Masses rabble over UT’s editorial cartoon

I thank Mr. Matt Jones for returning this space to me, and hope to use it as well as he did a week ago.

For those who don’t know, Mr. Jones comes to the Odessa American after putting in his time at the Daily Texan, the University of Texas’ own student-run publication that is about as prestigious as a college paper can get.

Of course, the other day cartoonist Stephanie Eisner got her paper in a lot of trouble when she drew a cartoon satirizing the situation of Mr. Jones’ column last week. Or more appropriately, it satirized the media’s coverage of that situation.

Continue reading Masses rabble over UT’s editorial cartoon

Greg Oden always looked old and sad

The other day, the Portland Trailblazers finally cut their center Greg Oden.

The 2007 No. 1 overall draft pick played 88 games in his career thus far, a phrase likely two words too long.

In four seasons, he only played part of two games while his legs and feet suffered seemingly every possible injury as soon as he stepped on the court.

Oden’s name will forever be a byword for bad decisions and failure in professional drafts, next to Ryan Leaf and Sam Bowie. “Busts.” Stupid picks that spectacularly didn’t work out for their teams.

Of course, in both of those examples, it’s not just who was selected but who wasn’t.

Continue reading Greg Oden always looked old and sad

Oil shaped Permian Basin, changed world

It’s a common part of Texas lore that the 20th century began not New Year’s Day 1901 as it did for the rest of the country but 10 days later and at a specific location: Spindletop.

In West Texas, the 20th century didn’t arrive for another two decades.

The Texas oil boom transformed the world and what it could be, and it took the Lone Star State from a poor, agriculture-centered and in many ways backwards corner of the United States to the giant of industry, technology, energy and politics that it’s known for today.

While in East Texas the transformation meant a swift movement from farms to cities, the impact on West Texas was even more stark: it meant there could be cities at all.

Areas unable to support a few dozen cattle during some dry years were suddenly home to thousands of mostly single young men working furiously to build rigs, drill holes, construct facilities to store any oil they got and then pipelines to transport it to somewhere less remotely situated. It needed people to keep all of these things happening when something broke down, and it needed more people to feed and house all of these.

This pattern of boom towns springing up next to the latest big find continued unabated until the oil industry facilitated its own transformation and made it possible for all of American society to do what had been impossible just decades before.

Continue reading Oil shaped Permian Basin, changed world

The dirt around us is full of litter and relics

William Faulkner famously wrote, “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.”

In West Texas, such a thing is no more obvious than around the oilfields and sometimes individual wells now receiving second or third looks as motivated by the upticking price per barrel.

Though left to the bear the steady beat of sun, wind and weather, much related to the old-and-new-again drilling areas surrounding us still lays where it was left from times passed, a natural museum of drilling history.

Continue reading The dirt around us is full of litter and relics

People go to college to have lots of sex

The other day, I was arguing with a friend about education and whether college specifically was any use. “It’s really just the next bubble,” I said, repeating an argument a mutual friend had made to me before.

“First the Internet bubble, then the housing bubble, now the college degree bubble. We’ve been told for years it’s an automatic way to make more money, but it’s getting more expensive to buy in now and there’s less of a reward. At some point, people won’t be able to pay off their college debt anymore. That’s when the bubble bursts.”

Continue reading People go to college to have lots of sex