Zippidy Doo Da

I'm not stupid, I'm from Texas!

Monday, April 30, 2007


I imagine it is pretty difficult for most people to picture themselves injured at work, whether it is falling off a step-ladder while reaching for some files, slipping on a wet floor, or having a nasty encounter with some type of failed or mis-used equipment, because the state workers compensation system is totally corrupt, mis-managed and dulsetory. Even though most folks don't risk their lives in poor, regional Texas factories, mills, packing plants, poultry processors, and other high occupational hazard industries like fishing, forestry, and petro chemicals, the dangers in a seemingly "safe" white collar environments can include sick buildings, repitious trauma, assaults, and work transportation-related mishaps.

Nevertheless, if our friend to the right got hit by that lightning, his widow and family would receive about 180-grand death benefit under most state standard policies, and nothing more. If he were a contractor, he might not receive anything at all. Even so, less than 50% of Texas employers even carry coverage.

If our buddy lived, he would have a $385 on his maximum benefit, if 70% of his average wages exceeded that amount. If the insurance carrier balked at the claim, (which they do by reflex) he shouldn't expect much help from the state commision responsible for protecting him. The commisioners get gifts, junkets and largess from the few insurance carriers that rule the state. Our ironworker better have a computer (and a state legislator) in his house because that is basically the only place he could get information. It is, sadly, a virtual blind alley.

He could try to hire a lawyer, but he/she must be paid in advance from his meager benefits. This is a system the vast majority don't like, so they don't participate in it. Similarly, doctors don't like it either because they can't get paid, or as often as not, the insurance carrier stiffs them because they know as likely as not, nobody will force them to pay the bills accumulated by the injured worker. Try to find a real doctor in Texas who will accept patients under the current system. What has filled the mpty vacuum is an army of chiropractors, that in effect, systematiclly reduces every injury into a temporary on of very limited scope. I have heard Texas trial lawers say, but never proclaim the following sentiments expressed by the Florida Bar, who face the same problems:

Palm Beach Post Columnist

Monday, April 16, 2007

Last time the Legislature "reformed" workers compensation, it should have satisfied the lobbyists who wanted to keep injured workers in Florida from getting anywhere with their complaints if their claims are denied.

The plan was to starve out the lawyers who represent injured workers by limiting their fees. Division of Workers Compensation statistics show that the plan is working. In 2003, the last year under the old law, there were 22,153 settlements, usually involving a lawyer, with the average payment $21,196. The numbers have declined every year since then.

Like the public health, mental health, worker safety, civil rights, education systems, the workers compensation/insurance system has failed through public apathy. That's the only thing I can think of. I mean, nobody likes the racket we are faced with.

Government advocates for public policy (wonks):

Texas has one of the worst workers' compensation insurance programs in the nation, whether one looks at it from the perspective of the injured worker or the cash-strapped employer. Despite decades of effort, the Texas Workers' Compensation System is ineffective and inefficient.

The doctors:

The existing non-network medical fee guidelines, possibly reasonable in some geographic markets for other health care delivery systems, have proven to be inadequate. They have caused great harm to access to care to our best physician specialists for injured Texas workers. The fee guideline needs immediate adjustment to at least reflect commercial fees plus an increase for the administrative hassles and burdens uniquely present in our current workers' compensation system. Inattention to this matter likely will foster continued attrition of the high quality physician specialists our state will need to restore the injured workforce of Texas in the future.

The only thing I can think of the make this institutional rot in Texas get a little better are Democratic canditdates who articulate muscular, common-sense public policy changes that radically reform and simplify agencies who are re-dedicated to their charge of representing voters and not special interests.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

10 Kountry Songs I'm Listen' To

1. "There's a Queer in my Steer" – Rod Roughneck
2. "Let's Do It In the Okra" – Chattahoochee Three
3. "Whisky Makes My Asshole Hurt" – Blackout Monroe
4. "Painted Up & Puttin' Out" – Wynonna Widebottom
5. "Ten Gallon Toupee" – Tim McGraw
6. "Oklahomo Nights" – Linedancing Larry & the Nuthuggers
7. "Grits on My Tits" – Tammy Whynot
8. "There's Another Dude's Cheese Doodle Prints on My Universal Remote" – Uncle Gordy
9. "Hickey on My Tattoo" – The Spanklin Brothers
10. "There's Skidmarks on the BVDs of My Heart" – Roddy Rogers

Thanks to

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Where's the Buzz?

For a while I’ve been seeing reports of disappearing honeybees. Scientists and beekeepers have seen US bee colonies decline by half in the last 35 years. This vanishing bee syndrome is notable considering that a third of US food crops rely on bees for pollination.

Al Qaeda has used the honey trade as a moneymaker and smuggling network. This made me wonder if those Wahhabi SOB’s were cooking up an attack on our food supply by somehow removing these essential bugs. Now I read it’s again possible that we have met the enemy, and he is us. From Earthweek:

Studies conducted by German researchers indicate that the growing use of cell phones could in some way be responsible for the sudden disappearance of bees seen across America and parts of Europe since last fall.
A limited study conducted at Germany’s Landau University has found that bees refuse to return to their hives when mobile phones are placed nearby.
Lead researcher Dr. Jochen Kuhn said this could provide a “hint” to a possible cause of what has been termed Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD).
The phenomenon has seen entire bee colonies disappear from their hives, leaving only the queen, eggs and a few immature workers.
Kuhn cautioned that his research was on how cell phone signals might affect learning, and not on CCD.
Dr. George Carlo, who headed an extensive study by the U.S. government and mobile phone industry on the hazards of mobile phone use during the 1990s, told Britain’s Independent newspaper the “possibility is real” that the use of cell phones could be contributing to CCD
A story line in Dilbert last week had his company coming up with a new product that was so much fun that the focus group would rather play it than eat, and so; starved. The next killer app, you might say. Is Scott Adams on to something here?

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Chupacabra Report

News that Gets My Goat:

I don’t watch Fox (Whore) News, or any TV news for that matter.
I see enough to know what a bogus reporting they commit, and notice things like the recent study that showed that people who watch The Daily Show and The Colbert Report
better grasp the facts behind current events than Fox viewers, who have been proven more likely to be misinformed. So I was not surprised to read on the Crooks and Liars site that Fox had done a hatchet job on Kurt Vonnegut Jr. the day after his death.

James Rosen told of Vonnegut being a POW in Germany, and surviving the firebombing of Dresden that killed 25,000 people, then disparaged his literary standing and called him irrelevant and despondent. He wrapped with this:

ROSEN: Vonnegut, who failed at suicide 23 years ago, said 34 years ago that he hoped his children wouldn’t say of him when he was gone “he made wonderful jokes, but he was such an unhappy man.” So I’ll say it for them.

Wasn’t that charming? I wonder what Vonnegut ever did to James Rosen. I’m not familiar with him, so I did a little digging and found this on the Media Matters site:

Results: Tagged with James Rosen

Rosen falsely claimed Bush officials "made clear" U.S. forces will not enter Iran Friday, January 12, 2007 8:38PM

Fox News' Rosen misrepresented intelligence community's estimated timeframe for Iranian nuclear weapon capability Thursday, May 11, 2006 5:07PM

Fox News' Rosen misrepresented Hotline poll to suggest majority of Americans may approve of Bush Wednesday, March 1, 2006 3:36PM

Fox's Rosen falsely implied that 136,000 Iraqi troops could fight insurgents by themselves Wednesday, August 10, 2005 1:07PM

FOX's Rosen labeled French academy "left wing" without basis; adopted Rumsfeld's rhetoric Wednesday, February 9, 2005 4:16PM

-Maybe Rosen hates Vonnegut for his honesty.

And somebody else at Fox may have it in for Vonnegut. Geraldo Rivera was married to Vonnegut’s daughter Edith from 1971 – 1975. In his 1992 book “Exposing Myself,” Geraldo boasted of having an affair with Marion Javitts, wife of the NY senator and a friend of the Vonneguts, while he was married to Edith. This prompted Vonnegut to go on television denouncing “Gerry Rivers, that’s his real name.” He called him a scumbag, and said that if they met on the street, “I’d spit in his face.”

-No wonder I like this man, and he wrote great books, too.

And so it goes…

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Ten Songs I'm Listening To

1. Shiney Toy Guns - Super Sonic Overdrive

2. Pearl Jam - Do the Evolution

3. The Ventures - Telstar

4. The Mentors - Love Sandwich

5. The Vogues - 5 O'clock World

6. Tool - Pot

7. Martin Denny - A Quiet Village

8. Neil Young - Cortez the Killer

9. The Killers - Everything Will Be Alright

10. Dick Dale - The Wedge

Monday, April 16, 2007

Rosie Ledet Torches Sam's

Run don't walk to see Rosie Ledet and her band.

Lucy and I took in her show at Sam's Burger Joint. We were not only wowed her zydeco force majeure, but were delighted to experience what a fanastic club Sam's is. They got the best stage in SA and their staff is professional, curteous and helpful. The food rocks, and drinks are reasonable.

She is sooooo fine. I was transfixed by her near wardobe malfunction.

True zydeco is not Texas Music per se, but it is her beautiful and slightly crazy sister.

Also, I like to link to people I like, so in addition to the above, I want to direct your attention to Bay Area Houston for local color.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Impeachment; Our Right, Our Duty

The Bay Area New Democrats tipped me to an impeachment event in Houston this week. It wasn’t much to look at, a lot of the same crowd you’d find at a Democratic Party or labor union gathering, a lot of old hippies. I told my daughter that the crowd looked old to me and she looked at me and laughed. Indeed.

Some of these folks really have been working for peace since the 1960’s. Well, it’s too bad that more of us didn’t keep it up. Look what’s happened. Now we’ve got to learn how all over again, and we’ve got to teach the young people, too. They were under-represented at this gathering, but I suppose the next military draft will concentrate their minds.

Sissy Farenthold, an anti-war activist first elected to Austin in 1968, and contemporary of Ann Richards and Molly Ivans, spoke of how Bush is only the latest president to expand war powers under the National Security act of 1947. She spoke of our more than 700 overseas military bases, the Chief Executive’s secret army, and directed us to the Institute for Policy Studies site to learn of our “participating partnerships” opening up for foreign private oil companies. She said that impeachment or indictment will not start in the congress; that it has to start with us.

University of Texas Journalism Professor Robert Jensen spoke of High Crimes, and said that Bush is not the only president to violate international law with acts of aggression, citing four examples from Clinton’s terms in office. Jensen points out that we all are culpable as material beneficiaries of post WWII empire building, living “in a world inconsistent with our own stated principles.” You may remember Jensen, whose answer to the post 9/11 question “why do they hate us?” became fodder for right- wing talk show hosts and wing-nut letters to the editor calling for his firing and worse.

The final speaker was Cindy Sheehan, making her fourth visit to Houston. She knew many in the crowd, some who had visited Camp Casey, others activists with whom she’d been arrested.

She had praise for Dennis Kucinich, the only presidential candidate that voted against the Iraq war.

She disagreed with Texas Rep. Lon Burnam, who said that he more impressed than he expected to be with Nancy Pelosi, saying that the congress is full of corporate whores, and called Pelosi “Speaker of the Whores.”

When somebody in the crowd decried Fox News she replied that “there’s no difference between Fox and CNN.”

She reminded us of Jefferson’s call for a revolution every ten years, calling for “massive non-violent civil disobedience.”

She quoted Jeanette Rankin on the eve of her sole vote against entering WWI, saying “this is no time to be polite.”

“The constitution doesn’t say God anywhere, but it says impeach six times.”

“I don’t pay my taxes. I’m ashamed that I funded all those wars; that I didn’t tell Casey that he was going to war to make corporations rich.”

Cindy Sheehan challenged us to “put it all on the line.” She sure has, her oldest child is dead, her marriage ended, she’s given up her home, friends, and financial security. Instead, this little old lady has taken on the White House, the neocons, and their “New American Century.” I found her articulate, and inspiring.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Kurt Vonnegut Dead at 84

I have nothing but tears. I feel as if I have lost a loved-one. Here is some of what he said along the way:

Any reviewer who expresses rage and loathing for a novel is preposterous. He or she is like a person who has put on full armor and attacked a hot fudge sundae.

Be careful what you pretend to be because you are what you pretend to be.

Beware of the man who works hard to learn something, learns it, and finds himself no wiser than before.

Here we are, trapped in the amber of the moment. There is no why.

Human beings will be happier - not when they cure cancer or get to Mars or eliminate racial prejudice or flush Lake Erie but when they find ways to inhabit primitive communities again. That's my utopia.

I really wonder what gives us the right to wreck this poor planet of ours.

I want to stand as close to the edge as I can without going over. Out on the edge you see all the kinds of things you can't see from the center.

If people think nature is their friend, then they sure don't need an enemy.

If you can do a half-assed job of anything, you're a one-eyed man in a kingdom of the blind.

Laughter and tears are both responses to frustration and exhaustion. I myself prefer to laugh, since there is less cleaning up to do afterward.

Life happens too fast for you ever to think about it. If you could just persuade people of this, but they insist on amassing information.

Maturity is a bitter disappointment for which no remedy exists, unless laughter could be said to remedy anything.

People don't come to church for preachments, of course, but to daydream about God.

People have to talk about something just to keep their voice boxes in working order so they'll have good voice boxes in case there's ever anything really meaningful to say.
Some jerk infected the Internet with an outright lie. It shows how easy it is to do and how credulous people are.

Still and all, why bother? Here's my answer. Many people need desperately to receive this message: I feel and think much as you do, care about many of the things you care about, although most people do not care about them. You are not alone.

To whom it may concern: It is springtime. It is late afternoon.

True terror is to wake up one morning and discover that your high school class is running the country.

We could have saved the Earth but we were too damned cheap.

What should young people do with their lives today? Many things, obviously. But the most daring thing is to create stable communities in which the terrible disease of loneliness can be cured.

Who is more to be pitied, a writer bound and gagged by policemen or one living in perfect freedom who has nothing more to say?

Monday, April 09, 2007

Chupacabra Report

News that gets my goat…
I slept in on a day off and had a nice breakfast, watching the birds while Rufus watched the squirrels. It’s not even noon; yet, zombie-like, “Virginia Tom” DeLay has crossed my stream of consciousness twice already. It’s like last month, before his ghosted book slid down the sales charts and headed for the remaindered table.

First is an NPR story raising the question of whether the US Attorneys were fired to limit the reach of the investigation into Jack Abramoff. That’s no shock to me, but I almost spit out my coffee when I heard of a five-year statute of limitations on prosecution of these crimes. Does that mean that as of today DeLay is skating on whatever he was doing up to April 9th, 2002? What a travesty.

And later I’m reading a Chron story about airport parking for public officials, and see a parking ticket for DeLay dated months after he “Retreated and Surrendered” his seat in congress. I was glad to see City Avation Director Richard Vacar say that DeLay, former Councilman Bert Keller, and former State Rep. Ken Yarbrough will be billed for parking after their terms expired. I hope the sheriffs pick them up if they don’t pay, as they would any other two-bit scofflaw. Now; who’s paying DeLay’s driver? I’d say that this sawed-off little fug has cost us enough already.

Cascarones for the People

I witnessed the oldest passion play in the US last week at San Fernando cathedral. This spectacle is every year since 1740. As part of his chastisement, Jesus fell vicitm to many cascarones - just kidding. No, just shouts of mock scorn. The missionaries started this ritual to show the indians the awful sufferings of Christ. As if they needed to learn of suffering.

Jesus is fine this year. On the other hand, cascarones, a Fiesta favorite, might not be faring so well. As Wikipedia explains:

Cascarones or confetti eggs are festive, hollow chicken egg shells, filled with confetti, meant to be thrown or broken over someone's head (usually as a surprise from behind), scattering confetti all over the person. Breaking the eggs over someone's head can be quite painful if done hard enough, however, this is most often done between friends, usually teenagers. Cascarones derived from Mexico and have recently regained popularity in the southwestern United States. They are used for many different occasions but, especially Easter. Having one broken over your head is said to bring good luck.

So for years, the young and old could spotted smashing each other over the head for a couple of weeks during fiesta. The amunition came from the big Cowboy Breakfest in February, where all the trailriders eat in the pouring rain. 40,000 blown egg shells where distributed to the populace for cascarone use. But this year that came to a halt. To make matters worse, the U.S. banned the import of Mexican cascarones because of an out-break of Farrington's Disease that could decimate the chicken population.

I remain skepticle since corporate manufactured cascarones are flodding the city through HEB Groceries - the monopoly that controls out food supply.

It is impossible to find a dozen cascarones for less the $1.50. We'll see where this goes.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Trash Talk in Houston

Mayor Bill White is asking for input on his proposed garbage fee, but first I’d have a word with some of the other 2 million citizens of Houston.

Bubba, it’s not my business if you want to drive your SUV to WalMart every week, filling the coffers of Petro-Despots who want to destroy us, and exacerbating our trade imbalance with China so they’re better able to pull the rug out from under our economy whenever they like; just so you can buy a bunch of over-packaged crap to take home and then put all your old crap out on the curb twice a week to go to the giant landfill that you don’t have to look at, smell, or even think about.

I just want you to be paying a gas tax, carbon tax, garbage fee, and whatever other costs you run up. Many are already paying for this in blood.

Now, for the Mayor; I suggest a system that I observed in that bastion of plutocracy,
Farmers Branch, Texas, where the G-men only pick up trash that is bagged in the official trash pick-up bags sold by the city. The bags could be priced to cover the price of picking up and disposing of your household trash, plus any costs of operating and maintaining the neighborhood recycling center, which, unlike curbside collection, has the possibility of paying for itself.

This would equitably distribute the costs of trash disposal between those who put out hundreds of bagsful every year and those who put out tens.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Rev. Chisums' Bible Class Bill

House Appropriations Committee Chairman Warren Chisum (R-Pharisee) has a bill before the House Public Education Committee that would require an elective course on the Greatest Book Ever Written to be offered by any public school that had 15 students sign up for it. Predictably, most schools with such offerings have run afoul of the First Amendments’ prohibition of laws establishing a state religion. Rep. Chisum, I’m here to help. All we need to do to ensure that teachers present the material in an objective manner is to first require that they teach units about the Bhagavad Gita, The Koran, The Tao Te Ching, and the works of Elron Hubbard before they teach the Old and New Testaments.

Wait a Gosh Darn minute. Aren’t conservatives supposed to stand up against unfunded government mandates?

There are thousands of students across the state that already go to summer school to get state-required classes out of the way so that they can free up their class schedules enough to pursue their education. I just heard this week of another kid in the neighborhood that got his bachelors in three years because he passed AP courses in high school.

Rev. Chisum, how about you and your cronies do your job and fund the schools to the best of our ability, and then leave the rest to the parents and educators. Show us more rectitude and less rectum.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Gimee Three Steps, Mister

Lately I've noticed myself waxing between ranting and snarking about the tendencies of music people to isolate and remove themselves from fan contact. This story today made me feel a little dickish about my views:

AUSTIN, Texas — Country singer Billy Joe Shaver shot and wounded a man in self-defense outside a bar, his attorney said Monday.

A drunk, aggressive stranger with a knife followed Shaver into the parking lot of Papa Joe's Texas Saloon in Lorena on Saturday night, said Shaver's attorney, Joseph A. Turner of Austin. Turner would not say whether anything had occurred inside the bar.

Police in Lorena — about 80 miles north of Austin — have not issued an arrest warrant, but Shaver will turn himself in if they do, Turner said.

"We're working with the police to get this resolved," Turner said.

The victim was shot in the cheek but was talking and alert afterward, according to police.

(AP via

Until I saw this at Billboard:

Arrest Warrant Issued For Billy Joe Shaver
Billy Joe Shaver
April 03, 2007, 10:45 AM ET
Police have issued arrest warrants for country singer Billy Joe Shaver after he shot and wounded a man outside a Texas bar, the entertainer's attorney said.

After Shaver left a bar in Lorena on Saturday night, a drunk, aggressive stranger with a knife followed him into the parking lot, said attorney Joseph A. Turner of Austin. Shaver shot him in self-defense, he said.

Police in Lorena, about 80 miles north of Austin, issued arrest warrants late yesterday (April 2) on charges of aggravated assault and possessing a firearm in a prohibited place, Turner said.

Any fan of Billy's knows what a Christian man he is, so shooting a man in the face has to have an explanation somehow that makes sense. Right? I mean, look at that photo above with David Allen Coe. He is sweet as can be. I guess fans are so crazy these days it just pays to keep a loaded gun handy at all times?

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