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.
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]
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.
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.
Hours of video performance in celebration of the birthday of Texas Blues guitar master Albert Collins
, October 1, 1932 – November 24, 1993.
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
Want to (dis)prove who killed JFK
? Start with the 5 million pages of material in the National Archives' Assassination Records Collection1
. Better review the 26 volumes of hearings and exhibits published by the Warren Commission
. And each frame of the Zapruder film2
. And just to be on the safe side, the operating manual
for his then top-of-the-line Bell & Howell 414PD camera. (1: previously, but with outdated link. 2: related) [more inside]
After researching Texas's unusually generous adverse possession laws
, Kenneth Robinson filed a $16 Affadavit of Adverse Possession and moved into a home in Flower Mound, TX
worth an estimated $300,000. [more inside]
"I decided I had to do something to save this person’s life. That killing someone in Dallas is not an answer for what happened on Sept. 11." Rais Bhuiyan
petitions the state of Texas to stay
the execution of a white supremacist who shot him and murdered two others in a hate-motivated crime
One day in 1984 character actor Stephen Tobolowsky
, the original, unaired pilot of Buffy The Vampire Slayer
) was walking down the street when Jonathan Demme
pulled up and asked if he wanted to see a movie he was finishing. Tobolowsky accepted: taking his girlfriend Beth Henley
, they went to the Academy Linwood Dunn Theatre
to watch the rough cut of the movie, Stop Making Sense
. The audience in the otherwise empty theatre consisted of Tobolowsky
, Henley, and Demme, along with members of Talking Heads
, including David Byrne
and Tina Weymouth
. Later, Byrne
on his bike
and asked if he wanted to work on a new movie
. Interest sparked again, and during the ensuing collaboration Tobolowsky shared his past experience of psychic phenomena. Inspired, Byrne went on to write Radio Head
. The song was heard by Thom Yorke
and became the name of his band
. All of this is a true story, based on puzzling evidence
. [more inside]
"If they simply professed unusual beliefs, movement leaders wouldn’t be remarkable.
But what makes the New Apostolic Reformation movement so potent is its growing fascination with infiltrating politics and government. The new prophets and apostles believe Christians—certain Christians—are destined to not just take 'dominion' over government, but stealthily climb to the commanding heights of what they term the 'Seven Mountains' of society, including the media and the arts and entertainment world. They believe they’re intended to lord over it all. As a first step, they’re leading an 'army of God' to commandeer civilian government. In Rick Perry, they may have found their vessel. And the interest appears to be mutual." Previously. Via.
If we have, at the back of our minds, a stereotype of the censor or the censor type, it is probably of some nondescript male bureaucrat who comes to work punctually at 8:30 in the morning, locks his office door behind him, and spends the day going through piles of books, underlining dirty passages in red ink and stamping pass or fail on the cover, or else pouring over strips of film with scissors at the ready, ready to snip out images of breasts and bums, who, when the clock at last strikes 5:00, emerges into the daylight, catches the bus home to some anonymous suburb and spends the evening watching reruns of sitcoms on television before donning his pajamas and falling into a dreamless sleep. Or if we're thinking not of full time censors, people who dedicate their professional lives to the business of censoring, but of part time censors, people who like to do a bit of censoring on the side, then we might imagine that retired teachers, clergymen and moral busybodies in general would be attracted to the craft. But the records of the South African system don't quite fit the stereotype.
- J. M. Coetzee, Nobel laureate author, speaks at his alma mater University of Texas Austin about his experiences with censorship in his native South Africa during apartheid
. Coetzee mentions this essay he wrote about his time at UT Austin
and a book he wrote on censorship, here's the preface to it
Odessa, Texas, may be best known for its Permian Panthers high school football team. Their 1988 season was chronicled H. G. Bissinger's non-fiction book Friday Night Lights
, which in turn inspired a movie
and a tv show
. But in 2010, it was another Permian Panthers -- the school's lesser-known basketball team -- that received media attention when it came to light that their star point guard, 16-year-old Jerry Joseph, was in fact a twentytwo-year-old man named Guerdwich Montimere
. Now Montimere is facing up to twenty years in jail, but not for lying about his age on the basketball court. During his time at Permian High, he had sex with a fifteen-year-old girl.
Texas Rangers fan Shannon Stone dies
following a 20-foot fall at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington
, Texas while trying to catch a foul ball
. Stone's 6-year-old son was in attendance and witnessed the fall. The death comes months after another ballpark fatality
at Coors Field in Denver. (VIDEO
An awe-inspiring time-lapse sequence of the Milky Way rising and falling above the plains of South Dakota. (Place Vimeo in full-screen mode before you play. You’ll thank me later. Much more, including technical info, at the photographer’s website.)
The Very Large Telescope Array
in Chile, previously mentioned
, is also the subject of a new film
that documents the most remarkable contrast between science and politics, wonderment and hate. [more inside]
Last week the Texas House of Representatives unanimously passed a bill (House Bill 1937) prohibiting public servants from intrusively touching anyone seeking access to a public building or form of transportation. (TIME
, Dallas News
, Washington Times
) The blogosphere touted the legislation as a move to criminalize TSA groping
. Today, the bill was withdrawn from consideration by the state senate after a threat from the TSA and Department of Justice to "close down all the airports in Texas
". Protesters are currently marching on the state capitol
. [more inside]
The town on the wrong side of America's drug war
. An article on the Brownsville, Texas neighborhood cut off by the border fence. Via Crooked Timber
KTRU Departs FM Airwaves Defiant, Unique As Ever:
2 weeks ago The FCC Approved
controversial sale of Rice University's radio station, KTRU, to the University of Houston and after 40 years of student-run broadcasting, KTRU's FM signal was cut off promptly at 6 a.m. yesterday, leaving a sizable hole in Houston's FM band. The triumphant speech of Jesse Jackson at the 1984 Democratic convention faded into the wall of sound of The Flying Luttenbachers "The Pointed Stick Variations," reaching an almost unbearable harshness before everything ceased.
Texas is burning.
Despite it being only April, due to severe drought conditions, over 1.8 million acres have already burned throughout the state
, which could soon surpass the two million acre record set in 2006. Here are the 10 largest current wildfires as seen from orbit
. [more inside]
made it to the 9th hole of the first round of the Valero Texas Open on Thursday with a decent score of one under. Unfortunately, he left the hole with a much, much worse score
. [more inside]
Texas Republicans have been turning against the ideas on immigration supported by George W. Bush
, who actively courted Latino voters in his 1998 gubenertorial election campaign
), and in his two presidential election campaigns
. In 2010, some 12,000 Republican delegates came together
, many proposing new directions on immigration reform. By January 2011, there were more than three dozen immigration-related bills filed
, a number of them creating heated debates. By the of March, there were nearly 100 immigration bills written or filed
, some with serious loopholes
. (Rep. Debbie Riddle, previously
Draft Tommy Lee Jones for Senate.
Texas’ conservative voters aren’t about to send just any Democrat to the Senate in 2012. Hell, it’s been seventeen years since a Democrat has won any statewide race here. That’s quite a record and one we’d like to see broken
. To do that, whoever the Democratic nominee is in 2012 better bring something awfully special to the race. Tommy Lee Jones is the only Democrat (or potential Democrat) who does. His name ID, near-universal popularity, fundraising ability, residence in and love for this state, his success as a cattle rancher, Spanish fluency, his image as a western tough guy
and his impressive academic credentials
would instantly make him the frontrunner, regardless of who the Republicans nominate.
The Texas House Homeland Security and Public Safety Committee voted 5-3 Wednesday night to advance legislation to allow concealed handguns on college campuses. Over half of the Texas House has signed on as co-authors
of the bill. University of Texas System Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa disagrees
beat them to it.
Does this machete go with my tiara?
"Pageant hopefuls decapitate, skin snakes at Rattlesnake Roundup: To win the Miss Snake Charmer beauty pageant requires beauty, grace, talent and a strong stomach. It's probably the only pageant in the country that requires the winner to decapitate and skin a snake."
Colby Bohannan and a group of student friends at Texas State University in San Marcos, TX have formed the non-profit organization Former Majority Association for Equality
which intends to offer college scholarships solely to white men." "'I felt excluded,' he said
. 'If everyone else can find scholarships, why are we left out?'" "'To qualify for the group's scholarship, applicants have to be able to prove that they are at least 25 percent Caucasian ... We're not looking for blond-haired, blue-eyed, stereotypical white males,' he said
. 'My feeling is that if you can say you're 25 percent Caucasian, you're Caucasian enough for us.'" "Bohannan, the group's president, said the name comes from the idea that 'if you're not a male, and if you're not white, you're called a minority.' However, he said, 'I'm not sure white males are the majority anymore.'"* [more inside]
The Blues Accordin’ to Lightnin’ Hopkins
A 1967 Les Blank film of Lightnin Hopkins visiting his hometown of Centerville, TX "…a gorgeous 31-minute poem of a movie, a series of snapshots from his life as well as a look at an era fast disappearing…Watching the film is something of a revelation, at least if you ever had a doubt where the blues came from." [more inside]
Amazon.com's state sales tax fight took a dramatic turn as plans were announced to close the online retailer's Irving, Texas distribution center by April 12. Amazon would not confirm the total number of employees who worked at the fulfillment center, but did announce plans to offer positions in other states to employees willing to relocate. Amazon blames the closure on Texas' "unfavorable regulatory climate." [more inside]
"I never was one to like to be intimidated. So I just take it off the table. If it's not on the table they can't use it."
Charlie, not a man for small gestures, took his secret off the table and put it on the front page of the Houston Post, whose October 7, 1988, edition carried the headline "Transvestite Now Claims Probe Linked to Lifestyle"
and a color photograph of McGuire in full drag. [more inside]
'Analysis: Texas vs California: A tale of two budget deficits'.
'Texas Governor Rick Perry treated guests to a barbecue lunch paid for by a wealthy businessman. Supporters of California Governor Jerry Brown munched on hot dogs at a union-sponsored picnic. The stark contrast in inaugural menus last month highlights the different approaches the two most populous U.S. states are taking to deal
with massive budget deficits. Perry, a Republican, campaigned on the strength of the Texas economy and made political hay of the fact the Lone Star state had avoided California's massive deficit, pegged at $25.4 billion through the upcoming budget year. Now Texas faces a budget deficit estimated as high as $27 billion
for the upcoming two-year cycle of 2012-2013. To close the gap, state legislators have proposed steep cuts in funding to education and welfare programs.' [more inside]
Jonah Keri looks at the unconventional methods
being used by the Texas Rangers to improve the durability and effectiveness of their pitching staff.
Robert Rodriguez's Machete ( Previously
) started out as a joke, and went on to be a rather successful film. However, Texas Governor Rick Perry feels the movie doesn't portray Texas positively and has revoked the productions tax breaks
. possibly at the cost of Texas's film industry.
Tom Delay has been found guilty
of money laundering
and conspiracy to commit money laundering. He faces five years to life in prison on the former, and 2 to 20 on the latter.
Warning of a "creeping Middle Eastern influence" in our nation's school textbooks,
the Texas State Board of Education will vote today on a resolution
[.pdf] that would prohibit the State of Texas from purchasing textbooks which exhibit a "pro-Islamic/anti-Christian bias
”. Reaction in Texas is mixed
. [more inside]
"Art is a legalized form of insanity, and I do it very well." Amarillo
is home to the Cadillac Ranch
, artist & sculptor Lightnin’ McDuff
,” the Amarillo Ramp
and the “Dynamite Museum” project, which gave residents the opportunity to
order fake, fun
and place them on their properties. Over 5000
signs (Someone did a study!) have been
erected throughout town
. But what do all of these projects have in common? They’re all elaborate art works commissioned by Stanley Marsh 3rd
, eccentric millionaire, philanthropist
and inveterate prankster. [more inside]
It sounded terribly fun and terribly disgusting at the same time
: kayaking the polluted river systems of the Dallas/Ft. Worth metroplex.
"It's a storm only a game theorist could love..."
In the next few weeks, the NCAA College Football landscape may change completely
. Or not
. Either way there's a massive power struggle
unfolding among college football conferences for big TV money, and an increasing gulf between the haves and have nots
. [more inside]
The Hindi Urdu Flagship Program
at the University of Texas, Austin
has a number of freely available online resources
on Hindi and Urdu, including vocabulary exercises
for beginners, video interviews
with native speakers discussing various aspects of their language, a Hindi-language podcast
on various topics and the ways one can discuss them in Hindi, and several downloadable books
in PDF format. [more inside]