Amazing Pictures of the Houston Zoo's Big Cats From National Geographic and Photographer Vincent J. Musi

The Internet is history’s most effective distribution system of pictures of cats, but that’s a broad category. “Cat” can encompass both a little kitty snuggling with a teddy bear and the king and queen of the jungle (which doesn’t actually live in the jungle, but this is Internet and your facts are useless here) as they devour a great prey animal. Similarly, “picture” can mean something you snapped with your dusty iPhone camera or the stunning work of a photographer like Vincent J. Musi, who works with National Geographic. 

This week, Musi and NatGeo have been sharing photos that he took of the big cats at the Houston Zoo via their respective Instagram feeds—and the images are genuinely stunning. 

Pumped-Up Kicks

One morning in late July, Chris Santos climbed out of bed filled with anxiety over which pair of shoes to wear. This wasn’t exactly out of the ordinary; for Santos, almost every waking moment revolves around athletic footwear. He spends at least an hour a day on websites like NiceKicks (“the most read source for sneaker news, information, history, and release dates”).

The Astrodome Might Be Replaced With a Tiny Astrodome

The ongoing dilemma of what to do with the Astrodome has been one of the more amusing sideshows in Houston over the past couple of years. We’ve seen suggestions ranging from turning it into a massive parking garage or a monument to Billie Jean King to just continuing to use it as a massive indoor, climate-controlled storage facility for the city of Houston. Meanwhile, new proposals continue to pop up that offer further prospects of Astrodoom turning into Astrogreatness.

The latest proposal, though, is something in-between: building a massive park on the site and—in the middle—placing a Tiny Astrodome as a monument to the former Eighth Wonder. 

As The Atlantic’s CityLab reports:

Is The Grand Jury System In Texas Broken?

The grand jury is a mysterious concept: it’s a group of ordinary citizens who weigh in on a criminal case, but the work they do is secret. According to Texas law, the only people allowed in the room during grand jury proceedings are grand jurors, bailiffs, the prosecutor, the witness being examined, and—under certain circumstances—an interpretor, a stenographer, or a person to allow a witness to testify via videoconferencing. Except under rare circumstances, the results of the proceedings are not public record.

The job that a grand jury is tasked with, though, is rather clear: As the Harris County District Courts explain on their website, where they encourage citizens to apply to serve as grand jurors, “A grand jury consists of twelve people whose job is to review criminal complaints and decide if there is sufficient evidence to issue an indictment. The standard of proof for an indictment is probable cause.” 

Do Millennials Prefer Houston and San Antonio to Dallas and Austin?

The conventional wisdom is that Austin is packed with young people, while San Antonio primarily attracts people who are older and looking for a more affordable place to raise families. And while some of the data bears this out (the median age in San Antonio is 34.1, while in Austin it’s 32.6), the engine driving the growth of two of the state’s (and the nation’s) boom cities offers a new wrinkle: Austin is actually the fastest-growing city among people fifty years and older, while San Antonio takes second place for cities attracting millennials (behind Colorado Springs). 

In fact, the list of the most popular cities among millennials doesn’t feature the names Austin or Dallas on it at all. As real estate blog Trulia finds, the two Texas cities that place on the list of the “10 Surprisingly Hot Markets For Millennials” are San Antonio and Houston: 

A Houston Woman Has Created a Whole New World of Emoji For the 21st Century

The lack of diversity among Emoji is a legitimate concern that has necessitated a response from Apple CEO Tim Cook in recent years, and it hasn’t gotten better. 

A little background for those of you who might have read that previous sentence and been totally confused: “Emoji” are icons that display on your phone/computer/etc that people who spend a lot of time communicating visually through those devices frequently use. When you text someone the characters “:)” and your phone translates it to the little smiling yellow guy? That’s an emoji. And despite seeming relatively inconsequential, emoji are big business, and an important part of how people communicate. Which makes the fact that all of the faces are the same shade of pale, which does not represent the diversity of the real world, something of a concern.

Complaints about the homogenous nature of emoji attracted attention last year when Miley Cyrus and actor Tahj Mowry began a Twitter campaign to call for an #EmojiEthnicityUpdate; and, surprisingly, Apple CEO Tim Cook issued a statement in March through the company’s VP of Communications agreeing with the stars


In the sprawling backyard of the Houston Foundry, an industrial site turned artists’ studio just north of downtown, 29-year-old Kate dePara looks a bit like a mad scientist. Crouched over twenty yards of fabric spread across the ground, her hands sheathed in sturdy rubber gloves, she applies dye with an assortment of tools—spray bottles, sponges, a bamboo paintbrush, a fork. Nearby, another length of fabric sits in a bucket of steaming-hot water, while others dry on a giant wooden rack.

Beyoncé Gave $7 Million to St. John's Downtown in Houston to Help Feed and House the Homeless

Gushing about Beyoncé has become the currency of the Internet. Queen Bey inspires passion from fans and observers that is downright religious in fervor—which, perhaps, makes the fact that she’s taken to feeding and housing the poor of Houston something to be expected. 

Nonetheless, that was one of the takeaways from an interview with pastor Rudy Rasmus of St. John’s Downtown in Houston, who was on KHOU to promote his new book, Love Period. When All Else Fails. The pastor, who’s claimed Beyoncé as a member of his church since she was a child (“she had long braids, tennis shoes and jeans on. A far cry from what she is today,” he told the station), and who performed her marriage ceremony to Jay-Z, also talked a bit about her philanthropic efforts within his community:

High-Heel Homicide

One morning in June of last year, Houston defense attorney Jack Carroll arrived preoccupied at Harris County’s 338th District Criminal Court. He had never appeared before the court’s presiding judge, Brock Thomas, and he needed to ask for a continuance. As he waited for his client to be brought in, he ignored the disheveled woman in jail orange waving frantically at him, trying to get his attention.

The woman was Ana Lilia Trujillo, who was on her way to becoming the most notorious accused murderer Houston had produced in years. She’d been arrested for killing her boyfriend, Alf Stefan Andersson, less than 24 hours earlier, and already it was nationwide news.

If she had stabbed Andersson with a steak knife, it would have been unremarkable, a commonplace if terrible act of domestic violence. But instead she had stabbed him with her five-and-a-half-inch stiletto heel. The legal sharks of Houston’s criminal defense corps, who like nothing better than the kind of attention the case was receiving, sent emissaries to tout their skills to Trujillo.

She already knew who she wanted, though. In the nineties Trujillo had frequented the same downtown bars that Jack frequented, back before downtown Houston was trendy, back when bars in the area were for serious drinkers. Jack in those years was a heavy drinker who came to know many prospective clients in the process, and he represented them well enough to earn street cred as a tough defense lawyer, which is how Trujillo remembered him. Two weeks after her arrest, the Stiletto Heel Murder was still reverberating on cable news, and Jack’s mother, in Miami, learned about it that way. She called her son to see whether he knew any juicy details. That same day he took the case.
I should mention here that Jack Carroll is my brother-in-law. His twin sister, the actress Lisa Hart Carroll, has been my wife for 25 years, so I’ve known Jack since the eighties, before he became a lawyer. He was an oil and gas headhunter when I met him, poaching geologists and oil traders from and for prominent companies, and was very successful. He drove a Jaguar and golfed for large bets with Major League Baseball Hall of Famers, several of whom showed up for his wedding in 2005, by which time he’d put heavy drinking behind him.
The headhunting job helped pay for law school and prepared him for the career he really wanted. After graduating from South Texas College of Law, in 1990, he took on court-appointed indigent clients, mostly drug offenders and drunk drivers, while also practicing corporate law to help pay the bills. Jack discovered he was adept in the courtroom. He was tall and lanky and good-looking, he could think on his feet, and juries liked him. Because he wasn’t afraid of going to trial, he soon found himself taking tougher cases, defending accused drug dealers and the occasional accused murderer. He once defended a man charged with killing a policeman, in a courtroom filled with officers in uniform, and managed to get the case dismissed.
He made a nice living, but Jack still called himself “a ham-and-egg lawyer.” His wife worked as a registered nurse. His office was a walk-up above a bail bondsman, near the criminal courts building. He’d never had a big, splashy case, the kind that propels trial lawyers into high-rise office suites, until Trujillo asked him to defend her. She had no money to pay his fees, but TV producers soon began calling and offering to buy the rights to her story, all promising prime-time attention.
As the trial drew near and reporters kept circling, Jack would ask me whether he should trust them. I could tell he was excited by the fuss but also resentful of the pressure that came with it, the mounting concern that this one trial might define his career. He spent more and more time, unpaid time, preparing for it—studying the case file, interviewing potential witnesses, pondering the killing. He became convinced, truly convinced, that Ana Trujillo was innocent.  

Houston Passed Its Equal Rights Ordinance Last Night

HERO—the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance—passed last night. It’s been a bit of circuitous journey for the ordinance designed to protect the rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender Houstonians—with Mike Huckabee showing up to weigh in, serious questions about the parts of the bill that allow transgender people to use the bathroom of the gender with which they identify, and votes to delay the vote occurring to let the attention die down. But shortly after 7:30 last night, Houston Mayor Annise Parker signed it into law after an 11-6 vote from City Council.

The meaning of the ordinance for the people of Houston is complicated, and there’s been a bit of confusion about what the law actually says. Here are the basics: 


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