The State of Texas: April 28, 2014
Photo of the Day
The first official South Texas Comic Con was held in McAllen on Saturday. As you can see from the photo, it was appropriately South Texan (h/t Cat Garza):
The New Yorker has an extensive look at the hunt for El Chapo, the world’s most infamous drug lord who was was captured back in February. Save this incredible (and incredibly detailed) story for this evening, because until they make the movie, its better than anything on television.
Pan-Fried — West Texas residents hoping for a tall glass of good news will have to keep holding on. The past three years have been the driest ever experienced in Texas, and the “drought will persist or intensify at least through the end of July, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is calling for good chances that temperatures will be above average for at least three months,” according to the Amarillo Globe-News, the state’s best source for drought items. “The [National Weather Service] reports Amarillo had about 35 inches of rain over three years, 2011 to 2013. Normal rainfall is 20 inches per year.” This comes on the heels of the USDA’s announcement declaring 240 of Texas’s 254 counties (95 percent) a natural disaster area. And water conservation in the Panhandle isn’t simply a matter for alternating lawn-care days: the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal reported this weekend on the estimated two-dozen residents without water as cotton farmers begin watering their fields. The wells are so dry that one older couples takes “takes spit baths in a makeshift shower and drink bottled water. They don’t indulge in the luxury of flushing the toilet after every use.” There appear to be two great wet hopes for the future: education and El Nino. Unlike the 1998 weather system, many are actually looking forward to the big event, although even that may turn out to be an unpleasant experience. Said one Amarillo-based NWS official: “It looks like there will be a pretty strong probability we won’t see any effects until the fall or winter with a pretty good chance of snow and precipitation over the winter.”
Begin Launch Sequence — One step for private space travel, one giant step for space travel of the Texas kind. During an “unrelated news conference” last week, Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX, said the private company is “waiting on the final environmental approvals for [its proposed Boca Chica launch site]. We expect those soon, and we’ll probably have that site active in a couple of years,” according to the Brownsville Herald. Expect more little bits of informational star dust as SpaceX gets closer and closer to making private space travel a reality. Earlier this month, the Federal Aviation Administration issued its opinion on SpaceX’s environmental impact (basically, “thumbs up), but remember that the launch site isn’t inevitable—as Dan Oko reports for Texas Monthly, there is a “scrappy group of environmentalists and local homeowners,” trying to keep Musk at bay. Whether or not a galactic war will occur before the program even gets off the, literal, ground is still light-years away. Or, at least, a couple regular years.
Hot (Mess) For Teacher — Another Texas story for the “Making-The-News-For-All-The-Wrong-Reasons” file. “Police in Texas are moving forward with criminal charges against a teacher who allegedly performed a lap dance on a 15-year-old student …” according to UPI. The story’s odd for a number of reasons, apart from, well, the obvious. For one, the teacher, who has admitted to police that the incident took place, said she gave the performance “at the urging of his classmates.” To paraphrase Jezebel‘s writeup of the incident: what kind of defense is that? Also the event took place back in February. That such an act was performed in front of teenagers and wasn’t made public until now defies all laws of nature. For now, the teacher is out on a $30,000 bond and faces one criminal charge of improper relationship with a student.
The Award-Winning Stranger — Willie Nelson has a street in Austin named after him, a bronze statue of his likeness on the corner of that street, and now, this past Saturday, the legend was inducted into the Austin City Limits Hall of Fame. None other than Matthew McConaughey presented the award. “‘There would be no Austin City Limits without Willie Nelson,” said McConaughey, according to the Associated Press report. “Keeping the show rolling later, McConaughey slipped in his signature ‘All right, all right, all right’ — a segue that felt at home in this city that was the backdrop to the 1993 film ‘Dazed and Confused’ and began the actor’s rise to stardom.” As the story notes, Willie’s set was ACL’s first performance. Also of note: Willie will celebrates his eighty-first birthday next week “by receiving his fifth-degree black belt in martial arts.” The apparent theme of the award’s night was statuesque. Apart from McConaughey’s chiseled features, ACL also inducted Stevie Ray Vaughn, a bronze version of which stands beside Austin’s Auditorium Shores.