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Monday, July 26, 2004

Texas--working hard to make the world weirder

Here's a few stories about Texas that caught my interest over the weekend.

Texas A&M, who may just suffer from the worst case of me-tooism out of all the universities in the country, is considering trying to wrestle control away of the nuclear weapons lab at Los Alamos from UT.  Austin writer John Kelso has predicts what will happen if they actually accomplish this:  Hullabaloo, kaboom, kaboom. 

Michael Moore, in his quest to be a thorn in the Shrub's side, is going down to Crawford, TX to show Faherenheit 9/11, after some citizens of the tiny town let him know that they don't have a movie theater so they haven't had a chance to see it yet.  Beware--this article relies heavily on the stereotype that small town Texans are all a bunch of ignorant uber-conservatives.  But keep reading and the truth of Texas politics is buried in there, that the struggle for the political soul of the state is still not over.

The police in Austin have decided that they don't have violent enough weapons to deal with protesters, as they have been limited to pepper spraying them and then roughing them up when they hit the ground.  Now they've gotten approval to shoot people with rubber bullets.  Apparently, they think that as long as they promise only to shoot people that are expressing their political views, that it will be enough to get away with this.  After all, many Texas conservatives are convinced that disagreeing with the President is treason nowadays. 
However, I have my suspicions that this is about more than just war protesters.  In the past few years, the cops have managed to embarrass themselves repeatedly by assaulting the party people of 6th Street, the two most memorable examples being the Mardi Gras riots, which the cops clearly started regardless of their denials, and the embarrassing incident where the band Ozomatli, their fans, and a bunch of people who were just standing around on 6th Street were pepper-sprayed for the outrageous crime of dancing and singing in the street.  The latter incident was all the more embarrassing because it happened during South by Southwest, making the cops look like thugs to the entire nation, and causing the city council to offer a formal apology to the band in order to smooth over relations with the concerned music industry.  The police are furious right now that people are questioning their right to assault hippies and musicians with pepper spray, and as usual, their response is to make sure future ass-whoopings are more thorough.  You know, since that always works to fix a bad reputation for violent over-reaction.

And how could I forget?  Local hero Lance Armstrong kicks ass again!  The New York Times has a cute article about how Austinites are choosing to honor this event.  Suffice it to say, the local pink flamingo farm caught the reporter's attention. 

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I thought they used rubber bullets at that Mardi Gras riot... or maybe it was one of the new year's eve parties... I don't remember, either because I wasn't there or because I was too drunk to realize I was being shot with a rubber bullet. Historians will puzzle over it for decades.

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