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State of Texas: Sept. 24, 2013

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Video of the Day

WhataBrawl! Unruly high school kids (yes, that’s redundant) captured footage of their epic food fight at Whataburger after the Saturday Night Lights went out on the football field.

Daily Roundup

Fight! Fight! Fight! Fight! — Oh, Politico! Your wild antagonism is almost enduring. Yesterday, the D.C. propaganda organ published a story titled “Wendy Davis vs. Greg Abbott in Texas: ‘Bruising.’” (Other adjectives about the race they deploy to make their point: “bloody” and “expensive.” ) The thrust of the piece was that Republicans “need to brace themselves for a real race if [Davis] runs.” It takes awhile (page two), before they talk to someone who acknowledges “that any Democrat running statewide faces an uphill battle in Texas.” Of course, this comes to no surprise to any Texan who’s been following the news. The Texas Tribune has a more tempered view about the prospects of victory for Davis — or any other member of her party, reminding readers yesterday that “Democrats haven’t won in statewide Texas elections for years. Their organization around the state withered over the last two decades, and current efforts to revive it — Battleground Texas is a prominent example — haven’t been around long enough to establish deep roots.” And then there’s the matter of the $20 million Abbott has in the bank to the $1 million Davis has raised since the filibuster. (So, they’re probably right about the expensive point.) Additionally, a move seems to be underway to shift the conversation away from Davis’s support of abortion rights. In a television interview yesterday, Texas Democratic Party Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa dubbed Democrats the “party of life,” based on the D’s stance on women’s health, health care and Medicaid expansion. Regardless, once the race heats up and you see a Politico piece that reads, “Unnamed Source: Texas is Burning,” just look out your window, sigh, and be glad you don’t live in a swampy sinkhole. Then, of course, you can read Texas Monthly‘s thorough look at the possible(?) future of Texas Democrats.

For All You Morbidly Curious Microbiology Enthusiasts Out There — NPR has a fascinating and relatively long story about the goings-on at Sam Houston State University’s Huntsville “body farm,” where decomposing human remains are studied. The reliably milquetoast NPR has a viewer’s discretion warning before the piece and it’s not the normal one on foul language that precedes a Terry Gross dispatch on contemporary hip-hop. This is for real! “One of the first tasks the day we visit is placing three fresh bodies in the woods. A small tractor pulls up, carrying the first body inside a blue plastic body bag. Three men lift the body off the tractor and place it on the ground. They unzip the bag and carefully unwrap the white sheet that swaddles the cadaver.” Gross as it may sound, it’s all done in the name of science — microbial forensic science, to be exact. The  Southeast Texas Applied Forensic Science Facility researchers are studying the behavior and “microbial clock” of cadaver-loving bacteria in hopes of creating better forensic techniques. All mesmerizing, though not for the faint of pre-mortem heart. The body farm at Sam Houston State is one of only four such research facilities in the United States. Being Texas, of course we’re home to two of them. (Read more here about the groundbreaking vulture research underway at Texas State University in San Marcos.) For more weird forensic science — not to mention dog science and the wrongly convicted — Texas Monthly’s 2010 piece.Without My Rifle (and Proper ID), I Am Useless — Soldiers at Ft. Hood have taken the “be all you can be” line a little too far for local law enforcement, leading to a recent policy ordering service members to stop being so antagonistically principled and start being more compliant to police requests. The new policy from the 1st Cavalry Division commander orders all service members to show ID if asked to do so by police. “Texas state law requires people to identify themselves to police only if they are legally arrested. But the Fort Hood policy requires soldiers to show their ID to law enforcement whenever they are asked to do so by authorities,” the Army Times reported. The order came about after a number of soldiers began “openly carrying firearms in private business establishments in the greater local area in an attempt to publicly assert their Second Amendment right.” The news of this patriotic display and subsequent order come on the heels not only of Nidal Malik Hasan’s death sentence for the 2009 massacre at the base but a government-wide review of security access, ordered by the Commander-in-Chief himself following the recent Navy Yard shooting by former Texan, Aaron Alexis. Just for a visual, keep in mind that open-carry of handguns is illegal in Texas. Soldiers, then, were carrying around “long guns, such as … carbines or shotguns.” Who knew the Rifleman’s Creed said something about taking your gun out for a date?

This One Time, in Band Camp … — … they hazed us until the cops were called and a school-wide investigation took place. Thirteen college students face various hazing and misdemeanor charges “following a nearly three-week investigation by the school and its police department,” according to KXAN. Lest you think this was done by football players or a rowdy frat house, the alleged perpetrators were members of the Texas State University marching band. “Through a criminal investigation, police discovered that upper classmen told freshman … members to go to a San Marcos-area apartment, where they were then blindfolded and furnished with alcohol.” Apparently, there were no serious injuries although “some fell ill.” The least surprising part of this story is the band section responsible for the alleged hazing — the drumline. For those who made it through years of school band relatively unscathed may recall, the drumline seemed to induce a pounding adreneline surge in its rough-hewn members.

Cruz Crazy — Who knew Ted Cruz could inspire so many listicles?! Yesterday, Gentlemen’s Quarterly published an extensive profile of the Texas Republican rebel. The piece isn’t “flattering” per se, but it is filled with more fun, tasty bits than an elephant-sized pinata. Should you lack the time to read the whole thing, don’t worry! So many publications posted their favorite tidbits from the piece, that you could read each one as a mini-rorschach test. The Austinist — like a number of other places — loved the details about Cruz’s ostrich-skinned “argument boots.” Another favorite was an aide to John McCain saying that the Maverick “f***ing hates” Cruz, a tidbit which even Glenn Beck’s web outfit The Blaze included. Our own Sonia Smith had one of the most focused breakdowns, noting the evidence of egotism that’s extreme, even for a politican.

Clickity-Click These Extra Bits

Six Spaceships Over Texas

Burning Man Claims Another Victim 

New Law Expands Coverage for Autistic Children

A&M Sexual Study Confirms Men are Still Pigs

Tom DeLay, Honest Politician: ‘It’s amazing what you can accomplish when you control the part of Congress with power of the purse’ 

Follow-up: Three Children Among Dead in Apparent Murder-Suicide

Friendswood Parents Told to Find Other Friends for Their Lunch Dates

Legislative Researchers Like to Get Weird 

Bigger in Tx. Dept: Sitting Too Close to this TV Will Mean Anything Within a Two-Mile Radius

Texas Monthly is Tweeting! Follow Jeff Winkler on The Twitters

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