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A Really Inconvenient Truth

The urge to save humanity is almost always only a false face for the urge to rule it. H.L. Mencken   The cartoon, by Chan Lowe of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, titled “A GOP Thought Experiment,” shows an Earth floating in space, completely covered with water. The caption reads: “If global warming floods the planet but nobody is around to […]

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You, Robot

Asking for me by name, the caller identified herself as “Barney.” And who are you with, Barney? No one, just Barney, she replied, going silent. My assistant and right hand, a young woman who goes by the name of Seed, repeated the question just to be sure she had heard correctly and got the same response. Standoff. Faced with this […]

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In the Shoes of Others

In any business serving the public, over time you accumulate regulars, people who for some reason glom onto you and come back again and again. Regulars form the backbone of a sustainable business, and in the long run they can make or break you. Most you are happy to see. After all, they wouldn’t keep coming back if there hadn’t […]

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Blue Water, Red Metal

One by one, the four diesel engines of the Royale Queen spring to life, breaking the quiet chill and signalling imminent departure. With this sudden sonic interjection, the assembled crowd snaps to attention and assumes queue formation, eyes forward, ready to roll. With a nod and a quick gesture the chief mate signals for boarding to begin, and the passengers […]

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Journeys and Destinations

You hear it first, well before you see it, a sound unmistakable and unforgettable, and for you one of warning. Long-buried memories begin to stir. And then you feel it, a cool, drenching mist that hovers like a fog, while all around you moss-covered rocks and trees drip with condensation. You realize that it is very near. Beyond the screen […]

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Thank you, Mr. Cranky

It is axiomatic that you cannot please everyone. And if you have any doubts about the truth of this, try going into business for yourself. No matter how hard you work, no matter how good a job you do, it’s not going to be enough for some people. So sooner or later you will find yourself staring at a bad […]

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In Praise of Sexual Dimorphism

Because I am basically a serious (Read: boring) person, I tend to gravitate to serious (Again: boring) forms of diversion. Things that would drive others to drink or commit acts of mayhem out of sheer desperation I find fascinating. For example, my reading list is heavy with scholarly histories, essays, and philosophical ruminations on obscure topics. I enjoy discussing the […]

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An Open Letter to Lisa G.

Dear Lisa: I just became aware of your negative review of Computer Medic on Yelp. Thank you, I think, for your feedback. It is neither necessary nor appropriate to respond to every critique, but you have made some pretty damaging claims that more or less demand a rebuttal. This will follow shortly. In my original version of this post I […]

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City of Austin Sticks it to Small Business. Again

I was sitting at my desk not too long ago, front door open to catch the breeze, when I noticed a car pull up outside, bearing the label “Corix Utility Services.” Shortly a mousy little man emerged from the vehicle holding a leaflet. He wore a strange expression, seemed to have trouble expressing himself, and had nervous, darting eyes. I […]

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Death of the Hired Man

My first meeting with Steve, some twelve or thirteen years ago, was not exactly auspicious. I was out in my front yard one afternoon when he wandered up and, apropos of nothing, offered his services. He was thin to the point of gaunt, had long and greasy hair framing a haggard-looking face, an unkempt beard of biblical length, and was […]

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The Road not Traveled

I hadn’t intended to go that way. A series of delays had put me behind schedule and I was overdue back to the shop. So to save a few precious minutes I had planned to turn north on Westgate where it joins Slaughter, and take that lightly traveled road all the way to Stassney or maybe Jones before cutting over. […]

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My Brother’s Keeper

For more than twenty years, the house directly across the street from my south Austin home has been a rental. Over the years the standard-issue two-story tract home of maybe 1800 square has seen many tenants, more than I can recall. Most do nothing to get my attention, and they usually don’t stay for more than a single lease. I […]

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Black Like Me

The end of summer, by the calendar if not by the thermometer, also means the end of Summer Blockbuster movie season and the return to the theaters of real movies for adults, which means the resumption of Sunday movie matinees for yours truly, the mom, and the lady friend. Yesterday we saw The Butler. The movie is really two stories. […]

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Bad Business

Because almost everyone has a computer these days, and because almost every computer breaks sooner or later, my customers tend to be a microcosm of Austin society. I see people of every age, every race, every profession, and every income level. I also see people of every ethical disposition, including, just often enough to be considered anomalous, people who clearly […]

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