Rice University eliminates tuition for all but wealthiest students, makes housing free for poorest

From its founding in 1912 until 1965, Houston's Rice University was free to attend; but today, Rice has joined other US universities in saddling its students with ghastly, inescapable mountains of debt, with annual attendance costing $61,350, $40,000 of which is tuition. Read the rest

Nightmare park attendant blocks driver, then falsely tells 911 she's being run over

Chris Hampshire of Georgetown, TX was driving through Cedar Breaks Park near Lake Georgetown when he took a wrong turn. He backed up and turned towards the exit when a park attendant stopped him. And that's when all hell broke loose.

Hampshire describes what happened:

The situation was me leaving a lake with my Jetski. Accidentally steered down the wrong exit while leaving, this parks and rec worker happened to be outside. She saw me correct myself and I was about to leave the main exit point. At that point she started telling me she was calling the cops and I wasn’t allowed to leave. I said no ma’am you’re mistaken, you can’t hold me here. She jumped in front of my car then this is when I pulled out my phone... shortly after the video ended she stepped out of the way to talk to the park rangers and I voiced that I was leaving being that this was unlawful from the beginning and I didn’t do anything illegal.

About a mile down the road I see 15 officers with sirens and lights speed pass me (they legitimately thought someone was being run over) quickly a few officers turned around, pulled me over and talk to me about what happened. Thankfully they were very calm and shortly after showing the video I was let go....

The park attendant was identified as Judine Reed. She no longer works for the park, which is managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Read the rest

Texas board of education tries to erase Hillary Clinton from history

The State Board of Education in Texas has proposed some rather interesting cuts to the their social studies curriculum. Read the rest

Dallas cop charged with manslaughter after killing neighbor in his apartment

Dallas cop Amber Guyger, 30, was charged this weekend with manslaughter after killing her neighbor Botham Shem Jean, supposedly under the belief that he was an intruder in her apartment. She was in fact intruding into his apartment after returning home from work. Authorities' refusal to arrest Guyger in the days after the slaying led to an outcry, and they were only forced to act after the story made national headlines.

Lawyers for Jean's family had been calling for Guyger's arrest, saying the fact that she had remained free days after the shooting showed she was receiving favorable treatment.

''Police say Guyger, a four-year veteran of the force, told investigators she was returning home from her shift Thursday night and accidentally entered Jean's apartment. Guyger believed Jean was an intruder and shot him, police said. Police have released few other details.

"Right now, there are more questions than answers," Police Chief Renee Hall said. "We understand the concerns of the community. That is why we are working as vigorously and meticulously as we can to ensure the integrity of the case and the department is upheld."

Read the rest

Let me tell you about living my life on the road

In passing, I've talked about the fact that my wife and I are full-time nomads. Lemme expand on that.

A few years back, we bought a 21-year-old RV with the intention of living in it while my wife completed her degree in Vancouver, Canada. Typically, winters in Vancouver are mild by comparison to the rest of the country. The climate is similar to what you see in Seattle. Not so while we were there. It dropped to below freezing for weeks at a time. Snow, a largely unknown commodity in British Columbia's lower mainland, hung around for months. We were cold. We blew through hundreds of dollars worth of propane trying to stay warm.

We were poor.

Shortly before we were to make the drive over the mountains, I was informed that, after five years of service to a site that I had built, my services were no longer needed. It shattered me emotionally and financially. I was sent scrambling to find enough work, piecemeal, to make end's meet. There was cash coming in barely enough to keep afloat. Staying in a campground in the lower mainland costs around $800 per month. We couldn't foot the bill. We made do. Weekly, we would sneak into a local university sports complex for a shower. On one occasion, we had to decide between buying food or propane for heat. We chose food. This ended up costing us $1200, money that could have kept us going for months, to replace our hot water tank as it iced up and cracked in the cold. Read the rest

A cowboy in New Jersey built a ridable e-horse for himself

“What do you do with an old Texas rodeo cowboy when he marries a Jersey girl, he’s up in Jersey, and he has no place to keep a horse in Cranford? You make a mechanical horse!”

Steve Bacque, aka the Crazy Cranford Cowboy, is that Texan and he did indeed make himself an electric horse. Four golf cart batteries power his not-street-legal e-horse, which he calls "Charger."

According to NJ.com,

Charger can do up to 40 miles per hour (though he has a governor to rein him in to about 15 miles per hour) and can handle up to 600 pounds. Charger even has a wheelie bar in the back, which is “not just for show,” Bacque warns. Yes, this motorized horse can pop a (small) wheelie.

Charger turns left and right with the reins and even brakes when you pull back on them. A key turns him on, and a gas pedal sets him in motion.

Bacque first caught attention in town when he rode up on Charger to his bank's drive-thru window:

When Mindy Weiss Affronti pulled up to the bank drive-thru two weeks ago and saw a man atop a robotic horse at the teller window, she did a double take.

Then she took his picture.

The friendly cowboy smiled, happy to oblige, before riding off. Left in the stupor of what she had seen, Affronti did what any other rational person would do: She posted the photo on social media...

After Affronti shared her photo and a video in a neighborhood Facebook group, there were others.

Read the rest

Trump's government denying passports to some Americans born near U.S.-Mexico border: WaPo

They served in the Army, Border Patrol and as police. They have legitimate U.S. birth certificates. But Trump's government is denying their passport applications and telling them they aren't U.S. citizens. Read the rest

Who is this mysterious shackled woman ringing doorbells in Texas?

(UPDATE HERE)

Police in Montgomery County, Texas are searching for this mysterious woman who was apparently ringing multiple doorbells in the middle of the night at a subdivision over the weekend. Read the rest

Injured combat veteran runs against Texas tea party congressman who wouldn't meet with her

MJ Hegar is an Air Force veteran whose helicopter was shot down in combat. In this video, she talks about how she fought and won against Pentagon efforts to keep her and other women from ground combat positions in the military. Now she's running as a Democrat against the tea party Republican Congressman who refused to meet with her about her fight because she wasn't a campaign donor. Read the rest

Alex Jones falsely accused a guy of being the Parkland school shooter, so now he's being sued for more than $1,000,000

Self-described roaring performance artist has a simple business model: he spouts outrageous lies to bring in an audience, then sells them quack remedies whose market has been proven by Gwyeneth Paltrow. Read the rest

A detailed, cross-disciplinary syllabus for a "Cybersecurity Law and Policy" graduate course

University of Texas law professor Bobby Chesney has developed a detailed syllabus for a course in "Cybersecurity Foundations: Law, Policy, and Institutions" that is aimed at grad students from law, business, engineering, and computer science. Read the rest

Police say the Austin bomber killed himself as they closed in on him

five bombs have gone off in the Austin area this month (a sixth bomb was defused); they seemed to target people of color. Read the rest

Austin bombings: literal American carnage meets with Trumpian indifference

Remember when Donald Trump campaigned on a promise to make Americans safe, and promised an end to "American carnage" at his inauguration? Yeah, neither does he. Read the rest

A Texas brewery made a purple, glittery ale with Peeps

Easter is on April Fools Day this year but what I'm about to share is not a joke.

A brewery in Texas, The Collective Brewing Project in Fort Worth, has crafted a Peeps-filled ale that will be ready for the holiday. It's a collaboration with local bar Lone Star Taps and Caps, according to Dallas Morning News' Guide Live:

Called Peep This Collab, the beer is a sour ale brewed with Peeps, vanilla and butterfly pea flower, which will turn the beverage purple. Brewers added more than 30 boxes of the marshmallow candy, says Steven Roman, general manager of Taps and Caps. And once the beer has fermented, they'll add edible glitter to really make it shine.

Collective's head brewer and co-founder Ryan Deyo says, "Several of us were just sitting around the brewery talking about how beer has become this super serious thing. I've been on a kick to assert beer should be a fun thing... We make a beer with ramen noodles, so Peeps isn't really a stretch." Read the rest

To do at SXSW: Cypherpunks Strike Back! and Cyborg Pride Parade

EFF-Austin's Jon Lebkowsky writes: "Every year while thousands flock to a certain large festival that temporarily colonizes Austin, EFF-Austin throws a honking big geek soiree. Keynote speakers are this year are Caroline Old Coyote and Michael Running Wolf, Native American VR/AR activists who are using technology to preserve their culture and heritage. Additional speakers include EFF Investigative Researcher David Maass discussing police surveillance, government transparency, and legislation in California, former EFF-Austin president Jon Lebkowsky, Carly Rose Jackson with Texans For Voter Choice, and Vikki Goodwin, Democratic candidate for Texas House District 47. Also music by Michael Garfield, Pilgrimess, and UBA, plus custom video game consoles, lockpicking, and cosplay. " Read the rest

Witness the amazing beginnings of a 10,000-year clock build in this timelapse

Friends of mine at Because We Can (a local Bay Area "design build architecture" firm) shared some good news:

Congratulations to the Long Now Foundation on beginning installation of the 10,000 year clock. This is a must-see video showing publically for the first time just how far along they are on this bold, ambitious, and world-changing project.

Here's some info about the incredible clock from the Long Now site:

There is a Clock ringing deep inside a mountain. It is a huge Clock, hundreds of feet tall, designed to tick for 10,000 years. Every once in a while the bells of this buried Clock play a melody. Each time the chimes ring, it’s a melody the Clock has never played before. The Clock’s chimes have been programmed to not repeat themselves for 10,000 years. Most times the Clock rings when a visitor has wound it, but the Clock hoards energy from a different source and occasionally it will ring itself when no one is around to hear it. It’s anyone’s guess how many beautiful songs will never be heard over the Clock’s 10 millennial lifespan.

The Clock is real. It is now being built inside a mountain in western Texas. This Clock is the first of many millennial Clocks the designers hope will be built around the world and throughout time. There is a second site for another Clock already purchased at the top of a mountain in eastern Nevada, a site surrounded by a very large grove of 5,000-year-old bristlecone pines.

Read the rest

Rancher takes feds to court over camera they placed on his property without permission

Ricardo Palacios, a 74-year old rancher, had gotten used to Customs and Border Protection officials tromping across his south Texas ranch lands without permission over the years. But finding a wireless surveillance camera set up in one of his trees? Not OK. Upon discovering the device, Palacios removed it immediately. It wasn't long after that he started receiving calls from CBP and the Texas Rangers demanding that he turn the camera over to them or face charges.

Having taken enough of their shit, instead of turning the camera over, Palacios gave the feds something else instead: a lawsuit.

According to Ars Technica, Palacios, who's been a lawyer for 50 years,  named the two agencies and a CBP agent in a lawsuit that accuses them of violating his constitutional rights, by trespassing on his land, and setting up cameras where ever they damn well please. It's an important case: CBP claims it has a right, within a 100-mile radius of the American border, to stop people (including U.S. citizens, which flies in the face of the Fourth Amendment,) search cars and personal belongings in the name of border security, without a warrant. But this doesn't allow them to go traipsing on to private property in the name of their duties without permission. They're only allowed to  do that within 25 miles of the border.

Palacios' ranch? It's 35 miles away from the edge of the U.S./Mexican border. This alone would be enough to warrant a suit against the government. But there's more:

As Palacios alleges in the civil complaint, his interactions with CBP began in April 2010 when his two sons were stopped at a checkpoint along I-35.

Read the rest

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