Anasazi Ruins, Canyon de Chelly, Arizona

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Does History Repeat Itself?

I remember the 1960s and 1970s. Now it's 2016 and the events over the last two years are similar.A few more riots, a few more cops ambushed and we will repeat the nightmare of those years

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Volunteer Austin


I am now volunteering at the Pickle Center in North Austin.  Looking for other opportunities that are equally challenging.


szoraster@szoraster.com

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Rejected by the Blanton

I am looking for volunteer opportunities here in Austin.  The UT Blanton Museum of Art seemed like a good idea.  So, I did all the training including 2 guided tours.  I was told that asking good questions was important, so I did so.  I also commented on some small mistakes that tour guides made.  My comments and corrections were done politely and were accurate. 

I am now told that there the guides made a total of 3 complaints about my behavior and that I am not welcome at the Blanton. 

I encourage anyone reading this post to visit the Blanton and ask the guides serious questions. Possibly you can piss them off without getting thrown out like I did.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

For Greater Glory

A really bad movie.  Too much killing, too many speaches, and neither side ever sends scouts out to look for ambushes...  

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Again in Afghanistan


KABUL, Afghanistan — Less than two hours after President Obama left Afghanistan airspace on Wednesday, explosions shook the capital and the Interior Ministry said a suicide attacker had exploded a large bomb at the gates of a compound used by foreigners in the east of Kabul, killing seven Afghans.

 The dead included four civilians who were passing in a car when they were caught by the blast, a security guard at the compound, a student and another person who was on foot nearby, said Sediq Sediqqi, the Interior Ministry spokesman. Hospital officials said 18 other people had been hospitalized with injuries, including seven schoolchildren who were at a nearby school, and one person was in a critical condition. 

 The attack took place at the gate of a large compound called the Green Village, which houses private security guards, some foreign diplomats, United Nations employees and other foreign workers in the city, the spokesman said.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Another Attack on Tom Palaima by Me

 In the American Statesman today:

Re: April 26 Tom Palaima commentary,
"Incentives to cheat are many, but that's
no excuse."

Palaima writes, "some students in field
such as engineering, biology, marketing,
pre-law and pre-med can be so fixated on
doing well in their majors that they think
courses like mythology were they are
required to read, analyze, think and write,
are light entertainment."

Well, for students in of the hard disciples (sic)
Palaima seems to think so little of, a course
in mythology is light entertainment.

Certainly is is compared to those student's
majors where they also must read, analyze,
think and write.

Steven Zoraster

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Germany's nuclear power phaseout turns off environmentalists





KLEINENSIEL, Germany — When the German government shut down half the country's nuclear reactors after the Fukushima disaster in Japan, followed two months later by a pledge to abandon nuclear power within a decade, environmentalists cheered.

A year later, however, criticism of the nuclear shutdown is emerging from a surprising source: some of the very activists who pushed for the phaseout.

They say poor planning of the shutdown and political opportunism by the government have actually worsened the toll on the environment in Germany, and Europe, at least in the short term.

To make up for the lost nuclear power, which supplied 22% of Germany's electricity before the phaseout began, the country has increased its reliance on brown coal, a particularly high emitter of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and a major contributor to global warming. Brown coal now supplies 25% of Germany's electricity, up from 23% a year ago.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Terrible Austin Infrastructure

Around 1960 my family was thrilled because Los Angeles built a sidewalk along Woodley Avenue in front of my house in the San Fernando Valley. The city was building sidewalks along all the streets in our neighborhood. Suddenly, I no longer had to walk home from elementary school on dirt paths alongside heavily trafficked roads. A few years later my younger brothers and I were able to walk to middle school on sidewalks, unlike my older brother who had walked on dirt.

Flash forward to 2012. Today I live in the Highland Park/Balcones neighborhood of Austin, which has poorer infrastructure for foot traffic than I experienced over 50 years ago in California. Mostly I walk in the street because there are no sidewalks. Behind Camp Mabry on Edgemont Drive and Madrona Drive there are no sidewalks. Up the hills west of Balcones on Ridge Oak Drive, Crestway Drive, and Highland Crest Drive there are no sidewalks.

There are sidewalks around Highland Park elementary school and along Balcones from Perry Lane to Northland. That’s it. If it were only me doing this it would not be worth an editorial in this newspaper. But many others use the same streets. I often pass other walkers and joggers, including neighbors walking dogs and parents pushing babies in strollers. All doing so in the street, because there are no sidewalks
Children who live farther than one block from the elementary school usually aren’t allowed to walk to and from school because that’s where the sidewalks stop. Although, I do occasionally see children walking on my lawn to keep off the street.
In fact, when I visit my family back in the San Fernando Valley, I notice that people who walk enjoy sidewalks that are usually better maintained than the sidewalks along most Austin streets outside of downtown.


City Council members say they want Austin to be a pedestrian friendly and walkable city but the evidence is lacking. The city often supports expenditures on consultant studies, incentive programs and grand initiatives while ignoring basic infrastructure needs such as neighborhood sidewalks.

Austin should get its priorities straight. If we truly want our citizens to exercise and walk to work and school when they live close enough to do so, let us spend money on the means to help them do so safely.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Reaction to Austin's Water Shortage

As I walk or drive around the Highland Park/Balcones neighborhood I notice how nature and man have combined to adapt to the recent water shortage. Lawns are usually in poor shape, if not actually dying. Plants that are doing well are things like Crape. Myrtle, Rosemary, Sage, Pyracantha (commonly known as Firerhorn) and many different cacti. Roses bushes are few, and those I looked closely at are doing
poorly. Those yards that look best often have as much well laid out rock paving as plants.

I started looking because I was worried that our yard would itself look bad compared to those of my neighbors. Well, not a problem. Our yard is no worse than many others, however, a brief period of thought sent me to the nearby nursery to buy Mountain Laurel, Sage, and Cacti to plant in my own front yard.

A hedge of Pyracantha

But I will never plant Pyracantha. I took out a 50 linear foot hedge
of Pyracanth a when I was 14, and today I recoil in fear when I see
just one of those horrible plants.