All posts by kanelis2012

Amarillo logo snafu has familiar look to it

Amarillo City Hall perhaps can find some comfort — although it is small comfort indeed — in knowing it isn’t the only government entity to struggle with a form of identity crisis.

The city has unveiled a new official logo that looks almost identical to a logo used by a Dubai company. The city is rightfully embarrassed by the mixup, which reportedly occurred when it went with a design submitted by a city employee instead of using a company it had sought to produce the new logo.

There seems to be a copyright infringement issue in play here. City Hall needs to fix this problem in a hurry.

Ah, but this might sound a bit familiar to long-time area residents.

There once was a day when Potter County ran a flag up the flagpole at the County Courthouse. They thought they were unfurling the Texas flag that day. Instead of the Lone Star banner, it turns out they were flying the Chilean national flag, which also features a single star on a red, white and blue banner.

http://www.apnewsarchive.com/1994/Potter-County-Mistakenly-Flies-Chilean-Flag-Instead-of-Texas-Banner/id-a8b851f0061247dacbafd192e6139adf

The two flags look quite similar, although not as nearly identical as the newly minted Amarillo logo and the insignia representing the Dubai company.

The Chilean flag was run up the courthouse pole in April 1994. It flew over the courthouse for a full day before anyone noticed it. Turns out a sharp-eyed assistant district attorney, Paul Hermann, noticed the discrepancy.

”We thought we had been invaded, overthrown, and didn’t know about it,” Hermann said at the time.

The Chilean flag boo-boo occurred because someone crated the wrong flag in a box marked for Potter County. At least the county didn’t commit any potential copyright offenses.

In Potter County’s case, one can say simply that “These things happen.” Regarding the city’s embarrassment, some serious repair is in order.

Falling gas prices a boon or a bust?

A Bloomberg News Service columnist is issuing a warning about the falling gasoline prices.

They aren’t necessarily good for the nation’s economy or its long-term energy policy.

Pump prices in Amarillo now stand at about $2.92 per gallon for regular unleaded gas. That’s “cheap,” yes? And who would have thought $2.92 would be considered a bargain for gas?

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-11-11/beware-of-falling-gas-prices-ritholtz-chart.html

Barry L. Ritholtz, writing for Bloomberg.com, thinks the price reduction is going to produce a spike in driving. We’re going to forget that we have a limited supply of fossil fuels used to produce gasoline. It happens every time we see these dramatic dips in gasoline prices, as Ritholtz has noted.

Then comes the sticker shock when the next overseas crisis erups in an oil-producing region — Syria, Iran, Egypt, Libya, Yemen … they all come to mind.

I don’t want to sound like a know-it-all, but my wife and I have recently invested in a hybrid automobile. It runs on electricity and gasoline. Our Toyota Prius is our No. 1 in-town vehicle, and so far the investment is paying tremendous returns for us. We’re averaging about 47 miles per gallon and filling it up about every two weeks for a mere pittance of what we normally have paid for fuel.

Our 3/4-ton diesel-fueled Dodge Ram pickup, the one we use to haul our fifth-wheel travel vehicle? That’s another story. Won’t go there. Suffice to say it stays parked most of the time.

We’re all enjoying the relatively cheap fuel at the moment. However, I intend to take Ritholtz’s warning to heart.

That was some vets’ ‘reunion’

I have just come home from a reunion of sorts.

I didn’t know anyone else there, but it seemed like we were all brothers and sisters. An Amarillo restaurant treated veterans and active-duty military personnel to free meals tonight in honor of Veterans Day. My wife, Kathy, told me about it this morning. We decided to go, given that I’m an Army veteran. I thought it was a nice gesture on Golden Corral’s part to give us a free meal.

To be honest, I wasn’t quite prepared for what we saw when we got there.

The line was backed up to the door. We walked in. A gentleman was handing out stickers that said “I Served.” He asked Kathy, “Are you a veteran?” She pointed back to me and said, “He is.” I reached for my wallet to produce my Veterans Administration identification card to prove my veteran status. “I don’t need it,” the man said. “I believe you.”

I looked up and down the lengthy line that twisted back from the serving area. All these men and a few women were wearing military gear of some fashion: t-shirts inscribed with some branch of the service; ball caps denoting Vietnam War veterans, Iraq War and Afghanistan War veterans, vets from the various armed forces. I noticed a couple of quite elderly gentlemen I guessed to be either Korean War or World War II veterans.

One young former Marine wore a t-shirt that said: “Marines: Making it safe for the Army.” I wanted to remind the young man about a saying we had in Vietnam, which was that “The Army did all the fighting, the Marines got all the glory, and the Navy and the Air Force got all the money.”

I chose not to possibly spoil the moment.

I heard couples exchanging histories with each other. Where did you serve? When? Did you go to such-and-such?

Perhaps the most interesting veteran was a Vietnam War Marine adorned in his dress blues. He was a corporal. His uniform jacket had all the requisite Vietnam War ribbons on it. I was amazed he could still get into his uniform. Good for him.

It was quite a party tonight at the Golden Corral, which was one of several eating establishments in Amarillo that honored our veterans.

I want to thank them all and not just for tonight’s gesture of good will and generosity.

They deserve thanks for echoing the nation’s renewed spirit of gratitude for those who answered the call to duty. America didn’t always honor its vets in this manner. Vietnam veterans know what I mean.

Thank you for making us feel special.

 

‘Not appropriate’ to explain JFK death theory?

Secretary of State John Kerry needs a lesson in real-world journalism.

He told NBC News that he believes Lee Harvey Oswald did not act alone when he shot President John F. Kennedy to death on Nov. 22, 1963. But when he asked to expand on those remarks, he sought to diminish the question by calling the issue “not worthy” of further discussion.

http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/189798-kerry-%E2%80%98inappropriate%E2%80%99-to-discuss-his-jfk-assassination-theory

By my reckoning, “Meet the Press” host David Gregory posed a perfectly appropriate question to a leading American official on a topic that continues to roil in the hearts of many Americans.

It might be that Secretary Kerry felt he didn’t have enough time to explain what he meant. It also might be that someone in the Kennedy family asked him to clam up. Kerry, who hails from the same Massachusetts political factory that produced the Kennedy dynasty, no doubt would heed such a request — if it came to him.

Still, the secretary of state has opened up yet another discussion topic on what some have described as the Crime of the 20th Century.

He ought to explain himself.

Armstrong hardly a sympathetic character

I’m having trouble feeling too sorry for Lance Armstrong.

The one-time super-cyclist who won international acclaim for winning the Tour de France a record seven times has seen his wealth devastated by lawsuits and mountains of bad publicity over the doping scandal that has cost him that once-high standing.

http://www.theguardian.com/sport/2013/nov/11/lance-armstrong-inquiry-loss-doping-uci

He told The Guardian newspaper that he believes he is being punished unfairly, that he’s taken the huge hit while others have continued to gain profit.

Cry me a river, Lance.

Armstrong became the very face of international cycling during the first years of the 21st century. The world reveled in his triumph. He fought back against cancer, whipped that killer disease and then went on to conquer the Tour de France in ways that boggled the imagination.

Well, it turned out that Armstrong cheated his way onto the winner’s podium. Is he alone? Hardly. Others did it, too. Some of those other cyclists have declared they helped Armstrong inject himself with performance-enhancing drugs.

Yes, it’s been ugly. However, it is hard for an outsider such as me to feel sorry for someone who gained so much wealth and notoriety by being so dishonest for so many years.

Armstrong told The Guardian he’ll take whatever punishment is handed out. If he has to start over, then so be it.

Tribute to my favorite veteran

On this Veterans Day, I thought I’d pay tribute to someone who served his country with honor during its darkest moment.

I got the idea from a local radio station which on Monday is going to field phone calls from listeners talking about their “favorite veteran.” I’ll forgo that call and just write it here.

His name was Peter John Kanelis. He was my father. Dad was a proud World War II veteran.

He told me the story about how he found his way into the U.S. Navy.

Dad was anxious to get into the fight shortly after the Japanese navy and air force attacked our military installations at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. That attack occurred on Dec. 7, 1941. Dad was enrolled at the University of Portland in Oregon, where he lived with my grandparents and his six siblings — two brothers and four sisters.

It was in February 1942 that he decided to enlist. He went downtown — to the Marine Corps office. The door was locked. He walked across the hall and enlisted in the Navy on the spot.

As I recall the way Dad told the story, he didn’t have to wait long before shipping out. He went to San Diego, Calif., for three weeks of basic training. The Navy then put him on a ship and he steamed for England. He would learn seamanship skills along the way.

Dad ended up serving in three combat campaigns in the Mediterranean theater: North Africa, Sicily and the Italian mainland. He fought hard. An Italian dive bomber blew up Dad’s ship during the battle for Sicily. He was picked up fairly quickly by a British ship.

It was during the Italian mainland invasion that Dad endured 105 consecutive days of aerial bombardment from the German Luftwaffe. He told me he lost a considerable amount of weight during that time, eating mainly fruit.

Dad continued his service for the next several weeks as the Allies fought to secure Italy. Then he came back to the United States for a time. He enrolled in an officer training program at Dartmouth College, but didn’t make the cut.

He then was shipped to the Philippines, where he was staging for a likely invasion of Japan.

President Harry Truman then ordered the dropping of the atomic bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

The war ended. Dad came home, married my mother and I came along three years later. My sisters would round out our family eventually.

Dad died much too early in his life. He was just 59 when he perished 33 years ago in a boating accident. Mom fell victim to Alzheimer’s disease; she was just 61 when she died four years later.

Dad’s service during World War II was not uniquely heroic. He merely did what millions of other Americans did. He answered the call to service when his country needed him. Those of us who came along owe everything to the 16 million young men and women who served during that horrible time.

My father was one of them. That’s why he is my favorite veteran.

‘Rule of capture’ might become campaign issue

An interesting issue may be emerging in the race for Texas governor.

Is it OK for a leading candidate for governor to talk about water conservation when he has drilled a well on his property to collect all the water he can use — and avoid municipal fines in the process?

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott has sunk a well on his property in an exclusive Austin neighborhood. Austin, as is much of the state, is snagged in a punishing drought. It has imposed restrictions on lawn-watering. Abbott — along with other well-heeled residents — has gotten around that drilling his own well.

http://www.texastribune.org/2013/11/10/drought-abbott-keeps-his-lawn-green-drilling/

Abbott is using the time-honored “rule of capture” doctrine in Texas that enables property owners to use whatever they can from under the ground. The courts have upheld this practice, even though it might deplete groundwater supplies for others.

“To me it’s just unconscionable. It’s a total disregard for the resource,” said Andrew Sansom, executive director of the Meadows Center for Water and the Environment at Texas State University and the former head of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. “What we should be doing is reducing our consumption of water.”

The drought has had its impact on West Texas. Remember what used to be known as Lake Meredith? A recent survey of all the state’s surface-water reservoirs shows the one-time “lake” at 0 percent of capacity, meaning that it’s virtually empty.

The Hill Country also is in serious trouble with its water. So, what about the leading Republican candidate for governor digging his own well? Does it become an issue for his major GOP primary opponent, Tom Pauken? Will the likely Democratic nominee, state Sen. Wendy Davis of Fort Worth, make it an issue?

Should they? Certainly they should.

Leadership requires leaders act the part, not just talk about it.

From my vantage point way up yonder in the water-starved Panhandle, I believe the attorney general might have dug himself into a bit of a political hole.

Implode the Dome … if it must go

The voters of Houston have spoken. The Astrodome, once called the Eighth Wonder of the World, appears headed for destruction.

Houston voters said “no” to a plan to turn the Dome into an exhibit hall. It would have saved the place, kept it erect and standing proud.

http://www.texasmonthly.com/burka-blog/doom-astrodome

It’s not going to happen. Destruction appears imminent.

Allow me this one request if that’s the fate awaiting the Dome.

Blow it up all at once. Implode the place. Knock it down with one fell swoop. I’m thinking “big bang” here.

The alternative to imploding the structure would be too difficult to watch over the long haul. Knocking it down with a wrecking ball would take an interminable length of time. I don’t know if I could stand seeing pictures of the place being taken down piece by piece.

It’s kind of like watching a prey animal being eaten alive by a predator.

I get that Houston’s voters have the final say on the Dome’s future. I also get that New York watched as the House that Ruth Built — aka Yankee Stadium — was taken down to make way for a “New Yankee Stadium.” The Dome isn’t even as elegant as the old Yankee crib.

I’m still saddened by the result of the vote in Houston.

So, if it’s meant to be that the Dome must go, do it quickly. Please

JFK conspiracy theories still abound

I am in a distinct minority of Americans.

Most of my countrymen believe something even more sinister happened on Nov. 22, 1963 when President John F. Kennedy was gunned down in Dallas.

I am not one of them.

http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/11/09/21335792-why-do-jfk-conspiracy-theories-endure-new-book-blames-top-us-officials?lite&ocid=msnhp&pos=3

No sir. I believe Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone. I believe he managed to fire of three shots from that building in downtown Dallas. I believe the third shot struck the president and killed him instantly.

I also believe the Warren Commission, led by Chief Justice Earl Warren, offered convincing enough proof that Oswald did the terrible deed.

NBCNews.com wonders why so many Americans believe in some conspiracy theory. My guess is that it gives them something to talk about. Perhaps it also boggles their minds that a loser such as Oswald could pull off one of the 20th century’s most hideous crimes.

Let’s face it, Oswald was every bit the loser. He was a Marxist who sought to defect to the then-Soviet Union. He was a devotee of Fidel Castro, the Cuban commie who was ruling the island nation at the time of the JFK assassination.

I have read accounts of the Warren Commission report. I’ve read detailed books looking at all sides of the panel’s findings. I’ve decided that Oswald did it. He acted alone. He killed the 35th president of the United States.

Why the interest 50 years after the fact? Human nature just doesn’t allow people to put these matters to rest.