The State of Texas: October 7, 2015
STAAR tests will slowly get harder, and this year’s Neiman Marcus Christmas Book has been released.
Quote of the Day
Here’s what Seattle Seahawks defensive end and former A&M player Michael Bennett had to say about Lions quarterback Matt Stafford after beating Detroit Monday. Hm.
Michael Bennett: "I don't like Matt Stafford much. He's from Dallas. They killed the President (JFK). … I hold it against him."
— Curtis Crabtree (@Curtis_Crabtree) October 6, 2015
The year’s most popular Halloween costume for nerds is here!
— COSTUMEISH (@costumeish) October 5, 2015
Texas by the Numbers
New Texans — Number of people who moved to Texas from another state last year: 538,572. Rank among states: Second. Number that came from California: 63,591. Florida: 40,930. Oklahoma: 25,096. Number of people who moved out of Texas last year: 437,516. Exodus rank among other states: Third.
Waiting — Average wait time for an abortion in Austin between July and September: 10 days. Estimated number of abortions in Austin per year: 7,488. Wait time in Dallas and Forth Worth between 2013 and April 2014: 5 days or less. June and later: 20 days. Abortions in the DFW per year: 17,660. San Antonio wait time: less than five days. Estimated number of procedures in San Antonio: 13,284.
Cracking Down — The state has had an issue with students unable to pass state standardized tests, so officials are making the obvious change: making the tests harder. “Over the next six years, Texas gradually will make it more difficult to pass its slate of required tests by increasing the number of questions students must answer correctly,” the Houston Chronicle reports. “On Tuesday, however, the Texas Education Agency announced it would increase the passage difficulty more slowly than planned, giving students more time to acclimate to the new challenge.” As the story notes, the state was going to increase the difficulty two years ago, but students’ scores hadn’t improved quickly enough. As reported earlier this year, STAAR results were pretty meh for the fourth year in a row.
Fantasy Land — There is one exception to the “Christmas comes too early every year” gripe, and that is the annual Neiman Marcus Christmas Book — the ultimate “if I were rich” tome. The Dallas-headquartered chain of luxury stores offers gifts such as an Iris Apfel “Trunk of Accessories” from the famous 93-year-old fashion icon. Despite the advertising picture, no, the trunk does not come with Iris stuffed inside. One of the other major gifts is a “experience a 360-degree view of Earth from a luxury, pressurized capsule lifted by a high-altitude balloon that will travel 100,000 feet above the Earth,” for you and seven lucky friends, all at the low-low price of $90,000, the Dallas Business Journal finds. The less adventurous can take a trip to India ($400,000), or buy a motorcycle designed by famed mechanical engineer Keanu Reeves ($150,000). Not flush with cash heading into the holidays? Fear not—there are heart- and snowflake-shaped marshmallows for $10.
Who Trusts God? — The debate over if police patrol cars can have “in God we trust” decals continues. As previously reported, Senator Charles Perry and Representative Drew Springer have asked attorney general Ken Paxton for his opinion on the matter following a controversy in Childress, and Paxton is being surprisingly measured about the decision. “Paxton’s office would only say the issue is important and ‘will go through the opinions process to make a determination on the law, as we do with all attorney general opinions,'” reports the Texas Tribune, though the AG did say that the First Amendment’s “guarantee of free exercise of religion was ‘put there expressly to ensure government doesn’t meddle in people’s most personal relationship … that with their Creator.'”
Wild Men — Rub your eyes, pinch your arm, or slap your cheeks, whatever you need to do to remind yourself that this is not a dream—the Houston Astros have advanced in the playoffs. It’s been about 10 years since the team has gotten this far, and man, does it feel great (“a decade of futility — including three 100-loss years,” as NPR put it). Even better, they took out everyone’s favorite bad guy superstars the New York Yankees on Tuesday night, with pitcher Dallas Keuchel throwing six shutout innings. “The atmosphere at the Stadium, which has been sleepy much of the season, was electric at the start,” the New York Times reports. “By the end of the night, the crowd had turned on the home team, forcefully booing Brett Gardner, who struck out three times, after he grounded out in the eighth and every Yankee thereafter who made out.” If you were reluctant to support them before, it’s time to get on the bandwagon. Even Deadspin agrees, with this detailed “Root for the Astros” piece from Tuesday. The Astros face the Kansas City Royals on Thursday (the Kansas City has a 2-4 losing record against Houston this year), while AL West champs the Texas Rangers take on the Toronto Blue Jays.