The State of Texas: July 8, 2015
Quote of the Day
“The Texas shrimp business is a business of the kingdom of heaven. Nothing will ever destroy a kingdom-of-heaven business.”
– Father Mark Waters at the annual shrimp season blessing in Brownsville.
The Dallas Morning News has a heartbreaking alert: a far East Dallas family has lost its pet potbellied pig. Those on the lookout should know she’s rather large and responds to “Eleanor Pigsby,” because, obviously. To assist in the search, we’ve created a milk carton alert featuring Ms. Eleanor:
Texas By The Numbers
Cruzin’ for Cash – Amount presidential candidate Ted Cruz raised in the second quarter: about $10 million. Number of contributors averaging just $81: 175,000. Number of unique donors: 120,000. Total Cruz now has in his war chest: $51 million.
#TxLege – Number of tweets Texas legislators sent during the Eighty-fourth session: 40,885. Last session: 17,529. Increase: 133 percent. Percentage of lawmakers on Twitter: 91 percent. Number of people following members: 496,589. Last session: 199,654. Increase: 149 percent.
Fireworking – Number of calls the Lubbock Fire Rescue responded to on Independence Day between ten p.m. and six a.m.: 57. Number of medical calls: 34. Dumpster fires: 8. Grass, tree, or brush fires: 8. Car fires: 1. Burnt food: 1.
Drive-Throughs, Not Drive-Bys – Our state’s most beloved fast-food chain has made a very un-Texas decision. In an open letter, Whataburger president and CEO, Preston Atkinson, made clear that Whataburger “supports customers’ Second Amendment rights and we respect your group’s position, but we haven’t allowed the open carry of firearms in our restaurants for a long time (although we have not prohibited licensed conceal carry). It’s a business decision we made a long time ago and have stood by.” Atkinson explains that people—both employees and customers—have said, basically, they don’t really digest their hamburgers all that well when they see that someone is ready to fire at a few tater cakes, Rooster Cogburn–style. As the Austin Business Journal notes, remember that Whataburger “doesn’t restrict licensed concealed carry.”
Thou Who Smelt It – According to new studies from the EPA, “significantly more methane is spewing into the atmosphere from natural gas wells and other drilling operations in North Texas’s Barnett Shale fields than previously estimated,” reports the Texas Tribune. What is “significantly more”? About 50 percent more. While it’s true that Texas and the EPA have had a feud that seems to be lasting longer than that of the Hatfields and McCoys, the peer-reviewed research “adds to a growing—but still incomplete—body of research into the true climate benefits of shifting away from coal-fired electric plants in favor of natural gas, now abundant thanks to hydraulic fracturing.” The obvious solution? More fracking! “Industry representatives saw the new studies as bolstering arguments about fracking’s role in curbing greenhouse gases.”
Baylor’s Intro to Gay Studies Class – Baylor has taken yet another step toward being a bit more gay-friendly. The institute has “dropped language in its sexual conduct policy specifically outlawing sexual relationships between same-sex partners,” according to the Waco Tribune-Herald, which also notes that “the university does not appear to be endorsing gay and lesbian couples,” and “the policy now no longer outlines specific actions that would be considered violations.” The change, approved by the Board of Regents, is something of a milestone. In 2013 the Student Senate removed the phrase “homosexual acts” from its Sexual Misconduct Code, and WNBA powerhouse Brittney Griner criticized the university in her memoir, published last year.
In Books, Our Vindicator – The Texas-related subject material in a little article from the Washington Post is picking up some national steam. Numerous publication are now shining a spotlight on Texas textbooks, although this time, it has nothing to do with evolution. “New social studies textbooks planned for use in Texas public schools this year are under fire for the way they depict slavery, the Civil War, and racial segregation,” writes the Los Angeles Times. The books appear to “downplay slavery as a cause of the Civil War and ‘barely address’ segregation in the Jim Crow–era South.” Monday’s Washington Post article states that “children are supposed to learn that the conflict was caused by ‘sectionalism, states’ rights, and slavery’—written deliberately in that order to telegraph slavery’s secondary role in driving the conflict, according to some members of the State Board of Education.” One board member defended the decision, saying that “there would be those who would say the reason for the Civil War was over slavery. No. It was over states’ rights,” which is technically true since it was about states’ rights to have, um, slaves. There’s some nit-picky parts but the lengthy story is worth a read.