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January 2nd, 2011:

Weekend link dump for January 2

Am I the only one that thinks “the year 2011” still sounds like science fiction and not reality?

I’m delighted to hear that Nancy Lieberman is back in basketball. I think she’d make a fine assistant coach in the NBA.

Nice to know there are still second chances in this life.

A tale of two Johns.

Via Roy, the 100 most beautiful words in English. Personally, I think of sentences, paragraphs, and so forth as being beautiful, not individual words. But your mileage may vary.

If you allow anyone to enter your Christmas lights contest, then you can’t complain about who won.

Global warming also means more extreme winters in some parts of the world.

Dealing with obesity wouldn’t be a partisan fight if it weren’t for the partisan who insist on making it one.

The public disapproving of Congress is a feature, not a bug.

From the “Austerity for thee, but not for me” department.

Cable news sucks. Film at 11.

This is what happens when you let a fox convince you to give him the contract to guard the henhouse.

Since it’s that time of the year, here’s one view of the worst commercials of 2010; here’s another if one such list isn’t enough for you. I have to agree with Kyrie, I think the “Weee!”-ing pig ad from Geico is more funny than annoying. But then I also loved the Pomplamoose Hyundai ads that all the cool kids hated, so take that for what it’s worth.

Stunt bartending as an Olympic sport? Well, I guess it isn’t any stranger than rhythmic gymnastics or synchronized swimming.

Both sides don’t do it the same way.

Along similar lines, “balance” shouldn’t be the top priority.

Even Alaskans don’t like Sarah Palin that much. Here’s one reason why that’s so.

From the Same As It Ever Was files.

It’s good to know that Jonah Goldberg is still always wrong.

It’s an unprecedented power grab, according to certain focus groups.

Who knew bankers were such whiners?

Not just them, but professional conservatives, too.

I didn’t know you could x-ray lightning, but it’s pretty darned cool.

Here are your 2010 Swampies winners and first runnersup. Congratulations!

And here are your favorite videos from the HMNS.

Oh, and let’s not forget your Golden Duke Award winners.

How to win at Monopoly. Numbers never lie.

Happy ninth blog anniversary to Gary Farber, who got started on this habit a day before I did.

Finally, as we bid an un-fond farewell to the first decade of this century, here are 19 reasons to be cheerful about the past ten years. I’m still hoping the next ten will be a lot better.

Vote on nuclear waste dump expansion temporarily halted

Good.

A Travis County state district judge on Thursday sided with environmentalists and temporarily halted plans to allow a West Texas radioactive waste disposal site to accept waste from an additional three dozen states.

The decision by Judge Jon Wisser to issue a temporary restraining order for potential open meetings violations against the Texas Low-Level Radioactive Waste Disposal Compact Commission could delay the politically connected dump long after the order expires.

The commission was scheduled to meet Jan. 4 and vote on whether Texas can import radioactive waste from outside Texas and Vermont, two days before a new Vermont governor who has expressed reservations about expanding the site takes office.

[…]

The judge agreed, issued the restraining order and ordered the parties back on Jan. 13. In the meantime, the balance of power on the commission is scheduled to change.

The eight-member commission is made up of six Texans — all appointed by Gov. Rick Perry — and two Vermonters. Currently, the Vermonters and four of the Texans have said they support the expansion. The commission needs five votes to take waste from other states.

There’s a chance the Jan. 4 meeting could still happen. The commission was not represented at Thursday’s hearing because the advocacy groups did not contact the attorney general’s office, which has represented the commission on some matters. Lawyers with the attorney general’s office later won a hearing, set for Monday, on whether the restraining order should be lifted.

Some background is here. At least there’s a chance we could have a meeting on this that can reasonably be described as “public”, which was not the case before. I presume you can still address any feedback you may have on this to [email protected], so take advantage of it if you wish. Texas Vox has more.

Where hippie bohemian attorney dreams go to die

Via Swamplot, I see that the site of the never-was Sonoma development in the Rice Village has been sold to someone that plans to actually build something.

Hanover’s project, called Plaza View, is scheduled to include 385 “high-end” apartments, 14,000 sq. ft. of retail or restaurant space, and a multi-level parking garage, all in what its designers label a pedestrian-friendly design. What’s that plaza we’ll be viewing? An almost-17,000-sq.-ft. public space along Morningside, with a “water feature, grass lawn, large trees, and restaurant dining spaces.” According to Hanover executive veep John Garibaldi, 55,000 sq. ft. of retail space, 34,000 sq. ft. of office space, and an 8,000-sq.-ft. grocery store were cut from the earlier Sonoma plans. Much of the towering nouveau pomposity of the Sonoma design has been cut too. Along Kelvin St., Hanover’s buildings will reach 6 stories tall; 5 stories along Morningside and Dunstan.

Here’s the Chron story about this.

Houston-based Hanover Co. plans to build a five-story mixed-use property on the site where other developers had originally planned to build a much-anticipated retail and residential development called Sonoma.

The project will have less retail and apartments instead of condos, said John Nash, president of Hanover.

The finished brick property will boast 381 rental units, 13,000 square feet of retail space on the ground floor, above-ground and underground parking, and a public plaza. The project, at Bolsover and Morningside, will generate less traffic than Sonoma because of the limited retail, Nash said.

While I’m delighted that one of the many longstanding vacant lots will finally see some action on it – I’m sure they’re doing cartwheels in Mayor Parker’s office over the imminent increase in property tax revenues – I must say that I’m heartbroken that this will now never become reality:

It was a crazy dream, but it was fun while it lasted. Rest in peace, Hippie Bohemian Attorney highrise.

Teach For America grants

In other education and budget news, there’s this.

Texas lawmakers have ordered a study of Teach for America to help determine if the Peace Corps-like program, which recruits top college graduates to work in needy schools, is worth the state’s $8 million investment.

The evaluation, due to the Legislature by Jan. 31, could serve as a key discussion piece as lawmakers debate how to slash the state’s budget, with a shortfall estimated to top $20 billion.

There’s not much to say about this. The study is expected to be favorable to TFA, and no one quoted in the story argued against the grants per se, they just expressed concerns about how much bang is gotten for the buck in these tight times. To me, it’s all about the numbers. In the context of a $20 billion (or more) shortfall, $8 million doesn’t even qualify as chump change. Eight million is to 20 billion as four pennies are to a $100 bill. I guess you can say every little bit adds up, I’m just saying you’d need a hell of a lot of these little bits to add up to something meaningful. And in the meantime, while you’re talking about these little bits, you’re not talking about the really big cuts you’re going to have to make if you truly intend to close that gap without increasing revenues.