“At the very least, it was a very fun vacation that I didn’t have to pay for.”

—Mack McGowen of Tyler to KYTX. McGowen spent twelve days live-streaming from a deserted island in Newfoundland, 3,000 miles away from his permanent residence in East Texas, in an effort to test cellular data access in remote areas. He has reportedly returned home with a “refined outlook” on life and, uh, twenty pounds lighter. 


Tortilla Chip being dipped in queso.

Apparently Arkansas thinks it owns queso. This, of course, is objectively incorrect. Queso is Texas, Texas is queso. But someone forgot to tell Arkansas that. Writes the Wall Street Journal: “When it comes to food, Arkansas has long lived in the shadow of neighbors such as Texas, Louisiana and Tennessee, known respectively for their fajitas, gumbo and Memphis barbecue. Many Arkansans think cheese dip has finally given them something to call their own.” Wait a minute, “cheese dip?” Nope. No way. The proper spelling is Q-U-E-S-O. Apparently Arkansas holds a “World Cheese Dip Championship,” and, probably because they don’t understand what the stuff is supposed to taste like, they once invited a Texan chef to be a judge. “I declined to go to Arkansas and participate in an event that misnamed chile con queso,” Robb Walsh told the Journal. Spoken like a true Texan. Meanwhile, the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism is apparently promoting something called the “Cheese Dip Trail,” with nineteen stops throughout the state at places that serve cheese dip. We’re pretty sure “Cheese Dip Trail” is actually the medical term for something that happens to your body after you’re forced to eat vast amounts of sub-par queso, but whatever. Still, they apparently love their cheese dip. Said one Arkansas resident: “If you’re from Arkansas, you love cheese dip. It’s like vampires and blood, I guess.” Uhhhhh?


Problem Targeted
The Texas Education Agency said Wednesday that it will be suspending its use of a controversial 8.5 percent benchmark for the amount of kids enrolled in special education, according to the Houston Chronicle. The Chronicle busted the lid off the state’s arbitrary 8.5 percent mark with its investigation back in September, uncovering how the state essentially put a cap on how many kids could get special education services, denying thousands of kids who needed it. According to the Chronicle, the TEA recently wrote in a letter to the U.S. Department of Education that it has been in conversations to “eventually eliminate this indicator,” and that the agency “will… not use [the policy] for the purposes of interventions staging moving forward.” Basically, the TEA is indicating here that it will stop auditing districts whose special education enrollment numbers surpass 8.5 percent, which the Chronicle reported it had been doing as a way to enforce the benchmark. But in the same letter, the TEA was also adamant that the benchmark was not at all a “cap” on enrollment, but was instead just a “data point.” “The allegation that the special education representation indicator is designed to reduce special education enrollment in order to reduce the amount of money the state has to spend on special education is clearly false,” the agency wrote in the letter. Regardless, it seems the mark won’t be around much longer.

Texas Flavor
The fiftieth annual Country Music Association Awards show was a particularly Texan affair Wednesday night. Houston-native Beyoncé stole the show by performing her hit country-tinged song, “Daddy Lessons,” alongside the Dixie Chicks. It was a bit of a surprise to see Bey hit the stage—she’s not really a “country” singer (who would dare place the Queen Bee in any genre box?), and neither she nor the Dixie Chicks were officially scheduled to perform Wednesday night. But news broke earlier in the day that that the legendary music icons would be performing the hit song from Beyonce’s album Lemonade, which the Dixie Chicks have been testing out during tour stops. Apparently the song was somewhat controversial. According to Vanity Fair, not all country music fans thought the song fulfilled all requirements to be officially deemed “country.” Whatever. We’re pretty sure that if the Dixie Chicks say it’s country, then it’s country. For what it’s worth, Matthew McConaughey seemed to like it, too. Another Texan, Maren Morris, also performed a song during the show, and the Arlington native later took home the New Artist of the Year award.

Sid And The Gang
As Sid Miller continues to face heavy criticism for posting a tweet that called Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton the c-word, the Austin American-Statesman took a deeper dive into the digital cesspool that the agriculture commissioner’s Twitter account seems to have surrounded itself in. The Statesman was able to nail down Miller’s troubling alliances with questionable Twitter users by analyzing one tweet in particular among Miller’s recent tweetstorm: at 1:43 a.m. on Tuesday, Miller posted, “Can we bring Milo back?!?”, which referred to Milo Yiannopoulos, and Miller tagged Ricky Vaughn, “RooshV,” and Mike Cernovich in the same tweet. As the Statesman notes, these are leaders of the internet’s controversial alt-right movement. Yiannopoulos is permanently banned from Twitter and once encouraged his horde of followers to bombard a black comedian with racist messages. Vaughn frequently calls Clinton the c-word. RooshV runs a misogynist blog and once wrote of legalizing rape. Cernovich is another Twitter troll popular for his misogynistic ideas. It’s an, uh, interesting crowd for Miller to hobnob with on social media, but apparently his office doesn’t see anything wrong with it. A Miller spokesman told the Statesman that it’s “natural for him to communicate with other very well known Trump supporters.”


The Sandra Bland wrongful death lawsuit has officially been settled Houston Chronicle

WFAA did background checks on commercial airline pilots, and the results are troubling WFAA

Star Locke, a random dude from Harlingen, just lost his court battle to get his name on the presidential ballot McAllen Monitor

An Austinite was robbed at gunpoint, and it was all captured on FaceTime KXAN

The tiny town of Del Valle is rattled by a recent string of brutal murders Austin American-Statesman