Category Archives: The Culture

There and back again

Sort of a Hobbit adventure, our just over two thousand mile Amtrak trek through five states in seven days: Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado and New Mexico. At a cost of about a dollar a mile for a private room with meals.

No dragons encountered, however. Just occasional problems, some more annoying than others, like the empty soda bottle that rolled out from under our bench seat, and worse the delay in trying to get the lowered upper berth put back because Bar was feeling claustrophobic and breathless in the lower double one.

Or the broken WiFi and broken electrical outlets on the Amtrak-subsidized Greyhound bus (which advertises leg room but doesn’t provide it for six-footers) from Albuquerque to El Paso (nevertheless with an excellant 50ish black male driver) to spend the night and catch the Sunset Limited the next day back to Austin. No WiFi on our trains but convenient working electrical outlets. And Bar said Albuquerque’s spectacular Andaluz Hotel had a soothing vibe.

Basically, the trip was a lot of fun, though we might next time stretch out the 566-mile Austin to Newton, KS, portion. Spending the night in Oklahoma City, for instance, but with the problem of where to go/what to do (a good public library perchance?) after checkout at noon—with fourteen hours to go four hours to Newton for a 2 a.m. departure west.

As it was we were exhausted by the time we got to Newton but enjoyed the 424-mile Newton to Trinidad stretch in our bedroom (a four-hour nap) and  breakfast in the dining car. Scrambled eggs and orange juice (and fellow Amish passengers with blond triplet boys) approaching destination Trinidad, Colorado, with snow-capped twin peaks of the Rocky Mountains in the distance. Trinidad was a surprise as there was no station to admire, no covered shelter at all, just dumped on the paved siding. The city’s negotiations with Amtrak for a station not going well they say. Fortunately, it wasn’t precipitating. We drew a blank on a call for a taxi, to the number on the Amtrak sign, and finally decided to walk the two blocks to McDonalds where the manager knew who to call: Monica!

The lovely Monica became our taxi, in between taking care of her three children and husband, in her family’s white mini-SUV. Otherwise there are no taxis in Trinidad. None. It’s a tiny, antique tourist town built in the 1850s. There are however numerous motels to choose from (a few welcoming potheads but most not) and more than twenty “dispensaries” of marijuana. So I guess it evens out for those with what the heads call “couch-lock” (where “you actually become the couch” and don’t feel like moving). We enjoyed some of that, chewing watermelon-flavored gummies from Freedom Road.

Take an ounce of good bud home with you, someone suggested. Oh no, I don’t want to go to prison. Locals said the cops of New Mexico watch for cars with out-of-state plates leaving Trinidad, and find reasons to stop them. And the DEA has been known to search bedrooms on trains not leaving Colorado. So we just enjoyed it while we were there and took peace-of-mind home with us.

Trinidad gets lots of pot tourists, the locals told us, mostly from Texas. But its monopoly will be gone when the New Mexico legislature gets around to also legalizing weed. Texas may take a lot longer, I think.

For now the Austin to Trinidad trek is worth it. The stations are clean (some, like El Paso’s Union Depot (circa 1904) and Oklahoma City’s old Santa Fe station are spectacular marbled monuments to rail) and all have conspicuous security guards to keep the peace.

The Texas Eagle, Southwest Chief, and Sunset Limited trains were clean but a bit shabby from all the deferred maintenance imposed by Congress. And the freight-dinged tracks are very bumpy in spots. The federal pols spend money on the Northeast coast trains and rails for themselves while imposing cuts, and otherwise neglecting passengers in flyover country. The bedroom attendants (mostly black women for us) and dining car waiters (mostly black men for us) were overworked.

Could be, however, we’re on the cusp of a passenger train renaissance, judging from all the passengers who packed the Sunset Limited’s cheaper coach seats from L.A. to New Orleans. Our private room segment (that dollar-a-miler) was 576 miles of Texas, mostly in the dark—seeing the sunset over the Davis Mountains (old Apache country) but missing the views on the 300-foot trestle over the Pecos River.

But we’ll do it all again.  Of course we will. It was fun.

“Call her (redacted) and get her fired”

The latest Leftist vigilante group in Austin is a small UT collective of antifa. They’re doxxing (publicizing names, addresses and phone numbers) every conservative or temporary passerby they can find on campus. Up to and including trying to get the working targets fired. None reported so far among the thirty victims of this liberal lynching.

Via PJMedia

Beto for prez

“Dems love a Kennedy. Beto might not have the pedigree, but he has the requisite driving skills.”—Jim Treacher

And he can lie with the best of them.

Treacher: “That might be why some have described Beto as ‘the white Obama.’ Which is an insult. To Obama.”

Little Adam Shitt’s crazy eyes

I mean, really, are these eyes normal? Is he on drugs?

Via Gateway Pundit

Romance of the Rails

This good book by Randal O’Toole lays out the nationwide disaster that is urban rail transit and light rail: deferring maintenance to the tune of billions of dollars while constantly spending more billions for expansion. Never mind delays, accidents, deaths and low ridership. The pols just keep on building.

Not just in Austin, but in Boston, New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle, Portland, Atlanta & etc. O’Toole doesn’t examine Austin but Jim Skaggs, former Tracor CEO, sure does:

“Austin and Cap Metro transit [rail] plans being developed by ‘Project Connect’ are based on reducing current car lanes on major roadways to provide dedicated transit [rail] lanes. This ill-conceived plan would result [in] some of the most devastating negative impacts, in history, on Austin citizens’ quality-of-life and living costs.”

Because people refuse to give up their cars and, so far, government can’t make us.

Go back just two years and read Forbes contributing writer Scott Beyer on why Austin is “perhaps America’s leading rail transit failure.” A monument to government waste.

Austin and Capitol Metro go on building more while light rail and transit rail are collapsing all over the country.

You have to wonder why. Are the pols just stupid? Could be. Or corrupt? Could also be and probably is. New construction is always good for covering up the graft and bribes which are a staple of political life.

O’Toole: “Buses can not only move more people than light rail, they can do it faster.” Ah, but there’s no romance in buses, even with electric connections and free wifi at your seat. Nor near as much graft.

The source of black anger

The cult of the African American has been a staple of American society for decades. Black images fill advertising copy. Trendy, especially millennial, white woman want a black man on their arm. Yet visceral, incoherent black anger remains.

“Reality is that thing that does not go away when you stop believing in it. Race relations in America, with regards to blacks, have always been about a series of gates. Blacks who can behave themselves pass through the gate from the ghetto to the suburbs. Blacks with something on the ball can enter into the managerial class, assuming they are willing to accept their symbolic role in the system. The violent and stupid, in contrast, cannot pass through those gates, so they are penned up in urban reservations guarded by the police.”

Those who pass the gates are angriest, because they know the system is real.

Via The Z Man

Moochele book review

“All in all, The Prestigious Middle Finger Book Review gives  Michelle Obama’s Memoir ‘Becoming’ 2 of 7 Stars. It’s printed on really nice quality paper and is quite hefty for it’s size, so if you happen to receive a copy as a gift this holiday season, it will make an excellent doorstop and the cover image should help keep rodents at bay.”

Heh