Theory: no one in the executive division of DirecTV has ever called customer assistance. I will detail the exact nature of my complaint at some later date, in thrilling rant-o-rama. I’ve had to call twice lately, for two different questions, and aside from the obstinate, maddening Robot Lady who does not understand what I want and sends me to a human only after I had pressed “0” about 30 times, there’s the issue of the human you finally get. I’ve talked to four. I’ve understood one.

The connection is bad, because it’s probably VOIP to the Philippines, but the person on the other end varies from the least acceptable level of understanding to utter incomprehensibility. When they are on script - I see you have been a customer since November 2000 and we would like to thank you for your continued loyalty et cetera, I get it, and am reminded that they have not put a hand on their heart to collect themselves because they’re overwhelmed with gratitude. THAT’S WHAT THE SCRIPT SAYS. At least I know what they’re saying. Tonight I had someone who I could not understand at all. Her English was better than my ability to speak her tongue, and mad props to her for that but criminey joseph it was like trying to defuse a bomb with someone who only speaks Darmak-at-Tinagra lingo.

Theory: no one in the executive division of DirecTV cares.

If you’re wondering how to prevent mass child murder in the future, a letter writer to our paper has some ideas.

Sitting here, 4,000 miles away, you can still be helpful

If the Manchester massacre bothers you, take action. There are ways you can help. Stamp out terrorism at its source.

Feed the children in Somalia.

Here is a list of USAID programs in Somalia.

SAID is supporting over 850 projects in 17 of Somalia's 18 regions, focusing on high-risk communities in hard-to-reach areas, particularly those liberated from al-Shabaab control. Projects include;

Roads built across Somalia, benefiting an estimated 5 million people

Clinics, markets, bridges and irrigation canals rehabilitated, improving the lives of citizens and increasing confidence in local government service delivery

Garbage trucks delivered, boosting the governments ability to address solid waste management and sanitation, building trust between citizens and the local government

And so on. In 2013, the last year for which I can find figures, the US gave $861 million to Somalia. Total food / drought /refugee relief spending since 2001 exceeds $1.5 billion.

We continue:

Rid your household, your neighborhood, your workplace and your place of worship of the poisonous and corrupt forces of racism and sexism and discrimination and persecution of the poor.

My household, neighborhood, workplace, or place of worship may be utterly corrupted by racism and sexism, but here’s the thing: no one from any of these places has blown themselves up at a musical event popular with young girls. If you’re saying that the jihadi who killed the children was lashing out at the injustices he had observed or experienced in British culture - that is obscene. That is poisonous.

Vote. Insist on honest and open government that invests in education and the future.

Ah, education. Telegraph:

Abedi went to Burnage Academy for Boys between 2009 and 2011, and then on to Salford University in 2014 where he studied business management before dropping out, according to a source. 

The source said Abedi began his course in 2014 and attended lectures for two years but then stopped going.

It is doubtful he was subjected to racist abuse at school:

The majority of (Burnage) students live in Longsight, Levenshulme, Rusholme and Ardwick wards, which suffer from high levels of poverty, deprivation and crime. As mentioned in its 2010 OFSTED report, over 90% of the school's students are from ethnic minorities, and over 64% are of South Asian heritage with more than 50% of all students speaking English as an additional language

More from our spiritual advisor:

Work on the cesspools of the world and provide hope and a choice to jihad and death.

See Aid, Somalia, above.

By the way, what do you do when "hope" as you define it is boring, and "jihad and death" is exciting and fufilling? What if they are hope to some?

By the way, is Manchester a cesspool? Because there are other Mancunians who’ve been associated, shall we say, with terrorism.

Jamal al-Harith, who lived in Manchester and was known as Ronald Fiddler before converting to Islam, left the UK for Syria in 2014.

Earlier this year it was reported that he died after driving a truck packed with explosives into a military base in Mosul, Iraq.

It emerged he had received a compensation payment following his detention in Guantanamo Bay in the early 2000s.

No doubt that’s what radicalized him. He was picked up on an innocent, carefree backpacking trip though Pakistan in 2002; he paid a truck driver to take him to Iran, and was intercepted en route.

The British government gave him a million pounds in compensation for his Gitmo stay. A million pounds.

And he still went to join ISIS.

Finally, the point of his letter:

Be the answer to terrorism. Be the proof that Westerners are not a profane, selfish, disrespectful stain on the Earth.

However you read any of that, it’s clear: terror attacks are our fault. You can understand why the guy did it.

The West is a stain on the Earth. A profane stain. We may fault its enemies' means, but we must concede their rationales.


More from this week's batch of photos rescued from a basket in the basement of a Midwest antique store.

Well hello Uncle Walt:

In the middle of nowhere, a man with a sharp crease.





Our second look at the downtown of this city, which surely was shot by the GoogleCar on a Sunday. No one's home.

As I said last week, here's what the town's website says: “Del Rio has been a proud Texas Main Street City since 2002, actively supporting expansion of the downtown economic base by assisting in recruiting more businesses to downtown, advertising available properties in the district, assisting with historic preservation efforts and streetscape improvements.”

Let’s see how that’s working out for them.

A classic Kress:

I can’t quite read what happened to the lower floors. The windows over the main floor have been painted, as anyone could see, but those bricks over the windows? Different style, different hue.

Nothing in this pitch for historical status.

Ah: take a look at this building, if you like. It has a big Kress sign bolted on the front. That’s why the space looks the way it does.

Defaced by the usual fools.


Del Rio’s Kress Building architecture was an example of the “artistic expression” that became part of the store’s marketing with the “signature storefront.” The storefront was known across the US, but the third story on our building is rare on this style. (Watch the façade glow in the light of the setting sun.) The hardwood floors, iron supporting columns and pressed-tin ceilings are preserved intact. The Kress Building was built by Max Stool in 1927, and the Kress stayed open into the 1990s.

The story of Kress is one of the great stories of American retailing and architecture, and it's completely unknown to those of us in the North.

A beautiful modernized storefront, now abandoned:

The Guarantee may no longer apply.

If you think it’s been painted, you might be right.

From the walking tour page:

Giles was an English immigrant to San Antonio whose architectural skill was known across Texas. More than a dozen of his buildings have been awarded Texas Historical Commission markers.

An English architect in Texas. There’s a movie I want to see.

Let’s hope the C isn’t the first to fall off:

While it’s always nice to see the old brands and logos, it doesn’t suggest that the place is a going concern.

"I'd like some tires. Oh, and a major appliance."

"You've come to the right place!"

Every town should have a one-stop shop for hoes:

Here’s a venerable senior:

It’s a miracle that buildings like this survive; usually fire or age takes them. That has to be from 189x or the early oughts, at the latest.


Finally: the old Del Rio National Bank, spoiled by a heavy-handed modernization:

It was the First National Bank, built just before the Depression hit. It failed.

Look. If you’re going to ruin a building, ruin the whole damned thing.

Here's the town. Give it a look -


- and give my regards to Del Rio.

That'll do. Back tomorrow for the end of the week. Already? Already.


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