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March 19th, 2023:

Weekend link dump for March 19

“In other words: Christian advocacy group accuses Conservative and Reform Jews of lying about their own religious dogma. This will end well.”

“Netflix TV users can now customize the appearance of subtitles and closed captions on the streaming platform, allowing subscribers to adjust the size and style of the text.”

“How much would it take for you to publicly pledge allegiance to a man you privately loathe? Not just once, but night after night, in a pair of stale khaki pants? Really think about it: How much would it take for you to sell out, knowing full well your own lies convince others to live in delusion?”

“I’m literally writing the book on planetary defense, so I know things about errant space rocks. And asteroid 2023 DW – with its small-but-not-zero chance of hitting Earth on Feb 14, 2046 is making headlines. So: let’s sort a few things out, shall we?”

“With that new topline metric top of mind, we’ve ranked the major streamers by last quarter’s revenue and included their most up-to-date subscriber tallies. It should come as no surprise that More Subscribers = More Money, but they don’t always go in lockstep. And yes, we know not every quarter is created equally for every streamer, but it’s the latest data we’ve got to go on.”

“These are the words from other languages that don’t have a direct equivalent in English, and yet carry so much meaning.”. I really related to “soubhiyé”, which refers to the period of time early in the morning when you’re the only one awake in the house and you can just have some time to yourself. You non-morning people will have to find your own equivalent word for the late night period when you’re the only one up.

“Gannett’s most recent annual report drives home the fact that no company has done more to shrink local journalism than it has in recent years.”

“Twitter is in a period of decline. The site still functions, people are still using it, but there’s a familiar stink that lingers on the website. It reminds me of the twilight days of two other social media platforms I’ve used: LiveJournal and Tumblr — onetime vibrant communities that grew in popularity until everyone seemed to be using them, which then began a long, slow death.”

“And it is hard, at least for me, not to notice the gap between the decisive response of the US Federal Government and the lack of any coherent response (other than complain and ask for help) from the VC and tech world.”

What Counts As a Bailout?”

Never listen to a word Jim Cramer says.

RIP, Bud Grant, Pro Football Hall of Famer who coached the Minnesota Vikings to four Super Bowls.

RIP, Joe Pepitone, former All Star first baseman primarily for the Yankees.

RIP, Pat Schroeder, former US Representative from Colorado and feminist trailblazer.

RIP, Dick Fosbury, Olympic gold medalist who revolutionized the high jump via his “Fosbury flop”.

RIP, Rolly Crump, Disneyland designer who worked on the Haunted Mansion, It’s a Small World, and the Enchanted Tiki Room.

“Silicon Valley’s Titans Are Realizing a Lot of People Really Don’t Like Them“.

This interview with legendary MAD artist Al Jaffee is from 15 years ago, but it’s in honor of Jaffee turning 102 (!), so go read it. He’s delightful.

Here’s The Tau Manifesto, for those of you who think Pi Day isn’t nerdy enough. Tau Day would be June 28, in case you’re wondering.

Wait, they’re making a movie about BlackBerry? I…may have to see that.

“Silicon Valley Bank was fine. It’s Silicon Valley that’s broken.”

A detailed history of the solar panels that were once on the Carter White House.

“Anti-Woke Author Who Could Not Define Woke Gets Petty”. What’s kind of amazing about this is that the person who asked her the question that completely tripped her up is herself one of the Internet’s leading jackasses. Be that as it may, enjoy the video if you haven’t seen it.

I feel really bad for Edwin Diaz, but I fully agree that it is the players’ decision whether or not to play in the WBC.

Lock him up.

RIp, Lance Reddick, actor best known for his work on HBO’s “The Wire” and the “John Wick” movie franchise – and for me, on “Fringe” and “Lost” and “Bosch”. He’ll portray Zeus in the forthcoming Percy Jackson TV adaptation, if you want one more chance to see his work.

“Brown freshman Olivia Pichardo became the first woman to appear in a Division I baseball game when she pinch hit in a 10-1 loss to Bryant on Friday.”

Federal complaint filed over TEA takeover

We’ll see if it can have an effect.

The Greater Houston Coalition for Justice this week filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education alleging that Texas is discriminating against Houston schoolchildren by taking over the majority-minority school district.

Johnny Mata, presiding officer for the coalition, outlined the allegations in a Wednesday letter addressed to U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona.

The coalition filed the complaint on behalf of the Houston Independent School District and against the state of Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott, Education Commissioner Mike Morath and the Texas Education Agency, according to a copy of the letter shared with the Chronicle.

Mata said he believes the TEA is violating a federal civil rights law by taking control of HISD. The contentious takeover has sparked outrage and pushback in recent days among teachers, parents and community advocates who say the move is a political attempt to destroy public education. 

“They’re asking for a fight,” Mata said about state leaders. “They’re playing games, they’re playing politics, they’re catering to their base, and that’s unconscionable.”

Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color and national origin. This civil rights law and others extend to all state education agencies, schools and universities, according to the U.S. Department of Education.

Anyone may file a complaint with the federal education department’s Office for Civil Rights, which enforces federal civil rights laws in educational programs or activities that receive federal funding, according to the government website.


HISD may request an administrative review by the State Office of Administrative Hearings by March 30, according to the commissioner.

Mata, who is not a lawyer, said he disagrees with the state interpretation of the takeover law.

“State law is superceded by federal law and they cannot and should not discriminate against anyone,” he said.

U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee has said she is also seeking federal intervention in the takeover by speaking with the Biden administration and other members of Congress.

A spokesperson for the federal education department confirmed that it has been in touch with Lee’s office.

“We cannot prejudge the effect of state and local decisions that have not yet been implemented,” the spokesperson said. “At the U.S. Department of Education, our most important focus is to ensure all students receive high-quality education. We always value and encourage community input in education decisions, and every school district should ensure that community rights are respected.”

See here for the background. I don’t know what the likelihood of federal action is, nor do I know what kind of timeline they might be on, or what procedural steps there may be along the way. I do feel confident that if the feds step in that the state would file its own complaint in federal court, and who knows what happens from there. It’s a lot, at least potentially. Or maybe it’s nothing, if the feds decline to act or decide they don’t have the authority. Like I said, who knows? It’s not boring, we know that much.

Uvalde families ask to be added to the public information lawsuit against DPS

A direct response to the Uvalde County DA and her questionable claims.

Some Uvalde families of victims who were killed or injured during the massacre at Robb Elementary School last year have asked a judge to add them as plaintiffs to a lawsuit against the Texas Department of Public Safety to argue that public records related to the shooting be released.

Numerous news organizations, including The Texas Tribune and ProPublica, are suing DPS for records that could provide a more complete picture of law enforcement’s response to the shooting, which left 19 students and two teachers dead in the border community.

Thomas J. Henry and Robert Wilson, the lawyers for the families of a teacher and a student killed, and other injured children, wrote in a court document filed in the case this week asking to be part of the lawsuit because they have the same interest as the news organizations suing.

“The reasons given for the withholding of the investigation or finding of the Texas Rangers and the Texas Department of Public Safety are without merit and unreasonable,” the lawyers wrote. The families “as victims of the tragedy, have a compelling need for the information that will override the need to keep the information withheld.”


Last week, [Uvalde County DA Christine] Mitchell’s office claimed in a court affidavit that the families of every child who was killed shared her view of withholding the investigative report.

“All of the families of the deceased children have stated to District Attorney Mitchell that they do not want the investigation of the Texas Rangers released until she has had ample time to review the case and present it to an Uvalde grand jury, if appropriate,” her office wrote.

But the families’ attorneys said they do want the report released.

“These Uvalde families fundamentally deserve the opportunity to gain the most complete factual picture possible of what happened to their children,” wrote Brent Ryan Walker, one of the attorneys who represents the parents of 16 deceased children and one who survived, in a court affidavit filed in the lawsuit.

See here for the previous update. As I said then, the clearest takeaway here is that one should be very reluctant to publicly lie about things that can be easily fact-checked. I mean, okay, the entire Wingnut Cinematic Universe contradicts that thesis, but we’re in the context of legal filings, and grieving parents who will surely have long memories. I have hope this will matter on both fronts.

More World Cup events on tap for 2026


The 2026 World Cup soccer tournament is expanding by 24 games, and Houston is prepared to handle any added games.

FIFA voted Tuesday for a change in format to the 48-team event by adding games. The total of 104 matches is 40 more than were played in the 2022 World Cup in Qatar with 32 teams. The 2026 tournament already had planned to increase the field to 48.

“Houston is flexible,” said Janis Burke, the CEO of the Harris County Houston Sports Authority.

Games will be played at NRG Stadium, but FIFA had not previously released information on how games would be divided among the 16 host cities in the U.S., Canada and Mexico.

Houston had been expecting to host as many as five or six matches in the previous format and could likely handle as many as eight.

“We welcome as many games as we can,” said Chris Canetti, president of the Houston World Cup committee. “We know nothing is guaranteed.”

The Houston organizers have a time window with NRG already under contract that would handle any potential games.

The extra games, which would come in the group stage, would be played within the tournament’s traditional June-July calendar.

See here for the background. There will now be 12 groups of four teams, up from the eight groups of four now, with a 32-team knockout tournament from there. All I can say is bring it on. I’m ready to go buy some tickets now.