The State of Texas: April 11, 2014
It would appear that pranks between rival schools have just gotten a lot more scientific. As is nature’s spring tradition, bluebonnet’s have been sprouting up everywhere, including the UT campus. One problem: the school is experiencing a growth of maroon bluebonnets. Folks suspect foul play by some clever, horticulturally-minded Aggies. No point in ruining the fun here, but it’s a conspiracy must-read.
Video of the Day
Some high schoolers build volcanos for their science fair project. The more ambitious and alturistic build complicated artificial limbs for young children with physical disabilities. Such was the case with three Leander High School students from the robotics class, who put their amazing design and 3D printing skills to use:
Texas Tour — It’s been a busy week in Texas for President Barack Obama. He spoke at the Fort Hood Memorial service on Wednesday, and then yesterday he delivered remarks at the LBJ Civil Rights Summit. Obama’s appearance at the summit highlighted just how far the country has come since the Civicl Rights Act was pasted 50 years ago, and the president spent his time paying homage to LBJ’s efforts. “I have lived out the promise of LBJ’s efforts. … Because I and millions of my generation were in a position to take the baton that he handed to us,” said the President during his thirty-minute key-note address on the final day of the summit. It wouldn’t be a presidental trip, however, without some politicking. Despite previous hand-wringing among the opinion-makers as to whether rising Democratic star Wendy Davis should or should not meet with the former Democratic rising star, the gubernatoral candidate and president did in fact cross paths. As many news outlets were quick to point out, however, the meeting was “very brief.” Of course, it wasn’t brief enough to escape criticism. “We can only assume President Obama and Sen. Davis bonded over their shared support of ObamaCare and limiting Second Amendment rights,” said Greg Abbott’s campaign in a message seething with contempt. Obama spent a less brief moment visiting the Houston homes of two trial lawyers. At the second, a fundraiser in which “[c]ouples would pay about $65,000 to have dinner with the president,” Obama railed against the recently passed voter ID law, weighed in on the debate concerning equal pay, and attacked Congress, saying “this has become the least productive Congress in modern history.”
Medicare Millionaires — The Dallas Morning News highlights some interesting Medicare figures in “what federal government officials hailed as a historic data disclosure,” which “provides the public its first inside look at physician billing practices.” In 2012, “more than 340 doctors and other care providers in Texas received over $1 million each,” and a Tyler ophthalmologist topped the Texas list with $6.8 million in payouts, which is about twenty times the U.S. average. Clocking in at $602 million, internal medicine doctors had the highest Medicare billing revenue. In releasing the information, federal officials said their goal is to make health care more “transparent and accountable.” A Surgeon General’s warning, however: if you stare at the mind-boggling figures for too long, you might suffer an anxiety attack.
龙舌兰日出 — Google insists those Chinese characters translate to “Tequila Sunrise,” an important linguistic phrase to remember as China starts demanding more of Texas’s favorite hard liquor. The Texas Tribune reports that “the Regulatory Tequila Council in Mexico estimates that in four years, China will become one of the world’s leading tequila consumers — ahead of Mexico and just below the U.S. Projections suggest that by 2018, tequila exports from Mexico will rise from just below $5 million in 2013 to $100 million, and Chinese consumers will drink about 10 million liters of tequila, the equivalent of five Olympic swimming pools.” Apart from a good time, all this tequila swilling has serious economic implications for Texas since we’ve been the country’s number one exporter for the past twelve years. The only question now is whether Texans will embrace the boozy Chinese delicacy that is Baijiu.
Missed Connection — A federal judge has let the dating website OkCupid off the hook in a Texas-based lawsuit concerning “revenge porn” websites. “In January 2013, more than two dozen women filed suit against the administrators of the website Texxxan.com — and GoDaddy, the site’s host — after nude or semi-nude photos of the women appeared on the website without their permission,” according to the Houston Chronicle. In the ruling, the judge cited “the Communications Decency Act — a federal statute providing immunity for internet service providers.” The Beaumont attorney representing the plaintiffs said he plans to petition for a review by the Texas Supreme Court. The legalities surrounding the unfortunate trend of “revenge porn” are murky at best, as courts try to make legal sense of all this new technology. If the Texas Supreme Court does decide to hear the petition, it won’t be the first time Lone Star judges have to venture into the brave new world of online laws.