State of Texas: Sept. 25, 2013
Photos of the Day
UT’s Harry Ransom Center has acquired almost 200,000 prints from the Magnum Photo collection, which represent some of the most striking images taken in the last century. (And in late October, the center is holding a symposium on the collection.)
Illustrations of the Day
The new and improved Big Tex will make his State Fair debut on Friday and Texas Monthly’s own Matthew Diffee has an illustrated essay on Old Tex, New Tex and his Dream Tex.
Mattel made an A&M “Ken” doll. He’s a yell leader.
Carnival Cruz Still Sailing — Gotta hand it to him, Ted Cruz is a man of his word — many, many (many) words, to be exact. Yesterday, the Republican Texas senator promised to speak out against the impending ObamaCare funding “until I am no longer able to stand.” That was more than 19 hours ago, and “Wacko Bird” (he’s proud of the moniker) was still hovering above the Senate floor at 8:53 am CST. You can watch a live feed here, though it’s about as exciting as a C-SPAN infomercial. To be clear, what Cruz is doing technically isn’t a “filibuster.” And, as with both Rand Paul and Wendy Davis’ filibusters, it’s about as “courageous” as a talking politician can get. Still, it is an impressive amount of talking. The crux of Cruz’s critique is, of course, ObamaCare. But he’s also discussed Green Eggs and Ham, Atlas Shrugged, White Castle burgers, the Empire Strikes Back and Ashton Kutcher. He’s talked so long that entire b-roll articles have been written. Buzzfeed did a story about the meme-perfect “Corner Guy” seen just below Cruz’s podium. Slate, in classic Slate form, has already published a piece titled, “What Ted Cruz Doesn’t Understand About Green Eggs and Ham” (gather the children and listen to Cruz read the book!). Cruz’s speech has even breeched the space-time-political continuum, with one article saying how the feely-buster could cost him millions in campaign funds, while another contends that it’s simply the world’s longest presidential stump speech. This could either go on forever, or until around noon when Harry Reid says “enough” and the entire senate votes. Remarkably, before he took the floor Tuesday, Cruz traded his beloved (and beautiful) black ostrich-skin “argument boots” in favor of a pair of sensibly socialist, orthopedically friendly black sneakers. So perhaps ObamaCare really is destroying the American way of life.
Judge Ties His Own Noose — On Monday, state judge Ken Anderson threw himself out of court when he submitted a letter of resignation, effective immediately. “There comes a time when every public official must decide that it is time to leave public life,” wrote Anderson in a letter to Governor Rick Perry, according to the Austin American-Statesman. “For me and my family, that time is now.” What the judge omitted from this terse statement, however, was “that time” probably-definitely had everything to do with him being a little too tough on crime. Anderson faces upcoming criminal and civil trials for his alleged misconduct as a prosecutor in the Michael Morton case, chronicled at length in Pamela Colloff’s two-part story in Texas Monthly. Anderson allegedly withheld “critical evidence” — not to mentioned physically tampered with evidence — that would’ve proven Michael Morton’s innocence in the 1987 murder of Morton’s wife. Anderson has said that while he “regrets the errors of the justice system … he has maintained that he committed no wrongdoing in the prosecution.” Clearly, everyone’s objections to that statement have been sustained.
You Can’t Afford Houston —A new Rice University study found affordable housing is in short supply in Houston. “[H]alf of Houston’s City Council districts do not meet the conventional definition of affordable, which stipulates that the average household not spend more than 30 percent of its income to cover rent or mortgage expenses,” according to the Houston Chronicle. Houstonians then spent another 16 percent on transportation, placing Houston, at number 26, almost smack-dab in the middle of the list of the nation’s 50 most affordable large cities. So, hooray for mediocrity! The bad news is almost comical—Houston’s District F received the worst affordability grade.
Blame Steve Jobs for This — The technology website Motherboard has a lengthy and well-considered look at BiblioTech, a state-of-the-art library that opened last week in Bexar County. The new library is so high-tech it doesn’t have any books. If that doesn’t sound suspicious enough, the head librarian (apparently she is not a hologram) uses buzzwords like “relevant.” Then there’s the genesis of the project itself, originally conceived after a local judge “read the [recent] Steve Jobs biography by Walter Isaacson” and had said people should “think of [BiblioTech] as an Apple store,” which sounds absolutely horrific. To her credit, the head librarian did say, “I don’t think it will replace other libraries … Rather, it’s a good complement.” BiblioTech found that patrons still want face-to-face interaction when it comes to book recommendations and tech-support. Glad to hear that not even the darkest corners of the internet can truly replicate the scene of weirdos congregating in library buildings across America.
Ridiculous Man Seeks Imaginary Woman—When people say “Keep Austin Weird,” this is where they draw the line. The website of a date-hungry SWM is making the rounds for being … what’s something between incredibly creepy and wildly hopeless? As Austin CultureMap notes, “In what is either the greatest publicity stunt or the worst online dating profile ever, Austin-based photographer Romeo Rose (his real name is Larry Busby) has launched Sleepless in Austin, a website dedicated to finding this particular Romeo his very own Juliet.” Sleepless offers a good chunk of change ($1,500) if you find his perfect woman with a bonus if the two of them get married. His perfect woman, however, probably doesn’t exist since he’s seeking someone who’s never been promiscious, never had children, never been black, never been fat, and never lived in east or north Austin. True love really is so hard to find. All this, of course, is contingent on the fact that Sleepless is real. It was only recently that America lost faith in the internet after it was revealed that late-night host Jimmy Kimmel punk’d the world with a fake Twerk-Gone-Wrong video. So take this item with a grain of sait. Or, if you are real Sleepless, you’ll just have to take this ridicule.
Things We Missed —Last week, Texas prosecutor Blake Ewing wrote an opinion piece for Time magazine arguing that the acclaimed TV series Breaking Bad “normalizes” meth use. There’s a lot of on-the-one-hand-on-the-other-hand-and-on-yet-another-hand rhetoric to Ewing’s argument. But his conclusion is sound: be sure to watch the series finale this Sunday.