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The State of Texas: Queso Does Not Belong To You, Arkansas

Plus: The TEA suspends its arbitrary enrollment target for special education, Texas shows out at the Country Music Awards, and Sid Miller has some weird internet friends.

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QUOTE OF THE DAY


“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. 


BIG NEWS


Tortilla Chip being dipped in queso.
       

Thinkstock/Getty

Que?
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?


MEANWHILE, IN TEXAS


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.”


WHAT WE’RE READING


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

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  • José

    Arkies, seriously, get a grip. Back in the day, real “queso” could only be made with Ro-Tel brand tomatoes and chiles, from the little town of Elsa down in the Rio Grande Valley. We were gobbling down the stuff long before you could even find it north of Houston.

    • S A

      Mexico Chiquito, one of the earliest places serving cheese dip, if not the first, opened in 1935. Rotel was founded in 1943.
      Also, I think of queso and cheese dip as sort of different beasts, like Delta hot tamales versus more traditional ones.

      • José

        Says here that the Donnallys came from South Texas, near the Mexico border. And I ain’t ever heard of any cuisine called Ark-Mex. Just saying.
        http://www.mexicochiquito.net/About.aspx

        Fine. Y’all on the other side of Texarkana can have your so-called cheese dip along with your sweet potato pie and squirrel stew.

      • Jed

        cheese dip is something you put broccoli or artichokes into, and then don’t eat.

  • MissMonk

    Sorry, but I have lived in Texas for 8 years, born and raised in Arkansas. Texas queso is trash. This snarky article has no idea what it’s saying. If someone hasn’t actually eaten queso in Arkansas from one of the many, many great restaurants there, then they shouldn’t be writing about something they know nothing about. Arkansas queso is the first thing I think of whenever I am served sub-par dip at any Texas restaurant over the years. Arkansas has some of the tastiest cheesy goodness ever. And how hard is it for Texas to jump on the white queso train? Call it queso, call it dip. Whatever way you name it, Arkansas has Texas beat hands down.

    • Jed

      it’s melted velveeta. it’s not like you can screw it up.

      • John Sellick

        There are definitely places that screw it up in both states.

      • Matt Dunn

        Not really. Goats milk queso is one of the best kind out there.

        I wouldn’t say Arkansas invented it but we definitely perfected it.

  • Jorge Jaramillo

    Sacrilege, what do those hillbillies know about cheese, their probably still eating that guv’mint cheese that came in five pound blocks!