Prank of the Season

Bringing good tidings of joy is fine and all, but scaring the yule log out of people is so much better. That’s exactly what the students of the Kilgore High School media department did when they filmed their victims being attacked by a, er, “living” Christmas tree. The four-minute video has begun making the national rounds. Well done, kids. Krampus would be proud: 

Daily Roundup

Affluenza Season — Seems as though the court of public opinion is working like a shot of penicillin against the spread of affluenza. National backlash against the born-rich sixteen-year-old given probation for killing four people has been swift and the pile-on continued yesterday with Lite Guv David Dewhurst calling on “a state Senate committee to study sentences for intoxication manslaughter case,” according to the AP. Dewhurst’s comments have particular weight, given the fact that his father was killed by a drunk driver. If the wealthy family of the teen thought they’d dodged a car, they were mistaken. Earlier this week, the prosecutor (after some hem-hawing) is trying to have the teen jailed on other related charges. Then, of course, there’s the great monetary equalizer, a civil suit, brought on by one victim’s family, “seeks the maximum $20 million in damages.” And four others have been filed.

University of Texas (at Bling Town) — The Longhorns may have had a disappointing season, but at least it was a prosperous one. In Forbes‘s annual list (it so loves its annual lists) of “most valuable” college football teams, UT was once again named number one. The Longhorns have held the spot since 2009 and are “now worth $139 million, almost 20 percent more than any other team in the country.” The stats are pretty fascinating: an income of $109 million (no other school topped $90 million) with biggest revenue stream coming from tickets ($34.5 million, an “increase of more than $2 million from [2012]. The only new team on Forbes list is, surprise, surprise, the University of Manziel Texas A&M. Debuting at number fourteen, the Aggies “revenue increased by more than $9 million over the previous season,” to clock in at a cool $72 million. How many more millions are needed to actually win a championship is still being calculated.

Blowin’ in The Wind — A racist windstorm is brewing. State representative John Smithee is calling for an “investigation into racist emails uncovered within the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association,” according to the AP, for the pretty shocking reason that “bigotry could have influenced a claim filed by a predominantly Hispanic school district,” in Brownsville. It’s great that both Democrats and Republicans are calling for an investigation into the quasi-governmental organization, but what’s not clear is what an “investigation” will produce. Those who are saber-rattling seem relatively content heaping blame on claims supervisor Bill Kerr, who is, conveniently for those not really looking for any actual reform, dead.

Painting Acquisition War-haulted — UT’s fifteen minutes of fame are up, at least when it comes to Andy Warhol. Yesterday, a jury ruled against the university in the drawn out battle with Farrah Fawcett’s old flame, Ryan O’Neal. The actor successfully claimed that a Warhol painting of the actress was a gift to him by the artist and not a bequeathment by the actress to the university. According to CNN, it would seem that O’Neal’s emotional performance on the stand might have been the thing that won the jury’s hearts and verdict. “I know she had something to do with this up there,” said Fawcett and O’Neal’s son after the verdict. The family “love” highlights a curious part of the decision: the jury was essentially instructed to decide who owned the painting, O’Neil or pre-dead Fawcett. Imagine the can of Campbell’s worms if the scenario had been a straight separation trial.

Innocence DestroyedTexas Monthly‘s own Pamela Colloff has a unbelievable follow-up to her National Magazine Award-nominated story “The Innocent Man.” This time, Colloff takes a bite out of Burleson County DA Charles Sebesta (who prosecuted Anthony “Innocent Man” Graves) and asks what seems like a pretty obvious question: why was Sebesta never punished for the decisions he made during trial that led to Graves wrongful conviction? The piece has begun making the national rounds, and rightfully so. It’s your Friday must-read.

Clickity Bits

Stockman Trolling Cornyn on Facebook Like a Tween Girl

The Positives and Negatives of Electricity Deregulation

If The Movie ‘Outbreak’ Were Remade, It’d Be Set in Texas

Obama Commutes Sentences of Two Texans Serving Life on Drug Charges

Perry Names New Secretary of State

That Is Not How You Teach Kids to Stop Chewing Gum in Class

The State of Texas morning roundup is taking a break until 2014 (a whole twelve days). Throughout the holidays be safe, love the ones you’re with, and, above all else, go out and have some fun.