State of Texas: Sept. 26, 2013
Rubbernecking of the Day
There was a trainwreck in Texas yesterday, and no, Miley Cyrus didn’t pay us a visit. Three freight trains collided near Amarillo, derailing some 30 cars and injurying four crew members. While wishing the workers a speedy recovery, you can also view this slideshow of the aftermath.
It was kind of inevitable that Sleepless in Austin, the unfortunate Casanova making national news, would appeal to Hipster sensibilities. But who could have expected the hopeless romantic to be immortalized on a band-like tee shirt so quickly? As expected, the shirt’s been pre-washed in controversy and made of 100 percent ironic fibers. (high-five: @ATXHipsters)
Fili-Busting Records — Since Teddy Cruz’s stand yesterday had no immediate impact on the legislative process, news outlets basically ignored the ObamaCare vote and got on with the more important business of holding a filibuster-measuring competition. Lucky for us, the recent spate of long-talkers all have a Texas connection be it Wendy Davis or Ron Paul’s son. Here are some quick stats to help you Cruz through office conversations: Teddy spoke for twenty-one hours and nineteen minutes, during which time he earned about $400. It was the second-longest “filibuster” in U.S. Senate history. The Wall Street Journal has a pretty straight-forward breakdown of all talking done by Cruz, Davis and Paul, including their respective first lines, their cheer teams and (yuck) trending Twitter hashtags. Slate compares Cruz and Davis as if they were prizefighters squaring off in different categorical “rounds.” Their scorecard probably won’t surprise you. In the same Slate corner, the Mills Lane of political media analysis, Dave Weigel, has a great takedown of the supposed “bias” in favor of Davis and against Cruz, noting that while national networks covered Cruz’s filibuster in real-time, CNN was airing a blueberry muffin segment in the last minutes of Davis’s. The Daily Caller preferred another Olympic sport, judo, for their coverage. It was already widely reported that Cruz made a deal with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to speak until around noon, so that the Senate could actually vote. By not allowing Cruz to speak for just three more hours, The Caller’s punk-ish story says Reid allowed the Strom Thurmond’s racist filibuster record, from 1957, to stand. The best ode to filibusters (and Texans), however, comes from national website, Mediaite. Joe Concha reminds everyone of the longest Texas talker, State Senator Bill Meier, who served from 1973 to 1983. Meier’s stand may not have been one For the People, since he was objecting to a “worker’s compensation bill he deemed as “anti-business.” But the man objected passionately for 43 hours. And unlike the filibusters of late, his worked. Also old-school: Meier wore slippers and peed straight into a bag. In that last regard, there is one thing missing from the Cruz conversation. While the media has enjoyed turning the recent filibusters into a bit of a pissing match, it hasn’t been as quick or eager to identify Cruz’s method of relief as it was with Davis.
Million Dollar Chastity Belt of the Future — In an effort to tamp down on teen pregnancy, the Texas Department of State Health Services came up with $1.2 million strategy — let’s build a website because kids these days love the internet! The TxDSHS didn’t even make it that far, actually, sinceOurTown4Teens.com is an outreach website made by adults for adults (no, not that kind of website). The site for abstinence-only fetishists claims “it will help local communities reduce teen pregnancies …,” according to the Observer. “[But] seems primarily to be a home for buzzwords like ‘community mobilization,’ ‘strategic action’ and ‘conceptual framework.'” And as the Observer notes, unless you’re up-to-snuff on the bureaucracy’s jargony safewords, then the website probably won’t do anything for you. To be clear, not even fans of the old sexual revolution are suggesting that the $1.2 million be used solely to hand out condoms like they were bowl candy. Even the alt-press Dallas Observer, which has a frisky recap of the story, says “In theory, it’s a worthy endeavor,” although “In practice, it has some glaring flaws.” For one, the “hub of coordinated information” doesn’t mention a single thing about contraceptives, which is like turning a state-of-the-art, 3-D production of The Birds and the Bees into a nature documentary about dandelions. Since abstinence-only education clearly hasn’t worked—Texas is Number one in repeat teen births—this website glitch is a pretty expensive one.
History Clipped Straight From the Source — NPR has a nice bit about the Odessa oil boom as recounted in the oldest gossip, news, and opinion institution—the local barbershop. Despite the lack of woman in the boom town, one gonzo journalist/barbershop patron reports that “In fact, you can date an old gal from Chicago, one from Philadelphia, one form New York, one from Boston. I’ve actually done that in one month.” Perhaps more revealing is the all living history NPR reporter Mose Buchele coxed out of the barbers. One of the coolest tidbits is that the barbers can judge how well the oil business is going by the number of cuts they’re giving. Fewer trims means more time in the fields. The whole report isn’t very long but is definitely worth a listen.
The Biggest Players in Sanctioned Human-Trafficking Racket — Business Insider crunched the numbers on how much college footballers might be worth “if they played in a free market system.” Surprise, surprise: Texas players would fetch the most at auction, coming in at $578,000, about $100,000 more than runner-up Michigan. For everyone not playing the actual game, the twisted nature of football finances is a booster club that just keeps on giving.