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October 24th, 2010:

Weekend link dump for October 24

Are we in the Halloween spirit yet?

RIP, Barbara Billingsley. Here’s hoping they speak jive in Heaven.

Is it time to forgive George Lucas?

Gay-bashing isn’t something that needs to be balanced, it’s something that needs to be banished.

Maybe she needs to outsource answering those pesky political questions.

Explaining the teabaggers isn’t at all difficult.

Geek Day at the White House. And how cool is it to have a President who will make a guest appearance on “Mythbusters”?

The importance of information in financial transactions.

Hispanic, Asian, what’s the difference?

Have I mentioned that the US Chamber of Commerce is a bunch of lying liars? Yes, I believe that I have.

Why can’t a woman smell more like a man?

Congress’ Twit-in-Chief still hasn’t found what he’s looking for.

The Rent Is Too Damn High. And that beard is beyond awesome.

Be very wary of doctors who are hired as promotional speakers by pharmaceutical companies.

How is it that after all these years I still haven’t received an award from Newt Gingrich? Everybody else has.

The case against resigning. Not having a sex scandal in the first place is a pretty good idea, too.

“If you ever find yourself in a post-nuclear holocaust environment and come across people eating beef stroganoff, odds are they’ll be Glenn Beck fans.”

The “Imagine if a Democrat did that” argument is overused, but very often still relevant.

Here’s a very thorough and measured response to the Klein/Rhee manifesto.

RIP, Tom Bosley, a/k/a Mr. C.

Shifting the balance of intensity in the climate debate.

The 90s called and it wants its sex scandal back, apparently.

The global war against satire.

How big is a mole? No, not the furry four-legged kind.

Would you vote for a man who kicks innocent little deer?

At this point, I’d call the phrase “deficit hawk” a contradiction in terms.

Replacement-level punditry. God knows, there’s a ton of it out there. And, what Tomasky said.

How to get your geek cred revoked. Thankfully, I passed the test.

Billboard battle finally resolved


A protracted wrangle over 59 billboards illegally erected in Houston’s 5-mile-wide extraterritorial jurisdiction ringing the city ended Thursday when U.S. District Judge Kenneth Hoyt ordered bankrupt RTM Media to dismantle the outdoor advertising within 12 months.

The judge’s order came after receivers of the company, which went bankrupt in April 2009, petitioned the court for permission to cancel its advertising contracts and remove the signs.


Craig Smyser, an outside attorney representing the city in the case, called the judge’s order “a complete victory for the city.”

Smyser said he is unaware of any other legal challenges to the city’s billboard ordinance.

RTM Media, which had been slapped with hundreds of citations by city inspectors, challenged the 1980 ordinance’s constitutionality in 2007. The U.S. Supreme Court resolved the case in favor of the city.

See here and here for some background. The key to this is that the city will not have to pay anything to remove the signs; RTM is on the hook for that, and it owes the city a $50,000 payment on top of that. A statement from the Mayor’s office about the resolution of this case is beneath the fold, and a map of the billboards’ locations is here.


Sugar Land contemplates its transportation options

Via Houston Tomorrow, here’s an interesting story about how Sugar Land is thinking about the effect of the planned baseball stadium and Imperial Sugar Mill redevelopment on traffic.

Both projects mean this older part of Sugar Land is likely to become much more popular, making it ripe for heavy congestion. This is something local resident Gavin Peterson says the area isn’t exactly ready for.

“Developing in this area that we’re in right now by the sugar factory, it’s not really built for a lot of traffic.”

The city knows this, which is why it’s spending 200,000 dollars on a mobility plan to discover how best to get its current and future residents from point A to point B. Patrick Walsh is Sugar Land’s transportation director. He says with all the new entertainment spots popping up, Sugar Land needs to think hard about its long-term transportation goals.

“So the city is looking at: ‘How do we connect these activity centers? How do we move people from one to the other? How do we get people from our residential areas into the activity centers?”

Resident Sandy Hellums is on Sugar Land’s citizens’ Mobility Advisory Committee. She says the biggest problem right now is lack of options.

“It is very difficult to move around as a pedestrian in a lot of our entertainment districts. There is no alternative in terms of pubic transportation. There’s no rail; there’s no buses; it’s pretty much your car and that’s it.”

Transportation director Walsh says more transit alternatives are exactly what the city’s exploring. He says Sugar Land hopes to double the number of its walking and biking trails over the next five to ten years and is coming up with ideas for intra-city transit options, like trolleys, that would link different parts of the town. Hellums has been tuned into the changing desires of residents at town meetings.

“I’m hearing that over and over at all of these things that people, especially with introduction of the baseball stadium, people would love to be able to bike to one park, jump on the trolley, go to the science museum and then walk over to the baseball stadium. I mean that would really be the ideal where you could spend your whole weekend in Sugar Land and not have to use your car.”

That does sound nice, but I’m thinking that for a transit system to be successful it needs to be more than a weekend option. In the bigger picture, there’s the commuter rail line that could come out that way and would go right to the stadium if it did. Getting it all to work together, and figuring out how to pay for it all, will be the challenges. They have a chance to get this right, and I wish them good luck in doing so. See the Sugar Land Mobility page for more.

Endorsement watch: What took them so long?

Nearly a full week into early voting, the last of the five major dailies, the Star Telegram, endorses Bill White.

The hard economic reality of 2010 is that Texans deserve a governor who can work effectively on a national level.

Democrat Bill White, 56, is a seasoned public servant on the municipal and federal levels. And that experience shouldn’t be viewed with the disdain that Perry continually heaps on it.

This state should be benefiting from federal programs ranging from education to highways to disaster relief. Perry, 60, loudly lambastes Washington from one side of his mouth while complaining from the other that the state isn’t receiving its fair share of federal dollars.

The Star Telegram was the one major daily to recommend Chris Bell in 2006, so their endorsement here is less of a surprise than some others. I just wonder what took them so long.