Saturday, November 26, 2011

Unwanted Visitor: Portrait of Wildfire



Unwanted Visitor: Portrait of Wildfire is an outdoor art installation, which opened October 7, 2011, at the National Ranching Heritage Center in Lubbock, Texas. It serves to educate the public as to the causes of wildfires and the effects on the surrounding environment, while providing information on fire prevention and the purpose of prescribed burning.

The flames are made of crayons - as the suns hits them and the weather changes, the sculptures will melt, move, and morph considerably, as the design intended.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Texas Rep. Joe Driver Gets Five Years Probation for Stealing Public's Money, Says He's "Glad This Issue Is Finally Resolved"

Texas Representative Joe Driver illegally pocketed state travel money, pleaded guilty to felony abuse-of-office charges Tuesday and agreed to five years' probation.

“Basically, my family and I are thankful that this has been resolved,” Driver said. And just in time for Thanksgiving. This year, add to list: I'm thankful that the system slaps the wrists of white collar criminals who blatantly steal from the community that employs them as public servants.

The Texas Tribune reports that Driver admitted to the double-billing in an interview but said he thought the practice was appropriate — until a reporter asked him about it.

“Well, it doesn’t sound like it is now, if you bring it up that way,” Driver said. Damn lamestream press, always killing a Republican buzz!

Driver announced that he had reimbursed his campaign about $50,000 after the details of his billing practices were revealed publicly. Prosecutors said Tuesday that Driver would repay about $14,000 more, bringing the total amount repaid to $63,748.36. Driver will also pay a $5,000 fine and undergo any treatment or counseling recommended by the probation department.
No amount of therapy can cure such a serious case of douchebaggery. 

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Texas Puts Away Hot-Dog Thief For Life, Streets Safe Once Again

A man who tried to use a counterfeit $20 bill to pay for hot dogs, popcorn, and soda at a movie at a Fort Worth movie theater will pay for it with his life - his sentence is for 80 years.

Tarrant County District Attorney's office offered this press release:
FORT WORTH -- A career thief who tried to pay for a movie theater hotdog with a fake $20 bill was sentenced on Friday to 80 years in prison. On Wednesday, jurors in state district Judge Everett Young's court deliberated about three hours in convicting Charles Cleveland Nowden, 48, of forgery for passing the counterfeit money.
During the trial, prosecutors Dawn Ferguson and Lisa Callaghan presented evidence that on Nov. 6, 2009, Nowden tried to pay for two hot dogs, two cokes and a tub of popcorn with a $20 counterfeit bill at a Mansfield movie theater. Later, after Nowden was arrested, a police officer found $120 in additional counterfeit bills tucked inside the hot dog wrapper.
During the punishment phase of his trial, prosecutors presented evidence on two of Nowden's pending theft charges in Tarrant County and on another theft charge in Lamar County. In 2008, Nowden was arrested when he was found in possession of stolen allterrain vehicles. In 2010, Nowden was linked through DNA to a stolen 18-wheeler truck. And in 2011, he was caught stealing lawnmowers from a lot that sells farm equipment in Paris, Texas. The jury also heard that Nowden had previous federal convictions for bank fraud, possessing counterfeit cigarettes, and being a felon in possession of a firearm.The jury was able to consider those extraneous offenses and other bad acts in determining his punishment.
He must serve at least 15 years before he is eligible for parole.
Wow, Texas, you've really outdone yourself this time. Do the crime, do the time, sure. But 80 years? I suppose he should be thankful he didn't get the chair. This is Texas, after all. 

Saturday, November 19, 2011

South Houston Sewer System Hacked Just To Prove How Easily It's Done

A hacker identified only as "pr0f" hacked into and posted diagrams of the South Houston Sewer System to show how easy it is to access the online infrastructure diagrams. The hacker posted that he had read about a similar incident that recently occurred in Springfield, Ill., which reportedly caused the control system to power on and off, burning out a water pump, and wanted to see if he could do it elsewhere.

The hacker of the South Houston system said he had no intention of harming the plant, but just wanted to prove a point. Authorities are stupidly blowing it off as no big deal.

"The plant runs automatically anyway," said Soto, who said he found out Friday about the hacking. "We just disconnected the SCADA system. That takes us off being online, where someone could change some of the operations on their own." Department of Homeland Security spokesman Peter Boogaard stated "DHS and the FBI are gathering facts surrounding the report of a water pump failure in Springfield, Ill. At this time there is no credible, corroborated data that indicates a risk to critical infrastructure entities or a threat to public safety." DUMB. DUMB DUMB DUMB. The hacker recognizes the magnitude of denial.

"Insanely stupid," pr0f wrote on pastebin.com. "I dislike, immensely, how the DHS tend to downplay how absolutely F*****D the state of national infrastructure is. I wouldn't even call this a hack. ... This required almost no skill and could be reproduced by a 2-year-old with a basic knowledge of Simatic."

WHY WHY WHY? The powers in charge want o muzzle the internet in terms of online piracy and peer sharing, recognizing the force of people determined to get information that they want. Yet they refuse to safeguard the very sites that they run, deeming their security adequate or their information invaluable. 

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Texas Teachers Report "Stressful, Taxing" School Year

The Texas American Federation of Teachers released the results of a web survey about the worrisome deteriorating conditions of school and the working environment.  They report extensive teacher layoffs, increasing class sizes and deteriorating work environments.

3,549 responded to the web survey, about 82 percent of whom identified as educators.

· 92% said their district had eliminated positions — most reported between 10 to 50.
· 85% said the positions eliminated included teachers
· 79% reported cuts to student programs including pre-K, special education, electives, and athletics.
· Tutoring was the program respondents most frequently reported as cut
· 87% said that class sizes had increased at both the elementary and secondary level. 
The survey also asked respondents about their schools' climate for students, teachers, and staff — and how that compared to the year before. Eighty-one percent said it was "worse" or "much worse," and 72 percent described it as "stressful and taxing."

Monday, November 14, 2011

PETA Asks Turkey, Texas To Change Name To 'Tofurkey'; Texans Laugh and Laugh and Laugh

PETA, or People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, pulls another WTF move by asking the city of Turkey, Texas to reconsider it's name. PETA, don't you have like, actual things you could be doing to help animals? And why should one poor town lead the anti-fun crusade against Thanksgiving? The mayor's office of Turkey had no comment, followed by a giant meat sandwich.

Here's the letter from PETA:

Dear Mayor Carson, 
I am writing on behalf of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and our more than 3 million members and supporters, including thousands in Texas, with an idea that will boost Turkey into the spotlight and promote compassion: Rename your town "Tofurky" for Thanksgiving. If you agree to adopt this moniker for just one day, we'd be happy to provide a delicious, healthy vegan holiday feast for all the town's residents. 
Tofurky is a savory, flavorful, "meaty" vegan entrĂ©e with wild-rice and bread-crumb stuffing that is 100 percent cruelty-free. In contrast, virtually all turkey meat sold in the U.S. comes from factory farms, where birds are confined by the thousands to filthy, barren sheds. They are drugged and bred to grow such unnaturally large upper bodies that their legs often become crippled under the weight. These bright and social animals are denied everything that is natural and important to them, and at the slaughterhouse, turkeys are still conscious when their throats are slit. Changing the town's name to Tofurky will remind people around the country that we each can have a delicious, protein-packed, and satisfying Thanksgiving meal without supporting animal abuse. 
PETA's feast would feature Tofurky with mushroom gravy, mashed potatoes (made with vegan margarine), and vegan apple pie topped with vanilla dairy-free ice cream. Introducing vegan cuisine to your residents would help improve their health: A vegan diet is free of the saturated animal fats and cholesterol found in meat and dairy products, and according to the American Dietetic Association, a vegan diet reduces the risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and obesity. 
Thanksgiving is the perfect time to rename your town and give turkeys, as well as your town's citizens, something to gobble about! Please let me know of your decision. 
Sincerely yours, 
Tracy Reiman
Executive Vice President

Friday, November 11, 2011

Watch Rick Perry's Campaign Crumble

Rick Perry can't even remember which government agencies he would shut down. That guy, what a joker!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Move Over Whole Foods: Texas Finally Gets Trader Joes

Now, this may not seem post worthy to all y'all outside of Texas, but Austin-based Whole Foods has had a stranglehold on a Texan's grocery store options. I love overpriced, ridiculously fancy groceries as much as the next person, but I also love produce wrapped in plastic and microwavable everything.

The new Houston store is expected to open in spring of 2012, company spokeswoman Alison Mochizuki said, at the same time Trader Joe’s will open another Texas store in Fort Worth.

As soon as we get some In-N-Out Burgers, we'll finally be half as cool as California.