Water

Texas Standard: July 29, 2016

A front row seat to history? We can do better than that. Dallas sheriff Lupe Valdez on the view from the podium. Plus disorder in the court? A federal challenge to the way Texas picks its top judges. And the aging population of the lone star state are Texas towns and cities ready? Plus, in some state facilities, levels of lead as bad at Flint Michigan: what’s being done and what isn’t. Also 50 years after the Texas tower shooting, what’s changed when it comes to guns? Plus the week in Texas politics and much more, today on the Texas Standard:

Skeeters

Summertime means you’ll likely spend a lot of time on patios – as long as you aren’t bothered by the buzz (and bite) of mosquitos. Those critters inspired Typewriter Rodeo’s Jodi Egerton to write this week’s poem.

Texas Floods

The recent storms plaguing Texas have caused the rivers to rise in more than one county. People across the state are losing their homes to flooding rivers and torrential rains. This harsh weather is what led Typewriter Rodeo’s David Fruchter to write this week’s poem.

Texas Standard: May 17, 2016

The Texas Foster Care System is broken. We’ll explore one state representative’s plan to work towards fixing it. Also high lead levels causing health concerns and we’re not talking about Flint but right here in Texas, at state-run facilities in fact. We’ll have the details. Plus how a lack of phone service is causing a life-or-death situation in rural Texas. And we’ll look why its more challenging for women to get help with addiction recovery. And an East Texas man sees for the first time in decades thanks to a bionic eye. Those stories and lots more today on the Texas Standard:

Texas Standard: May 5th, 2015

The plaintiff: a US army Captain. The defendant: president Barack Obama. The claim? That the war against Isis is illegal. We’ll explore. Also, how safe is your drinking water? A warning for pregnant women, especially those who live in rural parts of Texas. And if you’ve been the victim of a crime, you may have some money coming to ya. Though in Texas you may have to go hunt it down…why the state is sitting on millions of dollars in unclaimed restitution money. Plus some pre weekend tips for a quick Texas getaway. Those stories and lots more today on the Texas Standard:

The Time It Never Rained

The great Texas meteorologist Isaac Klein reportedly said back in the ’30s that Texas is a land of eternal drought, interrupted occasionally by biblical floods.

Here is the way one writer describe one of these twenty-year droughts: “It crept up out of Mexico touching first along the brackish Pecos River, and spreading then in all directions. A cancerous blight burning a scar on the land.”

Just another dry spell, men said at first. Ranchers watched waterholes recede into brown puddles of mud that their livestock wouldn’t touch. They watched the rank weeds shrivel as the west winds relentlessly sought them out and smothered them with its hot breath. They watch the grass slowly lose its green, then curl up and fire up like dying corn stocks. Men grumbled.

But you learn to live with dry spells if you live in west Texas. There are more dry spells than wet ones. No one expected another drought like that of ’33 and the really big dries, like 1928, came once in a lifetime. Why worry they said. It would rain this fall. It always has.

But it didn’t and many a boy would become a man before the land became green again. This is how Elmer Kelton’s superb Texas novel, “The Time It Never Rained,” begins. The 1950s drought is a major character asserting itself, maliciously and unceasingly, throughout the book.

The central character is Charlie Flag, a tough old rancher from a bygone era who refuses to take government aid to survive the drought. He says, “There was a time when we looked up to Uncle Sam. He was something to be proud of and respect, but now he has turned into some kind of muddled-brained Sugar Daddy giving out goodies right and left in hopes that everybody is going to love him.”

Flag takes you to a time when charity was thought to be an unkind word. He warns against ranchers getting too comfortable with government aid by saying, “It divides us into selfish little groups, snarlin’ and snappin’ at each other like hungry dogs, grabbing for what we can get and to hell with everybody else. We beg and fight and prostitute ourselves. We take charity and we give it a sweeter name.”

He concludes that when a rancher takes government help, as well intentioned as the government is and as deserving as the rancher might be, he’s given up something he can never get back. He has given up a little bit of self-respect and little of his pride he used to have in taking care of himself, by himself.

If you asked me to list the top ten Texas novels of all time, I could do it easily. Putting them in order, though, would be a challenge beyond me. But I can say for certain that somewhere in the Top 5 would be “The Time It Never Rained.”

Spend a few evenings with Charlie Flag and you will see the incomparable Texas spirit in its purest form. You will feel like you went out with your grandfather and checked all the fences, making sure they were horse high, pig tight and bull strong.

W.F Strong is a Fulbright Scholar and professor of Culture and Communication at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. At Public Radio 88 FM in Harlingen, Texas, he’s the resident expert on Texas literature, Texas legends, Blue Bell Ice Cream, Whataburger (with cheese) and mesquite smoked brisket.

Texas Standard: January 27, 2016

He’s a physicist, a nobel laureate, a professor, and now a central figure in the debate over guns in college classrooms. Also with dangerous chemical on tap in Flint, Michigan, what’s in the water in Texas? In many cases no one’s quite sure. What’s behind mounting delays in Texas water testing? We’ll explore. Also millennials stuck in parent’s attics and in low paying jobs…now besting baby boomers at top homebuyers. And doing well, but feeling like a fake: understanding the imposter syndrome. All those stories and much more on todays Texas Standard:

Texas Standard: January 20, 2016

The Attorney General takes a gamble and decides to shut down fantasy sports betting. Will Texas play along? Also, what’s it like planning a presidential debate and how much does a party like that cost? The female horse riders turning heads at the Fort Worth Stock show and America’s other original sin: how enslaving native Americans helped prop up the African slave trade. Those stories and lots more on todays Texas Standard:

Texas Standard: September 10, 2015

Among evangelical voters have events in the past two or three days rekindled faith in the GOP and its prospects for 2016? Michael Stipe of REM is upset- he says his music has no place at a Trump campaign rally. But is that part of the political calculation? Texas teenager who may have found a $20 fix for developing nations struggling with dirty water. Something in the air over Houston…and the effort to determine how big a concern it should be. Plus apple’s latest- are you buying it? That and much more on todays Texas Standard:

Texas Standard: August 20, 2015

Water woes in Texas. How flooding reshaped the Buffalo Bayou. And the opportunity before Godzilla el Nino hits. Today, twelve million dollars for a new treatment plant and the water is still unsafe? Plus, why right now might the the perfect time to make some home repairs… And, does your kid really need that gaming computer for school? Finally, Cinderella, Snow White and the Lettuce Donkey? Those stories and so much more in today’s Texas Standard:

Texas Standard: August 13, 2015

How many police shootings since the start of the year? Though data is hard to come by, there may be a crowdsourced solution. Also, you’ve heard of flash floods…but what about flash droughts? That’s the term more and more climatologists are using to describe the state of Texas right now…we’ll have more. Also…is the heat and lack of water leading to a milk shortage? Plus. anti-semitic graffiti in San Antonio–a Rabbi in the stricken community on why the cleanup’s more powerful than the paint splatter. All that and much more on todays Texas Standard:

June 11, 2015

Motorcyclists from all over Texas descend on the state capitol for an annual rally…but in the wake of Waco, the tone could turn political. Also, a hearing which could limit oil and gas activity in an area where where there’s been a whole lotta shakin goin on. Plus, the airline boarding process –are flyers getting taken for a ride? Water water—it was everywhere…now, watch out for the mold.