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December 9th, 2012:

Weekend link dump for December 9

In the great green-certified room
There was a smartphone
And a silver spoon
And a picture of—
A high-contrast, brain-stimulating black-and-white moon”

What being a graduate student in math has to do with vacuuming cats.

“Immaterial goods turn out to generate equally immaterial income.”

“The telco industry charges more, kilobyte by kilobyte, for sending a text message from your phone to next door than what it costs to send the same message from Mars to Earth.”

Team Romney needed to unskew their own polls.

I’ve seen most of these analogies before, but they’re still funny to read.

The most inclusive holiday carol ever.

North Korea will see your Bigfoot and raise you a unicorn. So there.

Bo Obama in a Santa hat. You’re welcome.

Should so-called “crisis pregnancy centers” get government funding?

The first text message was sent twenty years ago. The first re-sent text message with corrected spelling was sent a minute later.

From the “It’s not crazy, it’s sports” department.

Yeah, film subsidies are particularly out of control.

“It’s really amazing to see political reporters dutifully passing along Republican complaints that President Obama’s opening offer in the fiscal cliff talks is just a recycled version of his old plan, when those same reporters spent the last year dutifully passing along Republican complaints that Obama had no plan.”

Tumblr has a worm in it, if you hadn’t noticed.

More gender-neutral toy advertising, please.

More Ashley Judd for Senate speculation.

Conservatives hate treaties, and they always have.

RIP, Jack Brooks, former Congressman from Beaumont.

RIP, Dave Brubeck, one of the true giants of 20th century music.

How is it even possible the Texas Lege didn’t make this list?

How many of these sounds are you old enough to remember? Sadly, all eleven are familiar to me.

So long, Jim. We won’t miss you. And surely the best person to replace you is obvious.

RIP Hilmar Moore, Mayor of Richmond, TX, for 63 years.

My heart just breaks for Darden Restaurants and its ill-fated attempt to screw its workers in a fit of pique over Obamacare.

New flash: John Cornyn is a lying weasel. I know, I’m as shocked as you are.

More on the status of Houston’s bike sharing

From the Chron’s paysite:

The expansion is a few months behind schedule, said Laura Spanjian, Houston’s sustainability director. She said federal reviews required under the $116,000 grant to start the bike-sharing program, and state historic preservation approvals for the locations, have proceeded more slowly than expected. The program, run by a nonprofit, Houston Bike Share, also is waiting to secure city permits for the installations.

Despite the delay, supporters plan to offer 175 bicycles at 23 locations by mid-2013, said Will Rub, director of Houston Bike Share. By then the program should annually generate more than 25,000 checkouts and have more than 15,000 members, Rub said.

So far, with 18 bikes at the three downtown stations, 1,200 people have checked out a bike for around 2,000 uses, Rub said.

Compared to cities with more robust programs, the numbers are small. But organizers said they are pleased with what three downtown stations have generated.

“You really have got to have the activity of multiple locations to inspire people to use it as part of their commute,” Rub said.


The 2013 expansion of the system will tie it to more transit stops and to destinations outside downtown such as Midtown, Montrose and spots east of downtown, particularly around the BBVA Compass Stadium and growing entertainment area.

Spanjian said she hoped future expansions of the system would include stations in the Texas Medical Center and on the campuses of local colleges. “They all want stations,” she said. “And we’d like to give them to them.”

So there you have it. Just remember, you read most of it here first.

What’s $2 billion among friends?

Easy come, easy go, am I right?

It's constitutional - deal with it

If Texas leaders turn down the federal health law’s Medicaid expansion, they will reject a $2 billion annual revenue stream for the state’s hospitals, according to Dan Mendelson, CEO and founder of Avalere Health, a strategic advisory company based in Washington, D.C.

Speaking at about 2 minutes, 5 seconds into the video above, which records part of a Politico Pro event held in Washington on Thursday, Mendelson says of the Affordable Care Act’s proposed adult Medicaid expansion:

“If you think about, for example, in the state of Texas, if they don’t expand, that’s close to $2 billion of revenue for Texas hospitals and at a time when they are essentially going to be paying for the ACA expansions for everybody else,” he said. “So the math here is even more dire than it was … . The math will start to overtake the politics as the governors start to really understand what the economics are here for the providers — because again, the governor gets to decide whether these providers are going to go out of business.”

Click the link above to see the video. The thing that everyone needs to remember is that saying “no” doesn’t change any of the arithmetic. That $2 billion is going to come from somewhere, and that somewhere is local taxpayers, who will be forced to deal with the expense at the county level. If there’s ever going to be a break in this impasse, it will have to come from counties and hospital districts.

Former state Medicaid official Anne Dunkelberg, associate director of the center-left think tank the Center for Public Policy Priorities in Austin, says that if Texas doesn’t expand Medicaid, it will forego an additional $7 billion a year of federal Medicaid matching money in 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017.

Mendelson, who was a health policy bigwig at the Office of Management and Budget in the final years of former President Bill Clinton’s administration, said Florida Gov. Rick Scott has suddenly changed his tune about the federal law and decided “maybe he needs to work with it.” Mendelson didn’t make a prediction about Perry, who it can be argued leads a more conservative state than Scott does — and apparently wants to run for president again.

Speaking of governors in general, though, he added, “It just becomes much more difficult to hold high principle when from an economic perspective, you’ve got severe adversity that you are causing to happen to providers in your state.”

Never underestimate Rick Perry’s ability to deny reality in pursuit of a political goal. Remember also, just because Texas doesn’t get the benefit of federal funds for Medicaid expansion doesn’t mean that Texas will pay any less into the federal kitty for those funds. Our tax dollars will be subsidizing all those other states that do accept the funds for Medicaid expansion. I’m sure Andrew Cuomo and Jerry Brown and the like will be very appreciative of that. Some other Republican states are figuring this out, but as usual I expect Texas to lag behind the field. Seems to me this could be a pretty good rallying cry for Democratic turnout in 2014, if we intend to be serious about trying to win that year.

Recreating a Galapagos tortoise?

How amazing would this be?

Lonesome George

Lonesome George, the late reptile prince of the Galapagos Islands, may be dead, but scientists now say he may not be the last giant tortoise of his species after all.

Researchers say they may be able to resurrect the Pinta Island subspecies by launching a cross-breeding program with 17 other tortoises found to contain genetic material similar to that of Lonesome George, who died June 24 at the Pacific Ocean archipelago off Ecuador’s coast after repeated failed efforts to reproduce.

Edwin Naula, director of the Galapagos National Park, said in a telephone interview on Thursday that the probability is high it can be accomplished.

“It would be the first time that a species was recovered after having been declared extinct,” Naula said.

But it won’t happen overnight.

“This is going to take about 100 to 150 years,” Naula added.

Scientists took DNA samples from 1,600 tortoises on Wolf volcano, and found the Pinta variety in 17, though their overall genetic makeup varied.

Through cross-breeding, “100 percent pure species” can be achieved, said Naula, a biologist.

None of us will live to see it, of course, so we’ll have to take their word for it. This would be a heck of an achievement if it actually happens. I don’t have any point to make, I just thought this was cool.