“My oldest son gives me a book every Christmas and last Christmas he gave me this book titled The Oregon Trail, so half way through the book, I started thinking, ‘Well, I could do that with a bike.'”

—Bill Laney to KRGV. The “winter Texan” biked from Wisconsin to Mercedes, in the Rio Grande Valley—a total of 1,928 miles. Of course, as per usual with these things, the mileage fell backseat to the lessons learned along the way. Laney said the friendly people he encountered on the thirty-day trip restored his faith in the nation. 


A voter casts her ballot on November 6, 2012 in Mansfield, Texas.
     Tom Pennington/Getty

Get Ready
Election Day is less than 24 hours away. Texas has played a big role in this presidential race, which has been, uh, interesting to say the absolute least. Remember the good ol’ days when Texan Ted Cruz was a front-runner for the Republican nomination? Or how about that (brief) time when Rick Perry was a candidate? Ah, memories of a simpler time. Since then, Cruz’s campaign fell apart and he flip-flopped on his endorsement of Donald Trump, Perry has turned away from politics and toward the wild world of competitive dance, and the polls have taken Texas from solid red to purple then back to red again. The poll madness in particular has grabbed us national headlines, but so has our controversial Voter ID law, which threw Texas into complete disarray after a federal judge ordered that the law be weakened. But on Tuesday all this insanity will finally come to a crest. It seems the brouhaha lit a fire under a historically inactive Texan voter base: we’ve shattered statewide voter registration and early voting turnout records. Whichever way the general election leans on Tuesday, one thing is certain: Texas will share a sizable portion of the national spotlight. But there are some key races within Texas too. In Arlington,voters will decide whether to approve public funding fora new Texas Rangers stadium. In Harris County the race for district attorney between incumbent Devon Anderson and challenger Kim Ogg is expected to be close, and will determine how the state’s largest county will handle criminal justice reform after several massive scandals shook the office in the past year. In West Texas, the state’s only (expected) competitive congressional race is “down to the wire,” according to the Texas Tribune, as incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. Will Hurd fends off Pete Gallego. And Waller County, where Sandra Bland died in the summer of 2015, could elect its first African-American sheriff. Wherever you are and whoever you’re pulling for, please, just go out and vote. It’s important.


Trump Talks Sid
At a campaign rally in Florida on Saturday, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump briefly brought up Sid Miller, who, just a few days earlier, made national headlines for posting a tweet that called Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton the c-word (Miller later claimed a staffer mistakenly retweeted the message). Did Trump condemn Miller’s misogynistic word choice? Nope! Instead, Trump mentioned the controversial ag commissioner as evidence that he is “killing them in Texas,” and heaped praise on Miller’s hat. “A guy gets on two days ago. Man named Sid Miller,” Trump said at the rally, according to Politico. “Don’t really know him. Wears a big, beautiful, white cowboy hat. In fact, I wanna find out where he got it. It’s pretty nice.” That’s a strange thing to say for a few reasons—first, Trump totally ignored the fact that Miller’s Twitter account called a presidential candidate the c-word. Second, it would appear Trump does know Miller, considering he serves as an agriculture advisor for the Trump campaign and has been stumping for Trump in Texas for a while.

Bad Cop
Two Texas law enforcement officers have recently been accused of behaving particularly badly on the job. The San Antonio Express-News reported on Friday that San Antonio police officer Matthew Luckhurst was fired after allegedly bragging to another officer that he “picked up some feces, placed it in a slice of bread, and put it in a Styrofoam container next to the unknown homeless male,” as a department press release delicately put it (Luckhurst’s attorney claims this was just a joke that “spiraled out of control,” and that it never actually happened). Meanwhile, Texas state trooper Michael Tice has been placed on administrative duty while the Department of Public Safety investigates claims from two Fort Worth women who say he tried to rip out their nipple piercings with his hands while they were being booked following a traffic stop. Tice apparently had asked the women to remove any piercings and decided to step in when they had difficulty doing so. According to the women, Tice went to his car to get a pair of pliers, apparently thinking that would be a good way to remove the women’s nipple piercings, and a jailer later tried to use the tool to remove one of the piercings while the trooper stood nearby and watched.

Prof. Jeb!
The University of Texas at Austin may have Matthew McConaughey teaching film classes, but Texas A&M has a new high-profile faculty member! His name is Jeb! According to the Texas Tribune, former Florida governor Jeb! Bush, whose 2016 presidential campaign was an early casualty of the Donald Trump train, will teach a short course at the university’s Bush School for Public Service, which is named after his father, George H.W. As the Tribune notes, Jeb! is a University of Texas at Austin grad, so setting foot on the rival Aggies’s campus is a notable move on its own. In what appeared to be an attempt at being humorous (something Jeb! isn’t particularly good at), Bush admitted in a Facebook video announcing his new gig (’em?) that he is, in fact, a proud Longhorn, even flashing the “hook ’em” sign. Sixty-five students have already signed up for the ten-day class, which will be offered in January ahead of the spring semester and will focus on “the role of gubernatorial leadership and its impact on government at all levels,” the university told the Tribune.


The story behind the controversial Beaumont Bulls’ shortened season The Undefeated

The legend of Dak, as told by ESPN

A rare newspaper endorsement for Donald Trump in Texas Lubbock Avalanche-Journal

Zadie Smith on Beyonce The Guardian

And Wesley Morris on Beyonce and the Dixie Chicks New York Times