Showing posts with label news. Show all posts
Showing posts with label news. Show all posts

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Because Texas Lawmakers Run Totally Unopposed - Sep. 1 Was SWORD DAY

Here in the great State of Texas, it is now somewhat legal to brandish a sword in public.  Basically the conservatives have been in charge my entire life, and have run out of things to conserve.  I wish I was kidding, but that's how we wasted an entire session trying to tell transgendered people where and how to pee.

So, they're also doing stuff like worrying about your right to carry a sword in public, which was apparently a problem for someone.

The Texas Law Hawk is here to protect your rights and provide some consultation.

He is a real lawyer.  And, some say, a hero.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Be Super: Let's Help Houston



I do not expect most people to understand Houston.  I don't get it, and I go there pretty often and have friends there.  Lived north of there myself back in the 1990's.  It's easy to write-off as a city in dumb 'ol Texas that's probably getting what it deserves.  Look, Houston, like any place on Earth, has its issues.  But it's not some backwater redneck town.  At least it hasn't been since the 1980's.

Houston is not just a well-populated metroplex - fourth largest in the country - it's a multi-ethnic, international mix of people with a vibe all its own, a place of genuine opportunity, and full of fine, hard-working people of all stripes.

It is geographically huge.  Because so much looks the same in the shots they're using in the news footage, that's difficult to get, but what considers itself "Houston" covers roughly fifty to seventy miles across in any direction.  These days I don't know when you quit saying you're out of "Houston" when you go up I-45, but it's all one corridor til you leave Conroe, so that's more or less an hour and a half on the road that's all one town.  And it does the same going East/ West.

And all of it's in trouble.  Since my last post on Houston, I've seen footage of the area where I went to high school under varying levels of water.  For some reason the thing that broke me was seeing St. Ignatius Loyola, the Catholic Church I only stepped in once, submerged under 3 feet of water, at least.  St. Ignatius was the church of many of my friends, it's a positive force in the community, and I don't recall them ever receiving flooding before.



I've heard stories of a colleague who was canoed out of her home with her two children and husband, another colleague's parents who were also rescued.  Another friend's mom (who just lost her husband a year ago) is staying with a friend as her house is flooded.  It's everywhere.  I don't know how we can expect a city of millions to recover.

And as a double-hit, I know a lot of Katrina refugees wound up in Houston.

So, as too few of us own boats or helicopters, I'm suggesting we do a little something to give.

I guess it's people being people, but already we're seeing articles complaining about various charitable organizations trying to help out Houston.  We're going to ignore that and provide a menu of folks who can provide a direct line of help:




Houston is nothing if not stubborn and resilient.  As much as I believe in the spirit of Austin, I recognize and appreciate the heart that is Houston.  Good people live there.  There's a kindness to the city that's genuine.

Just as Houston is a city of people who can fight their way back.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

My State is in a State of Disaster - Hurricane Harvey

Houston, from KHOU's website


I know the weather is probably lovely wherever you are.  Here in Texas, we're getting devastated by Hurricane Harvey.

I've lived in Texas most of my life, and Austin for most of that.  Every time a hurricane has made its way toward the coast, I genuinely worry for our coastal cities but roll my eyes at the dire warnings for Austin.  We're a good 3.5 - 4 hours to Galveston Island or Corpus Christi, driving wise.  A Straight line to the coast is still something like 150 miles away as the crow flies.


As news channels tried to get the story localized, I've filled bathtubs and whatnot in the past, and - of course - nothing happened.  So I wasn't expecting much out of Harvey.

But, look...  that is not what happened.  Hurricane Harvey is set to drop record levels of water and do record levels of damage to the Texas Coast and Houston.

For those of you from out-of-state, Houston is built in a mix of forested swamp land and marsh/ bayous on the very flat Texas coastal plain.  Arguably, it's not the best place for human habitation, but there's some history there for why the city exists, and a lot of it has to do with the utter destruction of Galveston, a prime shipping port in the 19th Century, and Houston picking up the baton in the 20th Century.  Galveston was leveled by, you guessed it, a nightmarish hurricane (the death toll was over 6000), and never recovered.

The storm changed to a Category 4 Hurricane just before landfall on Friday.  Since that time, the hurricane has parked itself on the coast, reducing in speed but not energy, harvesting moisture from the Gulf of Mexico and dumping it as far inland as where I live.  It's been raining since right after midnight early Saturday morning.  And not just a drizzle.  It's been pouring.

Rockport, Texas - a coastal town where a lot of Texans take their holiday - has been ravaged, Corpus has been heavily hit, and Houston is dealing with wind, rain and now massive flooding.



Between graduating from high school north of Houston (Go, Klein Oak HS Panthers!), a career that involved me with universities across Texas and general intra-state migration, I've got pals scattered across this state, and a good number of people in Houston and in outlying areas.  And friends' parents.  Heck, our own RHPT has a lot of people in Houston.

This is a full blown natural disaster, and if I am cheered, it's that - so far - the death count is very low.  If I am concerned, it's that so many cities, towns and suburbs are being damaged and destroyed, and right now those people I care about are huddled and riding this thing out.  You can read up on what's happening all over the web, but this will all get worse before it gets better, and could go through Thursday.

Here in Austin, I'm hiding out on my sofa, watching The Weather Channel and listening to the rain and wind bang around outside my own house.  I keep checking the ceilings to see if we've got any leaks.  So far, so good.  The dogs are bored and ready to get outside (that isn't happening).  I'm beginning to anticipate we won't have work tomorrow as UT tries not to bring anyone in during inclement weather events as they employ thousands and have 50,000 students who would descend upon the city.  So, we'll see.

So far, we've had several between 7.5 and 8.25 inches of rain in 36 hours or so.  Austin is technically kind of desert-y, so, that's a lot.  Our creeks will begin flooding here shortly, but it's not like it can be when we see flash flooding during spring downpours that can't be absorbed by the ground and cause a tremendous amount of damage (that's usually just a few inches, but in, like, an hour).

Anyway, keep the Texas Coast in your thoughts.  Give to Red Cross.  Don't spend time thinking about how Houston somehow brought this on themselves.  A lot of people are going to need a lot of help once the clouds break.




Friday, August 18, 2017

In the Wake of Charlottesville



I don't know what to tell you.

Normally we use this space to talk about movies and comics, maybe a book we read.  But, at the moment, we're way past normal.  Or, at least, the past year has stripped away the veneer of how we thought things worked and we're now dealing with what we always kind of knew was out there, but just didn't show it's face.

That's wrong, too.  It did.  It's all over twitter and has been boiling over in the comments on legitimate news sites and in our facebook feed from people we used to know in high school.

It's always there, from our complacence in the face of the social inequities we see (and tell ourselves nice creation myths rather than grappling with multi-generational issues), to legislation intended to discriminate, to how we think about perpetually skewed law-enforcement records to how we whisper certain words.  I'm as white a cracker as you're going to find.  I might as well have "privilege" stamped across my forehead, and I see this stuff everywhere, and I've seen it defended and warped and refracted through appropriated slogans and an unending sea of false equivalencies that don't hold up to the slightest examination.  And, because I'm coming from a place of privilege, I have to accept that I'm only seeing a fraction of it.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Women's March in Austin, 01/21/2017

I'm the guy in the Superman shirt


I hadn't really planned to go to the Women's March in Austin early in the week.  While I understood and supported the idea (more on that later), I also am of the opinion that the last thing anyone needs at a march for women's rights - and as the event drew closer, LBGQT rights, the rights of POC, the rights of people non-Christian faiths, the rights of immigrants - was to have a giant, 40'ish, straight, white man standing in the middle taking up space.

"Will you be going to any of the marches?" a colleague asked me.
"There's not really a march for boring white dudes," I said.
"Well, you could always come out in support."

Support, indeed.  Maybe I wouldn't just be in the way.  When I mentioned maybe going to Jamie, she was on the idea like white on rice (and hadn't asked because she knows I like my Saturdays for coffee and contemplation.  Sometimes we do that thing where we don't ask each other if the other wants to do something because we both assume the other won't want to, but we're both into the idea), and because Jamie is a woman and I support her, we were off to the races.

Now, this isn't a blog on politics, and despite my personal misgivings about the new president and his crew, I am not planning to turn this into my soapbox (much).  But, I gotta be me, and so occasionally don't be shocked if you see a This Moment in History (tmih) post, or an Actual History or news post.  Or, even something personal.

And, yeah, participating in one of the largest collective protests the country has ever seen (and I will go to my grave telling you that the 50K number being quoted for walkers at today's march in Austin is too conservative an estimate) is something I did, it was a newsworthy event, and so, it's going to wind up on this site.  You don't have to read the posts and you don't have to care.  There's no fee either way.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Wishing Carrie Fisher the Best


Like all of you, I saw the news about Carrie Fisher earlier today, and, yes, I also am heartbroken to hear she's ill.

I hope the love we *all* have for Ms. Fisher reaches her, can help her and speeds her recovery.  It can't hurt to have everyone on the face of the Earth pulling for you.

Here's to the lady who carries hope with her.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

In the Wake of Election 2016



Well, this is the strangest twenty-four hour period I can recall in quite a while.

I've been steering clear of talking too much because so much has already been said, and, what have I got to add at this point?  I've not been engaging with folks much online - I don't really know how to respond.  I'm used to seeing my candidates take it on the chin - I live in Texas after all - but I'd bought the pollsters telling me how this was gonna go, and I kind of figured enough of America knew a boorish charlatan when they saw one, and we were going to see a bit of grudging sanity play out.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Saturday, October 22, 2016

TL;DR: Wonder Woman at 75, at the United Nation and 'Wonder Woman v.2 #170'



Yesterday was, apparently, the official 75th birthday of Wonder Woman.  As part of that event, Wonder Woman was made a Special Ambassador of the United Nations, an icon for new efforts within the UN to speak on behalf of gender equality.

I don't know how much of Wonder Woman's origins most people know, or how hung up they are on some of the more salacious details of creator William Moulton Marston's personal life, or how that played out on the comics page.  But I do know that Marston was sincere in his interest to create a strong female superhero, not just with whom little girls could identify, but for little boys to understand that women could do all the things that men can do.  They can leap into the fray and they stand as equals (although I'd argue Marston may have had a bit more of an ideal of a matriarchy in mind even more than than just an egalitarian ideal).

"Wonder Woman" TV star Lynda Carter was in attendance

Monday, October 10, 2016

This Moment in History: Trump is Basically the Bad Guy from "Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo", Except Worse, and Trying to be President



This isn't a political blog or news blog.  In general, I don't talk sex, religion or politics here because - while this is my personal website and journal and I reserve the right to write about whatever strikes my fancy - I've done this long enough to note what's worth it and what isn't, where I have something to add, or where I don't when it comes to putting things out to the public.

This year has been one for the record books, but it's also been one that's been coming for a long time.  I see a lot of friends on Facebook saying "more people need to say X" or "be vocal about Y", and, yeah, I basically don't do that.  Not on Facebook.  Anyone who actually knows me knows where I stand on issues that are sometimes considered political and I hope they know where I stand on moral issues.  But I'm about as likely to talk about my political preferences on Facebook as I am in mixed company at work.

I hadn't planned to write anything on this until the days just prior to the election while early voting was still underway.  But, at long last, after two Presidential Debates in which a candidate for the dominant party of my state and who could, conceivably, take office, has proven he has no shred of decency, is likely to abuse his power, endanger my fellow countrymen and certainly the lives of anyone outside our borders - who has now sworn he would seek to put his political opponents behind bars - now seems like a damn good time to say something.  I am disheartened by anyone who feels the need to impress Billy Bush with language reserved for 19 year-old virgins lying to their dorm-mates, but... c'mon.  Trump's record to date has been one of hating everyone who wasn't a white male or a model who was willing to let him "move on her".

We're in an election cycle that, if you'd asked me in 2008 what I saw as a worst-case scenario for the election and we'd used a bracketing system to determine who I really didn't want to see running against each other - this would have been my doomsday scenario.  But it's also the endgame of the trends in American politics that have been bubbling since before 2000, the longtail effect of splintered media and the echo chamber of social media.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Saturday, July 9, 2016

This Week's Tragedy in Dallas and Beyond


As a record of what occurred this week -

Alton Sterling, an African American man, was killed in Baton Rouge, Louisiana by two police officers during an arrest.  Witnesses and video of the incident indicate that the police were unwarranted in the shooting, that Sterling was upset but not able to resist - and the video definitely shows an immobile Sterling shot at point blank range by the officers.

In Minnesota, Philandro Castile, another African American man, was shot and killed by a police officers while reaching for identification while seated in his car with his girlfriend and a 4 year old child.  Castile's girlfriend live-streamed the video of what occurred to Facebook.  The video is available on YouTube and other locations as of this writing.

Thursday, 7/7, peaceful protests were scheduled in most major population centers, part of what has become known as #blacklivesmatter, a movement intended to draw attention to the unjustly assumed guilt,lives lost to police bullets, and the situation of African Americans in the United States in regards to overly violent responses of police especially in cases involving Black men and women.  

On Thursday evening, as the protest march drew to a close in Dallas, Texas around 8:45 P.M., a sniper began firing from the rooftops, striking 11 officers and killing five.  In the chaos, no civilians were injured, one man was briefly mistaken as a suspect and then cleared, and three wound up in custody and the/ a gunman was killed by police in the early morning hours of 7/8.

The sniper was targeting white officers, and details are still coming out about his background (but less, so far, about the three others held in custody).

To add to the confusion, the police used a remote controlled robotic device mounted with a bomb to approach and kill the gunman and bring the threat to a definite conclusion.

In short, it's been an awful week.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

It's all about The Harriets: Harriet Tubman replaces Andrew Jackson on the Twenty Dollar Bill


Late Edit:  A more full story in the NYT tells me some of what you see below isn't entirely correct.  Looks like MLK, Sojourner Truth, Susie B. and Eleanor Roosevelt all made the cut in their own way.

Though the changes seem to take place infrequently, the US Currency does, in fact, change over time.  Bills don't look the same way they did when I was in college, and I couldn't tell you what's on the back of a quarter, because I don't think they've printed two alike in 10 years as they've been featuring imagery connected with all 50 states.

A couple of years ago, someone noticed that US currency, when it carried a depiction of a human, was adorned almost entirely with the images of old, dead white men.  That's the way its been my whole life, and - as a white guy, I hadn't thought about it a tremendous amount, or any more than I think about why they use yellow in the middle of a road or why Wendy's Hamburgers are square.  That's just a thing that was that way when I showed up.  The only real challenge to this notion has been the Susan B. Anthony dollar coin and the not-much-used Sacagawea coin, which I only get as change from vending machines.  But on our paper currency?  White dudes.  Just like movies starred white dudes and looking at most of Congress?  White.  Dudes.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Murder on the University of Texas Campus



Waller Creek runs alongside and through the University of Texas campus.  At all points, it's been left alone, one of the few places where a narrow strip of "what was" winds and trickles between buildings and along roads, a narrow grove of trees surrounding it on both sides for the entire run.  It's not just a ditch or arroyo.  It's a deep cleft in the earth, ten feet down or more in most spaces.

When I was a student living in Jester Dorm, we all took a shortcut from the parking lot a fair distance from the dorm, where we'd have to descend into the wooded creekbed, hop across the rocks poking out of the water in our Doc Martens and Adidas, and then mount the steep rise to pop back out of the treeline and onto the athletic field backed up to the monstrosity that was my home for a year.  There, the creek ran wide and shallow.  Twenty-odd years later, a bridge spans that area.

Further toward MLK, the creek runs even more deep and wide, and I've seen exotic fisher birds standing at the water's edge, odd and out of place with five lanes of traffic on the bridge running by them 20 yards away and 13 story dorms looming in the background, but a reminder that this creek is part of the world, that the campus came long afterward, and may well be here long after the buildings are torn down and the people all gone.  

A couple hundred feet from my freshman-year short-cut, Waller Creek also runs behind The Alumni Center, a facility conveniently located across a wide street from Darrell K. Royal - Texas Memorial Stadium.  The Alumni Center is a low-slung facility, lodge-like, great for banquets and housing the loyal donors on gameday, windows facing the trees reaching up out of the creekbed.  This intersection also includes a classroom building for the Fine Arts as well as the Performing Arts building.



On Monday morning, the UT Austin Police, alerted by a roommate to the fact a freshman was missing, began searching for the missing student.  Around 10:30AM Tuesday, police found the student in Waller Creek behind the Alumni Center.  

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Attacks in Belgium


We'd be remiss if we did not mention the attacks in Belgium in the wake of the capture of terrorists earlier this week.

The cowardice of these attacks and the hopeless attempts to frighten civilized peoples are shameful and an insult to any decency.  Strength of character and reason prevail.

Friday, February 26, 2016

A Short Stay in Houston: Old Pals, Work Stuff, a GOP Debate




This week I was in Houston for a short conference at which I presented.  A nice, friendly little conference we have once a year with folks that have known each other a while, and where new folks are usually made to feel very welcome.

I was staying at the hotel on campus, a Hilton commissioned by the late, great Conrad Hilton as part of the hotel management school at the University of Houston that bears his name.  During the conference, the candidates for the Republican party were slated to have a debate on the other end of campus, but CNN had set up adjacent to the library.  So, yes, yesterday I saw the back of Anderson Cooper's magnificently silver head.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

If you see me on the news, it's going to be because I followed my lesser angels



So, a while back I scheduled myself to be at a conference at the University of Houston.  It's a small, local conference and important to my professional community.

And, ha ha, that is the same campus at the same time where the Republican Party has scheduled it's next debate.  That's right.  As I'm eating the most-food like substance librarian money can buy and talking about the excitement of Thesis and Dissertation workflow over a glass of iced tea, somewhere on that same campus, Trump, Rubio and Cruz will be hollering at each other.

It's gonna be a disaster.

I was working at Arizona State University when President Bush and Senator Kerry had a debate on campus, and it was one of the worst days at that job.  And that was a job where I pulled all-nighters and 100 hour weeks.  Basically, it was super loud and crazy on campus, and I failed to leave early (because I was working.  Like a chump.) and it took me two hours to get home as a post 9-11 Secret Service thought it wise to shut down all the useful roads.

So, we'll see what's up.  Could be fine, but I'm staying at a hotel on campus that I assume will be filled with press and party faithful, so, if I get no sleep Wednesday or Thursday night, I blame the free-wheeling ways of an overly-excited bunch of political conservatives loaded up on Pixie Sticks and too many sodas.

Basically, I'm saying - I may go dark for a few days.  Unless, of course, I see a news camera.  In which case - LOOK FOR ME.  Then, send bail.  Because I have a LOT to say about this election cycle.  Also: workflow for theses and dissertations.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Tragedy in Paris



Like all of you, I am furious to read about the terrorist attacks in Paris.  May all free nations unite to fight and end this barbarity.

We're with France.  May the U.S. always remember the great debt we owe France, and always be among the first to lend aid.

Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité

Saturday, June 27, 2015

This Moment In History: Supreme Court Rules for Equality for Same-Sex Marriage

Taking a break from pop-culture commentary and irrelevant minutia to reflect on the overall cultural thunderstrike that came across the internet this morning.  The Supreme Court, in a 5-4 ruling, has legalized same-sex marriage in the United States.  

No doubt the armies of lawyers and pundits are lining up to stoke the fires and make some money off good old fashioned rage.  It's to be expected.  But today I think we broke through another barrier.  We abandoned separate rules for a class of our citizenry for a common definition of the most important conscious relationship most people ever enter.


I am aware not all of my readership shares my belief that this ruling reflects part of America's steady progress in recognizing the rights of all its citizens.  Here I have to break with you, but I hope you know, it's with an olive branch extended.  Recognizing the equality of love between two people as they define that relationship, not hemmed in by concepts of gender or adherence to non-legal codes, whether the Supreme Court had stepped in or not, seems to me an act of human decency.  At the heart of that of all of this is the word "love", and it seems that a victory for love should only be amplified by an extension of some of the same with an open hand rather than a closed fist.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Tragedy in South Carolina

What can you say in the face of this kind of horror?  

Today is a day to mourn.  Tomorrow and afterward, we need to be better and to never, ever take another excuse nor tolerate the terrorizing and murder of our fellow citizens by anyone.

Speak up.  Say something.  We're a better nation than this.  Humanity is better.



Remember Charleston.  Remember every injustice.  No more excuses.  No more silence.  We shouldn't have returned to the methods and hatred of the 1960's in our lifetime.  Make it a better tomorrow.