By Lynn Ashby 21 Dec. 2016
What a year it was. 2015 lasted 365 days, but it seems longer. Like eons. So now is a good time to look back at the days of whine and losses – the year when Texans shadowed the U.S. Army and just barely prevented a military takeover of Fort Hood. We had leaders and events which were so intelligent and sophisticated that Texas became a punchline for late night comedians. Makes you proud. Here we go, before Texas Monthly steals all our ideas for its annual Bum Steer Awards.
Friday Night Frights: In a football game between John Jay High School of San Antonio and Marble Falls High School, two Jay players intentionally blindsided a referee for allegedly making racial comments. The players were suspended and an assistant coach resigned for his possible role in the incident, which has been viewed more than 8 million times on YouTube.
Houston voters turned down an equal rights ordinance, HERO, by two-to-one, following opponents’ claims that the law would allow men to legally enter women’s public bathrooms – which is against the law, has been, will be. Houston has a lot of stupid voters.
The KTRU saga gets stranger and stranger. The 44-year-old Rice University radio station was quietly sold to UH for $9.5 million. Then UH changed things around, shut down the station – the city’s only classical music outlet – and put it up for sale. The whole episode stinks. A student at MacArthur High School in Irving, who liked to invent things, thought he had a winner when he brought a self-made machine to school. His teacher called the principal who called the police who slapped the 14-year-old in handcuffs. Ahmed Mohamed could have made a bomb instead of a clock. The lad came out ahead. He was given a full high school and college scholarship by Qatar, then he sued the school for $15 million.
A Toledo, Ohio, man ignored warning signs that there was a dangerous alligator in Burkhart’s Marine by Adams Bayou in Orange – jumped in anyway and was promptly killed by the gator. Driving Tip of the Year: Make sure you use your turn signals in Waller County. Worst Culinary Idea of the Year: (Pray for Whirled Peas Div.) A New York Times food critic recommended freshly shelled peas mashed into an avocado to make guacamole. Even President Barack Obama Twittered his dislike for the idea. And the Jan. 11 issue of the Times Travel Section listed San Antonio as one of the 52 best places to visit in the world in 2015, citing all the city’s attractions – the River Walk, museums, performing arts center, etc. It didn’t mention the Alamo.
Miss You: Dr. Red Duke, Guy V. Lewis.
Jade Helm 15: Gov. Greg Abbott is the official state panderer. Texas has a lot of stupid voters.
Austin is always chock full of funnies. For example, Austin-based American Phoenix Foundation secretly taped Texas legislators, lobbyists and journalists during the legislative session to catch them in everything from bribes to adultery, claiming they opened up the legislature to “transparency.” The foundation refused to say who was bankrolling the project. State Rep. Molly White pasted on her Facebook page that her staff would require visitors to her office to swear allegiance to the United States and renounce Islamic extremism.
Blackboard Bungle: Then we have our think tank of the 14th Century, the State Board of Education. After much work, hearings and debates the SBOE adopted new textbooks, one of which, the 2016 edition World Geography textbook, said the Atlantic slave trade “brought millions of workers from Africa to the southern United States to work on agricultural plantations.” Workers? The publisher, McGraw-Hill, said it would send the schools stickers to paste over the offending lines.
Hooked By the Horns: Turns out fired UT-Austin President Bill Powers intervened in negative admissions decisions for children of big donors and those with political stroke. To look into this scandal, a committee was appointed made up of, uh, former UT presidents and chancellors.
Could You Make That 39 Acres? Powers’ replacement, Greg Fenves, was offered a base salary of $1 million a year but asked it be reduced to $750,000. Said Fenves, the cool million would have a negative effect “on the ability of the president to work with the Texas Legislature on matters important to the university.” UT athletic director Steve Patterson was fired after only 22 months on the job. The good news (for him) is that he still had four years to go on his contract, so he got a multi-million dollar golden parachute.
The Howls of Ivy: Prof. Irwin Horwitz, 53, who teaches ethics and business management courses at Texas A&M University-Galveston, citing threats, student-spread rumors damaging his reputation, insults made to his face, rampant cheating and incompetence, gave failing grades to his entire class and quit the course. Finally in academics, sort of, Matthew McConaughey was asked to be the commencement speaker at a UH graduation. To get from a movie shoot in New Orleans, the actor had UH shell out $9,500 for a private jet, plus another $5,000 for a “groomer.” On top of all that, after much foot-dragging, UH revealed McConaughey was paid $135,000. He said he would donate that portion to charity.
In sports, Texan Lance Armstrong apparently had a few too many and sideswiped two parked cars in Aspen, Colo. Armstrong convinced his girlfriend, Anna Hansen, to take the blame, but the story fell apart. Another Texas playboy jock, Johnny Manziel, checked himself into rehab. When he got out, Manziel was caught partying in Austin, and the Cleveland Browns demoted him to third-string quarterback.
But our big winner is Blue Bell Ice Cream. Some of its products were found to contain listeriosis contamination. Three deaths and 10 hospitalizations were linked to the ice cream, while some contend Blue Bell initially hid the problem. We must hope the little creamery in Brenham has a big lawyer in Houston.
Ashby wins at ashby2@cincast,net