Lamar "SOPA" Smith dispatches GOP commissars to National Science Foundation

The Republican Texas Congressjerk maintains a flying squad of political officers who descend upon the NSF to pore through its grant records looking for evidence of ideologically impure science.

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Rightscorp cuts-and-runs as soon as it is challenged in court

Rightscorp -- a firm that asks ISPs to disconnect you from the Internet unless you pay it money for alleged, unproven copyright infringements -- was finally challenged in court by an ISP, Texas's Grande Communications; as soon as it looked like it would have the legal basis for its business-model examined by a judge, the company cut and ran, withdrawing its threats.

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Watch a Texas lawman's pathetic scramble for a reason not to record him

In this video, shot in April by Andrewwake58, Gray County Sheriff's Deputy Stokes tries every conceivable tactic to illegally intimidate a citizen who is peacefully recording him without interfering. Deputy Stokes invents imaginary laws, tries repeatedly to seize the camera, illegally orders the citizen to stop recording, demands identity papers without justification. When all else fairs, the Deputy declares that if the citizen journalist doesn't comply, that he can just "make stuff up" to make him stop.

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Perot Science Museum missing tiny climate exhibit (but there's lots about fracking!)


The $185M Perot Museum of Nature and Science in Dallas has a lot of positive info on the wonders of fracking, but a tiny panel explaining climate change in the original plans never made it into the joint. In fact, none of the exhibits at the Perot mention climate change -- not the display on water, not the display on weather, and certainly not the display on the miracle of shale gas.

The hall where the climate change panel was meant to hang was endowed by American oil baron Trevor Rees-Jones and bears his name. A natural gas exec on the museum's board says that climate is "too complex and fast-changing to tackle in a permanent exhibit." And the Perot is not alone: as the Dallas Morning News points out, science museums all over the USA wrestle with how to present the overwhelming scientific consensus on issues like climate and evolution.

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Texas school bans sunscreen because a child might drink it


A parent in San Antonio, TX is upset that her ten year old got sunburned on a school trip because the school district forbade bringing sunscreen to school, on the grounds that a child might drink the sunscreen and be poisoned by it. When called on this insanity, the Northeast Independent School District doubled down, calling sunscreen both a medication and a poison (it's neither).

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Openedjam: 3-day event in San Antonio for free/open education activists

Joey writes, "OpenEdJam is a 3-day international event that brings together activists, developers, educators, engineers, librarians, and makers from all fields. We will provide a hands-on environment where participants can collaborate on innovative creations and uses of free and open education resources. Considering the cultural, ethical and technical implications of free and open education resources, we'll come together to discuss, demonstrate and support the future of free and open education. Mariah Villarreal, an undergraduate in San Antonio, TX and AmeriCorps robotics community organizer has put it together. It's amazing to see young hackers out there making noise and keeping the tradition alive!"

OpenEdJam | The Convergent Media Collective (Thanks, Joey!)

Wolfgang Pauli opera in Austin: For Fear the Glass May Shatter


Jon Lebkowsky sez, "My amazing friend, neurocomputing specialist, musician & composer David Demaris has created the most geek-tastic opera ever, For Fear the Glass May Shatter. It's been produced as part of Austin's Fusebox Festival, and is running through this weekend at the Vortex Theatre here."

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Houston family calls 911 when dad has psychotic episode; now sued by the deputy who killed him

When Marlene Yazar's husband Kemal experienced a psychotic episode, she was so scared for her safety and the safety of her children that she called 911. A paramedic arrived on the scene, but fled after Kemal threw a Bible at him. The paramedic called the police, and Harris County, TX Deputy Brady Pullen arrived on the scene. Ten minutes later, he and a colleague shot Kemal ten times, killing him. Then, he sued the Yazar family, naming Kemal's mother-in-law (who wasn't at home when the episode took place) because, according to him, the family were negligent in describing the threat the dead father, husband and breadwinner presented. Now, the family must not only mourn the passing of their dead loved one -- they have to defend themselves against a $100,000 lawsuit brought by the police officer who shot him dead. Cory 37

Film about Austin's psychedelic history

Austin60

Dirt Road To Psychedelia is a documentary about the underground culture and music scene in Austin, Texas during the 1960s. Above is the trailer.

"With a folk-singing Janis Joplin, the 13th Floor Elevators, peyote, LSD and the first psychedelic music venue in Texas, Austin was a fertile ground for the emerging counterculture of the 1960s," says director Scott Conn.

If you're lucky enough to be in Waxahachie, Texas this Sunday (3/23), check it out live at the wunderkammer that is the Webb Gallery as part of their "Big Hair & Sparkly Pants" Texas-themed group art show. You can also buy the DVD on Amazon.

Amazon reviews of Wendy Davis's running shoes

Texas Sen. Wendy Davis did something amazing when she filibustered for 13 hours solid to kill the state's omnibus abortion bill: standing, without help, food, water, or bathroom breaks, for 13 straight hours. In a pair of Mizuno Women's Wave Rider 16 Running Shoes. Fans of Ms Davis have taken to Amazon to show their support in the reviews, a strange form of public commentary with some precedent: "Guaranteed to outrun patriarchy on race day," and "I tried on a pair at the local mall and suddenly Texas Republicans started telling me what to do with my genitals." Cory 1

Texas Senate will vote on abortion bill Monday, at behest of Rick Perry

An 11-hour filibuster by Sen. Wendy Davis (and a heady late-night mixture of parliamentary confusion and public protest) prevented the Texas Senate from voting on a restrictive abortion bill that would close almost all the state's clinics and ban abortion after 20 weeks. That was Tuesday. Next Monday, the Senate will convene again to vote on the same bill, after Governor Rick Perry ordered a special session to make sure the bill passes.

700+ Texans ask lawmakers to hear "People's Filibuster" about abortion rights

Over 700 Texans gathered in their legislature to testify before the state government about the impact of Texas's pending omnibus abortion bill. This bill would impose complex, punitive restrictions on abortion clinics that would have the effect of shuttering all but five of the clinics where Texans can have a safe, legal abortion.

The participants in this "People's Filibuster" have found their elected representatives openly contemptuous of comment from the public, especially State Affairs Chair Rep. Byron Cook (R-Corsicana) who called the individual, personal testimony "repetitive" and who eventually adjourned the meeting.

Only one woman is filibustering today, Senator Wendy Davis, who is in the middle of a 13-hour filibuster. (livestream)

Reproductive Health Reality Check has done excellent work covering the story, and today, they're raising funds to buy food to support the participants who are waiting all day and all night to tell their stories and be heard. I gave $50. Will you match it?

The BBC discovers the Texas Germans — and a dying dialect

My great-grandmother, Hedwig Nietzsche Koerth, never spoke English. My Grandpa Gustav didn't learn the language until he entered first grade. But, by the time I was in grade school — and was going through a brief fling of learning German — Grandpa no longer remembered much of what had once been his first language. Today, nobody in my immediate family speaks any German, much less the dying dialect of Texas German that my great-grandmother spoke. The BBC has an interesting story about the history and linguistics of Texas German, which will probably die out in the next couple generations — largely because the German Germans started a couple world wars in a row and changed the idea of what was and wasn't socially acceptable speech in America.

Girl who lost her hearing after West fertilizer plant exploded is now okay

The Today Show tracked down the Texas father who shot that now iconic video of the West fertilizer plant explosion — the one where you can hear his daughter screaming and pleading with him to leave after the explosion happens. Derrick Hurtt and his family were within 300 yards of the factory when it went up. They were there specifically to shoot some video of the burning plant. Hurtt's 12-year-old daughter, who says after the explosion that she can't hear anything, has regained her hearing.

Ammonium nitrate fertilizer isn't really a dangerous explosive (most of the time)

Fertilizer can explode*. We all know that. It was a key ingredient in the bomb that destroyed Oklahoma City’s Alfred P.

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