Talk Back: Responses to our May|June Issue

{ May | June 2012 }

“The ‘D’ Word”

Our cover story on drought prompted everything from praise to complaint to a down-home Texas comeback.

Juli Berwald called it a “nice overview of the problems and attempts at solutions” and added, “Thanks for pulling together such an informative and coherent story!”

Norman Johns, MPAff ’88, MS ’88, PhD ’96, took issue. He called it a “well written if incomplete piece.”

“While the article covers a lot of ‘D’ ground, there is one big ‘E’ word missing: environment. We humans need to be good stewards of the environment and leave water in our rivers making it to the coastal estuaries,” he wrote. “Granted, it’s going to get tougher to find the balance among all these competing needs, but healthy rivers and productive estuaries are part of Texas heritage.”

James Pearson, BS ’68, called for more investigation of wind energy and its effect on climate patterns. “In Texas we have built thousands of aerodynamically advanced windmills that are very efficient at sucking massive amounts of energy out of the atmosphere,” he wrote. “We lead the world in wind farms. The energy taken from the atmosphere is the kinetic energy of the wind. Removing the energy reduces the wind velocity and increases the air pressure. Even a small increase in air pressure can significantly reduce the rainfall. I would really like to see the effect of the wind farms on weather investigated. We should have learned from our ‘Dust Bowl’ experiences that man can affect the weather.”

Cary Michael Cox, BA ’01, Life Member, noted: “My dad, who was in the oil and gas business, told me one day a barrel of H2O would be worth more than a barrel of oil. He may be right sooner than I thought.”

Chris Bohn, BBA ’83, Life Member, asked, “Is it just me or is it slightly humorous that after years of UT recruiting researchers from up north and California, they say that they need a satellite to tell them when it is drying out when any farmer or rancher worth his salt could tell you with one phone call?”

“Publish or Perish”

Our story on Barnes & Noble CEO William Lynch, who holds the fate of American publishing in his hands, surprised @TheAlcalde Twitter followers. They were especially shocked to learn Lynch had roomed with Jon Hamm before the Mad Men star transferred.

Bonnie Moon, BJ ’08, Life Member, tweeted, “Jon Hamm went to @UTAustin? (Also a fascinating look at @BNBuzz’s attempt to survive in the digital age.)”

“The Deficit Aviary”

Professor James Galbraith’s owlish idea that deficits aren’t worrisome made some readers hoot and holler.

One reader, Jason, said he believes Galbraith is living in a United States of yesteryear. “The Age of America is ending,” he said. “I do not want it to be this way, but our public policies are forcing it on us. We have not been paying for our spending for four decades now. Provocative article. The only way to fix what is broken is to pay for what you buy and work for what you are paid.”

Another reader, Jim, wrote, “The burrowing owl is a good caricature for Galbraith. Hide in your hole when things don’t look good. He and others who follow his reasoning are quick to say cut social security and Medicare. They forget people and employers have paid into the system. Go to a state Social Security office and look around at who is there—a heavy majority of young people who should be working. And a higher minimum wage will attract undocumented workers rather than turn them away. They are the ones who can live on the wage because they have all the free benefits.”

Reader Laurie asserted, “I’m not in total agreement. I do believe that this cycle is natural in the economic cycles. But piling on debt is not a valid response. I do believe that cuts must be made but if each department was cut by say, 10 percent, what would that do? Do you really think that services would be cut first? Of course, because no department wants to have to find their own waste.

Also, we must ask ourselves: is this a debt that will ever be repaid? If it must be repaid, then is it “fair” to leave our children and ougrandchildren this debt? Learn to live within your means or find the money elsewhere. That elsewhere is by cutting the spending.”

Margaret Nosek, MA ’82, PhD ’84, Life Member, took issue with Galbraith’s claim that a higher minimum wage would discourage undocumented workers. “As long as there are no real disincentives for employers to offer slave wages to whomever will accept them, there will continue to be an incentive for undocumented economic refugees from other countries,” she wrote. “The newspapers are filled with stories about raids and roundups of undocumented workers, but only trivial fines are imposed on employers. I’m all for raising the minimum wage, but I question its relevance to the need for a path toward legal work status.”

“Texas Loses a Trailblazer”

The Longhorn family felt deeply the death of pioneering African-American architect John Chase, the Texas Exes’ first African-American president.

Phil Johnson wrote, “John was a remarkable gentleman. My prayers to his family.” Patricia C. Mulkey added, “Condolences to his family. A loss for the state of Texas.”

“Band of Brothers”

The story of Clark Plost and the scholarship and sense of community he found through the Texas Wranglers after a loss inspired many.

Marcus L. Dean said, “This part of UT is not promoted enough to the public. UT is more than football, basketball, and academics. There is a rich networking and social atmosphere at the University.”

Pedram Rahmanian said simply, “Clark is an inspiration to us all. My day is genuinely enriched each day I see him.”

Bryan Cross, BA ’10, Life Member, tweeted, “Awesome story. I myself went Greek, but we can all agree that finding a group to I.D. with is important.”

“Longhorn on Ice”

The 8-foot Longhorn ice sculpture that served chilled martinis from its horns at the wedding of Justin Krost, BBA ’05, MPA ’05, and Melissa Joachim Krost, BS ’08, Life Members, prompted amazement.

Lynnette Gulley, BA ’88, BS ’88, Life Member, wrote, “Wow! The horns were impressive enough. Then I saw the interlocking UT ice tables flanking both sides. Fabulous!” Tania Zinsitz, BS ’06, said, “I need her wallet. Very cool!” Michael Williams added, “That is the perfect woman. He better not mess it up or I’m coming for her.”

Alcalde Love

And finally, our favorite tweet from the last month: A. Bryant tweeted, “Great, great issue this month…It is now my favorite way to get news about UT and Texas.”


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