A blog about Politics, Texas, and Academia

Archive for September, 2007|Monthly archive page

Texas Taxpayers Paying for Perry’s Temporary Home

In Are you kidding me?, Texas Politics on September 28, 2007 at 9:05 am

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Here again is another example of out tax dollars at work. Mrs. and Governor G.Q. will be staying in a temporary leased home while their own 150 year-old home is having a makeover. The cost? $9900 a month – yes a month – for at least a year. The 6,386 square foot home in a posh west Austin neighborhood has been listed on the market for more than a year, with the most recent asking price $1.85 million. Move in will be next month.

Wait! There’s more!

The home with “luxurious Texas styling” sits on 3.25 acres and has pecan hardwood floors, a gourmet kitchen with marble countertops and another kitchen outside by the pool. It includes a subzero refrigerator, a balcony and a third-story attic converted to a game room. A separate guest house will be used as staff quarters.

Funny how it seems that Perry is never even around to need this type of luxury but I guess we have to make the little woman happy huh?

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Bush Administration Considers Cyberwar Agency

In China, Congress, Internet, Media, Military, news, Technology, World News on September 27, 2007 at 6:35 pm

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A few weeks ago the Pentagon confirmed that part of the Department of Defense’s email system was compromised by hackers. Most shocking was the fact Defense Secretary Robert Gates had his name on the list of hacked emails. The DoD would not formally accuse the Chinese government of being the hackers, but Washington has began initiatives to step up security in cyberworld.

The Bush administration is considering the creation of a new agency that will focus on the security and protection of government computers and programs. The agency would also help private companies and public utilities prevent computer attacks and hacking.

How big is the threat against the U.S.’s government computers?

According to Brian Ross and Vic Walter at ABC News,

“Internet security companies, such as Akamai in Boston, are currently tracking thousands of attacks against the U.S. government and corporate computer systems every day…”We would not be in a good situation if we were to enter a cyberwar today,” Akamai co-founder and chief scientist Tom Leighton said.

They also include in their report, “On most days, the single biggest source of those attacks is China…A Chinese general has talked about how they would reach out through cyberspace and turn off the American electric power grid before any conflict with the United States,” said Dick Clarke, a former White House counterterrorism official and now ABC News consultant.”

Sound like an episode from 24? I don’t know about you but I think this is some really scary stuff and this is actually one proposal that I’m going to support the Bush administration on.

For the complete story from ABC News, read here. The report also includes a video from World News Tonight which you can watch here.

The Ignorance Of Houston

In College, Houston, UST on September 26, 2007 at 11:58 am

Picture from the Houston Chronicle

Yesterday the University of St. Thomas in Houston (UST) was on the front page of the Houston Chronicle. The story reported on the dedication of the new monument that stands in front of the private university. UST is a Catholic university on private property. I do have some qualms with the Chronicle article and those individuals that felt worthy of leaving comments at the end of the article. Now I am not Catholic (I’m an Episcopalian a.k.a. Diet Catholic) but I do attend UST.

My first gripe is about the lack of pictures within the article. (Funny as while I’m writing this, the story has been removed from the front page and is now under the Houston & Texas section.) Out of the four pictures that the Chronicle has included within their article, only ONE shows the actual monument, and it was a poor picture at that. The other three picture have those individuals included in the dedication ceremony such as the President of UST Bob Ivany, the widow of Edward P. White whom the plaque is named after, the creator of the memorial plaque, and Archbishop Emeritus Joseph Fiorenza.

The second issue: why was the title of the article changed? When I first read it, the title was something in the lines of “New University of St. Thomas Monument Marks the Gateway to the Museum District.” Why is it now boring and plain? It now reads “New Monument Dedicated at St. Thomas Campus.” Was it the ton of comments from ignorant readers on the newspaper’s website that created the change? This leads me to the comments.

Readers are allowed to leave comments at the end of this article. Here is where the true ignorance of Houston comes out in full force. I’m all for free speech but for God’s sake people, try not to sound so stupid.

Here are a few examples:

Husserl:

The University of Saint Thomas has done a fantastic job of improving it campus. Generally, it is a beautiful asset to the Montrose area. However, I question the design of this small plaza. The name of the institution is almost totally hidden by the giant cross. I do not think the cross needs to be so gigantic to get the point across, and I certainly do not like the idea of having crosses on the city street signs at Alabama @ Montrose. I truly respect St. Thomas as a catholic university. I just wish they would in turn respect me as a tax-paying non-christian.

Ok, I agree with you that you cannot see the University’s name behind the cross but respect you as a tax-paying non-christian? And what point are they trying to get across? Does the name University of ST THOMAS put up a lightbulb that it may be a Catholic university? This was not the idea behind the cross on the monument. What does being a tax paying non-chrisitian have anything to do with this monument being on private property?

Here’s another:

Antibios:

I agree with Husserl. I live in Montrose and I dont want to see a huge cross a few blocks from my house. Not everyone in the world are Christians.

No, and not everyone is a hypocritical, close-minded, non-educated individual such as yourself. Have some tolerance – after all, YOU LIVE IN MONTROSE! Does the Greek Orthodox Church down the street bother you too? How about the Valero gas station where I have seen people numerous times shooting up illegal drugs. (And for the record, I don’t know for sure that they are illegal but seeing that I watched one guy pass out right afterward…go figure.)

gracylue:

Ummm – they own the land it sits on. They can put anything they want there, just like you could put up a giant statue of Satan or Homer Simpson or whatever else you want to put up if you owned the property. How is that disrespecting you? ,

And about not wanting to look at a cross in Montrose (couple of comments down), I had to look at trannies, homeless folks, people walking half naked down the street, beer bottles, dumb hipster teenagers, and street kids every day when I lived in the Montrose. Should I have just told them to go away? Freedom of expression goes both ways.

Amen gracylue! For those of you that aren’t familiar with the university area, it is in a part of Houston (Montrose Blvd most famously) that is considered the “gay” district with high crime. There are rainbow flags outside of adult shops and bars and at any moment you may be fascinated with the spectacles of adult toys and posters in the windows along the street. This is also an area where I thought I would become a statistic – a man tried to attack me through my window last term because he didn’t want to let cars merge into his lane. That story for another day.

One last one:

hou_lemme:

I’m just still cracked up by STU being so desperate to be affiliated with a district a mile down the road, they put up a cross and name it “The Gateway to the Museum District”…Bawhahahahahaha….what kind of idiot would hang a sign in their own community and proclaim some allegiance to the next community over? F-U Montrose, we’re with the museum boys…STU you are in Montrose…if you want to become a member of the museum district…build a mile long mile of museums from you to Bissonett!

hou_lemme – you just lost me with your babbeling. As for ignorance, if you aren’t sure about the topic in which you are writing about, don’t risk looking like a dimwit. STU (St. Thomas University) is in Florida, not in Houston, Texas.

This just proves my point: comments after an article actually decreases the mentality of the readers. Save the comments for the old fashioned type – the ones we used to send to the editor in the old days.

If you would like to take a tour of the University of St. Thomas, visit here.

Welcome Dictators! Introducing Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Adolf Hitler

In 9/11, Are you kidding me?, Constitutional Rights, Military, news, Politics, War in Iraq on September 24, 2007 at 8:54 am

From NYDailynews.com

Today is the day of controversy in New York. The president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has arrived in New York amongst a ton of outcries and anger. First he wanted to tour Ground Zero which thank GOD the city of NY told him no, but now he has been invited to speak at Columbia University. The Dean at Comlubia U. said that he will be allowed to use freedom of speech here in hopes that he would do the same back in his country. Yeah….right….

The Dean also said that if Adolf Hitler were still be-bopping around, he would be invited to speak to. Ok, he didn’t say it in exactly those words but you get my drift. Why don’t you just invite Osama, Saddam, and Satan himself.

Many students are ticked off as would be imagined.

From the NY Daily News:

“It’s a stain on the university,” said sophomore Elizabeth Friess, 20. “You can’t have an open debate with someone who wants to wipe out Israel. There is no reasoning with someone like that.”

“It was offensive to hear a dean, of all people, say they would invite Hitler,” said senior Lexi Khan, 21. “There aren’t too many educational qualities you can draw from a man who sent people to gas chambers.

This man is trash and a egotistical warmonger. America prides itself so much on the home of the free and the brave; however, this individual is allowed to be on a university campus to use OUR freedom of speech. Last time I checked, we did not have a dictatorship in America and people from war driven countries such as Iran do not have freedom of speech here.

On the other side though, (yes, I’m trying to be diplomatic which is very difficult in this situation) I’ll be waiting for the questions to start rolling toward Ahmadinejad and see just how calm and responsive he’ll be. I only hope that the Dean will use this opportunity to get Ahmadinejad in a corner and pelt him with questions that Americans would like to hear answers for.

From the story from the NY Daily News, read here.

Here is a clip from Fox News about Ahmadinejad’s visit today.

Bush Declares Mandela Dead

In 9/11, Are you kidding me?, Politics, War in Iraq on September 22, 2007 at 12:20 am

Aye Carumba!Nelson Mandela

Oh yes, <shakes head> he did.

In a press conference on Thursday, President Bush was defending the administration’s Iraq policy when he blundered once again:

“…Now where’s Mandela? Well, Mandela is dead because Saddam Hussein killed all the Mandelas.”

WHAT?

Then he goes on saying some kind of confusing and rambling statement about Saddam being a tyrant and something about hard work. By the way, I love how he talks about getting a “B” in Econ 101 but an “A” in keeping taxes low and being “fisky” responsible with the peoples’ money. Ah jeez…. Is he hitting the sauce again???

“Connie is the Ph.D. and I’m the “C” student.”

He also replies to a question about MoveOn.org and their statements about General Petraeus. He calls their insinuations “disgusting.” I can agree with him on this one.

As for Mandela, the Mandela Foundation released a statement shortly after that Nelson Mandela is indeed still alive.

Do you ever just sit back and wonder what other countries think of our leader? As I quote Bart Simpson, “Aye carumba.”

I’m off to go pop some aspirin after this one.

Read the story from Reuters here and then watch the video for yourself.

Bush Threatens Veto of Childrens’ Health Care Bill

In Congress, Economy, Election 2008, Health, news, Politics on September 21, 2007 at 9:07 am

Mean Bush

Yesterday President Bush threatened to veto a bill presented by the Democrats that would increase health care coverage to an additional 4 million children. The bill, if passed, would raise the certain taxes including the cigarette tax up 61 cents a pack. Bush says no way and will veto if the bill lands on his desk. Is he a possible closet smoker? Seriously…there are too many children in this country that are still being left out when it comes to health care, especially in lower class families. The arguement from the Republicans is that this will bring about even more government-ran health care.

Read the story here from CNN.com.

What do you think?

I know where Pink stands on her feelings about our esteemed president…

“DEAR MR. PRESIDENT” by Pink

Presidential Energy Debate Coming To Houston

In Election 2008, Energy, Houston, news, Politics, Television, Texas Politics on September 20, 2007 at 9:25 pm

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The top four candidates from each party will be coming to Houston in November for a discussion focusing on energy. The discussion, dubbed the energy summit, will be held at the George R. Brown Convention Center on November 13th. The summit will be open to the public (limited seating) and televised nationally.

Houston hasn’t hosted a presidential debate since 1980. George Bush and Ronald Regan were on the stage then.

As much as I would like to go just for the experience, only some of the 3500 seats will be open to the public. I’m not sure how many seats there will actually be and if people will be carefully pre-selected to fill them. Hopefully our fellow Houstonians won’t embarrass our city by acting like this loon. I’m sure the tazers will be on standby.

For more information, read the story from our local CBS affiliate KHOU Channel 11.

Help Wanted: NASA Astronauts Needed!

In Houston, news, Space on September 19, 2007 at 10:03 pm

Futurama in Space

Anyone need a job? This would be so awesome! After all, if Lisa Nowak can be an astronaut, why can’t you? NASA has announced that they are looking for 10-15 men and women to join their space program. Tuesday’s announcement became public when the job was posted on usajobs.gov. Applicants have until July 1, 2008 to apply and NASA says that a decision will be made in early 2009. You don’t have to have an engineering degree – NASA says they have a special interest in educators too! If I only was teaching by then…

Here is the actual notice from usajobs.gov:

NASA

Help Wanted: Astronauts

America needs YOU at the frontiers of space and technology!

NASA is now accepting applications for its 2009 astronaut class. The agency is looking for a few men and women who want to fulfill their dreams and be a part of the next generation of explorers.

The open positions are for astronaut candidates to train for tours of duty on the International Space Station, the largest human spacecraft ever built. It is also the site for research that will prepare NASA for future long-duration human missions to the moon and other destinations. The Constellation Program is responsible for building and operating the next-generation vehicles that will carry astronauts to the space station and the moon.

Applicants must meet physical standards and educational requirements, which include a bachelor’s degree in engineering, math or science and at least three years of experience in one of these fields.

Teaching experience, including experience at the K-12 level, is considered to be qualifying experience; therefore, educators are encouraged to apply.

The open positions require extensive travel on Earth and in space. Possible destinations may include, but are not limited to, Texas, Florida, California, Russia, Kazakhstan, the International Space Station and the moon.

Applicants should be aware that selection as an astronaut candidate does not ensure selection as an astronaut. Final selection as an astronaut will depend upon satisfactory completion of a training and evaluation period that lasts approximately two years at Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas.

Astronauts are responsible for technical duties and training at NASA when they are not training for a specific flight or conducting a mission. The duties can include scientific research, mission control communication with on-orbit crews, robotic training, spacewalk training, aircraft operations, technical design and engineering, and wilderness training.

All U.S. citizens, both civilian and military, who are qualified and super-motivated can apply for these positions. Women and minorities are encouraged to apply. The deadline is July 1, 2008.

For more information please visit: http://www.nasa.gov/astronauts/recruit.html

NASA HAS SPACE FOR YOU!

Houston in Top 10 of Most Congested Cities

In Enviornment, Global Warming, Houston, Local News on September 19, 2007 at 2:49 pm

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DUH! After all, Houston is one of the largest cities in America.

A new report from the Texas Transportation Institute gives the following:

Most Congested

Metro Area 2005 1995
Los Angeles 72 71
Atlanta, Ga. 60 70
San Francisco-Oakland 60 56
Washington, D.C. 60 53
Dallas-Fort Worth 58 34
San Diego 57 35
Houston 56 32
Detroit 54 51
Orlando, Fla. 54 54
San Jose, Calif. 54 51

***

Least Congested

Metro Area 2005 1995
Brownsville, Texas 8 4
Spokane, Wash. 8 10
Akron, Ohio 10 9
Anchorage, Alaska 10 9
Corpus Christi, Texas 10 7
Rochester, N.Y. 10 7
Beaumont, Texas 11 6
Buffalo, N.Y. 11 6
Springfield, Mass. 11 10
Laredo, Texas 12 7

***

Commuters spend on average 56 hours a year in traffic jams. That’s it? My commute to class averages 45 minutes – one way, 5 days a week. Sometime that goes up to an hour or even an hour and a half. I’ve actually been stuck on I-45 South for two and half hours – on an exam day! Hmmm….guess I’m above average. 😉

For the story about Houston Traffic Getting Worse, read here.

Apple iPhone Rebate: Gotcha!

In Culture, Economy, Internet, Media, news, Technology on September 17, 2007 at 5:32 pm

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Ouch! For those of you that just had to run out and grab up an Apple iPhone for a sickening amount of money, a rebate is waiting for you…well kind of. The technological advance in cellular phones was initially sold for around $600; however, sales were expectantly lower than anticipated. In turn, Apple dropped the price of the phones by $200 and offered buyers a $100 rebate. It now seems that Apple has flaked out a bit in regards to the rebate.

Here are Apple’s conditions in regards to the rebate:

  • Rebate cannot be spent at iTunes.
  • Rebate cannot be spent on Apple gift cards.
  • Rebate can only be spent in Apple stores, not Apple resellers, and only at Apple stores within the U.S.
  • Customers with iPhones registered to addresses outside the U.S. cannot receive the rebate.
  • Only iPhones that have been activated through AT&T are eligible (unfortunate for users who unlocked their iPhones to use on T-Mobile’s network).
  • The offer also only lasts until November 30th. (Better not procrastinate!)

Now aren’t you glad that you ran right out there and got this over-hyped piece of technology? Had I bought one, I’d be a little ticked off…

Goto Apple online for more information on how to get your one-hundred bucks.

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