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November 11th, 2012:

Weekend link dump for November 11

But here in this graveyard that’s still no-man’s-land
The countless white crosses in mute witness stand
To man’s blind indifference to his fellow man
To a whole generation that was butchered and damned.

It’s now a lot harder to use a stolen smartphone. You can thank those evil, meddling government bureaucrats for it, too.

Speaking of crime, here’s some useful information about how black-hat hackers do their business.

I sure hope that this is the future for the Catholic Church. Not in my lifetime, I suspect.

Adam West is Batman. That’s really all there is to it.

Good news and bad news: “Nine new species of colorful, arboreal tarantulas have been discovered in central and eastern Brazil, an area where only seven tarantula species had previously been known. All nine of the newly described species are threatened by habitat loss and potentially by overzealous spider collectors.”

How to figure out the email address of a corporate CEO.

We should limit the effect of software patents rather than try to limit what is patentable.

On musical farting, by St. Augustine.

Missed this from before Halloween – a conversation with Elvira, Mistress of the Dark. Yes, she’s still out there doing her thing.

There should be no secret donors to political campaigns.

DIY Micro Happy Meal Kit – Only in Japan.

Is Nate Silver a witch? Now you know.

Parents support restrictions on the marketing of food to kids. Someone alert Mayor Bloomberg.

Ladies love Cool Joe. He’s a very cool dude, after all.

Google Voice Search versus Siri. Do we need another election to settle this?

Wait, AOL is still a thing? Who knew?

RIP, Darrell Royal. The sunset has a more pronounced shade of burnt orange now.

I don’t know why you voted how you did for President, but this is a big part of the reason why I was proud to vote to re-elect President Obama.

President Obama > Justin Bieber, at least on Twitter.

Down with Microsoft Messenger, up with Skype.

“Oh, dear Jesus, she’s going to cause so many people so much trouble down there.” Boy, I sure hope so.

“So by the lights of Republicans and pundits themselves, this outcome should be seen as a big choice by the American people — a big decision about the future direction of the country. Why, now that Obama has won a resounding victory, is this suddenly being talked about as a small, no-mandate election?”

Might Michelle follow Hillary into the Senate?

When nerd worlds collide: Neil Gaiman is writing an episode of “Doctor Who”.

Help make the Internet a better place by kicking Donald Trump off of it.

I confess, I too made fun of Dick Morris while gabbing on the radio Tuesday night. Clearly, my problem is that I give away my punditry, while he gets paid large sums of money to say the things he says.

“On multiple levels, Tuesday’s election results raised questions about the Christian right’s agenda on American politics, eight years after the movement helped sweep President George W. Bush into a second term and opened the era of state bans on same-sex marriage.” Couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch of guys. And for the record, my school’s PTA is very careful about its finances.

The checks came. The victories didn’t.”. Also couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch of guys.

What Charlie Pierce says. And what Roy says, too.

Nate Silver is your king. Best to get used to it.

“What do you mean you didn’t vote, honey?”

We’ve got Big Data, how about you?

One less tuff on crime prosecutor, one more small step forward.

Ashley 2014!

Ruy Teixeira was Nate Silver before Nate Silver was cool.

Our tech beat their tech.

“The GOP doesn’t have a problem with Latino voters per se. Rather, it has a problem with a broad spectrum of voters who simply don’t feel that it’s speaking to their economic concerns.”

RIP, Lt. Col. Herbert Carter, one of the last surviving Tuskegee Airmen.

SCOTUS to review Section 5

Gird your loins.

The Supreme Court has agreed to hear a challenge brought by Shelby County, Alabama to the continued constitutionality of section 5 of the Voting Rights Act.

In its order taking the case, the high court limited the issues before the court to the question of “[w]hether Congress’ decision in 2006 to reauthorize Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act under the pre-existing coverage formula … exceeded its authority under the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments and thus violated the Tenth Amendment and Article IV of the United States Constitution.”

Shelby County and other challengers have argued continuing to use a standard that looks at behavior 40 years ago to determine if a state or jurisdiction is subject to having voting related changes precleared by the Justice Department or a panel of federal judges places excessive burdens on jurisdictions that once were – but no longer are – problem jurisdictions.

In 2009, Justices considered the same issue but avoided deciding the question by resolving the case on non-constitutional grounds.

More from Rick Hasen of Election Law Blog here and from SCOTUSblog here.

You would think that the two rulings by the DC court finding that Texas acted with discriminatory intent and effect in redistricting and voter ID would be as clear an illustration as one could want of the continued need for Section 5, but that and $500 will get you an hour with the kind of lawyer that’ll be arguing this case. What’s constitutional and what’s not is what five Justices – or, really, Anthony Kennedy – says it is. We’ll see what that turns out to be. See here, here, and here for more.

On bringing home the “bacon”

Ted Cruz doesn’t do bacon.

Not this Bacon, either

Texas’ new U.S. senator-elect, Ted Cruz, has repeatedly taken a cautious approach when asked about how he’ll fill Kay Bailey Hutchison’s shoes when it comes to Texas’ share of federal funding.

Cruz said while campaigning that he’ll work to see Texas gets a fair portion of “legitimate and important” federal spending but added, “I have yet to talk to a single voter who says the problem in Washington is that our elected officials are not bringing enough bacon home. I think if you get 435 members of Congress and all 100 members of the U.S. Senate viewing their job as just feeding at the trough… that is how you bankrupt the country.”

Voters may not specifically clamor for bringing home the bacon, but when military base realignment happens or a program like NASA faces challenges, federal funding can affect their jobs and Texas’ economy.


Rice University political scientist Mark P. Jones notes that Hutchison vigorously took on the task of protecting Texas’ interests, while U.S. Sen. John Cornyn has “focused much more on internal Senate politics.”

“Who, if anyone, is going to pick up that slack?” Jones asked. “And if no one does, will that lead to a reduction in defense spending and therefore an adverse impact on the economies of places like San Antonio, El Paso, Killeen, Texarkana?”

Well, okay, Cruz does believe in “legitimate” bacon, whatever that means to him. I have no idea how Cruz intends to balance his ideological zeal with the “legitimate” needs of Texas and its residents – frankly, I’m quite certain he doesn’t see this as a potential conflict – but I guess we’ll find out. I put the over/under on the publication date of the first story of local officials and/or business interests lamenting how things have changed since KBH’s retirement at June 30. What do you think?

“Please don’t mow down the wildlife”

As we know, the new 85 MPH toll road is now open, and while it is largely free of traffic, there are other obstacles to watch out for.

“That is a known pig route,” said Caldwell County Precinct 1 Constable Victor “Smitty” Terrell, who heard one of the hog-vs.-vehicle crashes on his police radio Wednesday night.

Like Texas 130 has the highest speed limit, Texas claims the largest feral hog population in the U.S. — 2.6 million.

It is so problematic that the state agriculture department runs a feral hog abatement program, including a contest called the “Hog Out Challenge,” in which counties compete to take the most swine by killing them, or trapping, snaring or capturing them “for purposes of immediate slaughter,” the rules say.

Caldwell County is competing in the challenge.

It’s unclear if road kill counts. Lockhart police Capt. John Roescher spotted at least three dead hogs on the side of Texas 130 at U.S. 183 on Thursday morning.

I suppose that’s one way to deal with the feral hog problem. It’s probably cheaper and less dangerous to shoot them from a helicopter than take them out with the family car, however. If you drive on SH 130 now, you will see road signs warning you of this hazard.

The SH 130 Concession Co. announced the sign plan Tuesday morning on its Facebook page. The signs will go up as soon as they can be made, said spokesman Chris Lippincott.


Lippincott said the company decided, based on early driving experiences, that the signs were needed.

While everyone knows to take caution behind the wheel, Lippincott said, “there’s nothing wrong with reminding them from time to time.”

Here’s the Facebook post. Wisecracks aside, I would not want to meet up with a 400 pound hog at 85 MPH. TM Daily Post has video of hogs crossing SH 130 at night. It’s just a matter of time before this causes a fatality. I hope it’s not too frequent an occurrence.

That big East End KBR site has been sold

There’s one less huge tract of land on the market these days.

A Buffalo Bayou-front parcel spanning 136 acres just east of downtown has found a buyer.

The mostly vacant tract is under contract and expected to close by the end of the year, said Davis Adams of HFF, the commercial real estate firm listing the property. He would not identify the buyer.

KBR is the longtime owner of the land at 4100 Clinton, east of Jensen Drive. The site is the former headquarters of the global engineering and construction firm. KBR has been moving workers away from the site for years and put the property on the market over the summer.

The sale has been long anticipated by real estate developers, bayou enthusiasts and residents of the East End.

Many hope to see the land redeveloped with a combination of uses, including high-density residential, retail and parks that take advantage of the nearly mile-long stretch of Buffalo Bayou frontage.

See here for the background. Some people would like for this land to be used for a university. I don’t really expect that to happen, but we’ll find out soon enough.