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November 22nd, 2015:

Weekend link dump for November 22

An oral history of Turkeys Away, the greatest episode of WKRP in Cincinnati and one of the greatest TV episodes ever.

“As the Internet of Things grows, we can scarcely afford a massive glut of things that are insecure-by-design.”

“The World Fantasy award trophy will no longer be modelled on HP Lovecraft”.

“Traditionally, most American white supremacists claim to be Christians…[but] a number of white supremacists are abandoning Christianity for a very different religion: Odinism”.

Silver insurance plans on the Healthcare.gov exchange are your better bet.

“But while PhD students are not so naive as to enter the program expecting an easy ride, there is a cost to the endeavor that no one talks about: a psychological one.”

Aaron Rodgers is a mensch.

“Our policy in Syria should be to destroy ISIS. Everything else can come after that.”

The case against killing baby Hitler.

Yogi Berra and Willie Mays will receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom this year.

The best thing you will read today is this conversation with Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Gloria Steinem.

You are now free to wear a colander on your head for your drivers license photo. In the state of Massachusetts, anyway.

“So it was either loiter outside or sit in the river. We just thought we’re not going to get beaten by a river, we’re going to have a beer.” You have to admire that level of commitment.

“Lets’s start with the dick jokes. Oh, the endless dick jokes.”

John Kasich and Lindsey Graham demand equal time on NBC.

The Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year is an emoji. Trust me, your kids will love it.

“I’ve taught refugee kids. I mean no-shit refugees, kids who’ve spent much of their youth in UN camps and whose experiences and losses make the worst moments of my life look like a Disney comedy by comparison. I’ve taught in rooms full of multiple different accents and Somalis and Russians and Southern Asians and kids from Mexico and points further south. Hijabs everywhere. And you know what? They’re GREAT KIDS. They’re HAPPY TO BE HERE. They’re poor and often they’re behind the academic curve because they’re still working on language acquisition as high school students. And they’re a joy to work with, because they know how good they’ve got it just by being here.”

Give yourself a security freeze for Christmas.

Don’t know much about geography, Ben Carson edition.

RIP, Smaug, the Komodo dragon at the Houston zoo.

I support the Interstate Swatting Hoax Act, even if it is limited in scope.

What Scalzi says. And also what Russell Moore says.

“A political analyst who spends months predicting the fall of a candidate who shows not only resilience but a towering increase in polling over that time clearly fails to understand the subject s/he is talking about in such a profound way that their credibility and expertise should be permanently undermined.”

Precinct analysis: The Harris County bonds

Courtesy of Mike Morris at the Chron.

It’s an open secret of local politics that, when Harris County needs voter approval for big projects, they turn not to suburban county residents but to those in the city of Houston’s urban core.

Just look at this month’s elections: Though county offices are on the ballot in even-numbered years, county leaders put four propositions on the ballot, when Houston voters had much more of a reason to turn out (for an open mayor’s race and two city ballot measures) than those in the unincorporated area.

Once again on Nov. 3, Houston’s urban dwellers delivered, backing the county bond measures by wide margins even though they will see comparatively little of the spending in their neighborhoods (a note on that imbalance below).

It’s important to note that the vast majority of suburban precincts also passed the bonds, but the map below makes clear that support was weaker in the outlying areas and particularly strong in City Council District C, the progressive crescent west of downtown that was also the only district to support the city’s rejected equal rights ordinance.

for comparison’s sake, here’s how the 2013 jail bond went. That one was totally uncontroversial, but was basically left to its own devices. It passed – barely – with just enough support from Houston to overcome the (mild) opposition from the rest of the county. The lesson I took at the time was that you have to have some kind of campaign for even the most milquetoast issues. Doesn’t matter if all the Right People supported it, doesn’t matter if there’s no active opposition, you need a campaign. These bonds had one – it wasn’t much more than a couple of mailers, but it existed and that was good enough.

Rep. Ron Reynolds convicted of misdemeanor barratry charge

The word “tawdry” applies to this.

Rep. Ron Reynolds

State Rep. Ron Reynolds was convicted Friday of illegally soliciting clients in an “ambulance chasing for profit” scheme, a verdict that carries the threat of jail time and deals a blow to his political career but won’t require him to leave office.

A Montgomery County jury convicted Reynolds, a Missouri City Democrat, of five counts of misdemeanor barratry after a week-long trial in which he represented himself. He was among eight Houston-area lawyers charged in 2013; Reynolds is the only one who did not accept a plea deal.

A teary-eyed Reynolds hugged his wife after the verdict was read. “I always respect the jury’s verdict. But while I respect it, I disagree. Based on the evidence, it did not show that I ever knowingly accepted a solicited case,” said Reynolds, the first African American elected state representative in Fort Bend County since Reconstruction.

Reynolds said he planned to appeal because he doesn’t believe the law was followed.

See here for the past history, and be sure to read the whole story to see why I described it the way I did. I’ll say again what I’ve said before: I like Rep. Reynolds personally, and I value his service as a State Representative, including and especially his leadership on important issues. It is with no joy that I say it’s time for him to conclude his service in the Legislature so he can straighten out his personal life. However well he has served the people of HD27, it’s time for them to have another choice.

Pro softball returns to Houston

Didn’t know we had pro softball here, but it’s cool that we do.

The new sports franchise debuting here this summer is appropriately named: the Houston Scrap Yard Dawgs.

After an eight-year absence, professional women’s fastpitch softball is coming back to Houston and will be based at an 82-acre complex that is erecting a 4,000-seat stadium near The Woodlands.

Yet two stars of the sport, Cat Osterman and Christa Willams-Yates – both University of Texas standouts and gold-medal Olympians from the Houston area – know the players on this team will have to be scrappers to succeed.

Williams-Yates, 37, who now coaches at Friendswood ISD, was a pitcher with a windmill arm that used to send the ball flying across the plate for the last pro-team based here, the Texas Thunder.

This franchise played three years in League City until its base operations were moved to Rockport, Ill., in 2007.

“I had a great experience playing in the pros,” said Williams-Yates, a two-time Olympic gold medalist, originally from Pasadena. “It was always a challenge. You are playing against the best players in the world. In college, they’re spread out, but now they’re concentrated together.”

Nonetheless, she won the pitcher’s triple crown in 2005 for her wins, strikeouts and earned run average while playing in the National Pro Fastpitch league. She quit after her team relocated to Illinois.

“The lack of media attention killed us in Houston. Nobody knew about us. I can count on one hand in my three years on the team that there was anything in the news about us,” Yates said.

[…]

But while the National Pro Fastpitch league has struggled with rebrandings under two other names since its launching in 2004, Osterman and Willams-Yates believe the best years are ahead for this league.

They say the league has a new weapon: national TV coverage.

“We had consistent coverage this past year of our games. They were shown every Monday and Tuesday on the CBS sports network,” she said. “You could count on finding it there, which has helped grow awareness of the kind of excitement the game can generate.”

Men ages 35-55 are the primary audience for the NCAA world series in softball on ESPN, said the Scrap Yard’s general manager, Kevin Shelton.

I’m in that demographic. I enjoy watching the Women’s College World Series. It’s sort of like baseball, but very different in ways that make it really interesting to watch. I’m intrigued by a pro league in Houston, though having it out by The Woodlands dampens my enthusiasm a bit. I’m glad to see more opportunities for female professional athletes, and I wish the Scrap Yard Dawgs lots of success.