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May 20th, 2013:

The 2013 Mayor’s race just got real, y’all

Look who’s back:

Need I mention that it was posted on the fence surrounding an empty lot? Look for other signs just like it on a utility pole near you. And be sure to tell anyone who wants to vote for Eric Dick for Mayor to be sure to check the straight ticket Republican box on this year’s ballot.

Still no support for term limits

Fine by me.

Still no limits on corndogs

The full House, for the second time in eight years, drove a stake through the chance of imposing term limits on the governor and other statewide officeholders.

The proposed constitutional amendment that would have gone to voters was defeated 80-61 on Wednesday. The Senate had passed the proposed amendment last month 27-4.

Rep. Lyle Larson, R-San Antonio, fought for the proposal saying that 36 other states had similar restrictions that allows fresh ideas and talent into the executive branch.

Larson invoked Rick Perry’s long tenure and pointed out that he has controlled state government through making every appointment in the state — the first governor to do so.

Perry has served more than 12 years in the top office and said he will announce in June whether he will seek a fourth full term as governor.

[…]

In addition to the governor and lieutenant governor, the bill would have limited the attorney general, comptroller, land commissioner, agriculture commissioner and secretary of state to two, consecutive four-year terms. The three members of the Railroad Commission would be subject to two, consecutive six-year terms.

The Senate last passed a term limit proposal in 1995, which would have restricted both statewide officials and lawmakers. But the resolution, which lacked the backing of then-House Speaker Pete Laney, died in committee without a full House vote.

See here for the background, and here for SJR13. Note that there were 80 votes against SJR13. It didn’t just lack sufficient support to qualify for the ballot, it couldn’t get a majority. I’m rather stunned by that, as I’m sure is Rice prof Mark Jones, who predicted smooth sailing for it in the House in that earlier story about it easily passing the Senate. Here’s the unofficial record vote; by my count, a small majority of Dems voted Yes, while a fairly large majority of Rs voted No. I suspect it may be awhile before we see another attempt to impose term limits. If the Rick Perry argument didn’t work, I don’t know what would.

Amazon has a strange idea of what constitutes “erotica”

In last week’s Texas blog roundup, we saluted Amy Valentine for successfully turning her blog about surviving breast cancer into a book about surviving breast cancer. Amy is a friend of mine from my class at Trinity University, and I’ve been following her blog since its inception, partly because I’ve cared about what’s happening with her, and partly because she’s dealt with this awful situation with great humor and courage. It turns out that the joke is on her, as her book – a Kindle download – has been classified by Amazon as something it is not.

Breast cancer is not erotic

Amazon’s Kindle has categorized my digital breast cancer memoir as Erotica. The funniest part is that I notified Amazon of the error. After all, there is nothing erotic about breast cancer. Yet, Amazon refused to recategorize my book! They pointed out the book’s “adult content” and told me it would never be placed in a “general public listing.” I felt like I was a 12-year-old girl getting a scolding from her Sunday School teacher. I know my book’s title, Killer Boobs, can be a bit risque and the cover art, which was in the stock photos that Amazon provided, is of a naked woman’s torso, but when partnered with the overall book topic, it all works. After all, my breasts did try to kill me. And the skinny model’s torso on the cover looks more like a cancer patient in my eyes than a sexy playboy model. I don’t know who I feel most sorry for: folks hoping for Erotic literature who mistakenly buy my book, or my 77-year-old mother’s friends who purchase the digital book and then find out that other buyers purchased “Bondage Babes” and “Whips, Chains, and Lipstick.” Amazon Kindle editors will really be upset when I publish my memoir’s sequel on my harrowing and sometimes funny trip through breast cancer world: “Cleavage to Die For.”

I joked to Amy on her Facebook page that the title and art would work equally well for a Mickey Spillane novel, but there is a bit of serious business underneath all the boob jokes. Every book has a potential audience, and no book can find its audience if it’s off in the wrong section of the bookstore, whether virtual or not. If you are sent a link to Amy’s book, and see that the webpage its on contains recommendations like the ones listed above or the books that were recommended for me, you’re probably not going to have an accurate picture of what it is you’re looking at. I don’t know what Amazon’s algorithms are, but surely they ought to have some capacity for taking a writer’s word for the fact that her book is about chemo and healing and not whips and handcuffs when she tries to tell them that. A book about breasts is not necessarily a book about sex.

290 toll lane opens

You solo drivers on US 290 can now take advantage of the HOV lane to make your daily commute a little less grim, beginning today.

Based on time of day, drivers will pay between $1 and $5 for using the lanes, while eligible carpoolers can still use them for free. In the mornings, vehicles must have three occupants between 6:45 a.m. and 8 a.m., while only two people per vehicle are required at other times.

The carpool lanes run from near FM 1960 to the Northwest Transit Center near Interstate 10 and Loop 610. The transit center, park and ride buses and the carpool lanes are operated by Metropolitan Transit Authority.

Metro also manages toll lanes along Interstate 45 and U.S. 59. Carpool lanes along 59 north of downtown are scheduled to open later this year.

About 7,500 vehicles use the carpool lane daily along 290, Metro officials said. Adding solo drivers who pay is expected to increase the use to about 9,000 vehicles. Raising and lowering prices is meant to control use.

See here for some background, and here for more on Metro’s HOV/HOT lane service. Doesn’t sound like it’s enough volume to make much of a dent in the daily commute time for most folks, but I suppose if you’re one of the ones paying for the privilege of driving in the HOV lane it’ll make a difference for you. It’s going to be a long couple of years while 290 gets revamped and expanded, and I hardly ever have to drive on it.