Against All Odds, the Astros Are Off to a Hot Start

We’ll start this with a caveat: The baseball season is long, and where things stand after 20 games is no indication of where they will be after 162. But still, if you’re an Astros fan, you have to be feeling pretty good about the team for the first time in a good while.

Right now, the Houston Astros sit alone atop the American League West, 3 games ahead of the Los Angeles Angels, and 5 games above .500, with a 12–7 record. They’ve won 8 of their last 10 and possess Major League Baseball’s longest winning streak at press time. Rather than just being the leader in a bad division, the Astros actually have the league’s fifth-best record at the moment. We may be only an eighth of the way through the season, but it’s an unexpectedly hot start for the ‘Stros. 

Are the One-Way Streets in Our City Centers Killing Neighborhoods, Causing Crime, and Depressing Property Values?

Here’s a fun debate. Which of the five largest Texas cities has the “best” downtown, the one that’s the most fun as a place to live, work, shop, or enjoy an evening out?

Fort Worth has its partisans, even being named America’s best last year by Livability.com, who praised its “cohesion between cowboy culture and urban sophistication.” With the Riverwalk, the Alamo, some fine old hotels, and a concentration of art deco architecture, San Antonio is a popular choice as well. So too is Austin, which, if more chi-chi than the rest, is today so much more than just Dirty Sixth sleaze and placid views of Lady Bird Lake, all presided over by the majestic and vast Capitol.

I Beg Your Garden?

The joy of riding through Hermann Park on a miniature train never grows old, even if you have. You pay your $3.25,climb aboard, and—whether it’s your first time or your fifty-first—feel a kick of childlike enthusiasm as the wheels start. The 445-acre park is the queen of Houston’s green spaces.

A Teenage Girl From Houston Wrote Her Astronaut Dad a Note He Could See From Space

Having parents who travel for work a lot is tough on a kid. It’s especially hard, presumably, when your dad’s job takes him to outer space.

In a four-minute video released this week, the thirteen-year-old daughter of one of two American astronauts stationed aboard the International Space Station in January managed to convey just how much she missed her dad. With the help of Hyundai (is there anything brands can’t do?), teenage Houston resident Steph—whose last name was not included in the spot, but if you’re curious about which one her dad is, you can figure out with a little Googling—managed to send him a note in her own handwriting that he could see all the way from space.

Attica Locke’s Empire

Attica Locke’s critically acclaimed 2009 debut novel, Black Water Rising, was set in her hometown of Houston and featured a down-on-his-luck lawyer protagonist named Jay Porter, who in many ways was inspired by her father, Gene Locke, the former city attorney of Houston. The sequel, Pleasantville, has just come out, though the final book in what she expects will be a trilogy will likely have to wait a while.

You Say Potato, I Say Batata

You can get in over your head fast at Oporto Fooding House. Everything on the jumbo-sized menu sounds so beguiling—and is so reasonably priced—that ordering too much is unavoidable. “Let’s see, we’ll have the charred carrots with root chips and goat cheese, please,” you tell your waiter. “And the blue-cheese-stuffed dates. Oh, and the risotto croquettes.” Then your friends pipe up, “Can we get the stuffed piquillo peppers?

A Houston Area High School Teacher Gave His Students a Lesson Full of Anti-Muslim Propaganda

Students at Foster High School in Richmond got an, er, off-book lesson during an economics class last month. The teacher—whose name has not been released by the Lamar Consolidated ISD, which oversees the school—distributed an eight-page document called “Islam/Radical Islam (Did You Know)” to his class. As KHOU reports

The handout does not list any sources, but claims things like: “38% of Muslims believe people that leave the faith [sic] should be executed” and that: “There are an estimated 190-300 million ‘radical Islam’ followers.”

The handout talks about Sharia Law, terrorism, jihad, even beheadings and “If taken hostage by radical Islamists, what to do.”

One of the students in the classroom was Muslim. Her parents contacted the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), who complained to the school.

CAIR’s Houston director told KHOU 11 News that the Foster HS principal confirmed what the teacher handed out, and said that he is not happy about it.

The Most Walkable Cities in Texas

When it comes to walkable cities, Texas tends to get a failing grade. It’s well-deserved: compared with cities like New York, San Francisco, Boston, and Philadelphia, we don’t offer walkers much. It’s not strictly a coastal thing either—Chicago, St. Louis, and Minneapolis fare much better than we do too. And WalkScore.com, a project of real estate website RedFin, puts a number value on how walkable a city is or isn’t.

Their top ten list is only mildly interesting if you’re a Texan—none of our cities are on it—and, indeed, you have to go all the way to #42 on the national list to find your first Texas city. But if you zoom in on the list to include only Texas, you’ll find Houston in the top spot, followed closely by Laredo and Dallas, with Irving not far behind. No Texas city has a “walkability index” score higher than 45 (New York scores highest, at 87.6), but there are a few interesting things to learn from the list.

Houston Area Police Seem to Be Lifting Their Crimefighting Techniques From Jonah Hill Movies

When staying ahead of crime, police need to be creative: Sometimes that creativity apparently comes from a thirty-year-old TV series21 Jump Streetthat’s been reinvented as a successful comedy franchise starring Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum. That’s the takeaway from an undercover sting operation successfully excecuted over the past several months by the Brazoria County Sheriff’s Office Narcotics Task Force, which culminated in six arrests of high school students in suburban Houston. 

Where to Be a Tourist

The Capitol, Austin

Everyone loves this building, even if they don’t love politics. Luckily for you, the Legislature meets in regular session for only 140 days every other year, leaving you plenty of time to explore without the crowds. Yes, the dome is fifteen feet higher than the U.S. Capitol’s, and yes, it is the largest state capitol complex in the country. What else would you expect?

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