Monday, October 31, 2005

The Great American Novel

I went to check out what movie the Filthy Critic reviewed this week and lo and behold, he didn't review anything! He seems to have a good reason though. National Novel Writing Month started an hour ago Central Time and Filthy plans on taking part. It sounds like a pretty cool idea: you've got 30 days to write 50,000 words (175-page novel). The idea is not to get hung up too much on the editing and proof reading but more to get the story out there. It kind of reminds me of The 24-Hour Film Contest. So for anyone out there who has always felt that they had a story to tell but no motivation to do it, now is your time! Write The Great American Novel!

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Happy Halloween!

I must admit that these jack-o-lanterns are from a carving party I went to two years ago, but I'm still very proud of the "Hallowizzle Fo Shizzle" design that I carved. Still my proudest pumpkin carving moment ever!

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Texas A&M: Building Champions...

...One losing football season at a time.


...One bonehead coaching decision at a time.


...One unprepared team at a time.

Take your pick, or choose them all. I don't care.

It's going to be an excruciating November.

Hurricane Beta!!!

Tropical Storm Beta officially became Hurricane Beta very early this morning. There is no threat of a strike on the US at this time but it is a milestone in that yet another record has fallen this hurricane season.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Number 13?

Tropical Storm Beta has formed and could officially become the thirteenth hurricane of the season. The records just continue to fall.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Say It Ain't So!

The White Sox are the 2005 World Series Champions in a four-game sweep of the Houston Astros. If only Brandon Backe could have pitched one more inning, I might be writing about tomorrows Game 5 night now. But alas, this was the White Sox's year.

Congratulations Chicago (but only to the true White Sox fans, not the bandwagon posers who will run back to the Cubs as soon as possible).

World Series Game 4

I had to do some tutoring tonight so I am late getting my Game 4 post done but that might be a good thing. Not much to say after last night and my earlier post. At this point, I'd just like to see the Astros force Game 5 but whatever the results, at least I can say the team I was rooting for lost the longest World Series game ever. So far we are scoreless in the bottom of the third and Brandon Backe is pitching well for Houston. Here's to hoping that his arm holds on for another few innings.

Let's go Astros!

Bias and Perception

As I was watching Game 3 of the World Series last night, I was very frustrated with what was becoming an unwinnable game for the Astros. As the extra innings piled up, I was less and less confident of an Astros win after a couple of missed opportunities. Following an Astros double play, Geoff Blum hit a solo home run in the top of the fourteenth inning to put the White Sox ahead by 1. Suddenly the bases were loaded and Blum and company in the dugout were shown holding four fingers up to the crowd taunting them about a potential grand slam. I was infuriated by the cockiness of it. When the Astros failed to score in the bottom of the fourteenth and the game was over, I went to bed agitated. I was agitated by the lack of respect that I felt everyone was giving the Houston Astros.

After sleeping on it last night though, I reminded myself that bias is all a matter of perception. If the commentators seemed like they were overly praising the White Sox, it's only because they moved ahead to 3-0 in the Series. If it seemed like the White Sox players were mocking the Astros, it's only because they were excited about their team's prospects of winning a World Series for the first time in 88 years, almost twice as long as the Astros have existed! On top of all that, I read a few posts on some message boards before going to sleep and some White Sox fans thought that the coverage by Fox commentators in Game 3 was slanted towards Houston! So bias is certainly in the eye of the beholder.

I am disappointed that Game 4 could be the end for the Astros, but I can say that at least we've gotten our money's worth in the first three games. I wish the balls had bounced a little differently, but I can't say that Games 2 and 3 haven't been exciting games to watch full of ups and downs. Bring on the drama!

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

World Series Game 3

Just when it looked like the Astros were going to lose, they tied up Game 2 only to lose it in the bottom of the ninth on a home run. So what if there was a questionable call in the eighth inning and so what if they played the game in a downpour. That game is in the past and tonight things get going in Houston. Of course this game is not without controversy as the commissioner of Major League Baseball was at odds with the Astros today as to weather the roof of Minute Maid Park should be open or closed tonight. Houston has been ordered to have the roof open for all games in Houston at this point. Regardless of all that, the Astros need a win behind Roy Oswalt who's pitched three winning games so far in this post-season.

Let's go Astros!

How Much Is Your Blog Worth?

I ran across this cool site today that calculates how much your blog is worth based on data collected at Technorati. I'm surprised to see that my blog is worth more than $0.02 considering that's all I'm writing here (rim shot!).

My blog is worth $2,822.70.
How much is your blog worth?

Monday, October 24, 2005

Another October, Another BCS Controversy Brewing

The latest BCS rankings put Texas on top of USC by 0.0007 points despite both teams still being undefeated. At a relatively distant third through sixth are the remaining four unbeaten teams. There is still a lot of football left and come the end of the regular season, all of these teams could still be unbeaten but the SEC, ACC and Big 12 championships might change some of that. Or any of these teams could stumble in the next month. But as it stands now, if only half of the unbeaten teams make it through the rest of the season unscathed, it sets up the situation of three unbeatens vying for two spots in the National Championship game. Not to mention the fact that there are two unconnected sets of polls at work who will crown their own National Champions. It is definitely still too early to really complain about another BCS failure, but the stage is set. Sadly, there is too much money involved for the powers that be to let these kinds of things get settled where they belong: on the field of play.

New Hurricane Naming Convention

Phil Van T. at Camp Katrina has issued a challenge to the World Meteorological Organization to do away with the lists of unrepresentative names of hurricanes used every year and replace it a Star Wars themed list.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

World Series Game 2

The Astros played pretty well last night especially for a team that is making it's first ever appearance in the World Series. Unfortunately, Roger Clemens couldn't make it past two innings. Here's to hoping that Andy Pettitte and his World Series experience can even up the series for the Astros tonight.

Let's go Astros!

Saturday, October 22, 2005

World Series Game 1

Game 1 of the World Series is just about to start featuring the first ever appearance of the Houston Astros and the first appearance of the Chicago White Sox since 1959.

The Astros began play in 1962 as the Houston Colt .45's and defeated the Chicago Cubs in their first game. Does that bode well for the 'Stros in the Fall Classic?

Who wants it more?

I know one person that wants an Astros victory.

Historic Hurricane Season

2005 has captured the record from 1931 as the busiest hurricane season in recorded history. Tropical Storm Alpha has emerged as the twenty-second named storm of the year. Meanwhile, Hurricane Wilma is moving off the Yucatan Peninsula back over water and is beginning it's lumbering trek towards Florida. It's strength has been reduced to Category 2 but the reduction came at the expense of the resort towns of Cozumel and Cancun. That now brings the number of destroyed regions that I've visited in the last year up to four. But like my dad said last night, "There really isn't any part of the Gulf Coast that hasn't been hit this year." Indeed.

Roxi's Artwork

Check out Grope For Luna to see some of Roxi's amazing artwork.

Whew! Aggies move to 2-0 in untelevised games...barely!

The Aggies game against Kansas State just ended and A&M barely squeaked by to win 30-28. Again, I had to "watch" it on Yahoo! Sports via box score updates every 30 seconds. Things seemed to be going well in the first quarter when A&M jumped out to a 14-0 lead but then on fourth and one in the red zone, the Aggies elected to fake (!?) an almost guaranteed field goal. They didn't convert and from then on I had a nagging bad feeling.

Ever since A&M beat K-State in the Big 12 Championship in 1998, the Aggies haven't lost to the Wildcats, but there have been a string of games where the Aggies dominated the entire game only to let the victory nearly slip away. Today was no different. By the beginning of the fourth quarter, I was getting very nervous and really starting to think that my no TV win/loss record was going to lose out to Tim Smith's road game win/loss record. Thankfully the Aggies improved to 2-0 in untelevised games and have finally won their first road game of the year.

The Aggies now only need one more win to achieve bowl eligibility and we have at least one more winable game against Iowa State which is at home. The only thing yet to be determined is the television coverage. Earlier this week, A&M was put on six-day advanced notice of television coverage. This means that A&M/Iowa State could be played at 11:30 AM on FSN, 2:30 PM on ABC, 6:00 PM on TBS or possibly not at all. So we are undefeated at home and undefeated when we are not on TV so my vote is no TV for the Iowa State game to take advantage of both streaks. We'll have to wait until tomorrow after the dust settles from today's games for the official announcement though. But we're really going to need a win next week because we might not have a reasonable shot at a win for the rest of the season.

UPDATE: The powers that be at the TV networks have made their decisions. A&M will face Iowa State at 2:30 PM on ABC next Saturday. Here's to keeping this season's home win streak alive!

Friday, October 21, 2005

The 12% Day

Since Google reported that quarterly earnings amounted to $1.6 billion, the stock has had an equally awe inspiring performance.

After hours trading last night and the positive movement today amounted to the stock price increasing by $36.70, or 12.10%, to close at a remarkable $339.90.

(Click to enlarge)

I wish I'd had more money back in April when I purchased five shares of GOOG at a mere $188.60 a share. It seemed like a lot too me back then even though I had faith that it would be a good investment. I just thought it might take several years to nearly double in value!

The Great Barbecue Debate

There's trouble brewing at Instapundit this morning over a derogatory comment that Glenn Reynolds made about Texas barbecue. The backlash from his Texas readers has been immense.

As a Louisiana native who grew up eating barbecued chicken and boudin (that's what us poor Louisiana folk eat), I only really learned about this great debate when I moved to College Station for my undergraduate years at Texas A&M. Joel and Tim made sure to let me know how Texans felt about barbecue. Many an evening was spent at the now defunct Tom's Bar-B-Q enjoying the Aggie Special.

My barbecue education was furthered when I moved east to Atlanta for graduate school at Georgia Tech. After my time in Texas, I found it very odd that you couldn't get beef brisket in that part of the country. In Atlanta, barbecue was all about the pork ribs. Dreamland and Fat Matt's sure know how to cook 'em!

When I moved back Texas to live in Austin, I was re-introduced to Texas barbecue with the help of Stubb's, County Line, Rudy's, and Salt Lick. Heck I even made some long drives out of town to visit Cooper's in Llano and Black's in Lockhart.

Of course now I live in Nashville and am back in a place where pork is the meat of choice for barbecuing. Joel of course hasn't let up in telling me that pork is not barbecue so some things never change. And although I can't say that I have been enamored with the pulled pork style of barbecue, I don't think it is all bad. I've had some good experiences at Bar-B-Cutie and Neely's, but whenever I feel the need for some Texas style beef brisket, I head over to Judge Bean's.

So I suppose the debate will rage on and of course everyone will think that their idea of barbecue is right but I can say that as long as I am a carnivore, I will not pass up the chance of any type of barbecue, be it pork, chicken, beef or sausage no matter how it is cooked or what kind of sauce is served.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

SportsJustice and Joel B!

Joel was quoted in the Houston Chronicle's SportsJustice blog today!

Just a note to let you know that I opened the window of my apartment last night in the Upper West Side and let all my New York neighbors know who just won the NL pennant. My wife and I were sipping Champagne, and I was fielding calls from my family in Houston. I love this team and Houston, my hometown, and we will party every game of the World Series (hot dogs and more Champagne.)

- Joel in Manhattan

Read more about it from Katie's perspective.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Astros vs. White Sox

Congratulations to the Houston Astros for advancing to the World Series for the first time in franchise history!

Having spent several years in College Station and Austin, I have several friends who have been rooting for the Astros since childhood. This means as much to them as it does to the players who took the team there. This post goes out to my H-town friends especially Joel, Chris and Mike. I know that after Monday night, Katie was working extra hard to help console Joel in far away New York but tonight made all that better!

Blog Spam

Over the weekend, Blogspot was hit with a splogbomb (spam blog bomb) which automatically generated hundreds of "fake" blogs with popular keywords so that those blogs would be listed highest on blog search engines. It sounds all very confusing but Mark Cuban, investor in one such blog search engine, is pissed.

I can't say that I am surprised this kind of thing happened because spam seems to be an inevitable part of everything internet related these days. Spam is to the internet what autodialers were to telemarketers. I mean the day that I started to see spam comments in my blog, I knew that it was only a matter of time before a major blog hijacking attempt was made. I only wish Google had been more prepared to handle it.

2005 Hurricane Season is one for the record books

Hurricane Wilma has potentially set the record for the strongest hurricane on record in the Atlantic. Preliminary reconnaissance data suggest that the barometric pressure of the Category 5 storm is 882 millibars, smashing the previous record of 888 millibars. I say this is preliminary because several analyses of the data from Hurricane Katrina have suggested that she was actually weaker than orginally thought when she made landfall.

Wilma might also be the fastest to reach Category 5 but I'm not sure about that one. All I know is that yesterday morning, it was still a tropical storm and now only twenty-four hours later, it is quite possibly the strongest Category 5 ever recorded. Wilma was able to achieve this status in what might be record time because the internal barometric pressure was dropping at a staggering 8 millibars per hour. According to Brendan Loy, this is extremely impressive considering that a rate of 1 millibar per hour is considered "rapid intensification."

Of course regardless of where Wilma strikes the US Gulf Coast, she will undoubtedly be much weaker by that time, most likely a Category 3, but we have seen what such a storm can do. However, this Category 5 version or even a strong Category 4 could devastate any of the Caribbean islands or cities in Mexico that are currently in it's path on the way to the Gulf Coast.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

The Colbert Report

The funniest correspondent on the Daily Show now has his own show and I am very happy.

I have been enjoying Colbert's deadpan reports and interviews since the days when Craig Kilborn hosted the Daily Show. I still remember watching the press conference announcing that Jon Stewart would be the new host. When Jon asked if there were any more questions, Stephen Colbert stood up and said asked the following: "Hello Jon, Stephen Colbert with the Daily Show. How will your hiring effect my chances of becoming the new host?" I, like Jon Stewart, was rolling with laughter.

Six years later Stephen is finally getting a much deserved promotion as host of The Colbert Report. After two shows I have to say that I am hooked. Make no mistake, the Colbert Report is not the Daily Show. It is the news magazine to the Daily Show's evening news. It even has a really spiffy website for those of us in the Colbert Nation. I hope that Comedy Central gives the Report time to develop a following because the world needs more Colbert!

Monday, October 17, 2005

Ben Goes To Mississippi

Ben, one of my roommates and former classmates at SAE, left Nashville for Gulfport yesterday to start doing construction work as the Gulf Coast continues to recover from Hurricane Katrina. He'll be down there for a couple of weeks making a considerable amount of money helping to rebuild the area. It sounds like he will be living in a house with the other contractors he'll be working with. Hopefully the living conditions are better in Gulfport than they are for people working to rebuild New Orleans.

Meanwhile, in the Caribbean, Tropical Storm Wilma has formed and looks to be headed into the Gulf of Mexico by this weekend. Wilma is the twenty-first named storm of the season making 2005 the most active hurricane season since 1933. It also marks the end of the alphabetic list of names allocated at the beginning of the season. Any more named storms this year will be historic. If a new storm forms, 2005 will officially set the record for the most active season since storm records began in 1851. Since we're out of names, storms will be named for letters of the Greek alphabet from here on out. So it will be interesting indeed considering the season still has another month and a half left.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Camp Katrina

I just received an email from Spc. Phil Van Treuren of the Ohio Army National Guard who was writing on the subject of his blog about experiences he and the Guard had during Operation Vigilant Relief along the Gulf Coast. His blog has interesting first hand stories, excellent Katrina related links and amazing pictures of both New Orleans and Mississippi from a Blackhawk helicopter. Check out Camp Katrina to read about the wonderful work being done by Ohio's men and women in uniform to help those affected by Hurricane Katrina.

Texas A&M 1-0 in untelevised games this season

While I was watching the exciting game between USC and Notre Dame, the Aggies were putting together their best performance of the year since defeating SMU earlier this season. However, I only got updates every sixty seconds on my laptop through Yahoo! Sports. One thing I can say is that it made the game go by more quickly but I'm sure it would have been more excruciating had A&M been on the losing end today. I was really worried about the Aggies continuing the descent into mediocrity but with a mere two more wins, the team will be bowl eligible. We'll see how it goes next week against Kansas St. but it is also not televised and so far our record in untelevised games is perfect!

As far as the USC/Notre Dame game goes, as much as I hate to say it, Notre Dame deserves to move up in the rankings for the way they played today. USC just had the National Championship spirit that helped them win in the end. And if anyone disagrees with the way the game ended, the referees did make the right call however strange and unfair it might have seemed. What I can say is that USC will have to play a lot better than they did today if they expect to beat Texas assuming both teams make it to the Rose Bowl in January.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Wanted: Work for a guy who looks like Pierce Brosnan

The rumors have been confirmed that Daniel Craig will be the sixth official James Bond starting with next years' Casino Royale. The bad news for this guy is that Craig has blond hair and looks nothing like Pierce Brosnan. What I find so funny about his blog is that it has only been around for two days but even Brosnan himself knew that he had been sacked, as the Brits like to say, for at least a year. I guess he could get work if Brosnan somehow convinces enough studio execs that the public has been yearning for a Remington Steele movie for the past eighteen years.

More on Spanish Flu

Charles Krauthammer has a really great editorial about how bad the artificial resurrection of the Spanish Flu is for the world. It only takes one deranged or homicidal crackpot to release this stuff.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Tourism is the key to Louisiana recovery

Louisiana is a state that is dependent on tourism for the economy. It is typically the main source of income for the state and it needs it now more than ever to rebuild after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The rich cultural heritage of south Louisiana is the biggest draw for the state and so it comes as no surprise that Mardi Gras organizers have vowed that the celebration will continue in New Orleans on February 28, 2006. I don't expect it to be the full blown Mardi Gras that the city is accustomed to, however it will be a good thing for continuity and as a symbol that New Orleans will return to it's former glory.

As we approach the middle of the college football season, I was saddened to learn that of the two holiday bowl games usually played in New Orleans, only one will be hosted in the state this year. The New Orleans Bowl typically played in the Superdome will be played on December 20 in my hometown of Lafayette at Cajun Field, the home to the Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns. I'm glad to see that at least this third-tier bowl is staying in the state that so desperately needs the revenue. However, the decision to move the BCS Sugar Bowl to Atlanta strikes me as kicking the state while it's down. Tiger Stadium on the campus of LSU in Baton Rouge is more than capable of hosting the Sugar Bowl as it is much larger that Atlanta's Georgia Dome and it would aid in recovery as fans' dollars would be spent in a state that needs them. But come January 2, 2006, the Sugar Bowl will be the Peach Bowl II.

Finally the annual Bayou Classic between Grambling State and Southern University will move from it's home at the Superdome to Reliant Stadium in Houston for this year's Thanksgiving matchup. Understandably, Texas needs some relief from Hurricane Rita as well so I can let this one slide a little, however Shreveport was considered as a potential site of this years game. I can't help but think that organizers could have been a little more considerate about the impact that these moves will have on a state that is already in desperate need of a return of the tourism it is so dependent upon.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

American Airlines' Position on the Wright Amendment

At Jody's wedding this weekend, I learned about American Airlines' PR campaign fighting to keep the Wright Amendment. Joel and Katie flew to Houston from New York on American and Joel saved a page from their inflight magazine with this advertisement.

After reading through this ad and checking out their related website, I couldn't help but wonder why they are investing money in an effort to keep the Wright Amendment if they claim that the amendment is not protecting them in any way. Although it is true that Southwest could offer flights from DFW at vacant gates, why should they be forced to leave their headquarter airport of Love Field in order to be allowed by law to offer flights beyond states that border Texas? It is a very good question.

Certainly, Southwest could offer flights at DFW at any time, but why should they have to invest in any more infrastructure at an additional airport in order to abide by a law designed to stifle the viability of Love Field? Our country claims to be a free market so I say let the consumer decide if Southwest should offer flights from DFW. If Southwest were allowed to increase their destinations out of Love Field, consumers would surely let both Love Field and DFW know how they felt about it simply by volume of travel through the two airports. If consumers don't like using Love Field, they won't. That will settle the matter.

Another important fact that I don't think either side has addressed in the literature I have seen is that of flight delays. It is common knowledge that large airports/hubs are plagued with long delays due to overscheduling. I decided to do a little research and check the report card for DFW and Love Field for the month of July 2005. Here's what I found through the Department of Transportation and the Bureau of Transportation Statistics:

Examining the second line of stats on each of the above pages shows that Southwest beats American Airlines in every category for the month. The volume of Southwest flights is roughly one-fifth of that of American, but still, percentages are percentages. So after looking at this data, my question is, should Southwest subject their better record of on-time flights to the already high volume of activity at DFW? Again, perhaps the consumer should decide, but this will hurt both airlines if they are located at DFW because I wager that all stats will increase as a result of increased traffic.

American Airlines does offer the option of using Love Field as a regional hub and DFW as a national hub. I don't have an issue with the idea in principle, but again this begs the question of why should Southwest develop more infrastructure when it has everything it needs in place at Love Field. Houston has two airports and until earlier this year, Southwest operated in a regional capacity out of Bush Intercontinental Airport. They have since limited their service to Houston Hobby from where they can fly to any of Southwest's 59 other destinations. Houston seems to be surviving with two airports, why shouldn't Dallas be able to as well?

In the end, I'm not convinced that American Airlines is truly accepting of the idea of Southwest moving some or all of it's operations to DFW. They know that Southwest has little or no intention of doing so and are offering up the idea as a token. I have confidence that if Southwest did change course and move operations to DFW, American Airlines would fight it through more legislation rather than through the court of public consumerism. Until then, I am still support an end this archaic piece of legislation and allowing Love free.

Wright is Wrong! Set Love Free!

Daniel Craig is the new Bond

After months of speculation, it appears that a new James Bond has been cast while another has been cast aside. I haven't seen Layer Cake, and I don't know anything else about Daniel Craig, but I do know that I was really excited about Pierce Brosnan taking over as James Bond up until I saw GoldenEye. Rumor has it that this new incarnation of Bond will be more akin to the Ian Fleming concept as laid out in the first novel and soon to be new film, Casino Royale. It better be good because it will be hard to forget the silliness that David Niven, Peter Sellers, Woody Allen and Orson Wells made with their parody of the genre. Really, I couldn't care much less because the last few movies have been downright dreadful.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Wonderful Weekend

The weekend wedding of my good friend Jody was quite a fun reunion of old friends and an introduction of some new ones. We started the wedding festivities on Friday afternoon with the rehearsal followed by dinner and then some time at a local bar reliving the old college days as well as bonding with new additions to our respective lives, namely significant others.

Me, Tim, Lidia and Roxi

Mark, Tim, me, Jody and Joel

On Saturday it was off to the wedding itself and the normally hot Houston weather couldn't have cooperated better. It was actually a pleasure to wear a tuxedo outside.

Melissa and Jody

Finally, on Sunday it was family time with Travis' future in-laws. I also got to see Travis' new Aggie Ring and pose for this picture.

Friday, October 07, 2005

More on the Wright Amendment

I feel the need to further clarify my opposition to the Wright Amendment in response to a comment on one of my posts on the subject. The comment was posted today by "Anonymous" but I address this post not only to him or her, but to anyone who doesn't already understand the protectionist law.

I'm not sure who anonymous is, but although we are in agreement as to allowing for direct competition between Southwest and other airlines in Dallas, I don't feel that Southwest is currently in the position to say they have an unfair advantage by operation out of Love Field as opposed to DFW.

Currently, flights out of Love Field by Southwest are restricted to destinations within Texas or states adjacent to Texas and also the Birmingham airport in Alabama. So there are only 16 direct destinations from Dallas-Love Field although Southwest operates flights in 60 cities. Of those 16 flights offered out of Dallas, only 7 of them are to airports outside the state of Texas. So the low cost business model that Southwest strives for is being undercut by the ridiculous Wright Amendment. It is adding to the cost of flights to and from Dallas because it creates extra and in most cases unnecessary layovers and flight connections.

I don't think that moving Southwest's operations to DFW are necessary to allow for competition but rather lifting of this ludicrous restriction on Love Field. Don't believe me? Listen to this price comparison. I randomly chose December 7, 2005 as a day that I would fly one-way from Nashville to Dallas. The search result I got on American Airlines' website was $327.70 for a direct flight to DFW that lasts 2 hours. I checked the same flight origin and destination on Southwest's website and got the following results: The flight from Nashville to Houston is 2 hours. After a 1 hour layover in Houston, the flight to Love Field is an additional hour making the total trip time 4 hours at a cost of $192.40.

Based on the above search, imagine how inexpensive the flight would be if there was an option that went directly from Nashville to Love Field! It stands to reason that such a flight would be comparable to the price of the flight from Nashville to Houston: $137.70. It seems like the Wright Amendment is only making direct flights cost more as a sort of convenience fee for half the flying time. But why should that convenience fee be even close to 80% or more?

I haven't heard one convincing reason why the Wright Amendment shouldn't be repealed. Some, like Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, say that it would harm businesses at DFW. But why is American Airlines charging so much more for the same service? Are you getting anything more for your money? According to Joel, you are not.

Wright is Wrong! Set Love Free!

EU Threatens US Over Internet Control

Many readers know how I feel about the recent moves of the UN and other Western and developing nations to wrest control of the Internet from the United States. This morning I came across this article on the very anti-American Guardian website:

The issue of who should control the net has proved an extremely divisive issue, and for 11 days the world's governments traded blows. For the vast majority of people who use the internet, the only real concern is getting on it. But with the internet now essential to countries' basic infrastructure...the question of who has control has become critical.

And the unwelcome answer for many is that it is the US government.

So what is their answer to control of the Information Superhighway?

A number of countries represented in Geneva, including Brazil, China, Cuba, Iran and several African states insisted the US give up control, but it refused. The meeting "was going nowhere," [UK Department of Trade and Industry Head David] Hendon says, and so the EU took a bold step and proposed two stark changes: a new forum that would decide public policy, and a "cooperation model" comprising governments that would be in overall charge.

Much to the distress of the US, the idea proved popular. Its representative hit back, stating that it "can't in any way allow any changes" that went against the "historic role" of the US in controlling the top level of the internet.

I love it when articles talk about how the US shouldn't be in control of the Internet but in the same breath say that involvement of the likes of China, Cuba and Iran will be a good thing. Why do some people seem to despise American democracy so much while also wanting to create "cooperation models" with countries that subjugate and oppress their own people and any form of political dissent?

But wait, there's more! Here's the best part!

But the refusal to budge only strengthened opposition, and now the world's governments are expected to agree to [sic] a deal to award themselves ultimate control. It will be officially raised at a UN summit of world leaders next month and, faced with international consensus, there is little the US government can do but acquiesce.

So there you have it. It's not fair that the US controls the internet when enlightened nations like China, Cuba and Iran have so much to offer the world in terms of human rights leadership and political freedoms of expression. No credibility shouldn't stop them from having a say in what is and isn't allowed on the Internet.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Another Picture of the Roof

My brother finally got a chance to send some more pictures of the roof damage. Here is the roof after the trees were removed.

We're still not sure how much it will cost to repair this damage but my dad will be meeting with the insurance adjuster on Monday.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005


I didn't get a chance to post before I left Nashville, but I am now in Houston at my parents' apartment. I flew in tonight for a long weekend to visit Roxi and go to Jody's wedding. I'm a groomsman along with Joel and Tim. Katie will also be singing a song in the ceremony. It'll be great seeing everybody again considering I haven't seen any of these great friends in over a year and in the case of Joel and Katie, not since they moved to New York almost two years ago! Tomorrow I'll be running some errands here around town and probably fit in a visit to my aunt and uncle who only recently moved to Houston. The rehearsal is Friday and the wedding is Saturday leaving Sunday for Roxi and I to spend some time with Travis and Danielle and her family as well as with my parents.

Spanish Flu of 1918

Scientists at the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta have resurrected the Spanish Flu virus that killed 50 million people in 1918. Although I have to say that there method is very cool in a Jurassic Park sort of way, it's still pretty scary to think that there are 10 vials of this stuff in Atlanta along with all the other frightening stuff they have stored there.

Why did they do it? Researchers say it may help them better understand -- and develop defenses against -- the threat of a future worldwide epidemic from bird flu.

Like the 1918 virus, the current avian flu in Southeast Asia occurs naturally in birds. In 1918, the virus mutated, infected people and then spread among them. So far, the current Asian virus has killed at least 65 people but has rarely spread person-to-person.

But viruses mutate rapidly and it could soon develop infectious properties like those seen in the 1918 bug, said Dr. Jeffery Taubenberger of the U.S. Armed Forces Institute of Pathology.

I can understand this for the sake of preventing widespread death from Avian Flu, but if Spanish Flu doesn't prove to be useful, can we please destroy it? Otherwise, as it was listed on, "remember 28 days from now that you have to shoot the zombies in the head to kill them."

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

New Orleans Layoffs

The repopulation of New Orleans has begun in earnest, but Ray Nagin announced today that the city will be laying off 3,000 employees, or roughly half of it's personnel. What does that say to people who were planning to return? It's not a very good message if you ask me. Then again it might amount to only 300 people if you account for the patented "Ray Nagin Power of Ten Exaggeration Factor."

Monday, October 03, 2005

Boobie-thon 2005

Fourth Annual Blogger Boobie-thon!

Three causes we can all get behind:
1. Fighting breast cancer
2. Hurricane Katrina relief
3. Hurricane Rita relief

It is going on now through midnight October 8, 2005.

All proceeds benefit the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation and the American Red Cross.

Thanks to Joel and Katie for the heads up!

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Fightin' Texas Aggie Spin Machine

Yesterday, the Texas A&M football team came extremely close to losing to perennial Big 12 cellar dwellers Baylor. The near loss is part of a greater trend of the Aggie football team declining into Big 12 mediocrity. Although this is upsetting, even more so is that the Aggie media spin machine in College Station is spewing propaganda, the likes of which I have never seen.

Since the Aggies won the Big 12 title in 1998 by beating the top-ranked Kansas State Wildcats in double overtime, it has been all downhill. In 2002, it appeared that a change was coming when the powers that be fired head coach R.C. Slocum and made a major hire in Alabama head coach Dennis Franchione. We knew it would be at least two year before progress would be made and Franchione could lift the Aggies out of the doldrums into which Slocum let the program slide. After a dreadful first season, the Aggies began to show promise in the second. But as we enter the third season of the Franchione era, it seems that the program is actually regressing.

Beginning with a tough loss on the road at Clemson, the Aggies bounced back with a big win over Southern Methodist followed by a lackluster win over Division I-AA Texas State under the threat of Hurricane Rita. This brings us to yesterday's undeserved win over Baylor. Baylor dominated A&M on offense and defense throughout the day and really were their own worst enemies. Baylor squandered several opportunities to put the game away and A&M had only one truly productive offensive drive to tie the game and send it into overtime. And in some way, the Aggies were able to avoid what might have been the most embarrassing loss in school history by winning the game in overtime.

None of the Aggies I talked to about the game yesterday were happy with the performance. In fact, they all agree that there is something seriously wrong with this coaching staff, team motivation and program as a whole. Never fear though! Enter the Fightin' Texas Aggie Spin Machine!

Today's articles on didn't fail to irritate me even more. Most paint a positive picture of a game that has only one positive: the Aggies didn't lose at home.

Robert Cessna
gave the coaching staff a grade of a C-. He claims to have given them an F for the first 55 minutes of the game but the two scores at the end gave them two letter grades because "the coaching staff kept A&M in position to win." I guess when the head coach is getting $2 million a year, The Machine has to justify it by claiming that the poise and game plan were always in place.

Robert Premeaux, Jr.
is very excited about the revival of this rivalry. "Aggie fans, pull out a green highlighter. Baylor faithful, find your maroon crayons. Now, together, grab your 2006 calendars and circle Oct. 28. The Battle of the Brazos is back." I remember when the rivalry game was against Texas. Sadly we haven't won that since 1999 and over the past ten years have even been on the losing end of the rivalry with Texas Tech. Baylor has been a pretty easy win for a while, so it saddens me that this has become a rivalry. Every dog gets his day but that is just pathetic.

And in case there was any question about the ability of defensive coordinator Carl Torbush, they made sure to list a quote from a former A&M defensive coordinator:

Former A&M defensive coordinator Melvin Robertson (1972-78) attended his first Aggie game since leaving with former coach Emory Bellard to Mississippi State.

A&M was ranked No. 1 in total defense in 1975 under Robertson, who was known for his blitz packages.

Robertson, who is retired and lives in Grapevine, had nothing but praise for current defensive coordinator Carl Torbush. Robertson watched Torbush at Baylor (graduate assistant in 1975) and Ole Miss (1983-86).

"He's a good man and a good coach," said Robertson before the game. "He'll be all right."

I can't speak for all of my Aggie brethren, but I wouldn't mind having a guy like Robertson back at the defensive helm. I'd love to see at least one blitz in a Torbush coordinated game.

Baylor head coach Guy Morris had this to say about their loss:
"Just playing close is like showering with your sister. It's no good. We take no satisfaction in coming down here and just playing close." This quote applies to A&M as well. The coaching staff should feel very dirty after this win.

Now all this talk might sound like a lot of bitching from a fairweather fan, but I have been an ardent A&M supporter for years. I just care so much about the team that it pains me to see bad decisions and stubbornness relegate the Aggies to watch other Big 12 schools compete for national prominence. I want them to bounce back from this next week and give Colorado a really good game in Boulder, but it just seems like the problems are too deep to fix in a week, or even a season. I'm just glad that I will be at Jody's wedding next Saturday night and won't have to waste four hours in front of a TV being irritated by bad playcalling and underachieveing.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Google WiFi is for real!

Readers of this site may be aware of my admiration of what Google has been able to accomplish in terms of not only search capability, but also mapping and tele-communication. The next big revolution that Google will provide is a go! For several months, rumors have been circulating that Google has been purchasing fiber optic networks around the country so that when it is ready, it can launch a national wireless network that will be free to use anywhere. The rumor has essentially been confirmed as Google has filed a bid to the city of San Francisco to provide the service. It will use the Bay Area as a test market and then if successful, will expand to the rest of the country!

Car Update!

So here is a quick update. I have finally gotten my car damage from April fixed! I picked up my car from the body shop yesterday and I must say, they did an excellent job. It has been restored to it's former beauty:

Unfortunately, the arbitration with the toothless redneck's insurance company was unsuccessful. So I had to pay the deductible myself. But it is nice to see my car the way it was meant to be seen.