Central Texas top stories for December 7, 2023. More questions around the lack of alerts in Tuesday’s shooting. Some shooting victims have been identified. Austin City Council to vote on new zoning rules today. ACC’s Fall Commencement is tonight. Austin Energy completes “winterizing” power plants.
The sheriff of Bexar County is pushing for charges to be brought over migrant flights to Martha’s Vineyard.
Where did high-profile bills dealing with higher education wind up this legislative session? Kate McGee of the Texas Tribune joins with an overview.
An investigation has revealed a culture of sexism and discrimination in the El Paso Police Department.
Is air travel getting bumpier, or does it just seem that way? A Texas A&M expert explains what’s known as clear air turbulence.
Texas Monthly editor Jeff Salamon discusses “Lone Stars Rising,” a look at 50 Texans who have made a lasting impact in the past 50 years.
And stop the presses: A one-day walkout at the Gannett-owned Austin American-Statesman turns the spotlight on journalists in Texas moving to unionize.
In the aftermath of the Uvalde shooting, calls grow louder for the resignation of the head of the Department of Public Safety, we’ll have the latest. Also one of the biggest county judges races in Texas takes an ugly turn with charges of racism. Plus a closer look at disinformation and the role of inflammatory language. And after a deadly coral disease decimates reefs in Florida and the Caribbean, fears grow over a protected marine reserve off the coast of Galveston. And the off ramp on the road that goes forever… Texas music legend Robert Earl Keen on his decision to retire from the stage. Our conversation and much more today on the Texas Standard:
The House January 6th panel wraps up evidentiary hearings. Did they move the needle for Texans prior to a big election? We’ll explore. Other stories we’re tracking: a big cost of living increase for social security recipients, the biggest in 4 decades. What does it mean for Texas and the long term future of the program? Also the organizer of the first Amazon workers union on the state of labor. And a look at a the complicated legacy of Cesar Chavez. A champion of labor, and a tough campaigner against illegal immigration. Plus the week in Texas politics and a whole lot more today on the Texas Standard:
A Texas sheriff opens a criminal investigation into the flying of nearly 50 migrants from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard. Florida’s governor under investigation for emulating the tactic of Texas’ governor, flying migrants out of state. We’ll take a closer look. Also, many in the town of Uvalde turning to politics after frustration with how elected leaders have handled the aftermath of the mass shooting there last May. We’ll have the Texas newsroom with details. And President Biden pushing for online privacy legislation. Guess who’s pushing back: a hint, she’s not a Republican. Plus UT’s Steven Vladeck on Texas’ social media law, and what comes next. Those stories and more today on the Texas Standard:
Romancing the voters on this valentines day, Texas politicians in local and statewide races try to win over early voters in the nation’s first primaries. We’ll hear from the elections official of the state’s most populous county on a recent court decision in a fight against new voting regulations. Also, a Texas-based expert weighs in with the latest on what the US says is a rapidly advancing danger of a Russian invasion of Ukraine. Those stories and more today on the Texas Standard:
In what could be a test of SB8, Texas’ new abortion law, at least two private persons have filed suit over an abortion, invoking one of the most controversial provisions of SB8. We’ll hear more. Also, one of the biggest players in the energy industry sells off all its holdings in the Permian Basin. What this move might mean for West Texas, and what it may say about growing climate concerns. And on that subject a warning about a disease that could get worse as Texas gets hotter. Those stories and more today on the Texas Standard:
One of the first moves of the Biden administration was ending the so-called remain in Mexico program. But the Supreme Court says the program must remain in place for now. We’ll hear more. Also, tens of thousands of Afghans set to arrive in the U.S. Many of them to be resettled in Texas. We’ll hear how the process works. And what’s behind the sudden rise of Regeneron? Why the Covid-fighting therapy is getting new attention. Those stories and more today on the Texas Standard:
Is it too dangerous to vote in person? New safety guidelines for election season and how they’re connected to the fight over mail in ballots in Texas. Also, how a pandemic is an unseen player in congressional races statewide. And an innovative program in Bexar county to help tens of thousands furloughed and fired, with payments plus retraining. Plus apprehensions at the border, the lowest ever? A Politifact check plus a whole lot more today on the Texas Standard:
By W. F. Strong
Shakespeare told us that “some have greatness thrust upon them.” Such was the case for Oliver Smoot. He was born in Bexar County, Texas, and there was nothing in his formative years to predict the events that would push him into international prominence.
Oliver was a fine student and his academic strengths got him into MIT in Boston. It was there that he was pledging a fraternity and his pledge class was given the ridiculous task of measuring Harvard Bridge, which connects Boston to Cambridge, in some new way. The bridge was half a mile long.
His group of pledges decided fairly quickly that since Oliver was the shortest among them, five-foot-seven, they would use him as their “ruler.” Late one night, they laid him down on the sidewalk of the bridge and moved him slowly, one body length at a time, making a mark on the sidewalk at his head every time they moved him. Took five hours because the police dispersed them and they had to sneak back later.
Once completed, they totaled all the times they had moved him and it came to 364.4 times – plus an ear. They decided to immortalize this new unit of measure as a smoot, after Oliver’s last name. Thus the bridge was 364.4 smoots (and an ear) long. You can even see the smoot measurements on the bridge today, no doubt pleasing MIT that Harvard Bridge is eternally branded by the university and pleasing to me that a Texan was used to do it.
Even when the Continental Construction Company reconcreted the sidewalk in 1987, they made the slabs in smoot lengths to commemorate local lore. It’s wonderful to see Work that into a conversation that everyone can work in harmony for a common cause when they want to.
In the category of truth is stranger than fiction, Oliver Smoot eventually became the Chairman of the American National Standards Institute and President of the International Organization for Standardization. He was in charge of weights and measures. How’s that for a perfect fit?
The crowning compliment to the glory of the smoot as a measurement was when the fun-loving geeks at Google, no doubt many from MIT, decided to include the unit of measure in Google conversions. It’s true – try it. In the Google search window you can get any distance converted to smoots.
Distance from Cut n’ Shoot to Dime Box: 112,913 smoots
It’s 5,640,000,000 smoots from Texas to the Moon.
You can even determine how far you boot scooted to George Strait at the dance hall last night. Convert your steps into smoots.
I think it is also fitting to have this relatively new unit of measure – now legitimized in many dictionaries, including the American Heritage Dictionary and the Urban Dictionary – brought to us by a native Texan. After all, Texas itself, as I’ve noted before, has long been a unit of measure. For instance, you could fit 25 Massachusetts into Texas. And, in case you were wondering, Texas has a total area of over 240 trillion square smoots. today.
A border detention facility in McAllen shutdown, this in the wake of the death of a detained 16 year old migrant. We’ll have the latest. Also, the U.S. is blacklisting Huawei, the China-based phone maker. And the effects of that decision is hitting home harder than you might think. Plus a new investigation shows police in Texas accused of serious crimes and possible jail time using their badges as bargaining chips. Plus one of Texas’ biggest counties trying to make it easier for voters to do their thing…but will it work? Those stories and so much more today on the Texas Standard: