Commentary

Wed
10
Jul

One spirited Fourth

Thanks to many volunteers who set up, pulled off town's many activities

By Ken Esten Cooke—

A children’s parade, followed by the regular parade, a patriotic program and bursts of fireworks. These events all helped make Fredericksburg the place to be on the Fourth of July — celebrating freedom with events and flag-waving in our small town picture of Americana. These events were parts of what makes it great to live here.

But these events don’t happen by themselves. They require lots of planning and coordination before, during and after the events. We want to give kudos to those who helped organize and all those who volunteered their time and talents to put on events throughout the day so we could all revel in our American freedoms.

Many thanks to Daryl Whitworth and Helen McDonald for doing the lions share of the organization.

Wed
10
Jul

Perry still in the spotlight

By Ken Esten Cooke— From now until the time he leaves office in January 2015, Gov. Rick Perry will be in a spot he clearly loves: Center stage.

In announcing his decision not to seek re-election Monday, the governor was careful not to relinquish the spotlight by keeping the state’s political community guessing about whether he will try to seek redemption for his disastrous presidential campaign in 2012.

For the next 18 months, the governor said, his focus would remain on Texas. Perry took office in December 2000, when George W. Bush vacated the governor’s office to prepare for his presidency, and won re-election in 2002, 2006 and 2010.

Tue
02
Jul

Got the music in you?

One of my fondest childhood memories is of my brother and I riding Big Wheels around the garage, probably around age five, as my father banged out a Gene Krupa-esque drum solo on his old Ludwigs. As the drums reverberated around the cement-floor garage, we pedaled ourselves dizzy, soaking up what dad was playing.

Later, I would listen for hours to headphones of my favorite drummers, from jazz and rock genres, and zone out. A high school nerd, music was my drug.

Why does music affect many of us this way? It can be a choir, a symphony, a bass-thumping concert or even a two-stepping number out at Luckenbach. You can’t hold music, but it still moves us beyond measure.

A recent science article in the New York Times tried to explain the effect that music has on the brain. When you feel a “chill” while enjoying a musical passage, that “causes the release of the neurotransmitter dopamine, an essential signaling molecule in the brain.”

Tue
02
Jul

Steering the issue

Town won’t suffer from having truck route to divert traffic

By Ken Esten Cooke— We welcome members of the Gillespie County Commissioner’s Court to the conversation about an alternate truck route around town. Getting all entities on board is the first step in beginning that process.

While we understand the concerns about diverting some traffic and its potential effect on economic activity, we feel Fredericksburg has passed the point to where this should be the main point of the argument.

A loop’s detrimental effects were a legitimate concern in the 1980s and 1990s, as Fredericksburg slowly grew its Main Street attractions and wineries began dotting the landscape. Indeed, most rural towns struggle to attract visitors.

Tue
02
Jul

Dems show signs of life

Could Democrats’ short-lived victory at state capitol last week start a revival?

By Ken Esten Cooke— In the 1980s, Texas Democrats held every statewide office and a young political consultant named Karl Rove had what were considered far-fetched dreams of turning the Lone Star State red.

Rove steered the state toward Republican domination, taking over the Texas Senate and House by 2002 and following his number one client to the White House for two terms.

Democrats may be hoping that last week’s rowdy debate over Senate Bill 5 was their own turning point after two dismal decades.

It was good to see this comatose party, which hasn’t won a statewide race in 19 years, get excited during last week’s filibuster by Sen. Wendy Davis. And it was healthy for our state politics and national image to see some diversity of thought in the state house.

Wed
26
Jun

Oh, say, can he sing? Yes!

Despite living in a world that’s filled with “new and improved” technology wherever I go, I’m not totally on-board with what’s available out there. I’m no techno-phobe — I don’t text or tweet. And, I’ve only had my own cell phone for less than two years.

And I realize the advantages of the internet, regardless of who may have invented it.

There is one aspect of the “net” that I do find disturbing, however, and that deals with how people can hide behind the web and get away with saying anything they like, whether or not it’s true, and yet not have to be identified. For them, it’s “don’t let the facts get in the way of a good blog because I can say anything I want without having to tell you who I am.”

Wed
26
Jun

Eyeing the drought

By Ken Esten Cooke— Weather predictions on Monday by the Lower Colorado River Authority confirm what local farmers and ranchers are dealing with daily: the historic drought will continue.

While the LCRA’s message concentrated on inflows to area lakes (Travis and Buchanan), the message was clear: continued conservation is needed throughout the Hill Country.

Lakes Travis and Buchanan need more than one million acre-feet of water to be considered “full.” That amounts to the amount of water added to the lakes in summer 2007, when 19 inches of rain fell on Marble Falls in one night.

That means rain must fall upstream, saturating the ground, then fill the network of creeks and river beds, before the water makes its way to the lakes.

Wed
26
Jun

Our digital footprints

By Ken Esten Cooke— As the U.S. pursues Edward Snowden around the globe for spilling intelligence secrets while working at the National Security Administration, some questions about our digital footprints come to mind.

Snowden has been called a traitor by Senate Republicans and Democrats. His recent revelation that he chose to work for the contractor specifically to get the information he disclosed and his choice of countries where he seeks asylum certainly bolster that claim. Yet others of a more libertarian bent have lined up to call him a hero, as he has shed light on the underbelly of terror surveillance where everyday citizens can be monitored in a story line that could not have been better written by George Orwell.

Hero or goat, his situation poses a good time for the country to examine how our government monitors terror threats and how we leave our own digital trail with our daily use of devices.

Wed
19
Jun

Local scene in 'The Son'


Cooke

By Ken Esten Cooke— “An epic, heroic, hallucinatory work of art.”

“A staggering achievement.”

“The best tale since Cormac’s McCarthy’s ‘Blood Meridian’.”

With author blurbs like that, who could resist reading “The Son,” the newest offering from thirty-something author Philipp Mayer. I had read Meyer’s first book, “American Rust,” and it was an impressive debut. Though I am not finished with “The Son,” it is measuring up to the hype.

I was pleased to see some Fredericksburg references in the early pages as well. Most of the book is set on the West Texas plains, but there is a scene before an Indian raid in which one of the main characters describes the area and its people. The author obviously did his research.

Spring 1849, the last full moon. We’d been two years on our Pedernales acreocracy, not far from Fredericksburg, when our neighbor had two horses stolen in broad daylight.

Wed
19
Jun

LBJ made safety click


Nicole Nugent Covert

By Guest Columnist Nicole Nugent Covert—

In 1966, the United States knew more about sending a man into space than it did about protecting families as they traveled in automobiles on our nation’s highways.

That was the year my grandfather, President Lyndon B. Johnson, signed into law the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act. This landmark legislation required manufacturers to install seat belts in all new vehicles starting in 1968.

Up to that point, vehicle and highway safety features many Americans now take for granted — such as air bags and highway guardrails — were not generally available. In the mid-1960s, it was commonplace for 50,000 people to be killed each year on the nation’s highways.

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