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December 23rd, 2012:

Weekend link dump for December 23

“Just as the calendar you have on your kitchen wall does not cease to exist after December 31, the Mayan calendar does not cease to exist on December 21, 2012. This date is the end of the Mayan long-count period but then — just as your calendar begins again on January 1 — another long-count period begins for the Mayan calendar.”

NORAD’s Santa tracking is brought to you by Bing this year.

It’s good to be a Palin. Not so much for the rest of Alaska.

Do you ever fret that you just don’t have enough to worry about these days? Well then, this should help.

If Republicans ran women’s magazines. Yeah, it’s as bad as you think.

The World Wide Web, it ain’t what it used to be, many long years ago.

Bye-bye, Bennigan’s, and other restaurant chains.

There are thousands of computer-generated books on Amazon.

RIP, N. Joseph Woodland, inventor of the bar code.

“In a confidential 2010 filing, Crossroads GPS — the dark money group that spent more than $70 million from anonymous donors on the 2012 election — told the Internal Revenue Service that its efforts would focus on public education, research and shaping legislation and policy.” (via)

“There are a lot of folks who believe we’re free in the US because of guns…It is a bizarre, weirdly narcissistic notion that is totally unhinged from any of our history.”

“Descendants of Ernest Hemingway’s six-toed cat Snowball that live at his museum home are subject to federal regulation because they substantially affect interstate commerce, a federal appeals court has ruled.”

RIP, Sen. Daniel Inouye.

The politics of gun control are more favorable to Democrats than they used to be.

“It shouldn’t be this hard to get mental health help.”

The Nielsen Twitter TV Rating is now a thing that exists.

Some days you think that our public discourse can’t get any stupider, and then Concussiongate comes along and proves you wrong.

“Peggy Noonan is someone who is very, very skilled at making bullshit look like some elegant soufflé”, and other words of wisdom from Nate Silver.

Don’t believe a word the NRA says about “meaningful contributions”. They demonstrated why on Friday. Also, for a guy who claims to revere freedom, Wayne LaPierre has some bizarrely totalitarian ideas about how to combat gun violence.

Ever think about getting a PC through one of those rent-to-own places? This is why you shouldn’t.

Derek Jeter is a mensch.

“A Louisiana woman ran afoul of police when she gave her neighbors an unusual holiday greeting, hanging Christmas lights in the shape of a middle finger.”

Maybe someone else should put up the Christmas lights next year.

“If nothing else, this whole sorry episode should stand as proof that Maya MacGuineas and her pack of scoundrels are morally and intellectually bankrupt, who if they had any honor left would apply for work tomorrow as garbage collectors.”

RIP, Larry L. King, author of “The Best Little Whorehouse In Texas”.

State fails to get injunction against terminating Womens Health Program funds

As you know, last year the Lege passed a law that forbade Planned Parenthood from participating in the Women’s Health Program on the grounds that PP does abortions even though none of the PP clinics that participate in the Women’s Health Program perform abortions – they’re in a separate organization all together. The federal government then told Texas it would cut off funds for the WHP, since denying PP’s participation meant denying women their choice of provider, which is against Medicaid regulations. The state then announced it would create its own Women’s Health Program with its own money, but they still wanted those federal funds anyway, and sought an injunction barring the feds from cutting off the funds. They lost.

Right there with them

Texas’ request to force the U.S. Health and Human Services to continue funding its Women’s Health Program was denied Friday, as a judge sided with federal authorities who say the state’s exclusion of Planned Parenthood violates HHS guidelines.

U.S. District Judge Walter Smith’s ruling won’t affect the state’s decision to move forward next year with an entirely state-funded program, even though the state was also seeking to keep its federal funding, said Stephanie Goodman, a spokeswoman for the Texas Health and Human Services Commission. But Planned Parenthood, which serves more than 40 percent of the low-income women in Texas’ program, questioned whether the state’s efforts would be effective without federal funding or its clinics.


Texas officials say they have created an entirely state-funded program, which, starting Jan. 1, will provide the same services but exclude Planned Parenthood, Goodman said. The program is estimated to cost $40 million a year.

Goodman said the commission had found “pockets of money” in its budget to fund the Women’s Health Program through the end of the current fiscal year, which ends in August. The Legislature will have to pass funding to continue the program from September on, she said.


Joseph Mead, an attorney from the U.S. Department of Justice, said federal law gave Sebelius discretion to approve or deny state funding requests. Medicaid rules also guaranteed patients the chance to choose their provider, Mead said.

“The state wants to have its cake and eat it too,” Mead said.

Smith did not detail why he declined to grant an injunction.

Goodman said the state has signed up more than 1,000 new providers to replace Planned Parenthood, and that its surveys indicated there were enough providers for major metropolitan areas. Officials are still evaluating some smaller and rural areas, she said.

But Planned Parenthood and its supporters question whether participants in the state-funded program will have access to care if the reproductive care provider is excluded. It has sued in state court to be included in the new program.

I agree with Attorney Mead, and I consider this move on Texas’ part to be another admission that they’re not ready to replace Planned Parenthood in the WHP despite their bluster and braggadocio. It would be funny in a pathetic sort of way if the Lege is unable to get that money it needs to keep their WHP program afloat appropriated. Don’t think for a minute there isn’t someone in the Lege who’s misogynistic and zealous enough to want to torpedo the whole thing for some bizarrely sexist reason. Whether such a person is able to make such an attempt is a different question, but I have no doubt there will be someone whose first thought is “why do we even need this at all”.

Three things in life are certain

Death, taxes, and Bruce Hotze filing a lawsuit every time he loses an election.

A local anti-tax activist filed a lawsuit Thursday to block the city of Houston from borrowing $410 million to add, expand and repair parks, libraries, police and fire stations and other government buildings.

Bruce Hotze’s suit says the bond measures, which voters overwhelmingly approved last month, should be nullified because the city failed to follow its own rules when placing them on the ballot.

Specifically, the city failed to hold public hearings or publish the financial details of the bond package before the election, according to the suit, which was filed in Harris County District Court.

Hotze also accused the city of improperly including multiple items within two propositions that promised to remove “obsolete” language from its charter in a separate suit filed Thursday. The law, he said, requires each item to be listed separately.

City Attorney Dave Feldman described the suit as frivolous, saying Hotze is “wrong on the facts and wrong on the law.”

The good news is that Hotze has an equally impressive record of losing these lawsuits, and it would seem likely he is destined to lose this one again. Dude needs a more constructive hobby, that’s what I think. The case number is 201274327-7 and it’s in the 11th District Civil Court, if anyone of a more lawyerly bent than I wants to offer a critique of it. Stace has more.

Reliant gets its new scoreboard

As expected, and in time for the next push to get a Super Bowl in Houston.

Not what they bought

The state-of-the-art digital scoreboards will be manufactured by Mitsubishi Electric’s Diamond Vision Systems Division and installed for the 2013 season in place of the current end-zone scoreboards.

County and Houston officials, as well as Texans owner Bob McNair, believe the new scoreboards, which will cost a total of $16 million, will enhance the city’s bid to host Super Bowl LI.

At the NFL’s May meetings in Boston, owners will vote on cities that will host Super Bowls L and LI. The Texans are a finalist for Super Bowl LI with the city that loses Super Bowl L — San Francisco or Miami.

Initially, McNair and the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo will pay for the scoreboards, but they will eventually be reimbursed from Reliant Stadium’s repair and replacement funds that are collected from the hotel-motel tax and long-term auto rental tax.

See here and here for the background. Now we wait to see if there’s a payoff to the investment.