Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Lone Star Police State

The reputation of the law and the certain quests for civil liberties in The Lone Star State is well publicized. Gun control, immigration, drugs, church and morality are constantly in political crossfire in Texas. Knowing the laws and your rights can be obviously beneficial, especially after emigrating from a particularly lax state. After witnessing first-hand a very serious, omnipresent police force in Texas, I decided to update myself on laws I might not have realized before. Here are some of the more bizarre illegal activities in Texas:

It is illegal to milk another person’s cow.
So unbelievably weird, but I suppose it's plausible that one might be stealing another's livelihood this way. It's hard to imagine such a cut-throat farmer working on such a small scale.

It is still a "hanging offense" to steal cattle.
Very serious about cattle crime here.

Purchase and Sale of Human Organs is prohibited.
This won't help you when you wake up packed in ice in the bathtub.

One must acknowledge a supreme being before being able to hold public office.

A program has been created in the state that attempts to control the weather.
How can this coincide with the belief in a supreme being?!

A permit costing five-dollars is required to go around barefoot.

Um, hey Texas, have you met Austin?

Lefors: It is illegal to take more than three sips of beer at a time while standing.
Though 18 year-olds can buy shotguns.

Clarendon: It is illegal to dust any public building with a feather duster.
Too dumb for comment.

Dallas: It is illegal to possess realistic dildos.
Who gets to judge this? Is this really what the justice system is for?

El Paso: Appearing in public places wearing a “lewd dress” is prohibited.
Look buddy, I call them "sewing projects."

There is also some random yet oddly commonsensical statures about not be able to eat money or raise alligators in one's house. How do these things become law, especially in an incredibly conservative state that advocates for "less" government control?

Texas is number one in the country for executions of death-row inmates, and 69% of the state is in favor of capital punishment. Texas courts have a tendency to judge conservatively and punishments tend to be harsher, especially for drug offenders. Three of the top ten most crime-addled cities in the country are in Texas: Houston (#4), San Antonio (#8), and Dallas (#9), according to the FBI rankings.

An interesting point: while almost 80% of Texans are high school graduates, only one quarter the Texas population has a bachelors degree or more, according to the 2007 census information on Education Attainment by State (2010 isn't yet available). Without a substantial amount of analytical scholars, who can professionally counter avaricious or self-aggrandizing politicians and dishonorable agendas? Who will fight against discriminatory practices and unconstitutional (not to mention frivolous) rules and regulations?

Check out these laws and more at Texas Constitution and Statutes.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Austin Waitresses Will Not Stand For Dine-and-Dashers

According to The Statesman, a group of seven people ate at Antonio’s Mexican Restaurant here in Austin last Thursday night. Five left the restaurant leaving two men to handle the bill. The waitress noticed the men running out on their check and chased them out into the parking lot; when she slammed her hands on the trunk of their car, they backed up to knock her down. Over Mexican food, people. Over a lousy bill for Mexican food.

Apparently, in anticipation of their dine and dashing, the men had put a paper bag over their license plate, which the waitress ripped off (after being hit by a car!), memorized, and reported to the police. A Mr. Austin McClure Bounds, 25, has been charged with aggravated assault and identified in a police lineup.

Let's all try to remember that regardless of how long you have to wait for your Diet Coke to be refilled, service industry workers have a very tough job. At $2.13 an hour, servers and bartenders depend on their tips more than their wages. Servers are often held responsible for unpaid checks, which are docked from their personal paychecks.

And personally, after meeting a few, I would not fuck with waitresses in Texas. These ladies wear spurs.

Monday, August 9, 2010

What Are People In Texas Like?

I love Googling questions about people's opinions. Sites like wikihow or answers.yahoo.com are my favorites, allowing users to post questions and then receive public feedback forum-style. Sometimes you find real, interesting, tested solutions or thoughtful reasoning (the former). Other times, you find musings to the likes of the impossibly undereducated (the latter). Like people's, you know, feelings n stuff, repectz fo reals. Tonight, I typed in, "What are people in Texas like?" to answers.yahoo.com (this question isn't exactly a how).
It corrected me did you mean: "What are people people in texas like?" Yes, thanks. People people.
Is this a question in regards to many people-persons personalities?

Anyway, the feedback is outstanding. Here's what the good people of Texas are saying about each other:

"The men are, for the most part, really polite and charming and know how to treat a lady, without being sexist or demeaning. Texas men are The Best."

Capital T, Capital B. You heard it here, ladies!

"Cool, and unliberalized except for Austin for the most part."

Unliberalized? Also, I wouldn't normally snark on someone over grammar, but Dude is seriously lacking comma common sense.

"many many fat people, but they are all very friendly and personable."

All of them. This commenter has met all of the fat people in Texas and they are uniformly fat, friendly and personable.

"Very nice and courteous for the most part. I have a relative who came from the north and she says that she prefers the people from the south to those in the north. She said that they are a lot nicer."

I only picture this commenter's curmudgeonly old relative, rocking in chair somewhere, grumbling about Yankees.

I agree with commenter Joe who says,

"The only way to find out is to come to Texas."

I understand the point of the initial question, since I was asking it myself. Why do I have a caricature in my head when I think about Texans? Cowboy hats and boots, over 6 feet tall, guns holstered. Five things I have learned about Texans that I've met so far:

1. There is a definite sense of obligatory hospitality from most Texans I meet. There is so much welcoming, so much generosity. It seems deep-rooted. People invite you into cars, stores, restaurants, parties, they offer an empty spot at the table, to share the food they cooked for themselves, a beer and a water and a place to sit.

2. Those who talk with a thick Texan accent, talk incredibly slowly. Soooooooo. Sloooooooow.

3. There is so much natural beauty in Texas and outdoor sports are incredibly popular forms of recreation. Many Texans I have encountered are enthusiastic nature-lovers, but not all are necessarily environmentally-conscious. By this I mean there is much public support for nature per say, but there is less emphasis on environmental education. There seems to be no urgency for conservation or preservation of public space - not only in law but by the masses, who litter. There are no mandated recycling or composting laws and extreme budget cuts for parks and recreation services. People generally like what the see when they look at Texas. But some seem unwilling to admit that even petty degradation can do major harm.

4. I have yet to see the "people live slower" lifestyle. The people of Austin are pretty with it. They move at the world's pace; without seeming to cling to a particular style of living. They seem adaptive, resourceful. The population is growing so quickly and the state is becoming so economically successful that people seem eager to let the future in. They are diverse, creative, cutting-edge, and analytical.

5. The sports thing. I don't get it. I am all for fun, and sports are fun, sure, but the mania of it all here can be a bit overwhelming. When I first got here, I tried to go a whole day without seeing someone wearing University of Texas apparel, then it became University of Texas football apparel, now I wait for the day I am sans "Hook 'em Horns!" apparel. I am easing myself into football season and preparing to learn many many things about the sport that I have spent an entire lifetime putting off.

I agree with Joe, though. Please come visit or leave me your Texan impressions in the comments. I'm going out to mingle.

Friday, August 6, 2010

People's Pharmacy

Today I came across People's Pharmacy. Independently owned in Austin for over 25 years, this pharmacy advocates for and gives access to health counselors, naturopaths, homeopaths, chiropractors, acupuncturists, health seminars and private consultations. They consider themselves "cutting-edge holistic" which is so sweet yet bad-ass. That's also a walk-in Medical Clinic next door, and advice I've been taking to liberally for years.

"Woodenshoe Like One?"

A typical Texan cutting board.