The State of Texas: March 25, 2014
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Johnny Manziel is proof that short guys can do anything. Including post mildly entertaining Instagram videos of themselves dunking basketballs. Up next for the soon-to-be pro player: a rap album with Drake.
The king of the balking-conventional-wisdom-trend-piece, Malcom Gladwell, has aimed his pen on Mount Carmel, Seventh-Day Adventists, and the disaster that was the Waco Siege. Gladwell’s seven-page piece in The New Yorker is a throwback to his simpler days: detailed, straightforward, and full of insights about alternative, end-times religious groups. This year marks the twenty-first anniversary of that terrifying incident.
spOILed — The Houston Ship Channel won’t reopen today. “A total of 81 vessels waited Monday to move through the channel as authorities continued efforts to contain and recover oil,” according to the Houston Chronicle, which also notes that tar balls are beginning to wash ashore on tourist beaches. About 168,000 gallons of oil were spilled after a channel collision, and the environmental and economic impact are still being assessed. The Texas Tribune makes an effort at a starting point, writing that the “most recent oil spill of a comparable size off the coast of Texas occurred in 2010, when close to a half-million gallons of oil ended up in the Port Arthur Ship Channel.” The economic impact of this latest incident, predicts the Tribune, will be worse. And the bad news gushes forth with the ecological impact. At least one flock of oil-covered birds has already been documented by KPRC. Not a good start, especially since “about 50,000 birds and more than 50 species call the Bolivar Flats Shorebird Sanctuary home.” The serious problem is that the spill happened in open water, so no ones quite sure how devastating this will be to the local environment.
Auto-Dealer-in-Chief — Tesla, the electric car company, may not come to Texas because of our regulations concerning auto manufacturers and dealerships. Thankfully, Texas’s most powerful salesman, Governor Rick Perry, isn’t going to take this lying down. Monday, Perry was featured on FOX Business, saying it was time for some changes and even called those auto rules “antiquated.” It’s at least $5 billion, we’re talking here! Sounding a bit more presidential diplomatic than he does when enticing gun manufacturers and companies in general, Perry said “I think it’s time for Texans to have an open conversation about this, the pros and the cons … I’m gonna think the pros of allowing this to happen outweigh the cons.” Perry’s clearly been doing a lot of reflection lately. First weed, now electric cars.
Beto-Testing — If ya squint real hard, freshman Congressman Beto O’Rourke kinda looks like a young Rick Perry. At the very least, political observers are eying him as a potential future threat in Texas. On Sunday, NPR’s Weekend Edition featured the U.S. Represenative from El Paso in a story that highlighted his various (and curious) positions for a Lone Star player: he wants to legalize weed and doesn’t pander when it comes to the costly attempts at border security. Yesterday, Washington, D.C.’s The Hill piggybacked on the story with one of their own, which began by noting that Beto was an actual rock-and-roller before his current track of becoming a political rock star. The real focus, however, is Beto’s effort to turn the border into an economic advantage rather than a xenophobic disadvantage. Whether he’s actual got the goods or this is just liberal-friendly outlets once again excited by a pretty, crusading young star, is something that’s still making its way through customs.
Going Natural — Some positive news for all you hikers, bikers, ornithophiles, and tree-huggers: Texas Parks and Wildlife Department wants to open thousands of acres of beautiful Texas countryside to the public. The story, from the Austin American-Statesman, focuses on one Hill Country tract that is “replete with salmon-colored, smooth-trunked madrone trees and a bucolic swimming spot,” but TPWD has spots east, west, north and south. The only problem is that of all those wonderful trees in the tracts, none are growing money. For instance, the Hill Country tract would cost $16 million to develop and $500,000 annual for operations. Reps in the state house are trying to get more funds via “a sales tax on fishing equipment, tennis rackets and other sporting goods.” The one place they could really get some green? Gun sales. Because firearms and conservation really do go together like nuts and chocolate in trail mix.