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September 4th, 2016:

Weekend link dump for September 4

“I get a lot of emails these days, (a good thing!) and a lot of them involve people sending me links to houses (or pictures of their own) asking me whether or not the house in question is or is not a McMansion. This post aims to explain the important differences between the two.”

“According to a new survey, Project: Time Off and GfK, millennials are actually more likely to see themselves—proudly—as ‘work martyrs’ than older workers and less likely to use all their vacation time.”

“Can Harry Potter defeat Donald Trump? Harry may not be a full-on patronus against the Republican presidential nominee’s appeal, but reading Potter stories does appear to be a shield charm against Trump’s message.”

Two words: Robot octopus. You’re welcome.

What Scalzi says.

Peace breaks out in Colombia.

RIP, Juan Gabriel, Mexican musical superstar.

RIP, Gene Wilder, star of classic movies such as “The Producers”, “Young Frankenstein”, “Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory”, and many more.

“What was once confined to UFO and Big Foot obsessives has now metastasized into the political mainstream and captured one of the nation’s two major parties — with the encouragement of some of its most prominent members.”

Playing the lottery – still a bad idea, one that a lot of people do.

“I don’t want to defeat these folks in a scorched-earth total victory, I want to help them make the right choice at this Trumpian crossroads. I don’t want to shame them, but to help them escape the potential shame they’re in jeopardy of acquiring.”

“Sit! Stay! Good boy! Many of us use such words with our nonhuman best friends every day. Now new research suggests that they may actually understand at least some of what we say—and that they may be paying a lot of attention to how we say it.” Or maybe that’s what they want us to think.

“Buried deep at the bottom — section 136 — of Massachusetts state legislature Bill H.4569 are two paragraphs that could make the Bay State travel in time.”

“Colin Powell’s foundation and Hillary Clinton’s are treated very differently by the media”.

Roving gangs of conservative Republican Congressmen are an increasing hazard.

“Basically, the reason for headlines like this is because Bill Clinton decided after his presidency to set up a large and active foundation that raised a ton of money for exceptionally worthy causes around the world. If he had decided to just lounge around instead, none of this would ever have come up. It’s a little hard to believe that he’s getting so much grief for this.”

“What conservative evangelicals are saying is that there is nothing LGBT people can ever do to convince them that they are worthy of affirmation.”

What Josh Marshall says, times a billion.

State appeals dismissal of anti-refugee lawsuit

Because of course it does.

Texas is appealing the dismissal of its lawsuit against the federal government and a refugee resettlement agency over the placement of Syrian refugees in the state.

In a notice dated Aug. 12, Texas alerted the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals that it would appeal a June decision by Dallas-based U.S. District Judge David Godbey, who ruled the state did not have grounds to sue the federal government over the placement of refugees in Texas and that the state failed to provide a “plausible claim” that a refugee resettlement nonprofit breached its contract.


In his dismissal of the case in June, Godbey reiterated that the state “lacks a cause of action” to enforce that consultation requirement.

The U.S. Department of Justice declined to comment on the case.

In a statement, Jennifer Sime, a senior vice president with the International Rescue Committee, said the group is confident the court will again rule against the state.

“We’re disappointed that some Texas officials are wasting time and resources to re-litigate what a judge has already deemed to be unwarranted action to block Syrian refugees from entering the state,” Sime said.

See here for the background, and here for a copy of the appeal. Not really much to add here – I stand by all the things I’ve said before in this case. And I continue to utterly fail to comprehend the lack of compassion from our elected leaders. The Current has more.

Endorsement watch: The one man term limits debate

Here’s one of the more interesting endorsements so far.

Commissioner Steve Radack

Commissioner Steve Radack

Steve Radack is at once an argument for and against term limits.

The Precinct 3 county commissioner and former Precinct 5 constable, who will turn 67 before Election Day, has been in his seat for 28 years and wants voters to sign him up for 32. Radack’s decades of experience have made him a fount of knowledge about his sprawling west Harris County precinct and all the flooding, traffic and budgetary issues that face the 1 million-plus people who live in the mix of cities and unincorporated county. He’s earned the trust of constituents and is well positioned within the political system, allowing him to break the usual partisan bonds that unfortunately restrain other elected officials.


However, when it comes to passion or new ideas for his sprawling precinct and the county as a whole, the longtime incumbent lacks the excitement and innovation of a bright-eyed upstart trying to impress the public.

When asked about how the county should handle continuing growth in unincorporated regions, Radack’s only major recommendation was allowing the county to assess a sales tax.

Constable and Justice of the Peace precinct lines haven’t been updated in decades, but Radack opposed equalizing their populations because it would disrupt the sitting politicians.

And Radack didn’t exactly show his connection with homeowners’ immediate needs when he spent time during a public meeting on flooding to lament insurance fraud. In a particularly poor choice of words, he said that some people “enjoy floods.”

His concerns may be technically correct, but that’s not what people need to hear after they’ve lost their homes. It isn’t the sort of mistake that a newly elected commissioner would make while still trying to win over the constituency.

I’m often amused by the lack of interest in term limits for County Commissioners, given how much power they wield compared to every non-Mayoral elected official in Houston. Doing such a thing would require a constitutional amendment, so the procedural reticence is understandable, though you’d still think someone would mention it once in awhile. As it happens, there’s been some turnover on the Court recently, though for non-electoral reasons in two of the three cases. Radack is a strong favorite to win his eighth term, though perhaps his recent comments about flooding will dog him. At least he’ll always have this Chron endorsement.