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October 3rd, 2010:

Weekend link dump for October 3

We need an official October song.

If you don’t get in the game, you can’t win.

Advice for freshmen.

What’s with the fear and loathing of artificial sweeteners?

Ever notice how Google will make suggestions as you are typing in a search string on its page? It’s called Google Instant. There are some things you can enter there that Google Instant doesn’t like and won’t give suggestions for.

You don’t want to know what Republicans will do if we give them back control of Congress. At least, they sure hope you don’t want to know.

You pay for checked luggage whether it arrives at your destination or not.

“Much of the popular discussion of the economics of online education — both in the press and in the academic blogs — just gets it wrong.”

All about Stuxnet, the first truly weaponized software.

The case for reforming how the Senate operates couldn’t be clearer.

Everything you believe about immigration is wrong.

Let me tell you a little story ’bout a man named Pat.

It really is okay if you’re a Republican.

I agree, there is no single monolithic entity known as “The Left”. At least, not since Norbizness hung up his cleats.

People who care about the long-term deficit will oppose extension of the Bush tax cuts. Those who do not do the latter cannot credibly claim the former.

The privilege of being in the majority.

RIP, George Blanda.

From the “Mother always told me there would be days like this” files.

Gary gets his Wings.

A better way to fund high speed rail.

Why are Twitter feeds being turned into TV shows?

Freedom of speech doesn’t mean freedom from being criticized for what you have to say.

If you were to look up the word “douchebag” in the dictionary, you’d see a picture of James O’Keefe.

“You can’t “fact-check” a fever dream of paranoia and irrationality.”

Nothing’s more pathetic than a wannabe. And as always, when in doubt, listen to Fred.

The McInsurance story is old news as well as being misleading and overblown.

Be sure to wash your reusable grocery bags.

Every person matters.

How to write about Japan.

The high cost of health care is everybody’s fault.

More of this, please.

Endorsement watch: Statesman for White

Two for two.

If you’re driven by campaign-trail zingers, [Bill] White might not be your candidate. But a longer listen produces the inescapable conclusion that White is a thoughtful, experienced, unifying leader — just what Texas needs now. That’s why we are endorsing him to become Texas’ 48th governor.

There’s much to appreciate about White, both in his past public service and the direction he plans to lead our state if voters oust GOP Gov. Rick Perry on Nov. 2.

White’s résumé is as impressive as any Texas gubernatorial candidate has offered in many years. As a deputy secretary in the U.S. Energy Department in the Clinton administration, he ran a large federal agency. As a lawyer, he won respect as one of the state’s best. As a businessman, he lived through the ups and downs of the private sector — a valuable life experience many politicians lack.

And as Houston’s mayor for six years, White effectively led a diverse city, experience that would serve him well in dealing with state lawmakers and the daunting challenges they will face next year in budget and redistricting battles.


After 10 years as governor, it’s difficult to pinpoint a singular achievement for Perry. The Texas economy might be the nation’s best, but that’s largely a result of an approach in place before Perry took office in December 2000.

As governor, Dolph Briscoe was instrumental in creating Texas’ farm-to-market road network. Mark White’s education reforms continue to benefit the state. Bill Clements shook up the bureaucracy. Ann Richards showed the way for diversity in appointments.

Perry? There’s the ill-conceived Trans-Texas Corridor highway plan that upset so many before it died. There’s the HPV vaccination program that was a governmental overreach. And there’s a long list of vetoes that shows a disconnect with lawmakers. On the plus side, Perry appointed Eva Guzman as the first Hispanic female on the Texas Supreme Court. He’s also done well in promoting trade with Mexico.

But Perry, exhibits symptoms of entitlement, e.g., the $9,000-a-month rental house he’s been living in while the Governor’s Mansion has been unavailable and his refusal to debate White or appear outside of controlled and scripted environments. The title, governor, is governor, not emperor.

The Statesman, which joins the Chron in making this obvious choice, endorsed Perry in 2006. Good to see they won’t be repeating that mistake.

Willingham gets another day in court


State District Judge Charlie Baird said Monday that he would hold a hearing in his Travis County courtroom next week to determine whether Texas wrongly executed Cameron Todd Willingham, convicted of murdering his three young children by setting fire to his Corsicana home in 1991.

Baird said in an e-mail that a man who once testified that Willingham confessed to him about burning his house down with his children inside could be among the witnesses to testify during the hearing, set for the afternoons of Oct. 6 and 7.

But the critical evidence in the case will probably be claims by a string of experts who have found in recent years that fire investigators who testified at Willingham’s 1992 Navarro County trial ruled the fire was arson based on theories that have been disproved by updated science.

Lawyers for relatives of Willingham, executed in 2004, filed a petition with Baird last week asking him to hold an inquiry into the case to restore Willingham’s reputation and to look at whether state officials committed official oppression in their handling of his case before the execution. Those state officials are not named.


The suit also asks that Baird determine whether there is probable cause to charge Texas officials with official oppression under a legal mechanism called a court of inquiry. The suit claims that those officials, who were not named, committed that crime by failing to consider before Willingham’s execution that he was convicted on discredited arson science.

Baird said in his e-mail that he has issued a bench warrant to have Johnny Everett Webb, who testified at Willingham’s 1992 trial, brought to Travis County for the hearing. Webb told a jury during that trial that Willingham confessed to the arson while they were in the same jail.

Webb is in the Navarro County Jail on forgery and marijuana possession charges. According to news accounts, including an investigation of the Willingham case by The New Yorker magazine that was published last year, Webb has given differing accounts since Willingham’s trial on whether his testimony was truthful.

That’s one hell of a can of worms. I can’t wait to see what happens. Grits has more.

Metro takes a step forward on advertising

For its 2011 fiscal year budget, Metro is taking a tentative step forward on allowing ads to be placed on its buses.

Metro is considering placing ads on buses to generate revenue (page 37). George Greanias, president and chief executive officer, told me that this idea is merely being explored and no revenue from this source is projected in the budget.

Metro already places free, public service messages, such as for the Houston Zoo, on some of its trains.

I’ve discussed this before, and I am firmly of the opinion that Metro should sell ads on its buses and light rail cars and any other place it can. I’d support them lobbying the city to amend its existing ordinance against placing ads on city-owned rights of way so that ads on bus shelters would be allowed. As someone who grew up in a place where these kinds of ads were ubiquitous, I really don’t see the problem. Maybe it won’t be much money, but it will be more than zero. Hair Balls has more.

Matt Angle’s mission

Good story in Mother Jones about Matt Angle and the Texas Trust, which was founded in the aftermath of the Tom DeLay-generated re-redistricting of 2003, after which Angle – chief of staff for then-Rep. Martin Frost – found himself out of a job. It’s mostly stuff you’re familiar with if you’ve been following along, and it’s a decent overview if you’ve just tuned in, but either way it’s a relatively rare example of a national publication doing a Texas political story that doesn’t make me want to tear my hair out. Which is to say, go check it out.