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jspong:

Leadership.

HELL YES!

jspong:

Leadership.

HELL YES!

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Austin City Council Elections

Starting this year, Austin will have single member districts with real representation (although the districts have been gerrymandered in such a way to benefit the downtown/central Austin crowd):

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There are 10 single member districts, as well as the Mayor’s office, which will be chosen this November. I live in District 5, so I’m looking at the candidates there.

I have one major quality I’m looking for in any mayoral or city council candidate: that they haven’t previously served, or are not currently serving, on the council (they’re the problem, and the reason why we now have single member districts). Not too surprisingly, none of the candidates in my district have ever served on the council.

The Austin Chronicle has a list of all the candidates for mayor and city council. Please find your district and go vote. The people who have run this down for decades don’t want us to have real representation and expect us to stay home - they opposed single member districts and moving the elections to November.

It’s time for things to change in this town and for communities and neighborhoods to be truly represented.

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'Bout a Month to Go

If you live in Texas, we have several elections taking place: a US Senate race, Congressional races, statewide offices, some state senate seats, state house, as well as various county and city races. You can find a list of all the candidates here.

Election Day is November 4th, the first day of early voting is October 20th, and the last day to register in Texas is October 6th. Find out if you’re registered or what you need to do here.

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So It’s Banned Books Week…

In honor of that, I want to thank my parents (and I may have done this before on this blog, but it bears repeating) for not censoring my reading. I read lots of different books growing up, and I was never told I couldn’t read something because I wasn’t old enough or the book contained unsuitable material. I read Dracula and Frankenstein while I was in middle school (probably not appreciating all they had to offer), and I’m sure my parents’ curiosity and concern were piqued when they saw me reading Marx’s Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844. However, they didn’t tell me I couldn’t read them. I know I’m a better and more well rounded person because of this.

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Game-changers and the 1864 Election

A few years ago I read John C Waugh’s Re-electing Lincoln: The Battle for the 1864 Presidency. Waugh discusses the importance of Union victories and the surrender of Atlanta with regard to Lincoln’s reelection. Of Atlanta, he wrote:

'Everybody knew how important Atlanta was, both as a military and a political target. “The real campaign,” James Russell Long had written in July, “is really in Georgia.” It was clear to Sherman as well how all-important Atlanta was to Lincoln's reelection hopes in November. He knew that something dramatic had to happen on the battlefield if the president was to be reelected' (p. 296).

I also own - but have not yet read - Decided on the Battlefield. As the title suggests, Lincoln’s reelection was secured through Union victories.

Nathan Kalmoe took a look at the numbers to see if Union victories, particularly the surrender of Atlanta, changed the fortunes of the 1864 election. What he found challenges the conventional wisdom as presented by historians.

Mr Kalmoe reviewed the Congressional and gubernatorial elections which took place prior to the Presidential election from 1862 through 1864 to determine if Lincoln was indeed in danger of losing to George McClellan - the Democratic nominee.

Mr Kalmoe found that Republican vote share never dipped low enough to put Lincoln’s re-election in jeopardy:

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He also found that before and after victory in Atlanta Republican vote shares were consistent, rather than increasing after the fall of Atlanta. In 11states that voted before and after Atlanta, Republican vote share increased in 4 states, while it declined in 11.

While there was concern among Lincoln and his contemporaries about the possibility of losing in 1864, those fears appear to have been misplaced. Lincoln was ultimately defeat McClellan by 11 points in the popular vote, and 212 to 21 in the Electoral College (Source).

Historians often rely on the impressions and views of those who lived at the time, but Mr Kalmoe shows why analyzing the data can provide deeper insight and understanding, as well as challenge the conventional interpretations and myths which surround historical elections. When I eventually get around to reading Decided on the Battlefield, I look forward to reading it in light of Mr Kalmoe’s work.

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I walked into Barnes & Noble this evening to purchase Tom Horn in Life and Legend, and instead walked out with the above (I almost walked out with this as well, but I restrained myself). Wuthnow’s book looks particularly interesting; now I just have to finish A Lawless Breed and Border.

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Football… Serious Bidness

So, Wendy Davis went on a local Dallas radio station and said she was a Cowboys fan.  The Abbott campaign then reminded everyone that Davis apparently cheers for the Patriots (Source).

A few things:

  1. Anyone continuing to cheer for the Cowboys at this point is merely supporting the mediocrity that Jerry Jones has profited from for several years.  Of course, this doesn’t bother me because I’m a proud Cowboys hater (Luv Ya Blue for life).
  2. The Pats? Really?

It’s football season, and Davis’ campaign really hasn’t gone that well, so this is where we are with two months to go.

Perhaps the next governor can secure the Raiders move to San Antonio; I think this question should be asked.  It’d be nice to have a team that close to Austin - sort of a hometown team to root for; I like the Texans, but they’re not the Oilers (and neither is that team in Tennessee).

Two more months… two long months.

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Ranking Texas Counties by Ideology

Using UT/Texas Tribune polling data, Mark Jones has ranked the 20 most populous Texas counties by ideology:

The scale ranges from 1 (extremely liberal) to 7 (extremely conservative), based on the Tribune’s poll question asking respondents to rank their ideology based on a 7 point scale, so this is based on the respondents’ answers. Not surprisingly, Travis County was the most liberal with a score of 3.63, while Brazoria County is the most conservative a 5.13 score.

Obviously, most Texans don’t consider themselves to be very extreme (one way or the other), even if this is not the impression of outsiders.

(h/t: Texas Politics Project)

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txbrazostrail:

2014 photo contest - St Olaf’s Kirke in Bosque County - Photo by Wes Odell

Also one of the scariest places in Texas according to Texas Monthly:

Though some locals vehemently deny that St. Olaf’s is haunted, the stories persist: Muffled voices grow louder when you sing hymns, and ethereal orbs appear to be “sitting” in the pews. Jon McConal, a retired columnist for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram , remembers visiting one night and hearing footsteps “that sounded like they were made by a man with a peg leg” coming from the choir chamber on the second floor. He rushed upstairs, only to find an empty room.

I love places like this (not because they’re haunted, just because of what they represent in terms of history); however, I can’t talk my wife into going to them (she won’t even step foot in a cemetery).

txbrazostrail:

2014 photo contest - St Olaf’s Kirke in Bosque County - Photo by Wes Odell

Also one of the scariest places in Texas according to Texas Monthly:

Though some locals vehemently deny that St. Olaf’s is haunted, the stories persist: Muffled voices grow louder when you sing hymns, and ethereal orbs appear to be “sitting” in the pews. Jon McConal, a retired columnist for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram , remembers visiting one night and hearing footsteps “that sounded like they were made by a man with a peg leg” coming from the choir chamber on the second floor. He rushed upstairs, only to find an empty room.

I love places like this (not because they’re haunted, just because of what they represent in terms of history); however, I can’t talk my wife into going to them (she won’t even step foot in a cemetery).

(via fuckyestexas)

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Texas Longhorns 2014

I guess I didn’t even bother with an overview last year (at least I couldn’t find it in my archives), but I’m pretty pumped this season:

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Charlie Strong has brought some absolutely necessary changes to the culture of the program, especially after what we’ve seen the last 4 years. I’m especially looking forward to the changes on defense now that Manny Diaz is gone after spending all of last season getting paid to do nothing (which technically he did in the couple of preceding years as well).

Texas finished the 2013 season 8-5, including a loss to Oregon in the Alamo Bowl. I’m optimistic and expecting a better record this season lead by better defensive play. I think there will definitely be wins against North Texas, Kansas, Iowa State, Kansas State, Texas Tech, West Virginia and TCU. 

BYU will set the tone for the season, as it did last year (mainly because last year Manny Diaz’s defense was completely exposed by a QB with a bum knee). I expect the Longhorns to come out and punch BYU in the mouth. That should put the number of wins at 8.

That leaves Baylor, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and UCLA. I think Texas wins at least 2 of these games, though I’m not sure which ones, because honestly, I didn’t expect a team lead by Case McCoy to beat Oklahoma last year. That puts the total number of wins at 10.

Maybe I’m being overoptimistic, but I’ve been impressed by what’s going on with the football team this year. Can’t wait for August 30.