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January 27th, 2013:

Weekend link dump for January 27

Jimmy Carter makes a stand for equality. I hope many of his fellow Baptists follow him.

There are a lot of things we don’t know about gun violence.

The HP Lovecraft problem.

On “healthwashing” Girl Scout cookies.

When a (Yankees fan) man loves a (Red Sox fan) woman.

Beware the rogue cloud.

Google says “Death to passwords”. We’re getting closer to that.

The kittenings will continue until morale improves.

What life in North Korea is like (see also here), from the perspective of a visitor. Executive summary: “Like The Truman Show, at country scale.”

5 People Shot At 3 Different Gun Shows On Gun Appreciation Day“. Irony laughs its ass off.

We need a Big Deal over the next four years and beyond.

“The idea that the world’s biggest radioactive wasteland could become Europe’s largest wildlife sanctuary is completely counterintuitive for anyone raised on nuclear dystopias.”

Who wants to give birth to a Neanderthal?

Happy 50th birthday, Hakeem Olajuwon!

A proof of the Pythagorean Theorem that even math-phobic people can understand.

Please set your software free, OFA.

So long, Gallup. Hope you’ve learned from the experience.

People like Tucker Carlson are always freaking out about something, so why let it influence your decision making?

Putting a prosecutor in charge of the SEC sounds like a good idea to me.

So long, Sarah. Good luck finding a job.

Three cheers for Ashley Broadway.

It’s Sylvia versus Carol in the runoff

Pretty much as expected. Here’s the vote totals from the County Clerk:

Candidate Votes Pct ========================= Garcia 7,416 45.37 Alvarado 6,803 41.62 Bray 1,014 6.20 Olmos 461 2.82 Martinez 403 2.47 Reyes 125 0.76 Selva 73 0.45 Delgado 52 0.32

Two points of interest here. One is that the Election Day vote total was 7,747, which was 47.4% of the 16,347 total votes cast; the absentee ballots received in the last few days pushed the early vote total up to 8,600. That meant that the final total was even below my low-end estimate. As I said before, this could be a case where the runoff gets as many votes as the first round, maybe even a bit more. But any way you look at it this is uninspiring.

The other point is that while Garcia had a majority of the absentee ballots and a plurality of the in person early votes, Alvarado nipped her by 33 votes on Election Day. This is just a reminder that anything can happen in the runoff, and the only thing that really matters in elections like this is getting your people to show up. Forget how many votes anyone got in November. Special elections are a whole other ball game.

As for when the runoff will be, the Trib reminds us of the timeline.

Harris County elections officials have 10 days to canvass Election Day results, while Perry’s office has 14, according to the Secretary of State. The governor’s canvass can’t take place until the county finishes its canvass, and the governor has five days after his canvass to order the runoff election. The runoff would have to be set on a date between the 12th and 25th day after Perry ordered it, and it must take place on a Tuesday or a Saturday.

Basically, some time in the next seven weeks, which is to say some time between now and March 16. Don’t expect it much earlier than that.

UPDATE: From KHOU, via PDiddie:

Even some of Alvarado’s closest political allies privately concede defeating Garcia will be difficult, especially after trailing in this weekend’s election. Garcia’s lead in the general election will help her attract campaign funds from contributors hoping to buy favor with the next state senator.

Maybe. It’s about getting your people out, and as we can see it doesn’t necessarily take that many of them. I would not take any bets on the outcome of the runoff.

From the “Anyone can call themselves an expert” department

Now see, this is what happens when you go soliciting expert witnesses on Craigslist

Bloom County was awesome

Joseph Bast, president and CEO of the Chicago-based Heartland Institute, is a witness for Texans for Real Efficiency and Equity in Education, or TREE, a group led by former state Rep. Kent Grusendorf that is not a plaintiff but was permitted by state District Judge John Dietz to present testimony.

Bast said a taxpayer savings grant program similar to education vouchers would benefit low-income families who could put grant money toward paying for private school tuition.

“If you’re low-income, you’re pretty much trapped in the public school that’s in your direct area,” he said.

Bast estimated that such a grant program would spur about 6 percent of students in Texas public schools to move to private schools, a number he arrived at by evaluating similar programs, including the now-defunct CEO Horizon voucher program in San Antonio’s Edgewood Independent School District.

He said the state saves $7,750 each time a child leaves the public system and, therefore, “the program actually benefits the public schools.” He estimated the annual savings would be about $2 billion.

The state’s previous failure to act on such a proposal “is evidence of the inefficiency of public schools,” Bast said.

[…]

Questioned by Maribel Hernández Rivera, an attorney for one of the plaintiff groups represented by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Bast acknowledged that he has not graduated from college and holds no degrees in economics, though he considers himself an economist.

He also said neither of two reports he co-authored, which were entered into evidence, had been peer-reviewed.

David Thompson, attorney for another group of school districts, later pointed out that the Legislative Budget Board concluded that the taxpayer savings grant proposal would cost the state money in its first two years of operation. Bast acknowledged that he and the budget board arrived at different conclusions on this point.

“To your knowledge, no government entity in the state of Texas has ever agreed with your analysis of savings, is that correct?” Thompson asked.

“Apparently,” Bast replied.

I figure civil litigators live for these sort of “Perry Mason” moments. I really don’t think I can add anything else to that.

Hog killin’ update

Because I know you like to know about this sort of thing.

After a competition to kill feral hogs left more than 1,000 of the destructive animals dead in Hays and Caldwell counties, plans are emerging to further control the population.

Both counties participated in the state’s Hog Out County Grants Program, a competition among counties to kill the most feral hogs and to educate people about the hogs from October through December.

The 28 counties that participated last year, including Hays, Caldwell and Williamson, earned points for the number of hogs killed and the number of participants at educational workshops.

According to the state’s Department of Agriculture, Texas is home to nearly 2.6 million feral hogs, the largest population nationwide, and one that’s growing. The Hog Out County Grants Program is one of two the department funds that is aimed at eliminating feral hogs, which damage property, crops and pastures.

The Texas AgriLife Extension Service estimates that the economic damage cause by hogs statewide is $500 million annually. The funds the department will award as a result of the Hog Out program are to be used by counties to implement a plan to reduce their feral hog populations.

The county with the most points wins $20,000. The second- and third-place counties earn $15,000 and $10,000, respectively.

It’s all just a drop in the bucket, really. As we heard before, killing 750,000 of these beasts a year would not be enough to cause a drop in their population. But what are you gonna do? And in case you were wondering, yes, they’re going to try to do something useful with all that meat. Good luck with that.