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Dispatches from Dallas, March 31 edition

This is a weekly feature produced by my friend Ginger. Let us know what you think.

This week in Dallas news: Carroll ISD (Southlake) bails out of TASB in a new phase in the reactionary war on Texas public schools; more on TFG and the symbolism of his Waco visit; Dallas-area cops should not be left alone with computers; get ready for a Taylor Swift exhibit; the menu at Globe Life Field for the upcoming baseball season; and a baby giraffe at the Dallas Zoo.

The big news this week is that Carroll ISD (Southlake) has voted to end its membership in the Texas Association of School Boards. The news video accompanying this article is worth the two minutes of your time; it makes clear what’s going on. State Representative Brian Harrison, R-Midlothian, sent out letters to 1000 school districts to start an exodus from TASB. Similarly, and perhaps surprisingly, the local Fox outlet has a good story on the decision to withdraw (4 minute video). The Fox coverage also talks about the general state of Carroll ISD, one of the first districts targeted by reactionaries for bringing in DEI policies, “CRT”, and other “woke” policies. DEI initiative started after a 2018 incident in which students were caught in video using the N word; in 2021 and 2022 reactionaries captured the board, and the rejection of TASB is one outcome.

You may recall that TASB is also related to the case of Marvin Lowe, the Frisco ISD trustee. He was accused of harassing a trans student at a TASB conference in San Antonio last October. It won’t surprise me if Frisco decides to follow Carroll’s example in the near future.

As noted by Charles here, the The Book-Loving Texan’s Guide to the May 2023 School Board Elections is a resource for finding out about the candidates your local school board election. The document is mostly focused on north Texas districts (Frisco is on the list and Richardson, which is the district my home is zoned into, is in progress), but Houston area districts like Katy and Humble are also included. And they’re also working on central Texas districts like Dripping Springs. While this resource is focused on book banning, that’s a good proxy for anti-DEI, anti-“CRT”, and anti-“woke” sentiment in general.

If this topic interests you, I strongly recommend Clarity & Anger, the substack of Frank Strong, an Austin teacher who put together the Book-Loving Texan’s Guide. His newsletter will keep you up to date on what the bibliophobes and “woke”-haters are up to, and there’s a free tier. I found him on Mastodon, which is where I hang out now that Twitter is toxic. While I can’t say I exactly enjoy reading about haters, I do feel better informed.

In other news:

  • A few notes about TFG’s Waco speech.
    • First, in corrections, I initially read that TFG was speaking on the anniversary of the end of the siege; instead he spoke last weekend at the anniversary of the beginning.
    • These two articles that quote Senator Cornyn’s reaction may interest you: GOP Senators Break With Trump Over ‘Offensive’ Jan. 6 Tribute At Texas Rally and Top Republicans balk at Trump highlighting Jan. 6 rioters, calling it politically unwise. Obviously it’s a long time until Cornyn faces the GOP primary field again, but I’m putting a pin in it for 2026.
    • Talking Points Memo again points to the choice of Waco as a venue and the commemoration of the Branch Davidian standoff in this post. There are a couple of follow-up reader notes on the same topic that are also worthwhile. Those of us who are old enough to remember Waco as it happened recall how awful it was, not least because it embodied the fever dream of angry white men holding out against federal force. We have too many angry people with guns in Texas to encourage fighting the federal government in 2023.
  • Department of “Dallas cops can’t use computers”, part one for this week: What’s known about the 21 cases reviewed for missing, deleted Dallas police evidence [Archive link] and Is missing Dallas police evidence impacting murder cases? Defense lawyers want answers [Archive link]. The city of Dallas is going to be sorting this out for a long time; the screwups involve both current cases and cases already decided. It’s also going to cost the city and the court system to retry cases and to compensate any defendants who receive a not guilty verdict in retrials. It implicates the credibility of the police and their evidence in future cases. All of this is bad for the judicial system, which has plenty of problems without the police losing or destroying evidence, but DPD brought these further problems on themselves by sloppy evidence handling.
  • Department of “Dallas cops can’t use computers”, part two for this week: Dallas County says sold computers may have contained the public’s personal info. [Archive link]. Short version: the Dallas County Sheriff’s Department failed to properly wipe computers that were taken out of service and sold at auction, so they may still contain confidential information from the county’s internal court databases. Oops.
  • Shared Air DFW is a visualization resource for air pollution in the Metroplex. It takes data from air quality monitors (currently 100 are being distributed throughout the region) to show real-time air quality online. It’s good that we can now see this information but the information is depressing. It’s a UT Dallas project, so thanks to UT Dallas and the funders. Related, from the Texas Tribune: The EPA wants to limit how much soot you breathe. Here’s what it means for Texas and one of its historic Black towns. Joppa, the freedman’s town in question, is less than 10 miles from downtown Dallas. The Shared Air project is concentrating early efforts there precisely because their air quality is so poor.
  • On a sad note for me personally, my advisor at Rice passed away earlier this month. Dr. Katherine Fischer Drew was a fantastic teacher, historian, and leader in her discipline, as you can see in her obituary at the Houston Chronicle. She touched a lot of lives, including mine, and I’m grateful for the advice I got from her and the lessons I learned in and out of her classes.
  • Carnivorous Plant Gallery Known as the Texas Triffid Ranch Is Closed for Good. I’m also sad about this; I have friends who had visited the ranch and I’d seen some of the plants at events at the Perot (Dallas’ science museum) before the pandemic. I never managed to get out to the ranch myself, unfortunately. I wish Mr. Riddell the best in his future endeavors and hope to see the plants he sent to the Arboretum this spring.
  • A 24-Inch Burger is Among Six New Food Items for the 2023 Season at Globe Life Field. Posting this in the hopes it will lure Charles up here this summer for a game and to try the food. I personally am going to have some of the Hurtado barbecue the next time we go with a baseball-oriented friend.
  • From my inbox: Taylor Swift isn’t just coming to Arlington to perform. She’s also the subject of the Arlington Museum’s summer exhibit: Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour Collection will be here from June through September for all your Swift needs. Tickets go on sale April 13 for members, and April 17 for the rest of us.
  • Hipster ’80s-style roller skating rink to wheel into Dallas Design District. I’m already asking around for my friends to join me when this opens for both events: the visit to the roller rink and the visit to the ER that will inevitably follow when I break something falling on my butt.
  • Last but not least, in baby animal news: It’s a girl: Dallas Zoo welcomes 131-pound giraffe calf [Archive link.] No name yet for the baby girl. I’m really excited about this one; giraffes are my favorite animal.

Weekend link dump for March 26

“Sending new moms to prison has devastating consequences. Some states are starting to rethink the practice.”

“Fox may be forced to read an apology on air or something, but the audience still loves the product. It’s basically the W.W.E. for this kind of world.”

“Now you may wonder if there can be any number at all that is not interesting. That question quickly leads to a paradox: if there really is a value n that has no exciting properties, then this very fact makes it special. But there is indeed a way to determine the interesting properties of a number in a fairly objective way—and to mathematicians’ great surprise, research in 2009 suggested that natural numbers (positive integers) divide into two sharply defined camps: exciting and boring values.”

“Ohio State To Supreme Court: Please Stop People From Suing Us Over Athletics Doctor’s Sexual Abuse“. By the way, if The Ohio State’s argument sounds familiar, it’s because SCOTUS has ruled in favor of a similar defendant on that argument before. If and when they take this case and OSU wins, it will be history repeating itself in a bad way.

“Hunter Biden is apparently sick and tired of being a silent Republican punching bag. He’s going on offense, suing the computer repair shop owner who gave his private information to the Republican operatives who then spread it as far and wide as they were able.”

“As the age for collecting full Social Security benefits increases, persons who retire at age 62 will see a greater reduction in their Social Security benefits.”

“These unflattering photos do what kids do best: they wholeheartedly engage with the present moment.”

Leave Flaco the Central Park Owl alone!

What makes March Madness special is things like pep band solidarity and singing your way around NCAA rules. If you know, you know.

“Why You Should Opt Out of Sharing Data With Your Mobile Provider”.

Is the Western drought finally ending? That depends on where you look”.

“But has the United States fully internalized the lessons of the Iraq War? Two decades later it is clear that Washington still has crucial lessons to absorb.”

“Fox News Sues Fox News Producer Who Is Suing Fox News Which Is Being Sued by Dominion”.

While I greatly appreciate what Nebraska State Sen. Machaela Cavanaugh is doing with her filibuster against anti-trans legislation, I must reluctantly point out that Wendy Davis’ famous filibuster (she cites Davis as an inspiration) ultimately failed, and things have gotten far worse since then. A filibuster can be a great tactic, but in the end nothing is going to stop a determined majority except voting enough of them out so they’re no longer the majority.

RIP, Willis Reed, basketball Hall of Famer and two-time NBA champion with the Knicks.

There are more investigations into Donald Trump’s criminality than you might realize.

Congratulations to Mr. and Mrs. Pickles, two radiated tortoises at the Houston Zoo, on the hatching of their three children.

RIP, Ada Edwards, Houston civil rights activist and former City Council member.

RIP, Joe Giella, comic book and comic strip artist. Here’s a great sample of his work on Mary Worth.

RIP, Jim Harithas, Houston art legend who co-founded two Houston art institutions, the Station Museum of Contemporary Art and the Art Car Museum.

Dispatches from Dallas, March 24 edition

This is a weekly feature produced by my friend Ginger. Let us know what you think.

This week in DFW: A run of school violence including a fatal school shooting, in DFW area schools; a former president comes to Waco on a major Texas anniversary; ongoing fallout from the DPD evidence scandal; and cricket comes to Texas in a big way.

Monday in Arlington, two students were shot, [Archive link] one fatally, before school began. Jashawn Poirier, age 16, died in the shooting and another unnamed student was injured. The fifteen-year-old shooter is in juvenile detention in Tarrant County, charged with capital murder. No motive for the shooting has been offered so far.

Meanwhile in Dallas, there was a shooting at Thomas Jefferson High School in northwest Dallas on Tuesday. One student was shot in the arm in the parking lot a few minutes after class let out for the day. The shooter has been arrested according to the superintendent of Dallas ISD. Again, investigators haven’t ascribed a motive.

McKinney ISD also had a weapons incident on Monday, but fortunately it only involved a middle schooler using a knife one of his classmates, causing minor injuries [Archive link.] The knife-wielding student was taken into police custody and the injured student was taken to the hospital to receive medical care.

As the band director at Thomas Jefferson said to the Dallas Morning News, It’s not an ethnic thing, or a rich or poor thing, or a ZIP code thing of where you live or where you go to school. It’s happening everywhere.” Meanwhile our only governor continues to advocate against any restrictions on gun purchases or ownership, and has described legislation to raise the age for gun purchasers to 21 as unconstitutional.

In other news:

Weekend link dump for March 19

“In other words: Christian advocacy group accuses Conservative and Reform Jews of lying about their own religious dogma. This will end well.”

“Netflix TV users can now customize the appearance of subtitles and closed captions on the streaming platform, allowing subscribers to adjust the size and style of the text.”

“How much would it take for you to publicly pledge allegiance to a man you privately loathe? Not just once, but night after night, in a pair of stale khaki pants? Really think about it: How much would it take for you to sell out, knowing full well your own lies convince others to live in delusion?”

“I’m literally writing the book on planetary defense, so I know things about errant space rocks. And asteroid 2023 DW – with its small-but-not-zero chance of hitting Earth on Feb 14, 2046 is making headlines. So: let’s sort a few things out, shall we?”

“With that new topline metric top of mind, we’ve ranked the major streamers by last quarter’s revenue and included their most up-to-date subscriber tallies. It should come as no surprise that More Subscribers = More Money, but they don’t always go in lockstep. And yes, we know not every quarter is created equally for every streamer, but it’s the latest data we’ve got to go on.”

“These are the words from other languages that don’t have a direct equivalent in English, and yet carry so much meaning.”. I really related to “soubhiyé”, which refers to the period of time early in the morning when you’re the only one awake in the house and you can just have some time to yourself. You non-morning people will have to find your own equivalent word for the late night period when you’re the only one up.

“Gannett’s most recent annual report drives home the fact that no company has done more to shrink local journalism than it has in recent years.”

“Twitter is in a period of decline. The site still functions, people are still using it, but there’s a familiar stink that lingers on the website. It reminds me of the twilight days of two other social media platforms I’ve used: LiveJournal and Tumblr — onetime vibrant communities that grew in popularity until everyone seemed to be using them, which then began a long, slow death.”

“And it is hard, at least for me, not to notice the gap between the decisive response of the US Federal Government and the lack of any coherent response (other than complain and ask for help) from the VC and tech world.”

What Counts As a Bailout?”

Never listen to a word Jim Cramer says.

RIP, Bud Grant, Pro Football Hall of Famer who coached the Minnesota Vikings to four Super Bowls.

RIP, Joe Pepitone, former All Star first baseman primarily for the Yankees.

RIP, Pat Schroeder, former US Representative from Colorado and feminist trailblazer.

RIP, Dick Fosbury, Olympic gold medalist who revolutionized the high jump via his “Fosbury flop”.

RIP, Rolly Crump, Disneyland designer who worked on the Haunted Mansion, It’s a Small World, and the Enchanted Tiki Room.

“Silicon Valley’s Titans Are Realizing a Lot of People Really Don’t Like Them“.

This interview with legendary MAD artist Al Jaffee is from 15 years ago, but it’s in honor of Jaffee turning 102 (!), so go read it. He’s delightful.

Here’s The Tau Manifesto, for those of you who think Pi Day isn’t nerdy enough. Tau Day would be June 28, in case you’re wondering.

Wait, they’re making a movie about BlackBerry? I…may have to see that.

“Silicon Valley Bank was fine. It’s Silicon Valley that’s broken.”

A detailed history of the solar panels that were once on the Carter White House.

“Anti-Woke Author Who Could Not Define Woke Gets Petty”. What’s kind of amazing about this is that the person who asked her the question that completely tripped her up is herself one of the Internet’s leading jackasses. Be that as it may, enjoy the video if you haven’t seen it.

I feel really bad for Edwin Diaz, but I fully agree that it is the players’ decision whether or not to play in the WBC.

Lock him up.

RIp, Lance Reddick, actor best known for his work on HBO’s “The Wire” and the “John Wick” movie franchise – and for me, on “Fringe” and “Lost” and “Bosch”. He’ll portray Zeus in the forthcoming Percy Jackson TV adaptation, if you want one more chance to see his work.

“Brown freshman Olivia Pichardo became the first woman to appear in a Division I baseball game when she pinch hit in a 10-1 loss to Bryant on Friday.”

Dispatches from Dallas, March 17 edition

This is a weekly feature produced by my friend Ginger. Let us know what you think.

This week in North Texas, we have bad bills filed by our local legislators and follow-ups on a variety of ongoing stories in North Texas including the Dallas Zoo, the buyer of the Roe v Wade archive, and the back-and-forth in Frisco ISD about trans kids.

The deadline to file bills in the Texas legislature has passed, so it’s time for a rogue’s gallery of bad bill filers from North Texas. Take note of these names and remember to remind your pals from these parts that friends don’t let friends vote for dumbasses who put forward garbage bills.

Senator Phil King of Weatherford (west of Fort Worth) is a co-sponsor of bills designed to restrict the development of renewable energy in Texas in favor of fossil fuel power plants [Archive link].

Representative Bryan Slaton of Royse City (northeast of Dallas) wants to put a secession referendum on the ballot, which is probably illegal and unconstitutional, but who cares about that? He also filed HB 42, which would define gender-affirming care for kids as child abuse.

As mentioned in this article, Representative Nate Schatzline of Fort Worth filed HB 1266, which defines commercial enterprises that host drag shows as sexually oriented businesses. The linked article is about him harassing a constituent who responded by posting a picture of Schatzline in a dress to social media.

Representative Jared Patterson of Frisco has a number of bad bills, mentioned in this article about his Don’t Say Gay Bill. His greatest hits for the 2023 session also include abolishing the city of Austin and banning minors from social media.

Representative Matt Shaheen of Plano (of whom more later) filed a bill to make daylight savings time permanent, which is less harmful than other bills described here but is not what I’d personally consider a high priority in the 2023 session. He’s also behind HB 620, which would end the Robin Hood school tax recapture. (This local news story has some numbers for what Robin Hood does to Dallas and Plano schools.) While there’s quite a bit of room for debate around Robin Hood, I’m personally suspicious of a bill by a Republican who’s in favor of “school choice”, aka defunding public schools and subsidizing private schools. Shaheen is a little smart to be on the dumbass list and is all the more dangerous for it.

One good bill I like comes from Austin, where Representative Donna Howard filed to exempt menstrual products and a variety of pregnancy and baby needs from state sales tax.

In other stories:

Weekend link dump for March 12

“If this were any other state, Presley might arguably be an outright favorite to win this race. The problem, of course, is that he happens to be running in Mississippi, which has among the highest levels of racial polarization in the nation.”

“Japan discovered it has 7,000 more islands than previously thought thanks to advanced survey mapping technology.”

“That is because the lab leak is still missing the key element of the U.N. cholera story that made it more than just a bunch of rumors: an actual, coherent theory of the case that could be refuted or confirmed.”

“In other words, it means that the music I think of as cool is, now, officially, no longer cool. It has become so wholly and officially un-cool that it can now be played as harmless background noise in a Big Box store in the white western suburbs of Philadelphia.”

“So, this isn’t One Weird Trick to solve it, it’s a reminder to neurodivergent folks that a lot of politeness is a performance of a lie so that people, especially white people, can survive cognitive dissonance and pretend nothing is bad if we all just use our company manners.”

What the dogs of Chernobyl can teach us.

RIP, Judy Heumann, renowned disability rights activist.

“How Attacks Against Obamacare Turned Into Tools to Protect Abortion Access”.

Peak TV was awesome. Trough TV, not so much.

Is your tap water turning you gay? Spoiler alert: No, it is not.

RIP, Gary Rossington, guitarist and last surviving founding member of Lynyrd Skynyrd.

“Toblerone is no longer Swiss enough to feature the Matterhorn on its packaging”.

RIP, Barbara Everitt Bryant, first woman to lead the US Census Bureau.

Keeping track of time on the moon is trickier than you might think.

“The real lesson of the 2022 election is that the country is ready to move on from extremists and traitors. And yet they’re going right back to it because it’s who they are.”

“The World Baseball Classic, right now, is a half-measure, and most of its problems can be traced to it being played in March. You’re not getting the best players, you’re not getting the biggest audience, in March. By moving half the event into the summer, you can address those problems and start the Classic on its way to becoming what MLB wants it to be: baseball’s World Cup.”

RIP, Lee Ellis, former Houston restauranteur. I can attest that both the chicken and the donuts at Lee’s Fried Chicken and Donuts, which was in my neighborhood, were very good.

“The bewildering descent of Scott Adams and Dilbert“.

“We are very, very close to being able to ignore Trump most nights. I truly can’t wait. I hate him passionately.”

RIP, Ian Falconer, stage designer and author/illustrator of the Olivia children’s books, which our family dearly loved.

RIP, Chaim Topol, actor best known for playing Tevye in the stage and screen versions of Fiddler on the Roof.

Three reasons to believe that COVID evolved naturally, not in a lab”.

“Pfizer ready to launch RSV vaccines for older adults, pregnant women in US, Europe”.

RIP, Robert Blake, actor best known for the TV show Baretta and for being acquitted of the murder of his wife.

Lock him up.

A great story about Malachy McCourt – author, actor, raconteur and man-about-town – written by one of my high school classmates.

Dispatches from Dallas, March 10 edition

This is a weekly feature produced by my friend Ginger. Let us know what you think.

This week in Dallas news: The DPD evidence scandal grows, more about Marvin Lowe, water cremations, winter weather, Star Wars, and finally some good news at the Dallas Zoo.

I complain a lot about the Dallas Morning News, but they’ve done a good job covering the Dallas PD evidence scandal. Here are the two most recent stories about what the investigation into missing evidence is finding: Murder cases could be in jeopardy as Dallas police review 450 cases for missing evidence [Archive link] and What we know about Dallas police search for missing video evidence in murder cases [Archive link]. 13 homicide convictions are in jeopardy and now they’re going through violent crime cases. One does wonder whether this is a problem with DPD or whether review of other law enforcement agencies would show the same kinds of negligence in evidence handling. Meanwhile, I hope the last line of this DMN story about official reactions to the missing evidence [Archive link is correct and someone is going to be held responsible for these screwups.

Weekend link dump for March 5

13 Biggest Changes ‘Game of Thrones’ Made From the Books. Spoilers a-plenty, in case you couldn’t tell.

“[T]here is no evidence to support speculation that noise resulting from wind development-related site characterization surveys could…cause mortality of whales, and no specific links between recent large whale mortalities and currently ongoing surveys.”

AI chatbots are probably not going to write any good original fiction any time soon.

“The verdant canopy of lies tended by Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.) requires no summary here. They’re so thick and leafy that they now block the sun from the forest floor. But he’s not the only freshman member who struggles when self-reporting.”

“In 2022, right-wing extremists committed every ideologically driven mass killing identified in the U.S., according to a new report from the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism.”

Human composters are pitching themselves as part of the solution—and trying to dismantle the funeral industry in the process. The potential to alter an age-old practice has brought together former Silicon Valley types, celebrity investors and mission-driven entrepreneurs as interested in lofty green goals as they are in changing our relationship to death.”

Don’t believe a word Ron DeSantis says.

The New York Times is perfectly capable of publishing deeply stupid op-eds on a broad array of topics.

“The National Cartoonists Society condemns all forms of racism and discrimination.”

“Andrews McMeel Universal values free speech. We promote and facilitate many different voices and perspectives. But we will never support any commentary rooted in discrimination or hate.”

“I’m proud and happy to see publishers, magazines, and newspapers are dropping him because there should be no tolerance for that kind of language. It’s a relief to see him held accountable.”

And with that, Elon Musk has entered the chat.

RIP, Gus Mutscher, former Speaker of the Texas House who got caught up in an infamous contretemps known as the Sharpstown scandal.

“Don’t get your dog stoned. He’s not all that high up on the food chain to begin with.” — Robin Williams

Photos of President Jimmy Carter’s Fort Worth visit seen for first time in 45 years”.

RIP, Burny Mattinson, longtime Disney animator and the last full-time Walt Disney Studios employee who had worked at the company when Walt Disney still ran it.

“It’s a weird thing to know for an absolute fact that the people lying to you knew they were lying to you at the time they did the lying.”

RIP, Ricou Browning, actor and stuntman best known for portraying Gill-Man in the 1954 film Creature from the Black Lagoon.

RIP, Linda Kasabian, former Manson family member who testified for the prosecution in the trials.

“[S]ocial media has become central to the modern extremist landscape, often supplanting affiliation with formal organizations. Extremists can mobilize far more effectively on digital platforms than they can through formal organizations alone. While the Jan. 6 committee’s final report spotlighted the role of militias and extremist groups like the Oath Keepers and Proud Boys, members of these groups represented a small minority of rioters at the Capitol. The presence of so many unaffiliated rioters in Washington suggests something that was also true for Brasilia: The spread of election disinformation and extremist rhetoric was a more effective motivator than membership in established groups with public leaders and logos.”

“But at the end of the day, the origin of the pandemic is also a scientific question. Virologists who study pandemic origins are much less divided than the U.S. intelligence community. They say there is “very convincing” data and “overwhelming evidence” pointing to an animal origin.”

RIP, Wayne Shorter, 12-time Grammy-winning saxophonist and composer who played with Miles Davis and co-founded Weather Report.

“Pete Maravich’s all-time NCAA scoring record survives … for now”.

“None of the witnesses have provided evidence related to a violation of law, policy, or abuse of authority. None are whistleblowers in any sense recognized by federal law or any federal agency.”

RIP, Tom Sizemore, actor best known for Saving Private Ryan.

Dispatches from Dallas, March 3 edition

This is a weekly feature produced by my friend Ginger. Let us know what you think.

This week in DFW, our most interesting story is a brouhaha in Frisco ISD, but we also have an interview with Sarah Weddington’s co-counsel in Roe v. Wade, trouble with the Dallas SPCA, local elections news, including speculation about who’ll go for Colin Allred’s seat if he takes on Ted Cruz, and more. Be sure to scroll down for a link to a picture of bald eaglets!

Marvin Lowe, a Frisco ISD trustee elected in the May 2022 cycle, had some kind of interaction with a trans student from Brownsville at a statewide educational conference in September of last year. The student reports that Lowe said a number of inappropriate things, he’s backed up by his mother and at least two other adults, and he and his family seem to have gone through official channels until last week, when they spoke to the Dallas Morning News [Archive link] because they weren’t getting any satisfaction. Lowe apparently talked about his “junk” and naked people in locker rooms and people getting aroused to the student; also, according to everybody but Lowe, an activist had to intervene to get Lowe to leave the then sixteen-year-old student alone.

Lowe didn’t want to talk to the DMN, but the subject came up at a Frisco ISD board meeting on February 26 (Frisco Star), exciting significant controversy from speakers. Lowe denied everything at the meeting but has since gone on a conservative talk radio show to defend himself (DMN archive link) but his story has already started to shift: now he says he talked to the student’s mother about locker rooms.

Lowe won his seat from incumbent Kathy Hebert by 51 votes after a recount. His candidate website is bare-bones but mentions his opposition to CRT in the schools. Here’s some coverage of the race and Lowe’s supporters in Texas Monthly from last May, which demonstrates how Lowe’s candidacy is part of the ongoing reactionary attack on public schools, teachers, and curriculums in north Texas.

I don’t expect Lowe will resign, or be forced to, but I don’t expect we’ve heard the last of this case, or Lowe.

In other news:

Weekend link dump for February 26

“No one has a playbook in politics for shooting down UFOs that are not aliens.”

“Bill Watterson, the creator of the beloved comic strip Calvin and Hobbes, is releasing a dark and adult graphic novel later this year.”

“After years of Marvel and Star Wars movies and shows inundating screens big and small, Disney is putting the brakes on the output of some of its biggest franchises and brands”.

RIP, Richard Belzer, comedian and actor best known for Homicide: Life on the Street and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.

“NASA isn’t announcing the existence of extraterrestrial life. But if the last two weeks show anything, it’s if the agency ever breaks such news, the world may have trouble understanding.”

RIP, Barbara Bosson, actor best known for Hill Street Blues, Murder One, and the immortal Cop Rock.

“Kevin McCarthy makes sensitive security footage available to the insurrectionists’ propagandist”.

RIP, Hugh Harris, known as “The Voice of NASA” for his time as public affairs officer there.

RIP, B.J. “Red” McCombs, San Antonio businessman and former owner of the San Antonio Spurs, who brought that franchise to town before they joined the NBA.

Yes indeed, let them fight.

“It is against free speech to stop us from fixating on the genitals.”

“Let’s just get this out of the way: the Hays Code was awful. It was sexist, racist, homophobic nonsense that set film back decades and reinforced a lot of cruel moralizing that weakened the gaps between art and faith, thus ensuring decades of culture war bullshit. It baffles me that I even have to say this in 2023. Anyone who knows anything about the history of Hollywood is well aware of how the code caused so much damage to the art form of cinema. Yet a tedious strain of online scorn and politically tangled discourse has seen way too many people acting as though what pop culture needs in the 21st century is a return to mandated puritanism.”

“As privilege discourse has attempted to trundle on over the past few years, it has really stagnated. We circle back over the same ground constantly, but don’t spend much time discussing what a good life truly means, who is getting what they want out of the world, and which of us is really enjoying ourselves. Who are life’s winners, in other words, and who are the losers.”

“Isn’t it comforting to have your worst suspicions confirmed?”

Assholes of a feather flock together.

“I have studied the Soviet and the Russian economy for over four decades. I believe there are four reasons the sky has yet not fallen in on the Russian economy.”

RIP, Duangphet Phromthep, one of the 12 boys rescued from a flooded Thai cave after a weekslong operation that drew global attention in 2018.

“Ten Dazzling Celestial Events to See in 2023″.

This will be the final season of Succession, so enjoy it while you still can.

Dispatches from Dallas, February 24 edition

This is a weekly feature produced by my friend Ginger. Let us know what you think.

This week in Dallas area news, we now know the candidates for various races in the May elections in the Metroplex; staffing and evidence issues in the Dallas Police Department; and news from Dallas Museums. Also, from the border by way of the BBC, a fascinating short film about a Texas town that is now part of Mexico.

Weekend link dump for February 19

“A new study examines the huge amount of misinformation being disseminated by a small but popular group of political podcasts. In particular, researchers found that claims of election fraud rose by over 600% in the days leading up to the Capitol insurrection, with the increase concentrated, unsurprisingly, among conservative media.”

“A document the NSF released in late August [detailed] a decades-long history of pervasive sexual harassment and assault at Antarctic research stations.”

“I just bought a house just past Girard in Brewerytown, and I took a walk around the street and I ran smack into Taney Street. I was just like, ‘There’s no way that this is named after who I think it’s named after.’”

“The designs for the 2024 American Women Quarters will be released in mid-2023.”

“Where did Superb Owl come from?”

“The Twilight of the Deficit Hawks”. Good riddance.”

“Taken aback by Florida’s attacks against its new AP African American studies course, the College Board late Saturday denounced the state Department of Education, saying it used the course to advance a politically motivated agenda.”

RIP, David Jolicoeur, a.k.a. Trugoy The Dove, member of De La Soul.

“And the weekend shootdowns coming so soon after The Balloon risks giving rise to assumptions about the new objects—that they are foreign; that they are a threat—that news coverage can easily amplify (even implicitly) if we’re not careful. The shootdowns are clearly a news story because, well, the things got shot down. And we’re right to request more certainty from officials. Until we get it, though, the story can’t be bigger than one of uncertainty.”

“A [judge’s] ruling citing [Oklahoma’s] parentage act could have substantial implications for marriage equality and LGBTQ+ parental rights nationwide, legal experts warn.”

RIP, Jesus Campos “Jesse” Treviño, renowned San Antonio painter and muralist.

RIP, Ann Hodges, journalist who established the Houston Chronicle’s TV beat and a founding member and two-time President of the Television Critics Association.

“There was a time when shame was a powerful force in American politics. That time is not now.”

“Although the shadow of a major cyberattack with international consequences has loomed over Europe since [Russia invaded Ukraine], a week before the first anniversary of the Kremlin’s assault, cyberwarfare still has not played a significant role in the conflict.”

“A group of more than 170 trans, nonbinary, and cisgender contributors to the New York Times published an open letter on Wednesday, condemning the paper’s coverage of trans issues — particularly its reporting around trans youth and gender-affirming healthcare.”

RIP, Raquel Welch, movie star and iconic sex symbol. These celebrity tributes to her are lovely.

Lock them up.

“Tesla recalls 362,758 vehicles, says Full Self-Driving Beta software may cause crashes”.

RIP, Tim McCarver, longtime MLB catcher and Hall of Fame broadcaster.

“Huge day in the Dominion Voting Systems v. Fox News defamation case, with both sides filing summary-judgment motions. Dominion’s version is a nearly 200-page document bursting with text messages from network talent in the tense days following the 2020 presidential election.” You should read the Introduction section of their filing, it’s 14 pages, easy to read, and incredibly damning.

RIP, Stella Stevens, actor best known for Girls! Girls! Girls! and The Nutty Professor. A rough week for classic Hollywood glamour, this was. Mark Evanier adds a few words about Ms. Stevens.

Dispatches from Dallas, February 17 edition

Note: this is the second edition of the Dallas-area news roundup conducted by my friend Ginger. Issue 1 was last Friday. We got a lot of positive response to that and I definitely like it, so on we go. The title is taken from the email Ginger sent me, so we’ll give that a try as the feature name. Let us know what you think. Thanks!

This week’s DFW news is mostly about the suburbs: Southlake, Carrolton & Farmer’s Branch, and Arlington are featured trouble spots. Also, I’ve found, which archives web pages and may be useful for reviewing articles on the Dallas Morning News or the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. If you can’t get through to an article I’ve linked, I may have archived it for you.

Weekend link dump for February 12

“I’d argue that a number of important fissures define the current House congressional GOP — and the embrace of Trump and Trumpism is just one of them. Voting records, ties to the establishment and caucus membership, for instance, all played a role in how I measured Republican House members against one another, drawing on data as well as expert opinion.”

“Whenever fears of technology-aided plagiarism appear in schools and universities, it’s a safe bet that technology-aided plagiarism detection will be pitched as a solution.”

It’s fun to think that Elvis Presley’s cousin could be elected Governor of Mississippi as a Democrat, but I’ll take the under on his chances.

“In short, white Christians in antebellum America did not come to accept slavery because of their biblicism. They became biblicists because of their prior acceptance of slavery.”

“The Years Of Vitriolic Misogyny At The Heart Of The Paul Pelosi Attack”.

“It’s Saturday night, so I will be a bit snarky: they need to get a grip. A key aspect of any country’s national security is spying, and of course China and the U.S. are spying on each other. Shooting the balloon down as soon as it was spotted would have endangered Americans and made learning anything from it more difficult.”

“That is to say, by most standard metrics, the U.S. economy is doing just fine. And the parts that have looked weak are directly related to how CEOs are feeling. About 98% of CEOs surveyed by the Conference Board going into the fourth quarter of 2022 said that they expected a U.S. recession. The reasons why are not entirely clear, but could be related to how the federal government has responded to recent inflation.”

Meet Ronnie Gajownik, the second female manager in the affiliated minor leagues and the first out LGBTQ person to have such a role.

RIP, Harry Whittington, Austin attorney and Republican activist best known for getting shot in the face by Dick Cheney.

Looks like you missed your chance to buy the National Enquirer on the cheap.

Everything you wanted to know about the 2023 MLB rule changes/a> but were afraid to ask.

“Major League Baseball, the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, and San Diego Studio are partnering to introduce legends from baseball’s Negro Leagues to MLB The Show 23.”

Things That Don’t Exist in ‘The Last of Us’ Universe (Because the World Ended in 2003)”.

RIP, Charlie Thomas, Rock and Roll Hall of Famer with The Drifters.

“What Pete Buttigieg Could Do To Deal With The Horrors Of Air Travel In 2023″.

Still looking for the Tylenol murderer, forty years later. Hoping DNA can help.

“In recent years, Washington’s NFL team and Cleveland’s MLB team have finally dropped their racist mascots. But Kansas City in the NFL and Atlanta in MLB and Chicago in the NHL have avoided similarly broad calls for change. At least, for now.”

RIP, Burt Bacharach, legendary Grammy, Oscar and Tony-winning composer of many pop music hits.

Wait, so you’re telling me that James O’Keefe is a complete asshole? Boy, I never would have guessed.

RIP, Charles Silverstein, psychologist and therapist who played a key role in getting homosexuality declassified as a mental illness.

Dallas-area news roundup, inaugural edition

Hello, Off the Kuff readers! I’m Ginger and I’ve been friends with our host for nigh onto thirty years. Back in the early 2000s, when they called it “warblogging”, I had a blog, but I’ve long since retired it. I’ve been sending Charles items from the news in Dallas, where I now live, for a while and offered to start doing local news roundups for DFW.

I was born and raised in Houston, lived for a decade in Austin, and have lived in Dallas for four and a half years now: long enough to get familiar with a lot of local politics but not long enough to have found everything about the area that’s interesting. My political interests are broad, from immigration (I used to work as a paralegal for a corporate immigration lawyer) to reproductive choice (Charles and I infiltrated an anti-abortion activist meeting together to report back to our local Planned Parenthood many years ago), to disability issues. When I’m not doing politics, I read a lot, mostly history, mysteries, and science fiction/fantasy, listen to a lot of music, and play tabletop roleplaying games in person and online.

What you can expect to see from me is news from the DFW metroplex, centered mostly on Dallas and the Dallas-side suburbs mixed with some local stories that I get from friends who are still in Austin and a few larger stories that grab my interest. I’ll probably post about a half-dozen links every week and we’ll see how it goes.

Note from Charles: The idea to do this kind of Dallas-centric news roundup emerged from an email exchange Ginger and I had. It was Ginger’s blog, which I stumbled across in 2001, that gave me the impetus to do this blogging thing, and I’m delighted to have her voice on here. We’ll see how this goes, and we may come up with a suitable name for the feature if we’re inspired. Let me know what you think.

Weekend link dump for February 5

“AT FIRST GLANCE, electric vehicles seem like rolling disasters for the power grid. Surely the ancient, creaky network in the United States can’t handle the demand for charging those massive batteries. But a new analysis suggests that just a fraction of EV owners could make the grid more flexible and reliable by plugging into a system called vehicle-to-grid charging (V2G), or bidirectional charging.”

“The Unlikely Alliance Between Tech Bros and Radical Environmentalists”.

Et tu, Rooty?

“Biden’s expansive executive order seeks to restore competition in the economy. It’s been a long, slow road to get the whole government on board—but there are some formidable gains.”

“We are on the edge of a spy scandal with major implications for how we understand the Trump administration, our national security, and ourselves.”

RIP, Annie Wersching, versatile actor known for roles on 24, Timeless, Star Trek: Picard, The Vampire Diaries, and as the voice of Tess on The Last Of Us.

RIP, Barrett Strong, Motown singer and songwriter whose credits include “Money (That’s What I Want)” and “I Heard It Through The Grapevine”.

RIP, Lisa Loring, actor who was the original Wednesday Addams.

“We Tried to Call the Top Donors to George Santos’ 2020 Campaign. Many Don’t Seem to Exist.”

“Priscilla Presley, widow of Elvis Presley and mother of their late daughter Lisa Marie Presley, has filed a challenge to the validity of her daughter’s will in Los Angeles Superior Court.”

RIP, Bobby Hull, Hockey Hall of Famer. As Defector says, “He was a fantastic hockey player and a horrible human being, and to pretend like one of those is somehow at odds with the other is a fool’s math.”

RIP, Cindy Williams, actor best known as Shirley from Laverne and Shirley.

“Former President Donald Trump sued famed journalist Bob Woodward on Monday over the release of audio recordings of his interviews with Trump, who claims he never agreed to allow those tapes to be sold to the public.”

Premium cable channel Showtime is being swallowed by Paramount+ into a new thing called “Paramount+ With Showtime”, and all I can say as a computer nerd is that Paramount++ was right there.

“For all of the reasons provided in my answer, which is incorporated herein in its entirety, I decline to answer the question.”

“Be honest Gen Xers, if someone were to ask you, right now, to explain Whitewater in three sentences, could you do it? I think most people couldn’t; I know for me the phrase is really just a lot of random word association. e.g., Whitewater/Clintons/land deal/suicide (remember Vince Foster??) that is shorthand for some vague criminality no one can articulate. And that’s the point.”

“The World’s Most Online Man has been so busy soothing the bruised egos of right-wing Twitter influencers that he’s once again allowed Twitter to drift dangerously close to the rocks. That’s true not just in the United States, but increasingly in Europe, where regulators aren’t amused by Musk’s cavalier attitude toward tough EU policies on hate speech and data privacy. Let’s take a look at who Elon is pissing off today.”

Here’s a cool story about a cousin of mine.

“A Brief History of Let’s Get Back to Teaching the Basics”.

“Hunter Biden’s legal team is coming out swinging. Who knows what House Republicans were expecting, but President Joe Biden’s son is not going quietly into the night as they plan their unsubstantiated investigative attacks.”

“The interview, disappointingly, doesn’t touch on a question that I thought would be of particular interest to Christianity Today’s readers: Will AI programs like ChatGPT someday be writing sermons?”

“Netflix hasn’t confirmed its plans to stop password sharing just yet”.

RIP, Bobby Beathard, Hall of Fame football executive.

“Why On Earth Are Some MAGA Republicans Wearing AR-15 Pins?” (Spoiler alert: Because they are terrible, awful, no-good people.)

“Along with the Hug Fairy and HourlyPony, it’s likely also the end of song lyric bots, book snippet bots, poetry bots, art bots, satellite imagery bots, bots that tell you how much of the year has passed, bots that remind you to take a drink of water, those that share daily screenshots from TV shows, and the many, many other bots that demonstrate the creativity a free API allows. But it’s also a lot more serious than that.”

RIP, Melinda Dillon, actor best known for A Christmas Story, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and Slap Shot.

Weekend link dump for January 29

“One of George R.R. Martin’s favorite fantasy novels might finally get adapted into a TV series thanks to an unlikely ally — late-night host Stephen Colbert.”

“Over the last year, several Republicans have been clamoring to impeach the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Alejandro Mayorkas, as the next act in their nativist political theater. Devoid of substance, their production of impeachment is but the latest in an escalating set of performances to engage their base. While a dead-end in the Senate controlled by Democrats, House Republicans reinvigorated their calls for impeachment after their lackluster performance in the midterms guaranteed their efforts would be just for show. If House Republicans move forward with an endless set of hearings or impeachment, their charade will not just be a massive waste of tax dollars and distraction from Republicans’ failure to govern but a dangerous normalization of a conspiracy theory drenched in white nationalism and anti-Semitism that they will employ as a critical accusation. A conspiracy theory that has inspired multiple domestic terrorist attacks over the last few years and claimed the lives of dozens of Americans.”

“Pink Floyd Announce Dark Side of the Moon Box Set for 50th Anniversary”.

I’m not in the target demographic for Zoey 101, but this argument against watching the forthcoming reboot by someone who is in that demographic is compelling.

“A new analysis of citizen science reports indicates that light pollution is intensifying around the world.”

If you’ve ever wondered why the NFL doesn’t use the chip that’s in every football to measure for first downs instead of those silly chains, here’s an explanation for you.

So, how are the billionaires doing at supporting and revitalizing journalism?

Lock him up.

Elections have consequences. That includes good ones. And bad ones, too.

“Sunday [marked] 50 years since the Roe decision. Now, in the seven months since the court’s reversal, the scope of its protections are clearer than ever — as are the implications of its loss. The 19th has tracked who in America can get an abortion and where, a picture that has changed dramatically. Here’s where laws stood as of these dates”.

Hey, remember the USA Network? They used to have shows worth watching. I would have included In Plain Sight on their list of quality programs; among other things, it had in my opinion one of the best and most satisfying series finales I’ve seen.

“By coincidence, both party leaders are now Baptists, a faith that outside the South has generally been underrepresented among the political elite. […] There would be good feature potential in comparing the two Baptists’ congregations.” (Via Slacktivist.)

“For these policies to retain such support among House conservatives suggests that Republicans have failed to absorb Donald Trump’s one good political lesson: Don’t mess with Social Security and Medicare.”

“An important lesson of American mass shootings, including the most recent, is that each one is an individual incident, involving different circumstances, different motivations, different victims. We should always be careful to recognize this specificity, as well as the unimaginable losses suffered by the victims and their families. But we must never lose sight of the fact that all these tragedies take place in a culture that has facilitated the sale for profit of deadly weapons, making it relatively easy for people with deadly intentions to acquire one. Unless and until this environment changes, the carnage will continue.”

“And apparently it’s all part of a conspiracy that started with gas stoves, moved on to coffee, and now is infesting video games.”

I trust that by now, a special prosecutor has been appointed. Right?

“Earth’s inner core may have temporarily stopped rotating relative to the mantle and surface, researchers report in the January 23 Nature Geoscience. Now, the direction of the inner core’s rotation may be reversing — part of what could be a roughly 70-year-long cycle that may influence the length of Earth’s days and its magnetic field — though some researchers are skeptical.”

RIP, Lloyd Morriset, co-founder of Children’s Television Workshop and co-creator of Sesame Street.

Cry me a river.

“All of that could be described as Tim LaHaye’s attempt to ensure that the attitudes he expressed in that 1968 letter would be and remain “normal” for white evangelicalism in the 1960s, ’70s, ’80s, ’90s, 2000s and 2010s. For the next 48 years of his life, right up until his unraptured demise in 2016, Tim LaHaye never stopped writing this letter.”

“Chao has previously suggested that repeating Trump’s racist attacks against her—which often includes not only the personalized slur but baseless accusations of secret fealty to Beijing—only fuels his abhorrent taunting. And yet it’s gotten to the point that even she has to say something. And she had to do it alone.”

RIP, Lance Kerwin, actor best known for the TV show James at 16.

“But after almost four years — far longer than the Russia investigation itself — Mr. Durham’s work is coming to an end without uncovering anything like the deep state plot alleged by Mr. Trump and suspected by Mr. Barr.”

Disbar him.

RIP, Billy Packer, Emmy award winning college basketball announcer and Final Four fixture.

Weekend link dump for January 22

“I’m a Criminology Professor. I’ve Seen Students Like the Idaho Suspect Before.”

“After being fired by Disney for transphobic and antisemitic statements, Gina Carano’s new movie has epically flopped”. I should note that what is reported there is not entirely accurate, but the real story is pretty hilarious.

Only 47 percent of nursing home residents were fully up-to-date and had received the bivalent COVID booster in the four weeks preceding December 18, according to AARP. Less than a quarter of staff, 22 percent, are fully up-to-date on their COVID vaccinations. This is despite relatively high rates of infection and transmission. Over the same time period, one in 17 nursing home residents tested positive for COVID-19 and at least 1,100 nursing home residents died. In all, 64 percent of nursing homes had at least one resident case. COVID is the third leading cause of death for Americans over 65.”

“In the country which we live in, about 60 percent of the population identifies as white, and you take Latinx people who identify as Caucasian, it’s maybe closer to 70 percent if you’re going for the biggest meat of the audience … you tend to program for white men, because women watch a lot more drama and comedy than men, so if you get a scripted program that appeals to men, that’s automatically a boom. You worry, when there’s narrowing prospects, who’s losing opportunity.”

“The Pentagon’s new office for investigating potential UFO sightings received hundreds of new reports in 2022, and while it can explain more than half of those events, a sizable chunk remains a mystery.”

“The cycle has some experts wondering about how useful these discussions are. We aren’t, after all, obsessing about which strain of H3N2 flu has been causing most of the illness that has cycled through the United States in this abnormally early flu season. That’s because new strains of existing flu viruses may make us more vulnerable to infection, but they don’t render us defenseless against influenza. The same is true with SARS-2 subvariants — but that sometimes gets lost in the back and forth.”

RIP, Gina Lollobrigida, iconic Italian movie star.

“CNET Has Been Quietly Publishing AI-Written Articles for Months”.

“Roomba testers feel misled after intimate images ended up on Facebook”.

“The Taliban have started using Twitter’s paid-for verification feature, meaning some now have blue ticks on their accounts.”

“To be fair, there are not a large number of Bible verses that directly address the subject of oral sex. The practice is enthusiastically celebrated in several places in the Song of Solomon, but that book is a tricky thing to cite if you’re also intent on blanket condemnations of all extramarital sex.”

RIP, Chris Ford, former NBA player and coach mostly for the Boston Celtics, credited with scoring the first 3-point basket in NBA history.

“Here are some fun numbers. Toyota did not sell a single all-electric product until 2020, flagging far behind both rivals like Mitsubishi, Nissan, and BMW, all of which were selling EV models years before Toyota even established an electric car office. And that electrified product (a version of its C-HR SUV) was initially exclusive to Chinese consumers. The company’s first globally available zero-emission vehicle, the bZ4x, had a limited production run, went on sale in the U.S. only last year, faced an alarming safety recall, and ultimately sold just a couple hundred models here, a paltry portion of the 800,000 total EVs sold stateside throughout 2022.”

We’re all trying to find the guy that did this, SCOTUS edition.

“They said that my husband Don Lewis is alive and well in Costa Rica. And yet all of this hay has been made about me having something to do with his disappearance when Homeland Security has known where he is at least since back then.” The Internet reacts.

RIP, David Crosby, Rock and Roll Hall of Famer and co-founder of The Byrds and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young.

Lock him up.

RIP, Sal Bando, three-time World Series champion third baseman with the Oakland A’s.

Weekend link dump for January 15

“In addition to helping absorb water, rain gardens can filter dirty street runoff, reduce urban heat, and provide a habitat for pollinators like bees and birds. So if you have space for it, you might consider adding one to your home.”

Some notes from a book critic about the first chapter of Ross Douthat’s epic fantasy novel that he posted to his Substack.

“We were the most gangsta as you could be, but that day at Dionne Warwick’s house, I believe we got out-gangstered that day.”

I don’t know if the Republicans have finally elected a Speaker as I write this, but once they do and they start doing actual legislative things, crap like this will be high on their priority list.

RIP, Adam Rich, former child star best known for his role on Eight is Enough.

Ethics, schmethics.

“We lost many former major league baseball players in 2022. Here is a review and roster of the most prominent ones.”

“Political action committees affiliated with more than 70 major corporations said they would pause or reconsider donations to those who objected to certifying the results of the 2020 election after the attack on the U.S. Capitol two years ago. Then they gave more than $10 million to members of Congress who did just that, according to a POLITICO analysis of federal campaign finance filings.”

“The narrative laid out in the Select Committee’s report illustrates how the twin threats of political violence and anti-democracy schemes were able to feed off each other in the lead-up to January 6 in a vicious cycle that still has not subsided.”

“A Tax Guru Explains Why Donald Trump May Finally Be in Trouble“.

“You do your job, hold up your part of the deal, the way they ask you to. Then they decide they don’t want to do their part of the job — for a tax break. And suddenly you’re paid, but you’re NOT getting the support you were promised as part of the deal.”

“The Earth’s ozone layer is on its way to recovering within the next 40 years”.

RIP, Sheila Masters, Houston community leader, friend and neighbor to George Floyd and his family.

“Investigators used forensic genealogy to zero in on [Idaho multiple murders] suspect Bryan Kohberger. But they aren’t saying so.”

“Give it up, lawmakers: It’s time to give C-SPAN better access to the House floor”.

“How Democrats Managed to Avoid a Red Wave in the 2022 Midterms”.

“Roman concrete, in many cases, has proven to be longer-lasting than its modern equivalent, which can deteriorate within decades. Now, scientists behind a new study say they have uncovered the mystery ingredient that allowed the Romans to make their construction material so durable and build elaborate structures in challenging places such as docks, sewers and earthquake zones.”

RIP, Jeff Beck, guitar virtuoso and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer.

RIP, Charles White, former ALl Pro NFL running back who won a Heisman Trophy and a national championship while at USC.

RIP, Lisa Marie Presley, daughter of Elvis.

RIP, Robbie Bachman, drummer and co-founder of Bachman-Turner Overdrive.

Weekend link dump for January 8

“Not only did Greta Thunberg destroy Andrew Tate with her tweet, she made him so angry he inadvertently tipped off Romanian authorities of his presence in Romania with his lame comeback video.”

“Why can’t we make remote controls thick and heavy again?”

“Let’s talk about the real problems with rural America”.

“Google’s embrace of publisher confidentiality means roughly 1 million publishers can remain anonymous to companies and individuals who buy ads on its network to reach customers. This opens the door to a range of abuses and schemes that steal potentially billions of dollars a year and put lives and livelihoods at risk due to dangerous disinformation, fraud and scams.”

RIP, Anita Pointer, Grammy-winning singer with the Pointer Sisters.

Time once again to vote for the Worthy Awards.

Advice on the minimum amount of work needed to protect your data and privacy.

RIP, Cliff Gustafson, longtime baseball coach at the University of Texas, two-time College World Series winner, formerly the winningest baseball coach in the NCAA.

Another “wellness to QAnon pipeline” example.

RIP, Walt Cunningham, Apollo 7 astronaut who was on the first crewed Apollo flight.

RIP, Orion Know, Jr, one of the discoverers of Natural Bridge Caverns.

Five things to expect from the incoming House”. You’ve already seen plenty of the chaos, and there’s so much more to come.

To put it another way, the worst people you know are having a fight.

“There are other critical functions that the House of Representatives executes that can’t take place until there’s a Speaker in place. Without a Speaker, committee assignments can’t be finalized.”

“An ancient wooden sarcophagus that was featured at the Houston Museum of Natural Sciences was returned to Egypt after U.S. authorities determined it was looted years ago, Egyptian officials said Monday.”

RIP, James “Buster” Corley, co-founder of Dave & Buster’s.

The next Benoit Blanc film will not have Muppets in it. Sadly.

“Kevin is a man with many flaws, but on this day his fatal one was not heeding the lesson of the leopard-eating-faces allegory.”

“The longtime partner of Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, who died after the Jan. 6 riot, filed a wrongful death lawsuit Thursday against former President Donald Trump and two men involved in assaulting Sicknick.”

RIP, Nate Colbert, former MLB first baseman and still the all-time home run leader for the San Diego Padres.

Weekend link dump for January 1

I’m sorry, but the year 2023 still sounds like something out of a science fiction story to me.

The sordid history of Ticketmaster apparently includes that company getting a boost from former Sen. Phil Gramm.

“The US Senate is a fundamentally broken institution. Democratic judges need to account for that in their retirement decisions.”

“A freelance producer for ABC News also gathered dirt on critics of a consulting firm’s powerful clients.” A truly bonkers story.

“You Can Now Sue Movie Studios for False Advertising With Deceptive Trailers”. You can thank Ana de Armas, or more specifically two of her fans, for that.

“The 5 ‘known unknowns’ that will define 2024″.

About damn time: “West Point will remove Confederate symbols from its campus”.

“A List Of All The Jan. 6 Committee Witnesses Who Pleaded The Fifth“. A real rogue’s gallery in there.

Meet Bessie Mae Kelley, pioneering female animator from the 1920s whose story is just now being told.

“From a spacecraft the size of a refrigerator plowing into an asteroid (deliberately) to a helicopter trying to catch a rocket plummeting back to Earth, 2022 offered surreal moments in space that could have been ripped from the pages of a science fiction movie script.”

RIP, Thom Bell, Grammy Award-winning producer, arranger, composer, and one of the architects of Philadelphia soul music.

“The question of why the Trumpian populist right is so consumed with hatred for Ukraine—a hatred that clearly goes beyond concerns about U.S. spending, a very small portion of our military budget, or about the nonexistent involvement of American troops—doesn’t have a simple answer. Partly, it’s simply partisanship: If the libs are for it, we’re against it, and the more offensively the better. (And if the pre-Trump Republican establishment is also for it, then we’re even more against it.)”

No, Buckminster Fuller was not a cryptocurrency prophet.

‘Home Alone’ reimagined in the style of ‘The White Lotus’ opening credits“. And generated by an AI, which makes it even creepier.

RIP, Kathy Whitworth, pro golfer whose 88 LPGA Tour victories, six more than Sam Snead and Tiger Woods had on the men’s tour, makes her the winningest golfer of all time.

“Netflix is reportedly developing a Stranger Things anime series set in 1980s Tokyo that will be labeled as the franchise’s first official spinoff.”

“Three years on, the pandemic — and our response — have been jolting. Here’s what even the experts didn’t see coming.”

“The Dog Not Barking about a U.S. Recession”.

RIP, Pele, all-time soccer legend. I had the opportunity to see him play a game with the NY Cosmos of the old NASL at Giants Stadium in the 70s, and yes, he scored a goal, the only one in a 1-0 Cosmos win. I have no recollection of how I came to be at Giants Stadium watching a Cosmos game but I’m glad I was there.

“Sherlock Holmes will finally escape copyright this weekend”.

RIP, Benedict XIV, Pope Emeritus.

RIP, Barbara Walters, trailblazing TV newscaster and anchor.

Here are your 2022 Golden Duke winners.

Weekend link dump for December 25

It may be Christmas but it’s also Sunday, and on Sunday we dump links. You needed something to read after the chaos subsided a little, right?

“Which Streamer Was the Biggest A-Hole About Cancellations in 2022?” (Spoiler alert: It was HBOMax, and it wasn’t close.)

“A researcher found more plotlines around and more mentions of abortion on TV this year — though wealthy White characters are still overrepresented.”

“No One Is Happier About Sam Bankman-Fried’s Downfall Than the Bitcoin People”.

“The federal charging documents, obtained by the Globe, outline a plot pulled straight from “The Americans” TV series, about KGB agents raising a family near Washington, D.C.”

“It’s time to change our minds about the cause of our current bout of inflation”.

Can you in fact cook a steak by dropping it from space? Science finally tells us.

“So: A small but not negligible minority of people say they won’t go back to pre-pandemic life. A plurality say they will continue at least some precautions. And there’s reason to believe that covid worries are having an effect on labor force participation. But the who of people with these concerns is where the stereotypes take serious damage.”

RIP, Gabrielle Beaumont, prolific and pioneering TV director, who may have directed more primetime hours of television than any other women in history.

“James Cameron aims to finally put that ‘Titanic’ door debate to rest, 25 years later”.

“At the core of every Musk company is a big, world-changing promise — they sell the idea that their products and services are saving humanity from some intractable problem, whether it’s climate crisis or traffic. But Musk’s promises track more with religion — he has been sent to save us from our earthly sins of waste and pollution — than with science. Think about it a bit and the idea that a luxury sports car can save us from global warming or that the answer for the Earth’s toxification is to move everyone to Mars falls apart, but that isn’t the point. The goal of all this mythmaking is to turn investors, employees, and customers into evangelists.”

Lock them up.

RIP, Tom Browning, former pitcher who won a World Series with the Cincinnati Reds and threw a perfect game in 1988.

“On Monday, the House Select Committee investigating the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol released an executive summary of its final report, which focuses primarily on former President Donald Trump’s alleged criminal efforts to overturn the 2020 election. The committee, however, also presented new evidence of criminal efforts to interfere with its investigation – on the part of some witnesses, their attorneys, and others associated with the former president. It is the kind of evidence that may have far-reaching implications including bolstering Special Counsel Jack Smith’s January 6th and Mar-a-Lago investigations.”

“Whale-sized shonisaurs dominated the ocean 230 million years ago. A fossil cluster offers a fascinating glimpse at how they lived—based on where they died.”

RIP, Franco Harris, Hall of Fame running back who won four Super Bowls with the Pittsburgh Steelers and caught the iconic Immaculate Reception.

“But while it’s hard to ignore the warning signs, there are plenty of reasons to still have hope for our planet’s future — starting with what happened at COP15.”

“But it’s also gutting because I’ve seen that look before. I’ve seen that same heartbroken and heart-breaking expression on my own father’s face.”

RIP, Rudi Valentino, oldest male orangutan in North America, lifelong resident of the Houston Zoo.

“A New York State metropolis recently rocked by a racist mass shooting filed a groundbreaking lawsuit Tuesday against multiple gun manufacturers, including Smith & Wesson, Glock, Remington, Sig Sauer, and Beretta.”

“Hotels say goodbye to daily room cleanings and hello to robots as workers stay scarce”.

I did not believe it for a second.”

Weekend link dump for December 18

“How Demographic Shifts Fueled by Covid Delivered Midterm Wins for Democrats”.

Times sure are tough for cable channels right now.

“The very last 747 jet has been made, ending a run of more than 50 years”.

RIP, Paul Silas, three-time NBA champion, former NBA coach, father of current Rockets head coach Stephen Silas.

“The 2022 Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards are a good laugh”.

“Here is the list of shows that HBO Max canceled in 2022″.

“Before and after. Those are the lines chalked out over the field of life, until it becomes a grid of pasts foreclosed and futures opening onto unstable terrain. Before this. After this.”

“Companies say they want to acknowledge environmental impacts. Republicans are mad about that.”

“Beyond its stark cruelty, this tweet is incredibly thirsty. As right-wing troll memes go, it is Dad-level, 4chan–Clark Griswold stuff, which is to say it’s desperate engagement bait in the hopes of attracting kudos from the only influencers who give Musk the time of day anymore: right-wing shock jocks. But that is the proper company for the billionaire, because whether or not he wants to admit it, Musk is actively aiding the far right’s political project. He is a right-wing activist.”

RIP, Mike Leach, head football coach at Mississippi State, innovator who co-created the Air Raid offense.

RIP, Michael Lindenberger, vice president and editorial page editor of the Kansas City Star who won a Pulitzer as the deputy opinion editor for the Houston Chronicle.

“YouGov found that self-described liberals now view Tesla more negatively than conservatives, though conservatives also have a negative view of the brand on average, according to the firm’s most recent data.” My next car will be electric. It will not be a Tesla.

“50 years ago today, one of the most iconic Sesame Street segments first aired on PBS.” More on it here, and if you’re not laughing, crying, or both by the end you have a cold, cold heart.

I didn’t realize when I started reading this Twitter thread that it was a loving tribute to one of the adult victims of the Sandy Hook massacre. But it was and it was beautiful and life-affirming and now I’m mad again at everyone that has helped enable the gun violence lobby. Talk among yourselves, I’ll be doing some deep breathing exercises.

“Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) announced on Tuesday that he expects there will be action on the Electoral Count Act reform before the new Congress takes over in January.”

Disbar him.

Lock him up.

“Congress votes to remove a bust of the Dred Scott decision’s author from the Capitol”. About damn time.

Weekend link dump for December 11

“Why do McCarthy, Scott, and other so-called Republican leaders duck explicit invitations to address the former president’s behavior? Because they’re cowards.”

“Imagine an “Oh, yeah?” button on your browser.”

“Here’s a midterm report on remote work”.

“I have a few stray, in-the-weeds thoughts on the verdicts that I’d like to share after live-tweeting all but about two hours of the 29-day [Oath Keepers] trial from the courthouse media room.”

RIP, Bob McGrath, actor and singer and original cast member of Sesame Street.

She seems nice. Also, lock her up.

“But we know that is not true – the evidence makes that crystal clear. We know that subverting the Constitution is right in this defendant’s wheelhouse. And you don’t have to take my word for it. We know he is ready to subvert the Constitution BECAUSE OF HIS OWN WORDS.”

“Anyone looking for more insight into how Twitter, and social media companies in general, deal with content moderation might learn something. Anyone looking for proof of a political conspiracy will find that even this information, selectively released by people trying to make it look like a big scandal, showed that it wasn’t.

“Julianne Sitch became the first woman to coach a men’s soccer team to an NCAA championship, guiding the University of Chicago to the Division III title.”

RIP, Jo Carol Pierce, Lubbock-born singer/songwriter and playwright. I saw her perform years ago at the Mucky Duck, and it’s probably more accurate to say she was performing a larger-than-life character named Jo Carol Pierce that was still basically her. If you can imagine Dolly Parton as more of a one woman play than a singer, you’re kind of in the neighborhood of Jo Carol Pierce. It’s a great obit, give it a read whether you’d ever heard of her or not.

The Golden Dukes are back.

Actually, goblin mode is your word of the year.

RIP, Kirstie Alley, Emmy-winning actor best known for Cheers, Veronica’s Closet, and Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.

“Deshaun Watson’s Return Often Felt Like Any Other Game. That’s the Problem.”

“More than two dozen Taylor Swift fans are suing Ticketmaster parent Live Nation Entertainment, Inc. for “unlawful conduct” in the pop star’s chaotic tour sale, claiming the ticketing giant violated antitrust laws, among others.”

“Legendary Los Angeles rock band Guns N’ Roses has sued online gun store Texas Guns and Roses for trademark infringement”.

“Does Alito think that the sole purpose of oral argument is to troll liberals on Twitter?”

RIP, Nick Bollettieri, legendary tennis coach who worked with the Williams sisters, Andre Agassi, and Boris Becker.

Lock them up.

“Trump attorneys admit to finding more classified documents that Trump had stashed in a new location”. There is no bottom.

RIP, George Newall, co-creator of Schoolhouse Rock.

Lock them up.

RIP, Grant Wahl, soccer journalist who was in Qatar covering the World Cup.

Weekend link dump for December 4

Everyone should start blogging again. Own your own site. Visit all your friends’ sites. Bring back the artisan, hand-crafted Web.”

“As first reported by The Wall Street Journal, the first self-proclaimed anti-woke “bank” in the nation is dying a hot flaming bankrupt death only a few brief months after opening for business.”

“Taking all parties together, overall perceptions of crime have been down consistently over the past decade. This changed only in 2022, when news media reports and Republican campaign ads began to insist that crime was out of control this year even though every indicator suggests that property crime is down and violent crime is up only slightly.”

Planes, Trains and Automobiles at 35: An Oral History of One of the Most Beloved Road Movies Ever Made”.

Ninety percent of Ohio diner customers approve of this profile of the NYT Pitchbot Twitter account.

So, does anyone have the wheel at Tesla now that Elon is a full-time Twitter troll/owner?

Did you know that the Netflix DVD-by-mail service is still a thing? Because it is.

Block and mute, whichever floats your boat. I had a moderately viral tweet earlier this year that drew some trolls, and I blocked them without a moment’s thought. Good times.

What Michael Harriot says.

Gaslighting is your word of the year.

The FTX “death spiral” claims another victim.

Methinks Justice Alito doth protest too much.

“Ultimately, Mueller undermined the main purpose of the special counsel, which is (in Mueller’s words), “to assure full public confidence in the outcome of investigations.” And here’s why: Barr, Trump, and others were counting on Mueller to observe institutional norms in crafting their strategy. They knew that, both because of his temperament and strict observance of institutional norms, he wasn’t going to correct their mischaracterizations publicly. Those assumptions have to change this time around: It’s clear that the old rules aren’t going to work in today’s information ecosystem. The key is to tweak them in such a way that they recalibrate perceptions without abandoning the principles on which the original polices are based.”

Lock them up. It’s a big deal.

RIP, Christine McVie, singer, songwriter, and keyboardist for Fleetwood Mac.

“This is why streaming Netflix, Disney Plus, and HBO Max keeps getting more expensive“.

“Dr. Oz’s former producers who worked on his longtime talk show are refusing to talk to him after his failed run for U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania”.

RIP, Gaylord Perry, Hall of Fame pitcher who was the first to win the Cy Young award in each league.

RIP, John Hadl, Pro Bowl quarterback for the LA Rams and other teams.

“So this was the last straw.”

“What Congress’s same-sex marriage bill actually does“.

RIP, Herb Ritchie, former criminal court judge in Harris County and survivor of Charles Whitman’s 1966 sniper attack at the University of Texas.

Weekend link dump for November 27

“Fox News significantly decreased its volume of violent crime coverage in the week of the midterms, down 63% from the week prior.”

You’re Not Ready for How Much These Jokers Want to Talk about Hunter Biden’s Laptop”.

“This model prosecution memorandum (or “pros memo”) assesses the potential charges against former President Donald Trump emanating from his handling of classified documents and other government records since leaving office on January 20, 2021.”

“How the news media – long in thrall to Trump – can cover his new run for president responsibly“.

I don’t know enough about “effective altruism” to know if it’s a worthwhile movement or mostly bogus, but I agree that Sam Bankman-Fried was a terrible face for that movement and to whatever extent it continues to exist they’re better off without him.

The comic strip Funky Winkerbean will cease publication on December 31 after fifty years.

“Buffalo Bills fans in New York rallied [last] Saturday to shovel out players, amid a dangerous lake-effect snowstorm, in an effort to get them to the airport in time to travel to Detroit for their game Sunday against the Cleveland Browns.”

World’s biggest crybabies, bar none.

The conservative SCOTUS justices are even more corrupt than you thought.

“Do you have any idea how embarrassed the creator of a television show must be of that show to have his name removed?”

“The Messaging Mistake That Cost Republicans the Midterms”.

“Malta’s government is to propose a change in the law to allow doctors to terminate a pregnancy if a mother’s life or health is at risk.”

Congratulations to Olivia Pichardo, the first female baseball player to be on an active NCAA Division I roster.

“The Illustrated and Admittedly Incomplete History of the Turducken“.

“Whatever the reason, actual turkey prices right now are nowhere near what the Farm Bureau says they are—a fact the group sheepishly admitted in the press release announcing the survey last week. But those “sharply lower prices” didn’t make it into News at 10.”

“[A] voting rights advocate is an election denier who lost a close election.”

“If the 11th Circuit does what now seems likely, once the newly appointed special counsel gets up to speed, an indictment of the former president for unlawful possession of the materials found at Mar-a-Lago should quickly follow. The case is both a prosecutorial “slam dunk” and the most effective way to begin prosecuting all matters related to the Jan. 6 riot and the attempts to overturn the 2020 election.”

The story of Jake Powell, a sort-of Kyrie Irving from the 1930s.

“As data continues to roll in, however, it seems quite likely that long COVID is a significant part of why the labor market is currently so tight: it has forced people out of the workforce, plunging them into financial turmoil, which is making it harder for employers to find workers. One international online study of nearly 4,000 long COVID patients found that 22 percent had left the workforce due to their symptoms.”

RIP, John Y. Brown, Jr., former Governor of Kentucky, NBA owner, KFC mogul, and husband of former Miss America Phyllis George.

Shame on you, CBS Sports. Shame on you.

RIP, Irene Cara, actor and singer best known for the theme songs to the movies Fame and Flashdance.

Cartoonists celebrate the 100th birthday of Charles M. Schulz, creator of “Peanuts” and an all-around beloved figure in the comics world.

Weekend link dump for November 20

“Meet the Pollster Who Convinced Republicans There Would Be a Red Wave”.

“A Step Back from the Precipice on Election Denialism and a Slightly Rosier Forecast for a Free and Fair Election in 2024″.

“It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future. How about if we waste less time trying: A proposal.”

“Your Creation Museum Report, 15 Years On”.

“Could a rebranded MAGA movement continue by just replacing the frontman? Is it still Journey without Steve Perry, or the Grateful Dead without Jerry Garcia? In a way, yes. MAGA could Jefferson Starship itself indefinitely as long as the crowds keep vibing. But without the original magic the venues tend to shrink, the fans get old, and it all starts to seem a little pathetic.”

“Voters Want Impartial Election Administration—And Tuesday’s Results Confirm It”.

“Here’s why 51 is much better than 50, even if we don’t keep the House. And no, it’s not (mostly), about Manchin and Sinema.”

The emoluments clause of the Constitution was there for a reason.

RIP, Budd Friedman, founder of The Improv comedy club. Mark Evanier shares some stories about him.

RIP, Keith Levene, guitarist and co-founder of the bands The Clash and Public Image Ltd.

RIP, Mehran Karimi Nasseri, Iranian man whose 18-year residence in Paris’ Charles de Gaulle Airport loosely inspired the 2004 Steven Spielberg film The Terminal.

RIP, Dan McCafferty, lead singer for the rock band Nazareth. I commend you to read this Popdose article, which I know I linked to back in the day when I was regularly doing Friday Random Tens, about the origin of Nazareth’s biggest hit, “Love Hurts”.

RIP, Virginia McLaurin, national treasure. If you don’t remember her name, go watch this and you will. She was 113 years old, born in 1909. What an amazing life.

“Pro-abortion rights ballot measures outperformed Democrats on the ballot in three states, while Republican politicians ran ahead of failed anti-abortion ballot measures in two states.”

“The numbers are in, and the Machiavellian scheme worked. In the six races where Democrats got the Republican nominee they wanted—after running reverse-psychology ads highlighting the candidates’ conservative bona fides—Democrats won.”

“Could I say something about Kari Lake, you guys?”

“Helmed by erratic new owner Elon Musk, Twitter is no longer fulfilling key obligations required for it to claim Ireland as its so-called main establishment under the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)”. (More here.)

“Seeing as this the one moment where being a Grover Cleveland biographer has any social utility, let me save you all a lot of Googling: Cleveland and Trump are starkly dissimilar figures.”

“Trump’s announcement was exactly what it looked like: a desperate, low-energy attempt to head off 2024 GOP primary challengers; possibly ward off ongoing investigations into his seizure of classified documents, January 6th, and attempts to overturn 2020 vote results in Georgia; and consolidate his wavering support. He is too weak not to run; his dwindling political assets are still worth too much to abandon.”

“Ticketmaster might be used to criticism from advocates and Capitol Hill when it screws something up so publicly. But the company has never shaken a beehive quite like the Swifties. Swift’s fanbase is as rabid as they are loyal to the megastar, and the Eras presale nightmare focused the collective’s attention on a new enemy: Ticketmaster and its monopoly power.”

“Larry David sued for crypto ad in which he talked crap about crypto, which feels about right”.

RIP, Robert Clary, actor, singer, and Holocaust survivor.

“Pelosi is the strongest congressional leader I’ve ever seen. McCarthy is the weakest.”

“Hundreds of Twitter’s remaining employees have resigned ahead of Elon Musk’s “extremely hardcore” cultural reset of the company”.

When grifters get grifted.

Weekend link dump for November 13

“One of the cores of democracy is neighborhood trust. You need to trust others in your society and in your community for democracy to work. Period. When there’s a very high level of distrust, you will see a fracturing of community.”

“So there you have it. Banks charge higher swipe fees for reward cards—mostly paid by merchants—and then rebate that money in the form of rewards mostly paid to customers who are middle class and above. The net result is that richer, more sophisticated cardholders end up paying less than poorer, less sophisticated cardholders. And that’s before we even get to the higher interest rates they’re charged on unpaid balances, which is at least notionally justifiable.”

“The Disney Parks have seen better days. What was once a desirable, affordable vacation for some American middle class families has devolved into something prohibitively expensive and stressful. Every aspect of the Disney experience must be premeditated and scheduled to maximize its declining worth. But despite the backlash, the problem isn’t getting better.”

“Google is funneling revenue to some of the web’s most prolific purveyors of false information in Europe, Latin America and Africa, a ProPublica investigation has found. The company has publicly committed to fighting disinformation around the world, but a ProPublica analysis, the first ever conducted at this scale, documented how Google’s sprawling automated digital ad operation placed ads from major brands on global websites that spread false claims on such topics as vaccines, COVID-19, climate change and elections.”

I guess Tony Blair won’t be watching the latest season of The Crown.

It’s How Elon Is Screwing Up Twitter all the way down, isn’t it?

“Even if Trump never again holds public office, his anti-statist conspiratorial politics dominate contemporary Republicanism. This is bad news not just for public employees who have become targets in an increasingly scary culture war. It’s bad for the rest of us, too, because the services public employees provide will decline in quality. As loyalty to the regime becomes the key criterion for hiring, it will grow harder to attract good people into government.”

RIP, Leslie Phillips, British actor who was the voice of the Sorting Hat in the Harry Potter movies.

“The tale goes something like this: Some notable Twitter advertisers have paused their expenditures with the site. General Motors, General Mills, and Audi are some of them. But contrary to Musk’s version of events, the problem is less that leftists are bullying the company that makes Cheerios and more that Musk is not as good at business as he thinks he is. Advertisers don’t like to run their ads in places where they might appear alongside abuse, harassment, spam, racism, misogyny, slurs, and the like.”

“Musk’s fans see the billionaire as a visionary, but it’s worth noting that many casual observers—people whose only real understanding of Musk is as the guy who put the fancy electric cars on their streets—have also internalized the heuristic that he is Good at Business and the type of man who spends his waking moments dreaming of how to save humanity from its existential problems. But what the past two weeks demonstrate is that Musk is, at best, a mediocre executive—and undoubtedly a terrible, distracted manager.”

“While many of Musk’s detractors may hope the platform goes through the equivalent of thermonuclear destruction, the collapse of something like Twitter happens gradually. For those who know, gradual breakdowns are a sign of concern that a larger crash could be imminent. And that’s what’s happening now.”

“Want to know whether the charity organization, celebrity, political figure, reporter, or corporation you’re following on Twitter is the real one or an imitation identity meant to deceive you? There won’t be one. It appears there won’t be a way for Twitter itself to differentiate between the real and fraudulent accounts, either. There’s little chance that’s a salvageable situation, when it comes to the FTC consent agreement Twitter is required to follow. What turns this into a potential multi-billion dollar catastrophe is the strong suggestion, from Musk, that his own actions are intended to allow Twitter to financially profit from fraudulent user behavior.”

“But Musk should be afraid of the FTC, for no other reason than that the agency can fine Twitter literally billions of dollars—and Musk’s own message to employees this week suggests that the company is already in significant financial trouble. So rockets notwithstanding, Musk should tread cautiously with the FTC. The rest of us should tread cautiously with turning over sensitive information (like, say, credit card numbers or bank account information) to Twitter at a moment when the company seems more insecure than ever.”

(Yes, I know, it’s another Musk-and-Twitter-palooza. What can I say, I’m having fun. I promise I’ll eventually stop.)

The Speaker math for Kevin McCarthy could be very dicey if the Republicans do win the House.

“Kentuckians voted down an anti-abortion proposal that would have amended the state constitution so that it does not protect the right to an abortion, Decision Desk HQ projects. It is now the second conservative state this year to reject such a proposal.”

“I heard from women who spent the entire summer post carding and phone banking and registering voters, post Dobbs, and most of them never doubted for a moment that they were invisible to pollsters and pundits and journalism as it is currently practiced. The spiraling story about who cared about what didn’t stop them. Bless them, every one.”

RIP, Harold Cook, longtime and well-loved Democratic strategist, pundit, blogger, storyteller, and all around good guy. I got to hang with him once in person but engaged with him online for years. He was a hoot and a mensch and will be greatly missed. I commend you to read Rachel Truair’s eulogy as well.

“If Mitch McConnell Is Still in the Minority It’s His Own Damn Fault“.

“State legislative races are on pace to be the highlight of the Democratic ballot. If Democrats hold on to Nevada, this will be the first time the party in power hasn’t lost a single chamber in the midterms since 1934, according to the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee.”

“Alex Jones ordered to pay an additional $473 million to Sandy Hook families“. This is all good, but I would like to see some actual money get taken away from him. It’s just headlines and things he can continue to thumb his nose at until he is made to feel the pain.

RIP, Gallagher, prop comedian known for smashing watermelons as part of his act. Mark Evanier has a cool Gallagher story to tell.

And just like that, after a week that can’t even be described as chaotic because that doesn’t begin to capture it, RIP, Twitter Blue. We’ll always have the mocking tweets.

Weekend link dump for November 7

“In both instances, no significant damage was done to the paintings. The question is: was any harm done to them, the people being glued (and gluing)? Upon reading about these incidents, we couldn’t help but wonder: what are the mechanics behind gluing oneself to something? How long is it supposed to last? How does it feel? How do you unglue yourself?”

“How A Conspiracy-Theorizing Documentary Fueled Voter Intimidation In Arizona”.

A long thread of awesome and iconic tweets. Enjoy while you can.

“Putin, as leader of the leading natural gas exporter in the world, has managed to accomplish what climate scientists and activists have unsuccessfully lobbied for over the past 20 years: Created a peak target in fossil fuel consumption worldwide, and driven a more rapid shift to renewables and other cleaner technologies such as wind, solar and nuclear power.”

“Elon Musk (and his consortium of much smaller investors) now owns Twitter. We need to take seriously the possibility that this will end up being one of the funniest things that’s ever happened.”

Also, too: Elon Musk’s deep abiding love for free speech, as long as that speech isn’t a criticism of him or anything he does.

“The essential truth of every social network is that the product is content moderation, and everyone hates the people who decide how content moderation works.”

“But now for the caveat: If we see mass layoffs and/or resignations, I think the whole company is doomed from the start. No matter Musk’s big vision, you need a highly skilled, knowledgeable workforce capable of (re)building a viable platform and responding to EU obligations. Without it, I think the company’s toast. In probably relatively short order.”

“Maybe Musk knows more than I do, but the verified users are the only people we know aren’t trolls, bots, or imposters (it’s why the blue checkmark system was originally created), so I have no idea how this would combat trolls and bots. If he wanted to do that, he’d need to charge everyone else $8 a month, except they wouldn’t pay it.”

Hollywood’s Twitter Exodus: Who Has Quit, Who Has Threatened To Quit And Who Refuses To Leave”.

“Twitter is instead the equivalent of putting an anarchist crust-punk from Seattle into the same room as a Kappa Alpha alum from Auburn and watching them talk about politics all day. Of course, they would probably rip each other’s heads off. Now, imagine watching a thousand versions of that all day. It would make you think the world is crazy. There’s your issue.”

“Instead of making Twitter a more desirable corner of the internet, Musk wants to pull more money out of existing users by threatening to make the platform worse for those who don’t pay up. He is using mostly sticks, with a side of small carrots that may not even be carrots. If Musk wants Twitter to start printing cash, he is in trouble. There is a reason the company’s old board of directors was so eager to unload the company onto him. But if he is to have any chance of making Twitter more profitable, he should start by making it a better place to spend time. What he’s unveiled so far doesn’t do that.”

“The man really thought he could flip a switch and overpower Twitter with Dad jokes and desperation. It’s almost like content moderation is not controlled by the forces of free speech but by market forces. Ain’t that a kick in the ass for the world’s richest man?”

“Five former Twitter employees who were fired on Thursday have already filed a lawsuit against the social media company for failing to adhere to California’s WARN Act, a law that requires large employers to provide 60 days of notice to employees before mass layoffs. And the lawsuit even calls out another company run by Elon Musk for doing the exact same thing.”

(Yes, I know, this is all way too much attention to that idiot who now owns Twitter. I’m just enjoying a little schadenfreude, which I fully admit may turn into an ice cold take someday, if he’s even a fraction as smart as he thinks he is. I’ll take that chance.)

Want to know more about the opening credits to Season 2 of The White Lotus? There you go.

RIP, Shirley Baskin Familian, public TV pioneer, multimedia artist, philanthropist and businesswoman who was involved in the founding of Baskin-Robbins Ice Cream.

“How threats against women in power are tied to threats against democracy”.

“Judge Allows Poll Workers’ Entire Defamation Case Against Rudy Giuliani Over False Election Fraud Claims to Move Forward to the Discovery Phase”. GOOD!

So, how much rainbow fentanyl did the kids get trick or treating this year?

RIP, Julie Powell, author of “Julie and Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen”, the book on which the movie Julie and Julia was based.

“Recently I learned about a man who has trained 1,000+ people to block wind and solar projects. I read through all his training materials, presentations, and seminars. Here’s what I learned about him and how his students plan to “win the war on clean energy.””

Everything You Need to Know About ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ On Its 25th Anniversary”.

“ESPN has hired Becky Hammon as a studio analyst for its NBA coverage, the latest stop in an extraordinary career for the former player and current coach.”

“An evangelical GOP House candidate in Texas wrote a novel about Anne Frank finding Jesus“. The candidate in question is the Republican running in CD0. I can’t get this story out of my mind, but I also just didn’t want to write a whole post about it. So I’m noting it here, which will allow me to finally close that tab. Also, I should note that this story was broken by a national outlet, while the Houston Chronicle has not had anything on it, not even a short piece noting the JTA’s story. Local media is unquestionably valuable, and good local media coverage is getting rarer, with real effects on society and democracy. We’re in a pretty good place in Houston, with several smaller sites enhancing the generally good work the Chron does. But I think they fell down on this one. Maybe it’s not the most important story, especially in this election, but it deserved some coverage. And this guy also ran for Congress in 2020, when his ridiculous book was published. We should have known about this before now.

RIP, Ray Guy, three-time Super Bowl champion with the Raiders and the first punter to make the Pro Football Hall of Fame. His stats look pedestrian now, but he changed how the position was played, and as you can see from the embedded highlight here, he was a heck of an athlete.

RIP, Lois Curtis, successful plaintiff in a landmark civil rights case for people with disabilities.

Weekend link dump for October 30

Yeah, Bill Murray is a jackass and has been for a long time. I’m just going to have to accept that.

Happy 100th birthday, BBC.

“I happen to agree that there has been, in fact, a Mitt Romney radicalization process. But it is quite the opposite of what this narrative suggests. It isn’t rooted in Republican anger on behalf of Romney but in Republican anger against Romney, and over time that anger has grown to be not just against Romney the man but also against the values he represents.”

“Which means the Sandy Hook families, who are now creditors for both Jones and Free Speech Systems, could find themselves in a very odd position: Trying to get their hands on all of Jones’s personal assets while also working within a legal system that is designed to keep Free Speech Systems and Infowars — which only really works if Jones works there — up and running.”

“We’re about two weeks away from Election Day, but some voter intimidation efforts are already underway in Arizona, painting an ominous picture of just how far some Big Lie activists may go to push their debunked voter fraud narrative during the midterms.”

Two words: Robot tentacles. Yeah, I don’t know either.

“In advance of election night, I think it’s useful to calibrate expectations to the fundamentals, not to polls or vibes.”

“It would be hard to find a clearer example than this of the difference between government negotiation of drug prices and the private market.”

“States passing abortion bans reflect what only a small minority of their constituents actually want”.

Turns out, HR Haldeman was absolutely right about Billy Graham. And once you know that, it’s a lot easier to understand how the much-beloved Billy Graham begat his shitbird son Franklin.

Long live Larry the Cat, who has now served as Chief Mouser to the UK Cabinet Office through the terms of four prime ministers. And counting.

RIP, Ash Carter, former Secretary of Defense who opened military combat jobs to women and ended a ban on transgender people serving in the military.

RIP, Jules Bass, animator, producer, director and composer who partnered with Arthur Rankin Jr. on the stop-motion and animated holiday TV specials Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman and Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town.

“This idea that vote by mail is a form of voting that inherently advantages Democrats is just flat wrong. It is a mode of voting that creates opportunities for political parties to mobilize their supporters.”

“Let’s talk about why the price of gas drives people crazy”.

RIP, Jerry Lee Lewis, rock and roll pioneer and Hall of Famer.

Lucianne Goldberg has died. I have no further comment.

Weekend link dump for October 23

Disbar them all.

“I believe the House Jan. 6 committee’s legacy will depend on how its in-depth rendering of the events surrounding the 2020 election and the ensuing insurrection is presented, repeated and understood by successive generations of Americans.”

The full impact of voter ID laws on trans people and others remains difficult to measure. But voting rights advocates say potential voters across the country face an uneven patchwork of policies — and obstacles.”

Lock him up.

“So, yes, Tuberville is a flat-out racist. We knew this. Been knowing it. Saying that isn’t even controversial anymore. But there’s an even larger story here. Tuberville spent decades as a college coach, both at the University of Mississippi and Auburn. How many college football coaches are like Tuberville? How many do what he apparently did: make millions off the labor of Black athletes while apparently hiding their disdain for those same Black people?”

“NBC News found one example of a school district keeping cat litter on campus. The Jefferson County School District has had classrooms with cat litter since 2017, in case students are locked in a classroom during a shooting. Jefferson County is where Columbine is located.”

Maybe the Cartoon Network isn’t quite dead yet.

Wishing Dikembe Mutombo all of the best.

RIP, Jim McDivitt, NASA astronaut who led Apollo and Gemini missions.

Lock him up. Like, for way longer than that.

“After a February 25, 2020, CDC telebriefing ‘angered’ President Trump, the White House wrested control of coronavirus communications away from CDC and mandated on February 26 that all media requests related to the pandemic be approved by the Office of the Vice President prior to release”.

The misogyny-to-fascism pipeline.

RIP, Charley Trippi, NFL and College Football Hall of Famer who had over 1000 yards rushing, receiving, and passing in his career. He played on the last Cardinals team to win an NFL championship, in 1947.

Lock him up for longer than that.

Make him testify.

“Biden administration officials are discussing whether the US should subject some of Elon Musk’s ventures to national security reviews, including the deal for Twitter Inc. and SpaceX’s Starlink satellite network, according to people familiar with the matter.” Yes, yes they should.

RIP, Daniel R. Smith, one of the last surviving children of a formerly enslaved American.

Weekend link dump for October 16

Don’t let the bastards get you down, Kate Starbird. Hang in there and I hope there’s an effective way to fight back as well.

“As voters cast ballots in the 2022 midterms, they face significant changes in the voting rights landscape since 2020. 2021 was a record-breaking year for legislative activity around voting rights, and many of the same trends have continued into 2022.”

All efforts to avoid the future robot apocalypse are appreciated.

“The lies are louder. The facts are not getting across.”

“Scientists Have Discovered a New Set of Blood Groups“.

“However, once I’ve smoothed out the lines a bit and added trendlines, the conclusion is pretty obvious: on a national level, fear of crime is either flat or going down. There’s no sign at all that people are increasingly interested in security equipment.”

“These views do not square with cold utilitarianism. You can’t insist that every fertilized egg is a human being and then fail to condemn Herschel Walker, who, from that perspective, almost surely paid to kill another human being. At least, you can’t do so and expect to retain any moral high ground.” As Amanda Marcotte points out, the kids – as in, the kids raised in these “pro-life” households, whose parents are now defending Herschel Walker, are watching. And a lot of them get very disillusioned by this.

RIP, Nikki Finke, entertainment journalist and founder of Deadline.

Always be claiming to be victimized. It’s the manly thing to do.

The Flintstones was not a documentary.

If Game of Thrones was a “Homeric tale”, then House of the Dragon is more of a Greek tragedy. I’ve really enjoyed it so far.

“A Study Finally Shows Just How Much Deadlier COVID Has Been for Republicans“. Blame anti-vaxxers.

That’s right, you’re not from Texas. Or so the lawsuit says.

Wait, Tulsi Gabbard still exists?

Boy, The Former Guy sure does like surrounding himself with shady characters. I wonder why?

“What does Sean Hannity find so offensive about unconditional love exactly?”

RIP, Angela Lansbury, legendary star of stage, screen, and TV. Her passing caused Jerry Orbach to trend on Twitter, as people were amazed to discover that Lennie Briscoe and the dad from “Dirty Dancing” was also the voice of Lumiere from “Beauty and the Beast”. Here’s a fantastic video clip of Lansbury and Orbach recording “Be Our Guest”, which I guarantee you will enjoy.

“Connecting reparations — the concept of compensating Black Americans who are the descendants of enslaved people for the inhumane suffering of their ancestors — with people who commit crimes — and way beyond a dog whistle.”

“According to a consumer survey published by accounting firm KPMG, 20 percent of respondents say inflation has already inspired them to cancel at least one streaming service. And if inflation continues at its current rate, 37 percent of respondents said they plan to drop one or all of their streaming subscriptions. (What will they do with themselves?)”

I would have really preferred to live in a world in which Bill Murray was not a jackass and a sex pest. Alas, that is not the world I live in.

“While there have been conflicting reports on the impact of the Jan. 6 hearings, our polling has been more conclusive. Since the hearings began, more Americans have come to view Jan. 6 as a violent attempt to overthrow the government and more Americans now see the committee’s findings as legitimate.”

Now this is justice.

“What was once believed unthinkable is now a reality: Netflix with ads is here.”

RIP, Bruce Sutter, Hall of Fame relief pitcher primarily for the Cubs and Cardinals.

RIP, Robbie Coltrane, BAFTA-winning actor best known as Hagrid from the Harry Potter movies.

All the owners hate Dan.”

Weekend link dump for October 9

“Even if the Equal Rights Amendment were somehow ratified today, this Supreme Court wouldn’t care.”

“But recently, this tidal wave of backlash against hormonal birth control has made its way into another sphere of influence. Anti-abortion activists—many of whom are morally opposed to the idea of contraception because they consider it a form of abortion or just morally wrong—have found that wellness influencers, many of them pro-choice, are a boon to their cause. While previous generations of activists saw picketing outside abortion clinics as their only option for engaging the public, today’s crusaders are also using social media to win followers, incorporating wellness messages into confessional videos and stylish memes to convince their audience that hormonal contraception is not only sinful but also unhealthy.”

“Actor Bruce Willis Becomes First Celebrity to Sell Rights to Deepfake Firm“. That…doesn’t actually sound great to me. But maybe I’m wrong.

TV shows get gun violence wrong. Color me shocked.

“In the past decade, several studies have suggested that lawmakers are more likely to take action on climate change when they — and their constituents — have had to deal with the disastrous consequences of previously doing nothing.”

“Cape Coral is a microcosm of Florida’s worst impulse: selling dream homes in a hurricane-prone flood zone. But people still want them.”

“Medical groups ask Justice Department to investigate threats against hospitals over gender-affirming care”.

“Since the January 6th insurrection, more than two thirds of the corporations who announced they would no longer support members of Congress who refused to certify Trump’s loss have abandoned their commitment. And many others have continued to fund sedition without batting an eye.”

RIP, Sacheen Littlefeather, activist for Native Americans who declined Marlon Brando’s Oscar for “The Godfather” on his behalf at the 1973 Academy Awards. The Academy issued her a formal apology just this past June.

RIP, Loretta Lynn, country music icon and the subject of Coal Miner’s Daughter.

“The Biden administration is issuing fresh guidance reinforcing the legal protections for pregnancy and abortion under Title IX“. I can almost feel the lawsuit that will be filed over this.

Sorry, Mikey. Actually, not sorry at all.

RIP, Tiffany Jackson, former All-American basketball player at the University of Texas who went on to play nine seasons in the WNBA.

“That’s right, Scoob fans, Velma is now officially a lesbian!”

RIP, Jim Redmond, father of Olympic runner Derek Redmond, who memorably helped his injured son cross the finish line in the 1992 Games.

RIP, Ramiro “Ramsey” Muñiz, activist and first Hispanic to have his name on a Texas general election gubernatorial ballot. Stace noted this earlier.

“Abortion is murder…until there’s a Senate seat on the line, apparently.” Never believe a word these people say about their “deeply held values“.

“How long have conservatives been screaming about this? Since the ’80s? The ’50s? The Great Depression? And nothing has ever happened. But they keep screaming and screaming anyway without even a shred of evidence that the national debt is actually a problem.”

“This is when I asked again if someone would put me to sleep. A surprise hysterectomy is not something one generally wants to hear and see and, unfortunately due to all the cauterizing, smell.”

Do better, Great British Bake Off. We deserved a lot better than that.

The store where we buy our dog food is a delightful old un-air-conditioned shack, just north of downtown and just next to our chi-chi neighborhood. In business since 1928 selling animal feed and various farm animals (yes, in the heart of urban Houston), owned by the same (male) couple since 1991, it’s been the place to go for backyard farmers for decades. They’re moving to a new location, thankfully not far away, and while it will be weird to not have them in their current space, I’m just glad they will continue to exist. Shop local, y’all.

RIP, Judy Tenuta, groundbreaking, accordion-playing, Grammy-nominated comedienne.

If you’ve heard about some controversy involving people who write books about Westeros with George R.R. Martin and wanted to know more about it, here’s the very deep dive that you need.

“The muted response from some of the country’s most virulent critics of abortion is an instructive reminder that for many conservatives — particular conservative politicians — opposition to abortion has little to do with morality, and everything to do with politics.”

If you’re lucky enough to catch a historic home run, make sure you know a good accountant.

Weekend link dump for October 2

“Whether The Jetsons was a blueprint for the future or simply a prediction of it, it foreshadowed many of the products and services we now use today.”

“Fifty years ago this spring, I was on the original daytime show with Art Fleming in New York.”

Clearly, the lesson here is to not mess with Jon Bon Jovi.

“How Roberto Clemente Harnessed Celebrity To Change America”.

Just a nice story about Bob Keeshan, better known as Captain Kangaroo, as told by Mark Evanier.

“It’s retraumatizing over and over again, and for what? How many movies/shows/documentaries do we need?”

Who is Perla? And where is Perla?

“But current technology can reveal a person’s transgender identity by linking seemingly anonymized information such as their neighborhood and age to discover that their sex was reported differently in successive censuses. The ability to deanonymize gender and other data could spell disaster for trans people and families living in states that seek to criminalize them.”

RIP, NFL Pro Bowl, an event no one really cared about.

“Netflix is no longer pursuing a copyright lawsuit against the creators of The Unofficial Bridgerton Musical.”

Lock him up.

I don’t know if I should be disappointed with Kim Mulkey for her shameful refusal to support Brittney Griner, or if this is always who she was and I’m just now seeing it.

Please don’t be mean to King Charles, The Crown.

RIP, Joe Bussard, music historian who helped preserve a ton of early 20th century American records.

“A subreddit account has decided to do some masterclass trolling in order to test Gov. Greg Abbott with this horrendous law.”

RIP, Coolio, Grammy-winning musician best known for “Gangsta’s Paradise”.

A few alternate email signatures to try.

A classically-trained flute player plays a flute. Some people find a reason to object to that. No, it makes no sense to me either.

RIP, Hector Lopez, two-time World Series champion with the Yankees and the first Black manager in Triple A ball.