The State of Texas: Oct. 8, 2013
Photos of the Day
Like the town cryer of olde, Texas is asking residents to bring out ye dead … trees. A few state departments are requesting photos of the drought to help (as if we needed it) further illustrate the disaster. At least the Houston Chronicle headline comes right out and says it: “Texas collection of everyone’s drought photos is depressing.”
Bum Steer Nominee
Used to be, when you wanted to get out of the house with your drinking buddies, you just told the wifey you were headed to the store for some cigarettes. Apparently, it now involves staging a kidnapping so terrifyingly real that it results in a massive police search involving dozens of officers and a helicopter unit.
Documented in Death — There’s a morbid but necessary story emerging from South Texas. Unsurprisingly, it deals with illegal immigration. Since 2009, Texas has seen a nearly two-fold increase in the number of illegal immigrants crossing over from Mexico, a shift from more western borders. The rise has already caused problems with local infrastructure, but now it appears officials are attempting to deal with the human cost. Both the AP and the Corpus Christi Caller-Times are reporting on Brooks County’s recent policy mandating that all bodies of deceased illegal immigrants be autopsied and, ideally, identified. “The early results are promising. Brooks County has sent sixteen bodies to [the medical examiner’s] office since the policy change in mid-August. She identified three by dental records and other measures, and tentatively identified five more, pending DNA samples submitted by relatives.” The policy is big news since “Brooks County is the epicenter for migrant deaths in South Texas … Remains of 129 people were recovered … in 2012, setting a record.” The effort brings up some pretty tough questions surrounding the border security and immigration debate. On the one hand, identifying the dead is a moral and ethical obligation of the living. On the other hand, it’s a lot of manpower and money, especially for struggling local governments. And on the other hand … kidding, this isn’t a Thomas Friedman piece. It’ll be worth seeing how Brooks County keeps its wits without breaking the bank or its spirit.
#NCAAFreakout — Before leaving the university this summer, A&M president and eternal fashion icon, R. Bowen Loftin* tarnished the institution’s good name and standing with the NCAA thanks to a gross violation of rules and procedures. Or, rather, Loftin’s Twitter attempt at being a gracious host ran afoul of the NCAA’s labyrinthian rulebook. It was reported Monday that during the summer, Loftin tweeted “Enjoyed meeting you yesterday during your visit to #TAMU” to a young prospect. Doing so, however, “was a violation of NCAA bylaw 13.10.5, which states that ‘a member institution shall not publicize (or arrange for publicity of) a prospective student-athlete’s visit to the institution’s campus…,'” according to the local newspaper, the Eagle. Shockingly, the stadium walls didn’t crumble after the violation. Even the aftermath of this “technical infraction” was tame. The school self-reported the problem, and Loftin was all, like, “Well, write me up. Report me. I messed up.” The most entertaining part of the story, however, all of NCAA’s bylaws in its 600-page rulebook, which is so confusing even professional rule-makers don’t know where to pass judgement. A lawyer with NCAA experience was quoted in the piece trashing Loftin before turning to trash the athletic organization. “If it’s too big and too long maybe he should vote to make it shorter,” said Richard G. Johnson, who then comments on “how ridiculous the NCAA is to begin with.” There is, of course, one solution. And it has a little to do with Tweeting angry hashtags: time to #Occupy the NCAA, as Texas Monthly‘s own sideline reporter Jason Cohen suggested last month.
Border-to-Border Plot? — This definitely seems like something to keep an eye on: The FBI has raided homes and property in both Michigan and Texas, all connected to the same individuals. And “although the searches involved hazardous materials, it was determined there was ‘absolutely no danger to anyone,'” according to officials who spoke to the AP. All great news, except the FBI isn’t saying a damn thing about the investigation. They have, however, been entering the homes in Hazmat suits, giving this whole scene an eerie E.T. vibe. All anyone really knows is that agents blew some stuff up (controlled and intentional) and that the properties belong to an art appraising couple from Houston. Though very speculative, a “neighbor told KHOU 11 News that authorities are investigating an online threat against the government.” As Americans make such threats on an hourly basis these days, this one must’ve been more serious than your average angry tweet. In the words of the Drudge Report: “Developing …”
While NASA’s Away, The Geeks Will Play — The gummit shutdown has its negative sides: closed parks, closed preschools, general disappointment with our politicians not doing their job. But there are perks: more free time, less traffic, and politicians not doing their job. Now comes news that people are starting to really let loose with less oversight. Last week, a website claiming to be part of a NASA project, said “The biggest discovery that will shake the earth,” would soon be announced, according to the Houston Chronicle. Since no one “could ring up a spokesperson at NASA proper,” the advertised announcement began reaching takeoff speed. Some speculated that it might be a phishing scam, though few if any news outlets thought we’d found Elvis living a humble existence on Mars. The grand reveal? A simple Internet hoax. Nothing more than a Rickrolling troll effort of “meh” proportions. Even the music video, Beeki Vendi’s Purple Ninja, is bland. If these pranks don’t get better, it may be necessary to get the politicians back to work so we can have dependable comic relief.
Kolache Kings — Southern food writer John T. Edge is forgiven (somewhat) for his drive-through piece questioning the reign of Texas BBQ and our own Daniel Vaughn. And that’s only because he has a piece in yesterday’s New York Times spotlighting Texans’ other dietary stable, the kolache. The piece has all the Texas-related kolache news that can be reasonably stuffed into a single page. The gem might be one Texan saying “Kolaches are in the love-child phase of their development.” The whole thing’s worth digesting, though it’s not recommended on an empty stomach.
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*A previous version of this article referred to R. Bowen Loftin as the former president of A&M, when he is, in fact, still the president of the university. We regret the error.