Archive for October, 2007

Green Muscle Cars

A friend linked me to this article about a car modder named Johnathan Goodwin and his unique ability to create superpowered hybrid cars. It’s floored me! I am simply amazed by this guy’s achievements. Goodwin is building or has built:

  • Arnold Schwarzenegger’s 1987 Jeep Wagoneer, converted to biodiesel
  • Neil Young’s 1960 Lincoln Continental, converted to electric+biodiesel
  • H1 Hummer running on a combination of hydrogen and biodiesel
  • A 2005 H3 Hummer JET ENGINE hybrid (!!!)

This stuff is COOL — the kinds of things that car fanatics will really drool over. Goodwin convinced Schwarzenegger, a muscle car guy if ever there was one, to get the biodiesel conversion after one of his biodiesel hybrids that he built on Pimp My Ride beat a Lamborghini in a drag race. Simply amazing proof that (1) going green and being awesome are very compatible, and (2) American entrepreneurship will save us from the dregs of corporatism.

The article is a bit of a long read, but well worth it.

Simple Question Time

Lubbock’s burgeoning internet community is starting to buzz with thoughts of the May 2008 City/School/Water election.

So:

Would you vote to re-elect Mayor David Miller in 2008?

View Results

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2007 Autumn in Lubbock

Let’s take a break from thinking about which amendments to vote for to appreciate one of the best features of Autumn in Lubbock:

2007 Cotton in Lubbock, TX

Crisp but warm days, big blue skies, and puffy fields of cotton as far as the eye can see!

Take some time to drive to the city limits (any direction will do) and marvel at all that cotton before it’s all harvested!

“Sicko” Screening at Texas Tech

'What can I do?' - SiCKO

The Health Organization Management Program of Texas Tech University will be screening “Sicko” on Tuesday. They’ve put together a wonderful panel to discuss the film as well.

Here’s the skinny:

Panelists:
Terry Greenberg: Editor, Avalanche Journal
Steven Berk, MD: Dean, TTUHSC School of Medicine
Timothy Huerta, Ph. D: Research Scientist, Child and Family Research Institute, Vancouver, BC, Canada
Patti Patterson, MD: Professor, Department of Pediatrics, TTUHSC School of Medicine

Popcorn and Sodas Provided!!!!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007
7:00 p.m.
Allen Theater in the Student Union Building
TTU Main Campus
Sponsored By:
Health Organization Management Student Association (HOMSA),
And Center for Healthcare Innovation, Education, & Research (CHIER)

Let’s turn out and support this important film as it is discussed by those “in the trenches” of the health care crisis.

West Texas Progressive Blogger Spotlight: Fade

This week we turn to one of my favorite Lubbock bloggers: Fade, who maintains the House of the Rising Sons blog. He’s straightforward, passionate, and quite frankly fun to read. Here’s fade discussing his blog in his own words:

My blog is a little more emotional than most, and that’s just my nature. I never have minced words, and I don’t think I’m going to start now. I write exactly like I talk (sans the Texas drawl, although I throw a few ain’ts and ya’lls in there subconsciously at times).

Fade’s been doing this for a while, so there’s lots to go back and read. Here are some of his posts that are recent favorites of mine:

Blog Conversations that Make Conservatives Cringe

If we can all serve our country by talking to each other openly and honestly, the country gets stronger, not weaker. So keep the conversation going.

So what if it was the oil?

The Quick fix is killing America. Shortcuts and short term repairs do nothing but make the problem worsen in the long run.

Americans seem to be incapable of promoting any real solutions to ANY of our problems, whether it is foreign policy, the economy, national security, or lessening our nation’s reliance on crude oil.

Salute to the American Pro-War Crowd

So, plant your fatass in front of the teevee tonight and watch as much contrived 9-11 anniversary fever that you can, all the while suppressing the real reasons WHY our country was attacked.

And, as with good blogs everywhere, there’s always further good discussion in the comments.

What are you waiting for? Head on over and join the conversation!

TDW Hosts Vernita Woods-Holmes

Texas Democratic Women of the South Plains will have their regular meeting tomorrow (Friday) at 11:30am at Furr’s on Slide Rd. Their featured speaker will be LISD School Board member Vernita Woods-Holmes. She will discuss the decision-making process for the all-girl charter school as well as other issues of importance to the school district.

Their meetings are always engaging, and TDW of the South Plains is one of the fastest-growing TDW chapters in the state!

Lubbock GOP: Asleep or Stirring?

Tomorrow night (Thursday 10/25) the Republican Party of Lubbock is having their third quarterly Executive Committee meeting of 2007 at conflict-of-interest central, aka McDougal Conference Center. It’s scheduled for an hour and a half with Carl Isett as a speaker.

To me, the circumstances of their meeting suggest that the Lubbock Republicans are in a holding pattern and not really engaged in serious work. An hour and a half for a whole quarter’s worth of business in addition to a speaker suggests that the Republican Party of Lubbock is in theater mode right now. Their Chairman, John Steinmetz, is even sporting a Carson Tucker style bowtie on their website.

Of course, this is no reason for Lubbock progressives to let their guard down. Other, more active groups like the Lubbock Area Republican Women are probably getting things done, judging by the frequency of their meetings and the number of elected officials among their members and officers.

So the real question is: what are you doing to take advantage of the lull before campaign season hits?

Mikal Watts Drops Out of the Race

In case you haven’t heard already, Mikal Watts has dropped out of the Democratic Primary, leaving Rick Noriega as the sole Senate candidate to face John Cornyn in 2008. From the
Watts campaign announcement:

After spending the last several months putting everything into this campaign, I have seen the toll this effort has taken on my young children. For these reasons, my wife and I have made the decision that I will not be seeking the Democratic nomination for the United States Senate in 2008. I was brought up to believe that public service is a noble endeavor and I will continue to be involved at some level in the future. However, I realize that my time now should be devoted to serving my children so they may grow up in a healthy environment with both parents at home to meet their needs.

I remain impressed by Watts and his campaign staff: they hit the ground running. His campaign made it to Lubbock more than once, which means a lot to us Dems out in West Texas.

I’m thrilled that we still have a wonderful candidate for Senate. Rick Noriega has what it takes to beat Cornyn, and I am looking forward to supporting him in 2008!

Did Blackwater Evade Taxes?

The House committee on Oversight and Government Reform raises the issue of how Blackwater pays its employees. Currently, Blackwater is the only contractor in Iraq that pays its armed guards as private contractors, not as employees (with income tax and social security withholding).

There’s nothing wrong with this arrangement by itself, but one of the guards working for Blackwater seemed to think it was unfair. He questioned his status as an independent contractor, and the IRS agreed with him. Now the speculation is whether the ruling applies to all of Blackwater’s contractors in Iraq and Afgahnistan as well:

Since the hearing, I have learned that the IRS determined in March — six months prior to your testimony — that your classification of a security guard working in Afghanistan as an independent contractor was “without merit.” The IRS advised that “[y]ou are responsible for satisfying the employment tax reporting, filing, and payment obligations that result from this determination.” By its terms, the IRS ruling applied only to the individual security guard who protested his classification, but the IRS warned that its ruling “may be applicable to any other individuals engaged by the firm.” The logic of the ruling would appear to apply to your entire workforce in Iraq and Afghanistan.

There is also evidence that Blackwater has tried to conceal the IRS ruling and the evasion of taxes from Congress and law enforcement officials. The IRS determination was issued in response to an inquiry by an individual security guard who questioned his classification as an independent contractor. In June, Blackwater required this employee to sign a nondisclosure agreement before it agreed to pay the back pay and other compensation that he was owed. The terms of this agreement explicitly prohibited the guard from disclosing any information about Blackwater to “any politician” or “public official.” The agreement further provided: “THE UTMOST PROTECTION AND NONDISCLOSURE OF CONFIDENTIAL INFORMATION IS OF CRITICAL IMPORTANCE AND IS THE ESSENCE OF THIS AGREEMENT.”

That last bit about nondisclosure is pretty scary, eh? Good thing that the Committee accepts anonymous whistleblower tips.

It’s a fact that our society’s workforce is moving to a more independent, less hierarchical form. Contractors and subcontractors are more and more common while pensioned, insured, “job-secure” employees are fewer and far between. The jury is still out on whether this will benefit society as a whole — I can see sound arguments on both sides of that issue. But again, the question of the day is: do we want our military to be contracted and subcontracted and sub-sub-contracted out? Where does the buck stop when, say, a bunch of subcontracted mercenaries open fire on a crowd of civilizans?

Truman had the correct answer to that question. Too bad our current President likes to be the decider and the buck-passer at the same time. Too bad everyone in his administration is part of the same culture of irresponsibility. Too bad that private military contractors can drop the buck anywhere they like… at least, until we get some laws passed that bring some legal accountability somewhere in this process.

Lubbock DFA to Screen “War Made Easy”

On Wednesday, October 24 at 7:00pm at Mahon Public Library, Lubbock Democracy for America will screen the new movie “War Made Easy.”

Full event details and RSVP are online at:

http://www.dfalink.com/event.php?id=24474


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