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January 15th, 2012:

Weekend link dump for January 15

Happy MLK Day!

If you live in Cinco ranch, you’re probably stuck in traffic right now.

Oh, the irony of it all.

If there ever were such a thing as “Sam’s Club Republicans”, one wonders if they’ve realized how badly their party is screwing them over.

On letting your nerd flag fly with your kids.

Call your mother. It’s good for you.

I admit it, I had a crush on Kristy McNichol when I was a kid. After all the crap she’s gone through, I’m just glad to hear she’s happy and doing well.

Time hole. That’s a thing.

How come there haven’t been any concerns about fraud in the Iowa caucuses?

When the revolution comes, the people responsible for this will be the first ones up against the wall.

Now that the bowl games are over, here’s a little reminder of just how corrupt they are.

How to text while walking without injuring yourself.

I don’t think “Blue Ivy” is a bad name, just a strange one.

Ask not what you can do for your country, ask what you can do for your political party. In particular, ask what you can do for the Republican Party.

Now that‘s what I call a sale.

If the giant tortoises are still alive, that would be awesome.

My sincere condolences to Oliver Willis for the loss of his beloved dog.

Mitt Romney: Not a job creator.

I link to this for two reasons: One, it’s always a good idea to link to The Slacktivist, and two so that you will be able to drop “subsidiarity” and Casti Connubii into your next dinner party conversation. You’re welcome.

It’s way past time to occupy the NCAA.

“So we’re to believe that it’s outrageous for the president to call what’s happening now a recess, and the House intends to take it up as soon as they get back into town after recessing for the holiday.”

The US Chamber of Commerce proves once again they’re a bunch of dishonest jerks.

What are your top ten facts that should be reported as such but usually aren’t?

County approves building new forensics lab

The Institute of Forensic Sciences is getting a new home.

I want one of these

Commissioners Court on Tuesday gave staff the go-ahead to finalize a land deal with the Texas Medical Center that would give the county 2.79 acres at the northeast corner of Old Spanish Trail and Bertner.

The deal would require construction to begin on the new nine-story Institute of Forensic Sciences facility within two years; Art Storey, the county’s director of public infrastructure, said he plans to start in December 2013.

“Harris County is running out of its own capacity,” said District Attorney Pat Lykos. who urged the court to move forward. “It’s absolutely essential to the administration of justice that Commissioners Court did what they did today,” the district attorney declared.


The county’s new facility will handle autopsies and evidence testing. A separate county facility for DNA testing is expected to open elsewhere in the Medical Center, at 2450 Holcombe, this year.

See here for some background. This has been referred to as a “regional” crime lab, but so far the county and the city are not yet on the same page; in recent weeks, Mayor Parker has spoken about the possibility of going a different direction than the county. This story doesn’t shed any new light on that.

County officials on Tuesday said they hope the city eventually will join them, though all stressed the county lab must expand to meet growing demand, regardless of the city’s plan.

“There’s been this discussion of yet another regional crime lab, and we already have the capability of doing that,” County Judge Ed Emmett said.


“As Mayor Parker stated in her inaugural address, her goal is to create an independent crime lab that can handle all of the city’s forensic needs,” said Parker spokeswoman Jessica Michan. “We’ll continue our dialogue with Harris County to, hopefully, achieve that goal together.”

There are common interests, but as yet not a common vision. Maybe by the time this thing is built we’ll have it all figured out.

Eradicating rabies

Did you know that the state of Texas has been funding a program to wipe out rabies in foxes and coyotes by dropping vaccines for it from airplanes. It’s called the Texas Oral Rabies Vaccination Project, and it’s been a smashing success.

Vaccination from above

Vaccination from above

The program began in 1995 as a desperate experiment. The most serious outbreak of dog rabies in the United States in decades had moved within 40 miles of San Antonio, killing two people in its path, as it swept northward from Mexico, spread by infected coyotes.

Hundreds of animals, including pets and livestock, were infected and died. Some 2,000 people received post-exposure shots. And a separate outbreak of rabies in foxes that began in West Texas had already reached the San Antonio area.

Since then, millions of baits have been dropped over Texas. By 2004, the federal government declared the canine strain eliminated from the state.

And although the last rabid fox was found in Wink, near the New Mexico border, in May 2009, health officials want to make sure it, too, is gone before declaring victory.

“It’s very rewarding,” said Dr. Ernest Oertli, a veterinarian who heads the program for the Texas Department of State Health Services. “I’m sure it’s what was felt with polio and pox, when you can say – even within this one geographical area – that public health is making a difference.”

Yes, that’s the government at work, running a program that saves lives. Who knew they did that, right? You can learn more about it here. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has a wildlife rabies program as well, aimed at rabies in raccoons, which has also been quite successful. There’s still skunk rabies, which officials here hope to combat next, and bat rabies, for which there isn’t a plan just yet. Still a pretty nifty accomplishment, and something to keep in your back pocket the next time you hear some nihilist denigrate what government can do.

Social media update

This is just a friendly reminder that you can find much of this blog’s content on the official Off the Kuff Facebook page, which I hope you will like. I was asked recently what the purpose of that page was, and the answer is that I wanted to provide another way for people to get the content that I provide here. Some people (like me) like RSS feeds, some people like Twitter (the Twitter feed for this blog is @offthekuff, as noted on the sidebar), and some people like Facebook. It’s good to have options, right? For those of you who like the Off the Kuff Facebook page, I generally try to add a little something extra most days – I’ll share a link to some other blog post or story that I want to share but don’t necessarily want to devote a full post to, or I’ll write an add-on to a post like this story about my inept effort to do the first candidate interview of the 2012 cycle. I may also ask for feedback about specific things I’m doing or thinking about doing here, such as my recent decision to include more pictures on the blog. It’s an ongoing experiment, which adds some fun and some challenge for me, always nice to have after doing the same thing for a decade. Feedback is always appreciated, here or on the Facebook page, so please let me know what you think. Thanks very much.