is our way of saying cheerio. Hell can’t hold our sock hops. We walk taller, talk louder, spit further…and buy more things that you know the names of. I’d rather be a junkie in a New York jail than king, queen and jack of all you Europeans. We eat little countries like this for breakfast and s**t [edit by scooter] them out before lunch.”

Although he exaggerates to illustrate, I hope he was right or I hope we still are. I also hope that the Merkel and Sarkozy elections indicate a change.


Alzheimer's is a pretty interesting thing.

About 2 hours ago there was a knock at my door and I opened it to a well dressed older gentlemen. He looked at me and said, "I have no idea where I am or how I got here. Can you help me?"

He knew his name and his wife's so I went to the phone book to no avail. I tried dialing 411 and learned that that apparently is no longer available to me. Starting to panic, I jumped on the internet and found that Carl was about 35 miles from home. He is a resident of Sun City which is a seniors community (and quite a nice one) about six miles west of Georgetown, Texas which is about 30 miles north of me. Stupidly, I never thought to ask him if he had his wallet.

I tried calling his wife but no answer so I left her my number. Then I called back and left another message telling her not to worry because I would bring Carl home. He's now home. Lots of conversation about his wife (he clearly loves her but she's Roman Catholic and "that's her problem") and some of his time as a clergyman. He has a theory about the inordinate number of grey, brown and green cars but he never shared it with me. I think he might be colorblind and sees them all as one color.

I still have no idea how he got here and neither does he. 35 miles...scary.

How do I know it was Alzheimer's? At some point he felt compelled to show me his driver's license and noticed an Alzheimer's card in his wallet.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Sowell's letter to Lino Graglia

For Michael due to his Con Law Prof.

From p. 242-3 of A Man of Letters:

July 28, 1972

Dear Lino:

Coincidentally, I received in the same mail a letter from a reader of my Forbes column, who takes me to task for having let my "anti-abortion" bias cloud my judgment of Planned Parenthood v. Casey. The very possibility that my criticism of that case was about judicial activism, rather than the policy decision, seem not to have crossed his mind. In reality, I am one of the few people in America who does not have "the answer" on abortion policy.


A point made throughout his letters, the elected and therefore accountable legislature decides policy not unelected, unaccountable judges.