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Major explosion rocks West, Texas

A massive fireball and explosion has happened at a fertilizer plant in West, Texas (just north of Waco). Hundreds of injuries are being reported. [more inside]
posted by item on Apr 17, 2013 - 414 comments

Texas Gets Its Report Card

While a bit parochial, this post reveals some things worth pondering if you are considering relocating to Texas...

The Texas Legislative Study Group released its 2013 “Texas on the Brink” report at the end of last week. The report is an annual study to determine Texas’ rankings among the 50 states and the District of Columbia on health care, education, and the environment. How’s Texas doing? Not so great: The state ranks 50th in high school graduation rate, first in amount of carbon emissions, first in hazardous waste produced, last in voter turnout, first in percentage of people without health insurance, and second in percentage of uninsured kids... - via The Texas Observer
posted by jim in austin on Apr 16, 2013 - 71 comments

Whodunit?

Greg Fleniken was a decent, honorable, smart, and successful man whom people liked. The sort of man nobody would murder—yet somebody had. But why? And how had The Body in Room 348 received its internal injuries? [more inside]
posted by zarq on Apr 11, 2013 - 35 comments

You ain't a poet, just a drunk with a pen

Hayes Carll is a Texan alt-country singer who's known, if he's known at all, for the soundtrack to Country Strong and the novelty song She Left Me For Jesus. Slate ranked his latest album, KMAG YOYO (and other American stories), as one of the best albums of 2011, partly on the strength of its poetic title-track about an Afghan war vet and partly due to the Red State/Blue State love song duet Another Like You. Other Hayes Carll hits include Drunken Poet's Dream, his duet with Ray Wylie Hubbard, and the melancholy Wish I Hadn't Stayed So Long .
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants on Mar 6, 2013 - 17 comments

"The Fiery Cross guards you at nights."

In the 1920's, the Ku Klux Klan operated a resort for Christian white supremacists called Kool Koast Kamp near Rockport, TX. For just a dollar a day per family, they offered swimming and "big game fishing" in "deep blue surf," educational activities and "watermelon parties." All under the protection of a "fiery cross" and "an officer of the law, the same Christian sentiment." (Brochure pages 1, 2, 3, 4) [more inside]
posted by zarq on Mar 6, 2013 - 60 comments

Go Thunderbirds!

"I think sportsmanship is knowing that it is a game, that we are only as a good as our opponents, and whether you win or lose, to always give 100 percent." - Sue Wicks. When the Coronado High School Thunderbirds basketball team entered their last game of the season, Coach Peter Morales had more than winning on his mind.
posted by whimsicalnymph on Feb 26, 2013 - 22 comments

Dad! Dad! My little sister's been kidnapped! What shall I do! Dad! Dad!

Melton Barker and the Kidnappers Foil. From the late 1930s into the early 1970s, Dallas native, Melton Barker and his company, Melton Barker Juvenile Productions, traveled all over the country – from Texas and New Mexico to North Carolina and Indiana – filming local children acting, singing, and dancing in two-reel films that Barker titled The Kidnappers Foil. (NY Times story) [more inside]
posted by Bunny Ultramod on Feb 24, 2013 - 1 comment

Routh told them “he traded his soul for a new truck”

Chris Kyle, former Navy Seal, killed at a Texas shooting range. [more inside]
posted by dubold on Feb 5, 2013 - 161 comments

Having Bigger Is Better

"In the 80's, our knack for conspicuous consumption ensured that we added more ribbons, more flowers, more ribbons, some letters, some feathers, chains, toys, and even more flowers. By this time they're getting pretty heavy." SGP Homecoming Mums 1989
posted by the young rope-rider on Jan 31, 2013 - 112 comments

J0hnny ''Gitar'' Wats0n - Livek0nzert 1977

On tour at the height of his powers - a Young John Watson indeed: Johnny ''Guitar'' Watson - Livekonzert 1977 [more inside]
posted by y2karl on Jan 24, 2013 - 10 comments

“I didn’t want to speak, but I wanted to be like, ‘Hey kids!’ Then I was

Visual artist Nick Cave (not of The Bad Seeds) worked together for months with students across various departments of the University of North Texas to present Heard, a visual and musical burst of vibrancy based on Cave's childhood experiences of colouring in horses and being told by his mother: "It doesn’t matter if it’s pink. If he wants it to be pink, it can be pink.". And not just pink, even.
posted by divabat on Jan 20, 2013 - 16 comments

How Millionaires Celebrate End-of-Days

To commemorate the Mayan Apocalypse, video game tycoon Richard Garriott de Cayeux threw a lavish soiree at his 65-acre spread along Lake Austin, complete with various scenes of imagined end-of-the-world scenarios. - Sonia Smith in Texas Monthly
posted by jim in austin on Jan 2, 2013 - 71 comments

"I just don't believe in shortcuts ... just do it the old fashioned way"

Once a Dallas restaurateur, Clyde Biggins has recently been released after 17 years in prison for drug offences. Unable to obtain a food licence, he has taken to giving away his legendary barbecued ribs, brisket and sausage from a truck on his front lawn, in return for donations. "No gauges, thermometers or gimmicks" and seasoned with just salt, pepper and chili powder. Texas BBQ Posse Approved. Find him if you can.
posted by criticalbill on Dec 30, 2012 - 40 comments

Willie and Trigger

A biography of Trigger, Willie Nelson's guitar. [more inside]
posted by mudpuppie on Dec 17, 2012 - 33 comments

Obviously, I’m not a victim here

In October, 18-year old high school senior Ryan Romo was arrested for the sexual assault of a child (someone 16 or under, by TX state law). On October 31, CultureMap Dallas's managing editor, Claire St. Amant published an article asking, "Is this Highland Park baseball star a rapist?" St. Amant ended her article, stating: If it's a case of impulsive teenage decisions, remorse and guilt, then no one suffers more than 18-year-old Ryan Romo. [more inside]
posted by roomthreeseventeen on Nov 26, 2012 - 44 comments

RIP, Larry Hagman

Actor Larry Hagman, notorious and beloved as 'Dallas' villain J.R. Ewing, dies.
posted by slater on Nov 23, 2012 - 92 comments

Formula One comes (back) to the US

After a 5 year absence, construction delays, and rumors of cancellation, Formula 1 is back to a permanent home in Austin, Texas this weekend. [more inside]
posted by ninjew on Nov 16, 2012 - 68 comments

If at first you don't secede...

The White House's petitions website has garnered over 100,000 signatures to "Peacefully grant the State of Texas to withdraw from the United States of America and create its own NEW government." Many signatures are from people not living in Texas. [more inside]
posted by sutt on Nov 14, 2012 - 279 comments

Election Fever

An opposition provincial official in a hotly contested election has threatened to arrest international election observers monitoring for fraud and voter intimidation. In an area with a rich history of secessionist fervor, ballot box stuffing, and repeated infringements on the voting rights and representation of ethnic minorities, this pronouncement is certainly controversial. Rogue vigilantes, organized in this province, are expected to deploy to polling sites across the nation, causing alarm. It is not a chaotic contest in a fledgling democracy. It is Texas, the United States. Previously. [more inside]
posted by Hollywood Upstairs Medical College on Oct 25, 2012 - 30 comments

Big Tex is no more.

The State Fair of Texas is underway, famous for its fried foods and livestock shows. Perhaps nothing is more iconic than the giant, talking statue of Big Tex--look at the domain name of the Fair if you don't believe me. But today, creating probably the greatest/most traumatic State Fair memories of all time for those present, Big Tex caught on fire and burned. Rest in peace, Big Tex.
posted by resurrexit on Oct 19, 2012 - 74 comments

"I think playing is like praying, it's a sacred act."

Vince Hannemann is The Junk King. A very short documentary by Evan Burns about the Cathedral of Junk, an ongoing art installation made from mass-produced garbage collected since the 1980s.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane on Oct 6, 2012 - 8 comments

APD & LGPOA

The Lesbian & Gay Peace Officers Association produced a video comprising of LGBT officers and civilian members of the Austin Police Department to send a message to LGBTQ youth that it does get better... (SLYT)
posted by jim in austin on Sep 26, 2012 - 36 comments

There once was a postman who designed scarves for Hermès....

Portrait of the Artist as a Postman. [more inside]
posted by zarq on Sep 24, 2012 - 8 comments

'At 123,000 square feet, the new Main Library may very well be the largest single floor public library in the nation.'

The McAllen, TX Public Library won a 'Best-Of-Category' award in Interior Design for its new layout. It's in an abandoned Wal-Mart. [more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns on Sep 18, 2012 - 38 comments

"So think about what you would want to know from someone who was actually there."

In school, most grades have a favorite teacher. For Rockport-Fulton Middle School's seventh grade, it's Bobby Jackson. He teaches Texas History. (Via) [more inside]
posted by zarq on Sep 8, 2012 - 39 comments

RUN. HIDE. FIGHT.

RUN. HIDE. FIGHT. A PSA by The City of Houston released three days after the Aurora masacre.
posted by splatta on Jul 30, 2012 - 214 comments

Live Retro Sci-Fi Radio Comic Book Stage Show

"In a genre of its own—Live-Action Graphic Novel—The Intergalactic Nemesis saga is a hilarious, uplifting adventure of heroes-by-circumstance overcoming impossible odds. But the telling is what makes the experience of The Intergalactic Nemesis so incredibly unique: while three actors, one Foley artist, and one keyboardist perform all the voices, sound effects and music, more than 1,250 hand-drawn, full-color, hi-res, blow-your-mind comic-book images blast from the screen, all performed live." [more inside]
posted by TheSecretDecoderRing on Jul 22, 2012 - 9 comments

Roots and Branches of Americana

Ray Wylie Hubbard hosts Roots and Branches weekly live from Tavern In The Gruene for New Braunfels, Texas radio station KNBT 92.1 FM. Two hours of music and interviews with established and up and coming Americana artists.
posted by Catch on Jul 18, 2012 - 18 comments

Dallas' Best Kept Secret?

Proving that Dallas is slightly more than concrete, SUVs and bad air quality, the Great Trinity Forest is home to birds, deer, bobcats, badgers, alligators and even a seven foot nine inch, 200 pound alligator gar named Garzilla as documented in the excellent blog Dallas Trinity Trails. [more inside]
posted by punkfloyd on Jul 5, 2012 - 14 comments

Ready, Fire, Aim

Running for Congress? Better be a straight shooter. It's not enough for Joe Manchin to shoot up the cap and trade bill (previously), or for Ron Gould to shoot up the health care bill...for all we know, an actor made the shot. Fear not, let's change the angle a bit so it's over your sholder...how about Rob Wallace shooting up some Texas water?
posted by Hollywood Upstairs Medical College on Jun 7, 2012 - 25 comments

The Twitch

The more I tried to conjure the sound in my mind, the more I couldn’t. I wanted to hear what it had to say. Why not? If by evolutionary design an animal’s primary defense is a singular, infamous noise, such an animal must be able to teach us something about listening, right? And all of this comes from a rattle and a spasm. Hundreds of snake tails banging out a primordial choral arrangement inspired by one unmistakable sentiment: "Fuck off." I wanted to hear it. And then I would try to catch one, and maybe, just maybe, I would touch it.
Ryan and Mykol Knighton -- a blind journalist and his sighted brother -- attend the Rattlesnake Roundup in Sweetwater, Texas. [more inside]
posted by davidjmcgee on Jun 5, 2012 - 10 comments

Chagas Disease: Poverty, Immigration, and the ‘New HIV/AIDS’

What if a deadly epidemic was burgeoning and almost nobody noticed? In the latest issue of PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases, a distinguished group of virologists, epidemiologists and infectious-disease specialists say that’s not a hypothetical question. They argue that Chagas disease, a parasitic infection transmitted by blood-sucking insects, has become so widespread and serious — while remaining largely unrecognized — that it deserves to be considered a public health emergency. [more inside]
posted by Blasdelb on May 30, 2012 - 31 comments

LBJ v. Coke Stevenson: Lawyering for Control of the Disputed Texas Democratic Party Senatorial Primary Election of 1948

This article explores the history, from the lawyers' perspective [PDF; 41 pages], of a high-profile litigation of sixty years ago, the whirlwind of state and federal litigation that attended the 1948 runoff election battle between Congressman Lyndon B. Johnson and former Texas governor Coke Stevenson for the Texas Democratic Party nomination for the office of United States Senator. Johnson famously won this election by 87 votes [...] [more inside]
posted by smcg on May 29, 2012 - 7 comments

A Tale of Two Carlos

Los Tocayos Carlos - a comprehensive investigation by Columbia Law School Professor James Liebman and a team of students which uncovers evidence that Carlos DeLuna, a poor Hispanic man with childlike intelligence who was executed in Texas in 1989, was innocent. The issue of The Columbia Human Rights Law Review, entirely dedicated to this investigation, is available at this website.
posted by Gyan on May 14, 2012 - 42 comments

18,200,000 palms and counting

What does the biggest donor to the 2012 campaign season really want? The operator. [print link]
posted by lalochezia on May 5, 2012 - 24 comments

A Live Oak Afterlife

On September 13, 2008, Hurricane Ike made landfall at Galveston, Texas - which had previously endured one of the most devastating natural disasters in US history: The 1900 Storm. The waters receded and life went on for most of the island's residents. The same was not true for the approximately 40,000 live oak trees which were killed in the area by the saltwater stormsurge, many of which were planted just after the hurricane that devastated the island in 1900. One by one, the trees died and had to be removed. Some residents refused to accept this, and instead hired artists to carve the now-dead trees into works of art. Some became sea birds. Some became angels. The trees outside the fire department became a dalmatian staring longingly at an uncapped fire hydrant. Others became frogs and dogs and squirrels. Mermaids and dolphins suddenly jumped out of asphalt and cement. Someone even decided that the town really needed a Tin Woodsman. Another person decided to have a geisha carved on their front lawn. I can only imagine that a very small art critic demanded that Spongebob Squarepants be carved on the side of his or her house. They range in size from 2' tall hoptoads to 20' tall eruptions of seabirds. And they're all on display for you to enjoy! See a list of sculptures here. And a suggested walking map to view the sculptures here. And a slideshow with many pictures of the sculptures here.
posted by jph on Apr 2, 2012 - 18 comments

Snake Whacking Days.

Last weekend, the annual Sweetwater Rattlesnake Roundup took place in Sweetwater Texas, as it has since 1958. Previously 1, Previously 2, plus on the Simpsons. Sponsored by the Jaycess, it attracts a huge crowd and lots of press, but when Danny Mendez, a zoologist and host of Urban Jungles Radio showed up to see for himself what it was like, he was refused entry and given a citation for Criminal Trespassing. What sort of issues would a zoologist be concerned about and why the Sweetwater Jaycees not want Danny (as well as Sky Stevens, a Texas biology student, Wildlife enthusiast and contributor to the show) not to even enter to see a beauty pageant? [more inside]
posted by katinka-katinka on Mar 14, 2012 - 31 comments

"On Behalf Of Governor Rick Perry, May I Welome You To Your Compulsory Transvaginal Exam..."

“For some reason, the GOP has chosen 2012 to relitigate reproductive freedom, an issue that was resolved decades ago. Why [Rick] Santorum, [Rush] Limbaugh et al. thought this would be a good time to declare war on half the electorate, I cannot say. But to ignore it would have been comedy malpractice.” -- Gary Trudeau
"Only once in the long history of "Doonesbury" has Garry Trudeau’s syndicate ever intensely objected to one of his story arcs. It was 1985, a documentary purporting to show the reactions of a fetus had been released, and Trudeau satirized the film "The Silent Scream" with his own “prequel" strips featuring “little Timmy,” a 12-minute-old embryo. Those strips never saw wide release in newspapers. Now, Trudeau has decided to take on the abortion wars head-on for the first time in "Doonesbury’s" four decades in a series of strips depicting mandatory vaginal ultrasounds as rape." [more inside]
posted by zarq on Mar 13, 2012 - 262 comments

Kept Austin Weird

Leslie Cochran, Austin, Texas street person, peace-activist, and icon has died. [more inside]
posted by ColdChef on Mar 8, 2012 - 69 comments

Fritz Ritz Reconstructed

Deep in the heart of Texas, a decrepit German POW camp is reconstructed. [more inside]
posted by Burhanistan on Feb 25, 2012 - 22 comments

The subject came down out of the tree and explained to the officers he found it entertaining to sing from a tree.

Incident reports from police departments can be boring, staid affairs. Not so with those from University of Texas at Austin. This week's highlights include a budding horticulturist with a marijuana growing habit, a non-alcoholic student with catlike reflexes and a man who enjoys singing in trees. Via TM Daily Post.
posted by Leezie on Jan 28, 2012 - 22 comments

‘Technically, we’re in the United States’

The Americans who live on the "Mexican" side of the border fence in Texas face unusual hardships.
posted by reenum on Dec 30, 2011 - 62 comments

Hannah and Andrew

In 2006, Hannah Overton was charged with the death of her 4-year-old foster son, Andrew Burd. Media accounts at the time claimed that Overton had force-fed her misbehaving son a mixture of water and creole seasoning, leading to death by salt poisoning. Convicted of capital murder and sentenced to life without parole in 2008, Overton's case led angry bloggers to call her "the ultimate evil," part of a cult of "child abuse groupies," a murderer that "church cronies" are working to free.

This month's issue of Texas Monthly paints a fuller picture of the short life of Andrew Burd and the conviction of the mother who was working towards adopting him.
posted by mudpuppie on Dec 20, 2011 - 79 comments

SciGuy Eric Berger

One of my favorite blogs happens to be local to me. Eric Berger, the Houston Chronicle's "SciGuy" usually reports on the weather. But he also posts entertaining and serious stuff as well. [more inside]
posted by PapaLobo on Nov 22, 2011 - 3 comments

Climate Change Denialists Take Heed!

Climate Variability and Climate Change: The New Climate Dice An excerpt from what should be a very incendiary academic paper by Hansen, J, et al: Thus there is no need to equivocate about the summer heat waves in Texas in 2011 and Moscow in 2010, which exceeded 3σ – it is nearly certain that they would not have occurred in the absence of global warming. If global warming is not slowed from its current pace, by midcentury 3σ events will be the new norm and 5σ events will be common.
posted by Renoroc on Nov 11, 2011 - 38 comments

Judge William Adams beat his 16-year old daughter with a belt for downloading music and computer games

In 2004, Texas Judge William Adams beat his 16-year old daughter with a belt for downloading music and computer games. Unbeknownst to him, she filmed the whole thing. Seven years later, fed up with the continued harassment and abuse from her father, she uploaded it to YouTube (warning: graphic language and violence, NSFW). Less than 24 hours after hitting Reddit, the video is all over the news. Hillary Adams says on Twitter that she hopes her father will receive help, not condemnation.
posted by miskatonic on Nov 2, 2011 - 660 comments

Bringing the toys home

The Sheriff's Office in Montgomery County, Texas near Houston has become the first law enforcement agency to buy a weaponizable Shadowhawk MK-III UAV. [more inside]
posted by jeffburdges on Oct 31, 2011 - 116 comments

The Iceman aka The Razor Blade aka The Master of The Telecaster

Hours of video performance in celebration of the birthday of Texas Blues guitar master Albert Collins, October 1, 1932 – November 24, 1993.
posted by madamjujujive on Oct 1, 2011 - 19 comments

Texas Parks & Wildlife Suffer From Drought

The Texas Parks & Wildlife Department maintains a Flickr account with a wide range of pictures from the state. Two of the more recently posted sets show the extent of the drought Texas is currently suffering: Bastrop Fire and 2011 Texas Drought.
posted by monju_bosatsu on Sep 22, 2011 - 24 comments

Mexican military flies over South Texas

A Mexican government official confirmed that Mexican military helicopters have permission to use Texas as a staging ground for missions into Mexico to fight drug traffickers.
posted by Renoroc on Sep 5, 2011 - 48 comments

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