Wednesday Open Comments

Palazzo Colonna, Rome

Palazzo Colonna is one of the oldest and largest private palaces of Rome.  Its construction began in the fourteenth century by the Colonna family, who still resides there since eight centuries.  The Colonna family dates back to the twelfth century and comes from the town of Colonna, near Rome, from which it takes its name.

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55 thoughts on “Wednesday Open Comments

  1. Well they better have a pretty good aim and hit Guam in the middle, otherwise it’ll just tip over.

  2. Good morning Hamsters. Kinda smothering 75 around 6, but we’re another day closer to the first cool front. That, dear Hamsters, is how one survives this time of year until the first cool front appears.

    We’re almost all the way well from the viral upper respiratory monster and have postponed a birthday celebratory dinner out until Saturday. B. day was yesterday complete with roses, lots of cards, and several calls. That was about all I could manage without several naps.

    What marvelous overstuffed elegance in the OC pic above. Sensory overload.

  3. Morning gang. Suffering from a headache this morning, assuming that it is allergy related somehow. Still working on my agenda for the day, so I’ll have to report back later on what progress, if any, I’ve made on that front. An early fall would not bother me much at all after the heat we’ve had so far. Have a great day.

  4. Somebody didn’t like my skunk trap apparently. It was moved over about 12 – 15 feet from its original location, lying on its side, trigger sprung, dirt all torn up along the path where it was moved, and all the chicken leg bones I used for bait were gone. Whatever animal did that I’m not sure I wanted to catch anyway. It for sure wasn’t a little skunk – my guess is a big raccoon. I haven’t seen the skunk for a couple of days, so think I’ll wait until I see it to go out and reset the trap. Outsmarting a skunk can be harder than you think.

  5. #5 Shannon: I wonder if they are going to spray the fuel in like a diesel and have it burn as it is sprayed? In older engines, when the compression was too high and the fuel was too low octane, compression ignition was called detonation and, to a lesser degree, knocking. It wound up punching holes in the pistons. Perhaps they have ceramic coated piston tops or something? I am very interested to see the reliability/longevity numbers.

  6. Morning gang, indeed. I hate always being 2 or 3 hours later than everyone else.

    Wait — no, I don’t!

  7. FBI conducted predawn raid of former Trump campaign chairman Manafort’s home.

    FBI agents raided the Alexandria home of President Trump’s former campaign chairman late last month, using a search warrant to seize documents and other materials, according to people familiar with the special counsel investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

    Federal agents appeared at Paul Manafort’s home without advance warning in the predawn hours of July 26, the day after he met voluntarily with the staff for the Senate Intelligence Committee.

    The search warrant was wide-ranging and FBI agents working with special counsel Robert S. Mueller III departed the home with various records. Jason Maloni, a spokesman for Manafort, confirmed that agents executed a warrant at one of the political consultant’s homes and that Manafort cooperated with the search.

    The raid came as Manafort has been voluntarily producing documents to congressional committees investigating Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election. The search warrant indicates investigators may have argued to a federal judge they had reason to believe Manafort could not be trusted to turn over all records in response to a grand jury subpoena.

    It could also have been intended to send a message to President Trump’s former campaign chairman that he should not expect gentle treatment or legal courtesies from Mueller’s team.

  8. Pyongyang has a small arsenal and no way to deliver it to North America. That reality, however, hasn’t stopped one breathless report after another in the wake of a leaked Defense Intelligence Agency report that Kim regime has now made a warhead small enough to fit onto a long-range missile. “We’re out of time,” defense analyst Harry Kazianis told Fox.

    Harry is an analyst (and a friend) whose views I respect, but this is hyperbole. So let’s take a step back, examine the technology and the current situation, then consider a few strategic choices now facing the United States…

    http://thefederalist.com/2017/08/09/not-time-north-korea-options/

  9. I think Wells Fargo – the bank with a major scandal every year – needs to just go away.

    Our town and its economic development council has been slowly working on a downtown redevelopment project for a number of years. One of the next steps in the project would include some sidewalk work and tree planting adjacent to the Wells Fargo Bank.

    I thought it was pretty amazing that during a public hearing on this next phase, two citizens urged the council to re-think this part of the project because, “Wells Fargo has virtually no community involvement that would warrant it.”
    Wow.

    https://mobile.nytimes.com/2017/08/07/business/wells-fargo-insurance.html?ref=dealbook&mtrref=undefined&gwh=223C576225374AF5A453711A666C8022&gwt=pay&referer=

  10. #14 – this story raises a number of questions. First and foremost, why is it the responsibility of the town economic development council to dedicate public funds to a downtown redevelopment project. That’s a private sector function. Secondly, the process of doing work on some properties while excluding others is clearly discriminatory; of course doing downtown work as opposed to other areas of town is also discriminatory. I would need to know more about the community involvement that would or would not warrant the investment of public funds toward this project. General comment – Wells probably has been screwing over its customers for years, but so are the other major financial institutions. When the government decided to close about half of the community banks in the country, it eliminated community credit except for the absolute slam dunks. Agriculture and other businesses were forced to other government lenders such as Farmers Home Administration, thus allowing government to control everything related to agricultural production in this country. Tell the town council to just say no to wasting public funds on boondoggle redevelopment project. They have never worked before, and they won’t work now.

  11. It’s all about who wants to be the decider of whether the brother-in-law of the decider farms Palm trees or pears, or sells concrete or pavers.

  12. I think Wells Fargo – the bank with a major scandal every year – needs to just go away.

    I had a visceral reaction when Wells Fargo bought out local bank, which we loved working with. At the time, we were getting close to paying several mortgages on our rental properties. I wanted to move our accounts, but was going to wait until those last payments were made and just suck it up.

    Until they screwed up recording several of our payments. There was only one loan for which the payment was recorded, on time. The next month, I took cash and paid in person, on the day it was due. Imagine my surprise when I was charged a late fee! Their explanation? “Even if you pay in cash, it takes us two days to record the payment. That’s why you were charged the late fee.”

    I had a serious talk with Hubby, and fortunately we were in the position to make those last payments to clear all but one loan. Did that. Went shopping for another bank. One bank rep literally tossed some literature at me and said “those are our banking products”. Others were a little better.

    I ended up at Plantation Bank. When I walked in and said I was shopping for a bank, the manager took me into her office and talked with me for at least a half hour on anything but my banking business. She learned about my family, my husband, what we did…she took the time to get to know me. Then we discussed our banking needs. She personally opened our accounts and we made arrangements for the last loan to be refinanced through their bank. Whenever I entered the lobby, there was a chorus of “Hello, Tedtam!” from anyone who wasn’t busy with a customer.

    I was concerned when Plantation was bought out by Regions, and this is several managers and a turnover of staff later. I was concerned I was going to have another WF event, but the atmosphere and care hasn’t changed. Those people at the bank know all about my family, what we’re going through, how cute my granddaughters are…and the manager occasionally comes over to make sure I’m happy and shakes my hand. Recently he introduced us to some products we were eligible for and they made a lot of sense, so we engaged those offers. And I still hear hello from the staff. I’ve asked for the drive through teller to stop saying “We’ll have this out for you whenever you’re ready,” what they’re taught to say, and surprise me with something else for a change. The last time she was there, she asked me if I’d seen a documentary on Netflix that she found interesting.

    I love the relationship I have at my bank. Never going to bank at Wells Fargo. Ever.

    PS: Dad’s friend said they screwed up her loan, too, when they took over her bank.

  13. # 16 ElGordo

    I figured the post would have you sticking your head out of your burrow. 🙂

    Back in the ugly 80’s, the citizens of Bellville voted to tax themselves an additional 1% on sales and create the Economic Development Council (EDC). The council is populated by unpaid volunteers. The City gets to appoint three of the members. The City council also has veto power over big projects. Essentially you have a total of about fifteen citizens involved in this entity which is charged with retaining existing businesses and attracting new ones. Its charter also authorizes it to do projects that might attract visitors.

    The bottom line is the citizens chose this citizen-run vehicle to make local improvements and attract people and businesses to the town – taking this work out of the hands of the city council who have their hands full running the City.

    I can assure you that these tight Germans, Poles, and Czechs keep a tight rein on the EDC. When they don’t support a decision or project, they make their opinions LOUDLY known at public meetings.

    An example being that Bellville desperately needs a hotel. The EDC and the City were very close to cutting a deal -twice- and the citizenry shot it down for various reasons.

    It is my opinion that Bellville is small enough to prevent any corruption or waste by this entity as it is currently configured and transparently operated.

  14. When I first moved to Houston in 1981 city, county, and state government responsible for infrastructure was a good old boy network, mostly honkies. Within 10 years it was still a good old boy network but the good old boys were brown, black and/or female. Now the good old boys are black, brown, female, homos, and/or boys who think they’re girls.

  15. I just came across an article touching on the disappearance of DNA. This article is surrounded by an apparent recent controversy over a BBC cartoon depicting a black Roman soldier in Roman-occupied Great Britain. In response to those who ask why is there no DNA traces from Roman Britain to modern-day populations the article explains Genetic Drift which to me is one of the most intriguing aspects of DNA lineages:

    1. Genetic drift may have erased their traces from the population

    Populations are not static: the genetic makeup of a region often changes over time due to evolutionary forces like migration and genetic drift. Genetic drift changes the frequency of alleles (forms of a gene) randomly within a population over time. Uniparental markers, like mitochondrial (only maternally inherited) and Y chromosome (only paternally inherited) DNA are particularly affected by genetic drift. If a mitochondrial or Y chromosome lineage was rare in a population, it’s likely that it would have disappeared from the population over time and not be seen in contemporary inhabitants of the region. We see many examples of the loss of ancient lineages in different regions throughout the world. Alleles can also increase in frequency – they can be rare in the past, and plentiful now, all without needing to invoke natural selection… just chance.

    If Mary Beard is right, what’s happened to the DNA of Africans from Roman Britain?

  16. When the good ol’ boys were honkies they were all about real estate. Improving what they owned, so we at least got some decent roads out of it. After most of the whites moved out we shifted to people the color of the voters left and started doing things the way they do up north.

  17. #22;

    I hope to be gone before it becomes completely a good old tranny network.

    You should hang out around Westheimer and Montrose on a Friday or Saturday night. You’ll love is there…”trust me”. 😆

  18. Beer is fun, but it can also make you feel better. A new study from the University of Greenwich found that three or four beers can ease your pain better than some over the counter painkillers.

    The study found that when a person brings their blood alcohol content to the legal limit of .08 percent, that person’s pain threshold is elevated. The researchers concluded from their study that “alcohol is an effective analgesic (pain reliever) that delivers clinically-relevant reductions in ratings of pain intensity.”

    The head of the study, Dr. Trevor Thompson, told The Sun that the pain relieving power of alcohol “is more powerful than paracetamol.” Paracetamol, or acetaminophen, is found in over the counter pain and fever reducers like Tylenol.

  19. #20 – Well, here’s the minutes of the November 2014 meeting (the last available on line). These minutes are posted under 2016, but actually dated 2014. These guys have accumulated a war chest of over $600,000 and really don’t spend any money to speak of. That looks dangerous to me. The accumulation of public money generated through tax revenues to that level tells me that the rate is way too high, or that they are planning to do some real damage at some time. Pardon me if I don’t trust any of this stuff simply because they are good old conservative Poles, Germans, and Czechs – people are all the same with it comes to dealing with OPM. Just my $.02.
    http://www.cityofbellville.com/default.aspx?name=city.bedc_minutes

  20. DNA is interesting. People tend to think its a constant dilution through generations but that’s not how it works. You get 50% of your DNA from each parent but that 50% isn’t necessarily 25% from each of your parents’ parents. After a few generations an entire lineage can disappear.

  21. #27 texpat
    You sure the alcohol doesn’t just make you care a whole lot less about the pain?

  22. Other things the EDC does…

    • The local garden club has volunteers who maintain flower beds at high visibility intersections in town, in the city easements.
    EDC helps out with purchase of bedding annuals.

    • Purchase of vertical banners featuring info on upcoming public events.

    • Poffenburger’s Bellville Meat Market is no doubt the biggest drawing business in town – packed seven days a week with locals and Houston people. They recently had a massive expansion and received a grant for a small percentage of the cost.

    • A program to financially assist building owners on the square with sprucing up their facades.

    • Assisting building owners with costs to upgrade electrical connections to allow roofline Christmas lighting.

    Last but not least, and spearheaded by volunteers from virtually every civic organization in town, the next mammoth project will be a top to bottom restoration of the historic city-owned, twelve-sided dance hall – the first round dance hall in Texas. The EDC will certainly contribute, but it’s going to take a lot of fund raisers to accomplish this one.

  23. The giant bust of Stephen F. Austin at the western gateway of the city was an EDC project.

    The EDC is also covering some of the cost of researching the possibility of making Bellville a train-horn-free City. And will no doubt cover some of the costs should they move forward with the very expensive project.

    I understand your skepticism but this kind of stuff can actually work in the right place. Remember, this was self-inflicted by the voters. And they can shut it down, too.

  24. The giant bust of Stephen F. Austin at the western gateway of the city was an EDC project.

    Will they pay to have it removed once the Boutique Grievance Industry moguls realize he was a slaver?

  25. I got a lovely B. day card from my dear cousin near Pittsburgh yesterday who’s a couple of years older than I am. She of course included a note of news from there that included one rather astounding entry.

    They were converting their back porch into a sun room, a great idea when winter shows up there by the way. The supervisor and his crew arrived to begin and had been at it for three hours when the supervisor, age 54, had a heart attack. She said his crew took turns doing CPR until the EMS arrived. He died there.

    She never felt so helpless in her life after 911 was called. You just start praying. She said he was the nicest man and obviously very much loved. The crew came back a couple of days later to finish the job, just as he had envisioned it, and she was amazed at how they were able to work so well to accomplish it. Possibly it was a silent tribute to him. It will be quite a while before she can go in the sun room and not remember what happened. What a terrible experience.

  26. Happy belated birthday, Adee.

    I thought CPR usually worked to keep someone alive till the EMTs arrived. Sadly, not always.

  27. #31-33 I don’t deny that these may be desirable projects; but I do not believe they should be funded with public tax money. Store owners should maintain their own storefronts, etc. Not everyone benefits from these projects. Of course, nearly every little town has such arrangements of one kind or another; and urban area are completely corrupt with such schemes. And really, they are considering making the city “train horn free?” That will last until the first person gets killed by a silent train. Are they getting advice from the City of Houston? Get government out of the way, and I would not be surprised if all these businesses did better. As to the dance hall, farmers market, and other such enterprises, if they were viable to begin with there would be no need for public funding. How many landscapers have been put out of work because the EDC controls the landscaping with slave labor? I’ll get my yard looking like a golf course if the city will just buy me some grass, fertilizer, lots of water, some topsoil, assorted herbicides, a lawnmower, an edger, a roller, a small tractor with a disc, pesticides, and maybe even throw in a few pavers and a fountain.

  28. The Bellville Economic Development Council

    I’m surprised the EDC in Bellville doesn’t have at least a million dollars in the bank by now. It was formed shortly before I left and started out in a state of controversy. The parsimonious nature of Central Texas descendants of continental Europeans is impossible to overestimate and the foreign idea of taxing themselves for something as amorphous as “economic development” would have been regarded as insane by their parents and grandparents. Such is the case of a rich, modern American democracy writ small. Previous generations couldn’t envision a local economy rich enough to build giant roadside sculpture, but too broke to buy the asphalt to pave local, rural roads. Personally, I would have preferred a road and bridge fund for the area, but the inevitable cross jurisdictional conflicts would have locked it into oblivion.

    The first time I came home and drove by the Stephen F. Austin bust I nearly ran off the road. That thing is enormous.

    At any rate, in my opinion, this would be the most appropriate subject* for a life sized bronze sculpture for Bellville and Austin County if folks voted to spend money for that sort of bauble.

    *The Millheim Fathers’ Day Barbeque pit area

  29. Rural roads are the County’s responsibility. City of Bellville streets are in pretty good shape following numerous repavings in the last ten years.

    Numerous cities have gone train-horn-free in the last twenty years. The City of Sealy is just one that I could name. You might want to educate yourself about the process for approval and execution before making assumptions about safety.

    Landscapers put out of business because of eight beds being maintained by a volunteer organization on city property? That is specious.

  30. Rural roads are the County’s responsibility. City of Bellville streets are in pretty good shape following numerous repavings in the last ten years.

    I acknowledged the impossible execution of my idea. Allocating road funds for county projects would never have worked in the first place. I was just pointing out what some Czech/Polish rancher would have said in an EDC meeting 50 years ago.

  31. I posted on Lone Star Times years ago about the decibel levels of train horns, fire, police and ambulance sirens and I believe I’ve raised it here.

    Our mother’s home in Bellville sat on a high hill above the main Santa Fe line from Temple to Galveston. When she purchased the place in the early 70s train noise was barely a bother in the house. By the late 1980s, the decibel level of horns made it impossible to speak on the phone or to one another while a train engine was passing through. It would literally rattle the windows and had never done so before.

    We were doing business with the railroad commission in Mexico at the time and I brought this up in a conversation with a railroad construction engineer. He confirmed to me the standards for the train horns had been increased over and over again because of the sound deadening in vehicles over the years. The new whooping sirens and scattershot bursts from ambulances and police cars was to try and penetrate the cabins of cars and trucks as manufacturers made them immune to exterior noise.

  32. OK, I’m taking my last shot on public funds being arbitrarily spent by unelected people on discriminatory projects, many if not all of which are not economically viable. If a little bit of government meddling in local business affairs is a good idea, then why isn’t a whole lot of government meddling even better. There are some who would say that it is, but I’m not among them. When have you ever seen a government program go away. When Texas first passed the sales tax, it was 1/4 of 1%, and we were told that this was the last tax we would ever need. It’s approaching 10% now in some areas. Economics 100 will tell you that any time a new tax is enacted, sales will go down a like amount. Taxes are a penalty on success.

  33. There are seven rail crossings in this tiny town. Locomotive engineers are required to sound the horn three times before entering the crossing. That’s twenty one soundings over the distance of a couple of miles. For those of you in Rio Linda that means horns are sounding constantly the entire trip through town. Dozens of trains, all day and all night.
    Heck, I live five miles away and I hear it. Especially at night.
    I doubt I’ve ever heard a sermon all the way through because of the train horns.

    Though with some preachers that might be a good thing.

  34. I don’t heel to the hard libertarian line El Gordo does on all things governmental although I have strong sympathies for his views.

    I am opposed, as he is, to all the rampant shenanigans at the federal and state status and would, given the power, wipe out half the federal government in a fell swoop, sooner than later.

    However, I believe on a local level at the base line of a town of 4,000 people in Texas, if they want to have an economic development council to fund municipal landscaping and beautification projects, it is their prerogative. I say this knowing those people would disband the whole thing if they thought 20 bucks had been spent irresponsibly.

    On the other hand, if you create this kind of apparatus in New Jersey, California or Wisconsin, it will grow into a totalitarian monster within 6 years and have to be slain by enormous lawsuits and whistleblower efforts. It’s all about the culture.

  35. I am opposed, as he is, to all the rampant shenanigans at the federal and state status and would, given the power, wipe out halfeverything that was not specifically mandated by The Constitution for the federal government in a fell swoop, sooner than later.

    That goes for lifetime pensions for everybody as well.

  36. I live in a train-horn-free zone in NW Houston. I was on the Greater Inwood Partnership board when the proposed project got approved about 5-6 yrs ago. It took 4 yrs after approval before the Quiet Zone went into effect. There is about a 3 mile stretch where the BNSF level crossings were beefed up to prevent anyone from driving around the lowered arms. The crossing lights still flash but I can’t remember whether there is any alarm sound produced at the crossing itself. But the train does not blow its horn as it approaches those crossings.

  37. A de-horned train just don’t sound right. Guess that’s where country music died with no gender mamas and hornless trains.

  38. One of the most effective things they have done up here at RR crossings, and there are many, is to install big strobe lights that start flashing well before the train makes it to the crossing.

  39. Okay, this is too funny. Hubby’s asleep in his recliner when he suddenly raises his right arm like he’s asking a question in class. He holds it up in the air for about 10 seconds, then puts it down.

    Never stopped snoring. Usually he talks in his sleep, with an occasional hand movement. Never one so big and prolonged.

  40. The bottom line is train horns were not near the issue they are today before the new generations of cars and trucks.

    The railroad construction engineer I referred to earlier told me there was an episode in which they took, back in the 80s, some senior DOT officials and put them in Mercedes, BMW and Cadillac top of the line sedans and then sat at RR crossings to demonstrate how they could barely hear the horns. With the radio on, they couldn’t hear anything at all.

  41. Shannon

    What are they going to do the fairground dance hall ? I hope they don’t ruin it with some fancy 21st century ideas.

  42. The railroad horns reminds me of the people who buy houses under the flight path to/from the airport and then complain about the noise. Those towns would probably not exist were it not for the railroad coming through. Oh well, everything is disposable in today’s society. Really, who would even want to have a train coming through if you couldn’t enjoy the horn.

  43. OK my Bellville Brothers – it would seem we simply need to ducktape EG to an easy chair on Newman Bakery’s porch for a day or two………………THAT will accomplish considerably more persuasion than typing all the total characters found in Webster’s Dictionary! 🙂

  44. Hey, I stayed in a motel in Liberty that backed up to the train tracks for 6 months while working in the area. It didn’t take long to get used to the whistle and the rumbling, ground shaking with all the trains that passed through there about every 15 minutes, night and day.

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