The State of Texas: September 17, 2014
Image of the Day
Not content with 3-D movie experiences? You’re in luck. Plano-based Cinemax is rolling out the concept of a “270-degree panoramic screen.” The new screens will debut in Plano, San Francisco, and Chicago this weekend. First feature on the docket: The Maze Runner.
The State Fair of Texas is almost upon us, and die-hard fried food fans can already smell the grease gettin’ hot. Eater has compiled a list of the freshman items debuting at this year’s fest, and fo those who really want to study their prey before going on the big hunt, the fair’s website provides pictures. It’s food porn at its smuttiest.
Texas by The Numbers
Crash And Boom — Increase of Texas traffic fatalities in 2009: 8 percent. Increase of traffic fatalities linked to commercial vehicles in those years: 51 percent. Increase in oil-boom area of West Texas: 51 percent. In Eagle Ford counties: 11 percent. In Midland County: 47 percent.
Fatter In Texas — State’s rank among most obese: 15th. Obesity rate: 30.9 percent. Rate among Texas high-schoolers: 15.7 percent. In 2011: 19.1.
Smart-ish Cities — Estimated number of Texans who’ve “earned a bachelor’s degree or more in cities with a population of 10,000 people 25 years old and older:” 25 percent. In San Antonio: 24.2 percent. Houston: 28.7 percent. Austin: 44.8. Fort Hood: 12.9 percent. College Station: 56.3 percent.
Un-Sociable Studies — Unlike last year’s battle over science textbooks, the fight over social studies lessons is a subjective nightmare (unless you love revisionist history). More than fifty people from both sides of the political spectrum testified yesterday at State Board Education Meeting about the proper, and improper, message our young minds should be exposed to. Lefty proponents criticized some of the material’s “‘relentless glorification’ of the American free enterprise system,” reports the Austin American-Statesman, as well as the more egregious “cartoon that depicts space aliens coming to Earth because they’ll get preferential treatment thanks to affirmative action policies.” On the right, proponents were suspicious of religious aspects of the books, like the contemporary understanding of a jihad and, somewhat ironically, “publishers pressured into reducing the significance that Christianity and religious liberty has had in our country.” The board is set to vote on the new textbooks in November, although there may be another meeting in October to revisit the various complaints. Perhaps the one thing that most everyone can agree with is the statement by board member Thomas Ratliff: “This process is not going to be perfect … no such thing as a perfect book.” The math department might argue with that last idea.
(Space) Port City — NASA announced yesterday that SpaceX, the company with an eye toward a Texas hub, was one of two private companies contracted to take astronauts into space. Perhaps the best bit of news is that “the deal will end NASA’s expensive reliance on Russia to ferry astronauts to the space station. NASA has set a goal of 2017 for the first launch under the program,” according to the Associated Press. For now, the flights will take off from Florida, but as far as Texas’s future space economy goes, its certainly a rocket blast in the right direction. “[Space X’s] new launch site — which is planned for Boca Chica … — is expected initially to add 300 SpaceX employees in Texas and $85 million in capital investment. SpaceX plans to create 500 jobs over 10 years with more than $51 million annually in salaries.”
Broken Homes — “For the second year in row, a nonprofit ranked Texas the worst nursing home state in the country,” according to KVUE. “[The non-profit] based its grade on federal data, which includes staffing, inspections, deficiencies and complaints. In nearly every criteria Texas failed. In response to the study, the Department of Aging and Disability Services, which regulates nursing homes in Texas, said that it is ‘committed to ensuring that nursing facilities in Texas provide safe, quality services to their residents.'” Among the worst cities for senior care was Amarillo, which “has twice the amount of severe deficiencies, 40 percent compared to the states average of 20 percent,” according to NewsChannel10. For those concerned what will happen if we continue to allow old folks homes to deteroriate, just watch the 2002 horror classic Bubba Ho-Tep.
Border Mecca — Midland County Sheriff Gary Painter is on a crusade. He’s made comments to the national press that Islamic extremists are “going to strike, they’re going to hit .. [and] we do have plans in place, we have an operational plan that’ll work.” Now, it appears, they extremists have landed. Interviewed on Fox by Middle-East expert Elisabeth Hasselbeck, Painter said “‘Quran books’ and ‘Muslim clothing’ have been found near the border … ‘so we know that there are Muslims that have come across and have been smuggled in the United States,'” reports the Midland Reporter-Telegram. For the record, Painter reportedly saw photos of the Islamic paraphernalia but that’s about it. Still, he reiterated that his boys are ready for an attack and advocated bombing ISIS back to the stone age. Or, just all Muslims. “On the issue of distinguishing an ISIS member from a non-extremist Muslim, Painter said he does not know how one would tell ‘one Muslim from the other’ or if there is any difference.” Maybe the state’s proposed social studies textbooks will shed some light on that issue.