Win the Weekend: Cars Will Soon Be Driving Us and Other News to Know

A UT study on the traffic intersections of the future, the Perry gravy train is back on the track, and the Spurs lose a game on purpose.
Fri February 24, 2012 11:17 pm
Wyatt McSpadden Courtesy University of Texas

Need something to talk about? Here are a few stories that will make you sound like you’re in the know. 

“The Perry gravy train is back on the track”
So said Paul Burka of this week’s news that the Employee Retirement System of Texas had switched health insurance providers, from BlueCross BlueShield to a new four-year, $204 million contract with UnitedHealthcare–a company represented by former Perry chief of staff Mike Toomey.

Toomey was also behind the Perry-supporting (but NOT affiliated) presidential election Super PAC “Make Us Great Again,” and lobbied for Gardasil manufacturer Merck during Perry’s controversial support of mandatory HPV vaccines.

In a story for the Dallas Morning News titled “ Lobbyists with Rick Perry ties take a victory lap,” Christy Hoppe added, “ ERS made the decision based on UnitedHealth’s assertion that they could save $41 million over four years, although Blue Cross-Blue Shield proponents are skeptical and believe most of that savings would come from health costs passed along to employees.”

In the (very near) future, cars will drive you
University of Texas researcher Peter Stone (pictured above) has been developing “smart intersections” which would work in tandem with fully automated cars, coordinating the direction and flow of all traffic in advance.

“We’ve had a car which can drive itself,” since 2007, Stone told KUT’s Wells Dunbar and Andy Uhler. As Uhler reported in his radio piece, the car is named Marvin, and lives at UT’s Pickle Research campus.

“The vision is that eventually people will be in the backseat working on their iPad, reading the newspaper, texting away, no problems,” Stone said. “The car may not even need a driver’s seat, eventually.”

The “Yoda of BBQ” gets a book deal
No Reservations host and author Anthony Bourdain has a new book imprint with Ecco Press that will be publishing Daniel Vaughn’s Prophets of Smoked Meat, according to the food blog  Eater National.

Vaughn, a.k.a. BBQ Snob, (or, to Bourdain, the “Yoda of BBQ”) is the brisket-consuming savant behind the blog Full Custom Gospel BBQ(Editor’s note: He also cross-posts on TEXAS MONTHLY’s BBQ site and iPhone app.) 

As Teresa Gubbins reports, Vaughn will take a short sabbatical from

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