Saturday, July 30, 2011

Because There Simply Weren't Enough Cattle Before

CowParade is an international public art that has been featured in major world cities. Fiberglass sculptures of cows are decorated by local artists, and distributed over the citywide, in public places such as train stations, important avenues, and parks. They often feature artwork and designs specific to local culture, as well as city life and other relevant themes. After the exhibition in the city, which lasts many months, the cows are auctioned off and the proceeds donated to charity.

CowParade is currently in Austin as of Wednesday. There are currently 47 cow installments citywide. Before the exhibit is finished, there will be 100 to 150 cows all over Austin. Beginning in October 2010, CowParade Austin held an open call for entries. The sponsors and a local committee choose the winning entries, and CowParade commissioned the artists. Each selected artist receives an honorarium of $1,000.

Just what Texas needed. More cows. Thankfully, it could always use more public art.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Not Even A Tropical Storm Can Save Texas Now

Tropical Storm Don is supposed to hit Texas on Saturday and bring the lucky southern part of the state anywhere from 3-7 inches of glorious, life-bringing rain. Austin will be lucky to get an inch.

So thanks, Gov. Perry, your prayer for rain worked! Unfortunately, it wasn't specific enough about the quantity, and we're only ending up with a misting. Don't you know God's not a mind-reader?

Monday, July 25, 2011

Rick Perry Still Not Solving Any of Texas' Problems, Wants to Not Solve America's

Rick Perry is planning to launch his presidential campaign between Aug. 15 and Aug. 31, RealClearPolitics reports today. Oh great. So he can spend the next year and half not concentrating on the rapid deterioration of Texas. And until then, he can keep the media (and the bloggers) in a will-he-won't-he frenzy. I'm already disgusted enough for one day so I'll leave you with someone else's eloquence.

From End the American Dream:

The following are 14 reasons why Rick Perry would be a really, really bad president....

#1 Rick Perry is a "big government" politician. When Rick Perry became the governor of Texas in 2000, the total spending by the Texas state government was approximately $49 billion. Ten years later it was approximately $90 billion. That is not exactly reducing the size of government.

#2 The debt of the state of Texas is out of control. According to, the debt to GDP ratio in Texas is 22.9% and the debt per citizen is $10,645. In California (a total financial basket case), the debt to GDP ratio is just 18.7% and the debt per citizen is only $9932. If Rick Perry runs for president these are numbers he will want to keep well hidden.

#3 The total debt of the Texas government has more than doubled since Rick Perry became governor.

#4 Rick Perry has spearheaded the effort to lease roads in Texas to foreign companies, to turn roads that are already free to drive on into toll roads, and to develop the Trans-Texas Corridor which would be part of the planned NAFTA superhighway system.

#5 Rick Perry claims that he has a "track record" of not raising taxes. That is a false claim. Rick Perry has repeatedly raised taxes and fees while he has been governor. Today, Texans are faced with significantly higher taxes and fees than they were before Rick Perry was elected.

#6 Even with the oil boom in Texas, 23 states have a lower unemployment rate than Texas does.

#7 Back in 1988, Rick Perry supported Al Gore for president. In fact, Rick Perry actually served as Al Gore's campaign chairman in the state of Texas that year.

#8 Between December 2007 and April 2011, weekly wages in the U.S. increased by about 5 percent. In the state of Texas they increased by just 0.6% over that same time period.

#9 Texas now has one of the worst education systems in the nation. The following is from an opinion piece that was actually authored by Barbara Bush earlier this year....

•  We rank 36th in the nation in high school graduation rates. An estimated 3.8 million Texans do not have a high school diploma.

•  We rank 49th in verbal SAT scores, 47th in literacy and 46th in average math SAT scores.

•  We rank 33rd in the nation on teacher salaries.

#10 Rick Perry attended the Bilderberg Group meetings in 2007. Associating himself with that organization should be a red flag for all American voters.

#11 Texas has the highest percentage of workers making minimum wage out of all 50 states.

#12 Rick Perry often gives speeches about illegal immigration, but when you look at the facts, he has been incredibly soft on the issue.

#13 In 2007, 221,000 residents of Texas were making minimum wage or less. By 2010, that number had risen to 550,000.

#14 Rick Perry actually issued an executive order in 2007 that would have required almost every single girl in the state of Texas to receive the Gardasil vaccine before entering the sixth grade. According to Wikipedia, many were troubled when "apparent financial connections between Merck and Perry were reported by news outlets, such as a $6,000 campaign contribution and Merck's hiring of former Perry Chief of Staff Mike Toomey to handle its Texas lobbying work."

I disagree with #7 (why the Al Gore hate?) and #12 (soft or not, he's misguided in his rhetoric). I'm not particularly concerned with #10, The Bilderberg Group, but like with all rich people, I doubt they have my best interest at heart. Oh, and here's my own #15: The Pray for Rain Proclamation.

Ugh, this guy's the worst.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Recreational Swim

Photographer and Boing Boing reader Fred Facker of Houston, TX shares this image with the Boing Boing Flickr pool. "Just a floating log next to our canoe."

"You can go get the canoe," he writes. "I'll catch up."

Monday, July 18, 2011

Muslim Hate Crime Victim Begs For Pardon of Texas Man Who Shot Him

From CNN:

Mark Anthony Stroman, the 41-year-old prisoner scheduled to be executed Wednesday for a murder he once said was fueled by "patriotism," but which the state argued was motivated by pure hatred.

The admitted white supremacist was convicted in the deadly shooting of an Indian man, part of a killing spree that began just after the September 11 terror attacks. His target: those he believed were of Middle Eastern background, in revenge and retaliation for the worst domestic terror incident in U.S. history.

Stroman, once part Aryan Brotherhood, a white supremacist prison gang, and is a terrible, terrible person. Though he now claims remorse, his writing's on his personal blog sing a different tune: "This was not a crime of hate but an act of Passion and Patriotism, an act of country and commitment, an act of retribution and recompense. The was not done during Peace time but at War time. I, Mark Anthony Stroman, felt a need to exact some measure of equality and fairness for the thousands of victims of September 11th, 2001, for the United States of America and its people, The People of this Great Country. GOD BLESS AMERICA."

Uggh. <shudder> In a sad, ironic twist, Stroman's only surviving victim is also his greatest supporter. Rais Bhuiyan, a devout Muslim who does not believe in the death penalty, survived Stroman's attack and testified against him.

From Bhuiyan's website:
It was Friday 12:30pm, September 21, 2001. A man with a gun entered the gas station where I was working. He asked me, "Where are you from?"

The question seemed strange to ask during a robbery, which certainly this was -- the man wore a bandana, sunglasses and a baseball cap, and aimed the gun directly at my face as I stood over the gas station register. "Excuse me?" I asked. As soon as I spoke I felt the sensation of a million bees stinging my face, and then heard an explosion. Images of my mother, my father, my siblings and my fiancé appeared before my eyes, and then, a graveyard. I didn't know if I were still alive. I looked down at the floor and saw blood pouring like an open faucet from the side of my head. Frantically, I placed both hands on my face, thinking I had to keep my brains from spilling out. I heard myself screaming, "Mom!" The gunman was still standing there. I thought, "If I don't pretend I'm dead, he'll shoot me again."

The 46-year-old Pakistani was left blind in one eye. Bhuiyan created to urge Texas to spare Stroman's life, and wrote an op-ed in the Dallas-Morning News begging for his forgiveness:

"In order to live in a better and peaceful world, we need to break the cycle of hate and violence. I believe forgiveness is the best policy, which helps to break this cycle," he said, calling himself a victim of a hate crime. "I forgave Mark Stroman many years ago. I believe he was ignorant and not capable of distinguishing between right and wrong. Otherwise he wouldn't have done what he did."

Texas disagrees, arguing "that the six children of the men Stroman murdered in cold blood will grow up without their father. The victims also left their wives as widows. Officials cite testimony by fellow inmates of Stroman's continuing dangerousness and his unrepentant racist views, both pre- and post-conviction." Stroman is being sentenced to death for the murder of Vasudev Patel, a clerk at a Mesquite Gas Station. Surveillance tapes showed the suspect waving a .44-caliber chrome-plated pistol at the clerk and demanding, "Open the register or I'll kill you." The 49-year-old Patel tried to reach for his gun hidden under the counter, but Stroman shot the unarmed man in the chest. The killer left without taking any cash. He was arrested the next day. Patel was a Hindu, not Muslim, Arab or Middle Eastern.

"I am sorry to say I made innocent people pay for my rage, anger, grief and loss," said Stroman. "I have destroyed my victims' families as well as my own. Out of pure anger and stupidity I did some things to some men from Pakistan, India, Bangladesh and Saudi Arabia. And now I sit on death row awaiting execution. And by no means am I proud of what I have done."

Stroman is set to be executed on Wednesday.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

GQ Criticizes Every City In America, Austin Makes List

Austin is ranked #18 on GQ's 40 Worst-Dressed Cities in America list.

Scenes from SXSW 2010.

"The place looks like L.A. now," my old UT roommate grumbled after returning from a recent weekend trip to Austin. While he could have been referring to the newly minted high-rise condos, sushi bars, or deadlock traffic, I'm pretty sure he was talking about that most pernicious of invasive species, the Hipster. Long the domain of slackers, hippies, and blonde coeds—"The weather was too good, the dope was too cheap, and the girls were too pretty," Steve Earle once said of the Texas capital, "and there was no fucking way I was going to get anything done in a place like that"—Austin has emerged as a mumblecore mecca for coastal hipsters looking to get more bang from their day-job barista buck. Skin-tight black jeans and There Will Be Blood mustaches thrive despite the 100-degree temperatures. As one old-timer put it, "They're all hat, no cattle."—Stayton Bonner, GQ

Austin style is much more trendy then Dallas and Houston, whose money affords them more labels but less creativity. The rocker influence and youthfulness of the town also drive many styles, including feathers in the hair, flannel, and neon. Lace that with some cowboy influence and add 100 degree heat and you've got Austin's style code.

GQ didn't seem to like any city's style, most places were either too eccentric or too boring for them, ranking diverse cities such Los Angeles, Manhattan, Chicago, San Francisco, Atlanta, and New Orleans in the top 20. You just can't hold up to GQ's standards, America, and I hope you all can live with that. Now go put on what GQ mandates "style": suits for men, bikinis for women.

Earlier: What Do Texans Wear?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Friendship State

50 and 50 is a curated project which attempts to construct a handsome new way of looking at our country. Fifty designers, one per state, have illustrated their state motto, creating something steeped in history but completely modern and unique: a kind of designer's atlas.

Texas by Curtis Jinkins

The state motto of Texas is simply "friendship." The word Texas is from a Caddo Indian word "teyshas", meaning "friends" or "allies".

Monday, July 11, 2011

Texas-Sized Baby Born

A woman in Longview, Tex., gave birth to a 16-pound baby boy last week. Janet Johnson, 39, with her fiancé, Michael Brown, gave birth to JaMichael "Moose" Brown, who tipped the scales at 16 pounds, one ounce and was nearly two feet long.

"Everybody was amazed that he was so big," Johnson, 39, said. "I don't think too many people have heard of having a 16-pound baby."

"It's a beautiful baby, but for health reasons we'd rather not see a baby this large. They can have a little harder time maintaining their blood sugar," said nurse Mary Beth Smith, who witnessed the c-section birth. Doctors said that Johnson was diagnosed with gestational diabetes during her pregnancy, which may have contributed to JaMichael's size. The father, Michael Brown, is 6-foot-7 and the couple suspected their baby would be large.

The weight and size are sparking speculation of a new state record for largest baby ever born.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Texas Deep Fries Beer, Coincidentally Ends Up 12th Fattest State In Nation

Picture via Huffington Post

Did you know alcohol could be fried? All you have to do is stuff it into pretzel dough and close it up like a ravioli. Pour some mustard on it and your halfway to a heart attack before you even swallow. This delicious-looking yet deeply-upsetting-if-you-really-think-about-it food innovation won the 2010 Big Tex Choice Awards at the Texas State Fair.

In absolutely unrelated news, Texas is now the 12th fattest state in the nation, up from last year’s 13th place (#winning!) ranking in adult obesity, according to a report released this morning, F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America’s Future 2011, by the Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. F our future, that's for sure.

The report on Texas gave some scary information. The state’s obesity rate has increased more than 80 percent in 15 years, with adult obesity at about 30.1 percent. Not so shocking: racial and ethnic minority adults, and those with less education or who make less money, continue to have the highest overall obesity rates. And really upsetting? 20.4 percent of children and adolescents in Texas are considered obese. In a state that looks to cut every dollar for government-funded healthcare.

But Texans are fighting back (sort of)! The state is taking efforts to prevent and control obesity, including:
  • School meal standards that are stricter than the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) requirements.
  • Limiting when and where competitive foods (foods and beverages sold outside of the formal meal programs, through à la carte lines, vending machines and school stores) may be sold beyond federal requirements.
  • Passing legislation that requires body mass index (BMI) screening or weight-related assessments other than BMI for children and adolescents.
  • Establishing farm-to-school programs.
  • Complete Streets laws: "Complete streets" are roads designed to allow all users – bicyclists, pedestrians, drivers, and public transit users – to access them safely.

But with all the delicious barbecue, Tex-Mex, and fried beer easily available, maybe it's worth it just to be fat. Just don't suffer any health consequences as a result, and you'll be fine.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Texas Sharks Want Your Jewelry, Will Eat You For It

Wildlife officials have noted recently the rise of shark populations off Texas Beaches.

“Twenty-five years ago we would see one or two in the course of a season,” Jerry Mambretti of Texas Parks and Wildlife marine fisheries lab in Port Arthur said. “Now we’re seeing 30 to 40.”

Last week, Damian Diaz, James Sparks and Justin Lyons caught this 8-foot bull shark on a Bolivar Peninsula beach. According to The Houston Chronicle, the catch was a group effort, with Diaz preparing the line and Lyons reeling it in.

(Courtesy Photo / BE )

The article dutifully mentioned that "a shark is more afraid of you than you are of it", though, of course, you are less likely to violently attack it/feast on its flesh. Here are some hints if you're still feeling skittish on avoiding the great beasts. Ladies, beware! Your pedicure just might get you killed.
  • Don’t wear shiny jewelry that might mimic erratic movement of fish in distress. A girl who was bitten on the ankle one summer near Galveston was wearing shiny toenail polish, which was thought to have possibly enticed the small shark out looking for a snack.
  • Stay out of the water if a lot of fish are jumping. Something under the surface is causing that behavior, and though it might not be a shark, do you really want to put it to the test?
  • Avoid swimming in the early morning and late afternoon. Those tend to be the times when most people are bitten because that is when the sharks most often feed.
    - tips via The Houston Chronicle

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Just Wrestling a Cow. NBD.

(Michael Sullivan ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Austin Manning competes in the steer wrestling event during the Yoncalla Rodeo on Sunday, July 3, 2011. Manning earned a time of 4.5 seconds on the attempt.