: High on the Hog Blog
Purveyor of Idle Observation

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Kevin Kelly on Twitter

Kevin Kelly nominally asks Who are the best twitterers? in Twitteree Recommendations Wanted, but in so doing, he sums up much of my ambivalence about twitter where I find myself wading through on one had – all the banal expressions of facts of life hardly worth telling someone you live with much less ‘publishing’ it on the internet for all to see – and on the other, mysterious untethered exclamations separated from their original context, floating adrift on the semantic sea. Every now and then you find something actually worth taking the time to read it, but these happy events are growing more seldom. How refreshing then, that as fascinating a character as Kelly finds he has very little to say:

I signed up for Twitter a year ago. I haven’t used it much. Here is the sad state of things: I’ve made one post a year ago just to try it out, but now I have 888 followers. I have no idea who these are, because I’ve never made a second twitter. I am sure when I finally do post my second tweet, half will leave because they’ll feel I am twittering too frequently.

On Texans Weakness for the Grand Gesture

Mimi Swartz ruminates on Texans’ love affair with The Grand Gesture in Texas Monthly’s style issue. Although nominally on style, Swartz takes the opportunity to delve into the caricature and the only slightly more complicated reality of the showy Texan. It’s an instant classic of Texas writing.

Self-examining though I am, it never occurred to me to wonder why I am so drawn to masters of the grand gesture, people like Clyde Wilson, Tom Alexander, and Kristi Schiller. The attraction has always seemed natural, like craving tamales and barbecue or enduring summer heat, a part of my psychic landscape. The truth is I am a hopeless style addict, doomed by both genetics and environment. My mother has great style, but so, of course, did many other people I grew up with in San Antonio, including the wife of a local architect who wore china poblana skirts long before they were knocked off by New York designers, and my favorite high school English teacher, who kept her bun in place with varnished chopsticks. I am not equating style with being fashionable; it is entirely possible to dress impeccably and have no style at all. People with true style have an unerring authenticity in the way they carry themselves and in the expectant, hopeful expression they wear on their faces when they greet the day.

A hint of narcissism is not a drawback; people with great style tend to believe that it is important that others take notice—a lot of notice. In Texas, with our endless mintings of new rich, style has been nearly synonymous with excess, but it has just as much to do with humor (for example, Ann Richards and that great quip about George H. W. Bush’s silver foot) and fearlessness—a need to put inside-the-box thinkers on notice. Mickey Leland, one of Texas’s first black state legislators, debuted in a dashiki in 1973; the license plate of the enormous car he drove up to the Capitol displayed just two words: “SO BAD.”

In the San Antonio of my youth, expressing one’s style took a different form than it did in Dallas or Houston. The understated old rich of my hometown were satisfied enough with the age of their money that they didn’t feel compelled to display it like those bumpkins in the rival cities (probably because their fortunes were no match for those in the bigger cities). San Antonio also posed the everyday challenge of living in a city where the prevailing cultures were German and Latino, a civic combo not unlike oil and water or, more to the point, Ritalin and Prozac. In other words, this was a place where citizens believed it was a sin to appear in white shoes before Easter but also celebrated the bacchanalian Fiesta week every year, wherein debutantes from the finest families wore bejeweled $50,000 handmade gowns while riding atop floats carpeted with zillions of paper flowers.

“Are you sure you don’t want to be a duchess?” my mother asked me when I was in college, and now, in middle age, I wonder why I was so determined to decline. Maybe because when I was five, someone buttoned me into a stiff organdy dress and whisked me to the converted mansion that was the Marion Koogler McNay Art Museum, where I was given a long ribbon and made to dance the maypole with other hapless children. The maypole! In Texas! This activity made sense only in context: In insular San Antonio, the oldest families were determined to prove their sophistication to the outside world (“Pay no attention to those witless show-offs in Houston and Dallas; we alone know how to behave . . . ”), even if the outside world ignored them.

Backyard Tire Fire at the LaundroMatinee

Backyard Tire Fire~The Places We Lived from LaundroMatinee on Vimeo. Read the rest of this entry »

M. Ward on Late Night with David Letterman

YouTube: M. Ward on Late Night with David Letterman

Houston’s Shane Battier Profiled in Michael Lewis’ The No-Stats All Star

Michael Lewis, known as one of the most interesting and erudite writers in sports commentary, has a new profile of the Houston Rockets’ Shane Battier in the New York Times. At the core of Lewis’ inquiry is the knotty issue of determining a player’s value in a quintessentially team sport.

The Grizzlies went from 23-59 in Battier’s rookie year to 50-32 in his third year, when they made the N.B.A. playoffs, as they did in each of his final three seasons with the team. Before the 2006-7 season, Battier was traded to the Houston Rockets, who had just finished 34-48. In his first season with the Rockets, they finished 52-30, and then, last year, went 55-27 — including one stretch of 22 wins in a row. Only the 1971-2 Los Angeles Lakers have won more games consecutively in the N.B.A. And because of injuries, the Rockets played 11 of those 22 games without their two acknowledged stars, Tracy McGrady and Yao Ming, on the court at the same time; the Rockets player who spent the most time actually playing for the Rockets during the streak was Shane Battier. This year Battier, recovering from off-season surgery to remove bone spurs from an ankle, has played in just over half of the Rockets’ games. That has only highlighted his importance. “This year,” Morey says, “we have been a championship team with him and a bubble playoff team without him.” Here we have a basketball mystery: a player is widely regarded inside the N.B.A. as, at best, a replaceable cog in a machine driven by superstars. And yet every team he has ever played on has acquired some magical ability to win.

Michael Lewis, The No-Stats All-Star, New York Times, February 15, 2009.

Wikipedia Eats its Own Tail

Slashdot tells the tale of a False Fact On Wikipedia that Proves Itself

Germany has a new minister of economic affairs. Mr. von und zu Guttenberg is descended from an old and noble lineage, so his official name is very long: Karl Theodor Maria Nikolaus Johann Jacob Philipp Franz Joseph Sylvester Freiherr von und zu Guttenberg. When first there were rumors that he would be appointed to the post, someone changed his Wikipedia entry and added the name ‘Wilhelm,’ so Wikipedia stated his full name as: Karl Theodor Maria Nikolaus Johann Jacob Philipp Wilhelm Franz Joseph Sylvester Freiherr von und zu Guttenberg. What resulted from this edit points up a big problem for our information society. The German and international press picked up the wrong name from Wikipedia — including well-known newspapers, Internet sites, and TV news such as, Bild,, TAZ, or Süddeutsche Zeitung. In the meantime, the change on Wikipedia was reverted, with a request for proof of the name. The proof was quickly found. On an article cites Mr. von und zu Guttenberg using his ‘full name’; however, while the quote might have been real, the full name seems to have been looked up on Wikipedia while the false edit was in place. So the circle was closed: Wikipedia states a false fact, a reputable media outlet copies the false fact, and this outlet is then used as the source to prove the false fact to Wikipedia.

30 Rock: Wikipedia Prank

Did You Know? Shift Happens

A sign of the times: my grandmother sent this to me.

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Bowling: Two Handed, Backwards, Presidential and Pug

via big t kirk, aka houston’s clear thinkers Read the rest of this entry »

Jeffrey Sachs on Representing the Voiceless

The good people at the Situationist have uploaded many of their videos to YouTube. Included below is Jeffrey Sachs’ talk “Representing the Voiceless: The Poor, the Excluded, and the Future.”

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David Batstone on Human Trafficking, Q Talks


David Batstone discusses his encounter with and subsequent passion for ending Human Trafficking on Q Talks. More on his cause website Not for Sale: End Human Trafficking and Slavery

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