Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Beat the Heat

Via the Austin American-Statesman:
Tubers float the Comal River as Memorial Day Weekend marks the beginning of summer, Friday, May 27, 2011, in New Braunfels, Texas.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Rick Perry: A Self-Proposed Philosopher

Will Gov. Rick Perry of Texas run for President in 2012? "I'm going to think about it," Perry said. He quickly added, "I think about a lot of things." OH REALLY? Explain this. And this.

The Texas Tribune, printed the story, "Gov. Rick Perry Flirting With White House Run" yesterday. 'Running for the White House' is thus decidedly female, because we all know how Gov. Perry feels about homosexuality, and he certainly wouldn't be flirting with anything manly.

His spokesperson reiterated Perry as a reflective-type:

"He has no intention of running," Mark Miner said. "He's thought about it, just like he does many other issues."


"From time to time, there are going to be things that occur that are acts of God that cannot be prevented." The Dallas Morning Star, "Rick Perry Defends BP, Alludes to 'Act of God' as Possible Cause of Oil Spill" 5/3/10

“I absolutely understand they want to get back to their homes. I'd like to get back to the mansion.” San Antonio Express-News, " Biggest obstacle to Galveston recovery is water", 9/19/08

"From my own personal life, abstinence works." The Texas Tribune, "Rick Perry on Why Abstinence Education Works", 10/15/10

"Juarez is the most dangerous city in America." The Huffington Post, "Rick Perry Makes a Texas-Sized Gaffe", 2/28/11

Here's some little kids making fun of the things Rick Perry has said:

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Federal Government Shows Texas Who Is Ultimately Boss

“I don’t cave in to heavy handed threats by the federal government,” said an angry Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, the Senate sponsor of the bill, who ultimately withdrew the bill.

According to the Texas Tribune,
House Bill 1937, which was passed by the House earlier this month, would make it a misdemeanor offense for a federal security agent to “intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly [touch] the anus, sexual organ, buttocks, or breast of the other person, including touching through clothing, or touching the other person in a manner that would be offensive to a reasonable person.”
Two TSA officials paid the Patrick at the Capitol today, warning him that the legislation “could close down all the airports in Texas,” he said. After their departure, U.S. Attorney John E. Murphy sent a letter to Speaker of the House Joe Straus and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst saying the bill would “conflict directly with federal law” and that if it became law, “TSA would likely be required to cancel any flight or series of flights for which it could not ensure the safety of passengers and crew” until the agency could seek a court order stopping the measure from being carried out.
Senators who previously had supported the bill slowly withdrew support. “The bill makes it a crime for a [federal TSA employee] … to perform a federal screening that he or she is required by federal law to perform,” said Sen. Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa, D-McAllen.

Patrick replied, “There was a time in this state, there was a time in our history, where we stood up to the federal government and we did not cower to rules and policies that invaded the privacy of Texans...This was a case of the federal government bullying Texas.” This is probably why Texans have all those guns. Protection from all those bullies in Washington.

Previously: Texas to TSA: "Don't Touch My Junk"

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Regular Down-Home Texan Folk Supportive Of Gay Families, According To Television Show That Sells Warm Happy Endings

ABC News' show What Would You Do? sets the scene for gay parents to be berated by a waitress in front of their two children. The results are surprising in comparison to the more liberal state of New York, but with less than half of the bystanders voicing support, still leave much to be desired. While its wonderful to see these changing attitudes in Texas, I can't help but shake my head at the high-five guy and wonder about the rest of the patrons - less than half, Texas? Surely we can all get behind everyone's right to eat breakfast in peace.

Kudos to those who stood up for the family's rights.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Talkin' Texan: Learn It, Durn It

I've previously discussed some of the wonderful and whacky idiosyncrasies of the Texan "language", but perfecting the ins-and-outs could take you a lifetime and you might need a quick crash course.

The designers at Public School have created a flashcard set "handcrafted by cowboy hat wearin' Texans and printed on manilla paper [that] will pony you up on the Texas vernacular in a New York minute." They've also included a "Texan Sayings" that'll get you fixin' to master the language faster than green grass through a goose! That way you can make use of such colorful expressions as, "You can put your boots in the oven, but that don't make 'em biscuits" (you can say whatever you want about something, but that doesn't change what it is).

Previously: Speaking the Language
Related: Now, We Might Could Review What All We've Learnt Today. Ywant To?

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Smoking Ban In Texas OKed For Now; Texas Worried It Will No Longer Look Cool

The Texas House tentatively approved a statewide ban on smoking in public places last night. It was attached to a bill that must pass in order to make the two-year state budget balance. But what about freedom, Texas?

Via the Texas Tribune: Republicans who objected to the measure saying that it was government encroachment successfully added exemptions to the bill that would allow smoking in places like bingo and pool halls. "This is another government edict, when we don't need the edict," said state Rep. Gary Elkins, R-Houston. Democrats argued the health and safety of the public, reminding the nay-sayers that thousands of Texans die each year from cancer. If it passes, Texas would be the first Southern state to adopt a comprehensive statewide smoke-free law, a measure expected to save an estimated $31 million in state Medicaid costs over the next biennium, according to the bill's fiscal note.

The Republicans argue that the bill is bad for mom-and-pop bars and discriminates against smokers. The Democrats argue that it saves lives. One thing is certain: Texas hates government laws, except when it doesn't.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Austin Still Awesome Place To Live

Image via Peter Tsai Photography

Austin, Texas, drew the largest numbers of young Americans from 2007 through 2009, according to the New York Times. For good reason. The region’s unemployment rate fell to 6.5 percent this month, down from 6.8 percent in March and 6.9 percent in April 2010. BAM! Austin area employers added 14,100 jobs from April 2010 to last month, a 1.8 percent increase, the Texas Workforce Commission reported Friday. That compares to the nationwide average of 8.8%. The government workers of Texas weren't faring so well. Government agencies, higher education and public school districts added just 100 jobs over the 12-month period, a 0.1 percent increase - and that's in the state capitol. Yikes.

So why is Austin doing so well? It's no surprise that young people are coming to Austin, via a burgeoning music scene amidst sprawling universities and liberal attitudes. With low taxes and cost of living, a huge service industry, and a DIY entrepreneurial attitude, it comes as little surprise. The NYTimes analysis of migration also showed people ages 25 to 34 were the most mobile and the more lucrative cities were "those that had remained economically vibrant, like Dallas, and those that were considered hip destinations, like Austin and Seattle, the demographer, William H. Frey, found."

Didja here that, Austinites!? The New York Times just called y'all a fucking hipster. Hide your yarn bombings and bicycle co-ops and go blog about it. I'm going to keep unemployment low by selling bathtub gin and opening a vegan food trailer.

The Vegan Yacht

Monday, May 16, 2011

Texas To TSA: "Don't Touch My Junk"

The Texas Legislature has passed a bill prohibiting the Transportation Security Administration from "intrusive pat-downs". They've really taken this opportunity to include a lot of dirty, sexy, hilarious words. The terms "penetration," "anus," and "sexual organ" appear four, eight, and nine times, respectively. The Daily Mail states "The bill makes touching passengers in "inappropriate" ways a criminal offense. The measure makes it illegal for anyone conducting pat-downs to touch 'the anus, sexual organ, buttocks, or breast of another person' including through clothing. It also prohibits searches 'that would be offensive to a reasonable person.' Republican Representative David Simpsom, the bill's chief sponsor believes it will keep TSA officials from treating travellers like criminals."

"This (bill) has to do with dignity and travel, and prohibiting indecent, groping searches," he said.

The bill would subject TSA agents (federal employees) to a Class A misdemeanor if they inappropriately touch someone or if they search an individual without probable cause of criminal activity. Can this be real? The TSA has responded via their blog,

"What’s our take on the Texas House of Representatives voting to ban the current TSA pat-down? Well, the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution (Article. VI. Clause 2) prevents states from regulating the federal government."

Blogger Michael Boldin of The Tenth Amendment Center calls the TSA "liars" and writes,

"The problem here? The statement is false. Ignorance from the TSA is unlikely, so I’ll call a spade a spade. They’re lying. The supremacy clause says nothing of the sort. Here’s the full text:

This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the constitution or laws of any state to the contrary notwithstanding.

So, in simple terms, what does the supremacy clause mean? Just what it says. The constitution is supreme. And any federal laws made in line with the constitution is supreme. Nothing more, nothing less. Notice there’s not one single word in the actual text that says anything about states regulating the federal government as the TSA claims."

The Texas Tribune reports that Austin resident Jason Stoddard, a Libertarian who ran for state attorney general in the last three elections, said that while he supports the intent of the bill, he believes the authors should clarify how it's written. Federal employees currently hold immunity for acts they carry out while out duty, he said, and state officials are likely to face criminal charges from impeding TSA agents from doing their job. "And then who pays?" he asked. "Ultimately taxpayers pay."

Simpson and staff defend the bill as not nullifying federal laws and nor prohibiting agents from doing their job, only prohibiting federal employees of inappropriately touch an individual without probable cause. More metal detectors and bomb-sniffing dogs were recommended instead.

Texas vs. the U.S. Government: round 798,490.

Friday, May 13, 2011

More Bizarre Texas-Influenced Marketing Schemes

Opi Nail Polish recently came out with a new line called Texas Collection for Opi. They feature shade names like "It's Totally Fort Worth It", "Houston We Have A Purple", and "San Tan-tonio". Opi's website claims, "Get ready for modern American style as Opi comes "home" to the USA with the Texas Collection. A fresh and refreshing facet to an effortlessly chic, very unique, and colorful original style season."

What these colors have in common with Texas, besides their pun-ish names, I have no idea. In searching their website, I could find no reason for the Texan pride or namesake. But I'll be damned if it isn't working - I keep reading about "Texas colors" on fashion blogs. Most of the reviewers seem to love these colors because "I'M A PROUD TEXAN!"

Nothing says Texas like Big Hair, Big Nails, I suppose. I'm going to start wrapping my garbage in a Texas state flag and try to sell it on Etsy.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Texas Lawmakers Vote to Give Themselves More Gun Rights Than You

Via the Texas Tribune: A bill that passed the Texas Senate today 25-6 would add all elected statewide officials — and even former legislators — to the list of people exempt from concealed handgun laws that prohibit carrying guns at church, the hospital, a sporting event or even bars. For most people, illegally carrying a handgun at any of these locations could result in a Class A misdemeanor or a third degree felony. Punishment for illegally carrying a concealed handgun can vary from a year in county jail or a $4,000 fine to up to 10 years in jail and an optional fine up to $10,000.

Author of the bill, Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, says it exempts legislators so they can carry guns “for their own personal security” and ensure they won’t be prosecuted if they are caught “not purposefully violating the law by carrying” a gun in an prohibited location.

Of course! Since their lives are worth more than ours, they need the personal security that you don't. Funny how hard these legislatures work for your right to bear arms, but their own personal right to conceal those arms where ever they'd like, a luxury you are not afforded.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Texas Curriculum Specialist Wants to "Seperate the Institutions, But Not the Influence" of Church and State

Last night on The Daily Show, Jon Stewart interviewed the former vice chairman, David Barton, of the Texas Republican Party and current State Board of Education history and social studies curriculum expert, who is one of the nation's leading advocates for the position that separation of church and state is not what the Founders intended. He is not a historian.

Barton calls what he does "historical reclamation".

"It seems you are rewriting, more than reclaiming history," says Stewart.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Texas High School Insists You Cheer For Rapists

A high school cheerleader ("H.S.") at Silsbee High School in Texas was kicked off her squad for refusing to chant the name of the athlete she said had raped her. The girl reported being raped in 2008 by Rakheem Bolton, a varsity basketball player, with the help of two of his friends. Bolton did not serve any jail time by pleading guilty to a lesser assault charge, spending two years on probation, doing community service, paying a fine, and attending anger management courses.

Her problems aren't over: besides having to go to school with her rapist, the school insisted that as a cheerleader, H.S. has no right to refuse to cheer for Bolton. She says she fulfilled her duty by cheering for the team, but simply refused to shout "Rakheem" while he made free throws. School officials demanded that she conform or be dismissed from the squad.

The girl and her parents sued the school for violating her right to freedom of expression, but the 5th circuit's opinion backed up the school: "In her capacity as cheerleader, H.S. served as a mouthpiece through which SISD could disseminate speech — namely, support for its athletic teams.” Her protest also “constituted substantial interference with the work of the school because, as a cheerleader, H.S. was at the basketball game for the purpose of cheering, a position she undertook voluntarily.” Yesterday, she lost her appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, and federal courts have also ordered her and her parents to reimburse the district more than $45,000 for the costs of defending against a frivolous suit.

There are many upsetting factors in this case. The idea that cheerleaders serve only as "mouthpieces of the school" - robots used to constantly shout out encouraging exclamations - is degrading to the women who consider their sport athletic - tumbling, gymnastics, dance, and competition. Is one girl who remains silent really causing "substantial interference?" Where is the community support for the girl - shouldn't we all be silent for Bolton?

Even more upsetting is the behavior of the adults behavior and reactions in this case. The district superintendent, his assistant and the school principal told H.S. to shape up or ship out, and while she's at it, "to keep a low profile, such as avoiding the school cafeteria and not taking part in homecoming activities." Lawsuit aside, where are these officials getting their sensitivity training? The stakes are far higher than that of a basketball game. This girl will be dealing with emotional suffering from this assault for the rest of her life. Could school officials have less concern for her well-being in the matter?

Monday, May 2, 2011

Texans React To Osama bin Laden's Death

An unidentified soldier stands on the side of FM 494 in Mission, TX via KHOU Houston

At a bar near UT campus, Austin, via The Daily Texan

The gate to former President George W. Bush’s Preston Hollow neighborhood. Photo by David Woo via The Dallas Morning News

photo by Stuart Palley via The Texas Tribune

via The Daily Texan

Texas leaders had a hard time deciding who to thank. Of 14 legislatures, 4 thanked President Obama, 4 thanked former President Bush, 2 thanked both presidents, and 13 thanked the military. U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith, R-San Antonio, thanked no one but the Patriot Act: "Despite yesterday’s victory, we cannot afford to leave our intelligence community without the resources it needs to dismantle terrorist organizations, identify threats from groups and individuals, and interrupt terrorist plots." Sounds like a freedom-hater to me.