AltWeeklies Wire

Road Fatigue: The Beat Generation in the Rearview Mirrornew

Along with all the writers who come after them, I am indebted to the Beats for their invigoration of the arts, for shattering the molds and enlarging the realm of what can be printed, sung, painted, and said. There has been a progression since then, however. "Transgression," sometimes billed as the obligation of a true artist in the contemporary world, has become so widespread and predictable that it seems almost tame -- trendy transgressive, if you will.
The Texas Observer  |  A.G. Mojtabai  |  07-24-2008  |  Books

Mountain Migrant Rick Bass Tries to Explain Why He Left Houston for Higher Groundnew

The American West is a receding point, measured by imagination rather than sextant, and Bass has found it in a rugged stretch of 1 million acres whose human census -- 150 -- is outnumbered by each of several other species, including black bears, owls, elk, and coyotes.
The Texas Observer  |  Steven G. Kellman  |  07-24-2008  |  Nonfiction

Jonathan Miles' Epistolary Debut Gets Buried Under the Weight of its Own Baggagenew

Ultimately, Dear American Airlines is only as redeemable as its protagonist, which is to say, not very.
The Texas Observer  |  Emily DePrang  |  07-24-2008  |  Fiction

Why Did the Liberals Cross the Road? Bill Bishop Crunches the Numbersnew

Although conventional wisdom affirms the accuracy of the analysis in The Big Sort and the social costs that flow from it -- a decrease in across-the-aisle contact, elevated levels of rhetorical excess, diminished civility -- it does not follow that our political life has reached new levels of intemperance, or that this has had any enduring impact on our capacity to govern.
The Texas Observer  |  Char Miller  |  07-23-2008  |  Nonfiction

Texas Republicans Sport Stiff Upper Lips at Their State Sonventionnew

Discord and infighting set the tone of the Republican convention in Houston, which saw a smaller and more subdued turnout than in recent years. The GOP event included many who felt betrayed by broken promises and false conservatism from current state and national leadership.
The Texas Observer  |  Dave Mann and Forrest Wilder  |  07-02-2008  |  Politics

At Their State Convention, Texas Dems Looked Like a Party on the Risenew

You couldn't look at the packed main hall of the Austin Convention Center -- where Democratic delegates, alternates, and guests filled nearly 15,000 chairs -- without thinking that perhaps Republican dominance of Texas politics was beginning to end.
The Texas Observer  |  Dave Mann  |  07-02-2008  |  Politics

Is There a Middle Way in the Globalization Debate?new

As Sick Planet: Corporate Food and Medicine, by Stan Cox, and Starved for Science: How Biotechnology Is Being Kept Out Of Africa, by Robert Paarlberg collectively demonstrate, the globalization debate seems to demand either a stifling of common sense, or a radical reassessment of assumptions.
The Texas Observer  |  James E. McWilliams  |  07-02-2008  |  Nonfiction

Republicans are Pandering at the Pumpnew

We must face a difficult truth. With global oil reserves on the decline, the age of cheap gas is over. While government can provide some short-term fixes, nothing will permanently reduce gas prices. What we need is political leadership to formulate a realistic energy policy. Too bad the GOP can't deliver.
The Texas Observer  |  Editorial  |  07-02-2008  |  Commentary

How Standing Up Against the Border Fence Cost One Federal Employee His Jobnew

Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge project manager Ken Merritt was asked to make a choice: support federal law, or sign off on the plan to build the border wall. He chose in favor of the refuge, and the decision ended his career.
The Texas Observer  |  Melissa del Bosque  |  07-02-2008  |  Immigration

In Texas, A Storied Prison Farm Gives Way to Suburban Sprawlnew

Today it's almost impossible to tell where Houston ends and Sugar Land begins, and therein lies the story of how Sugar Land's historic prison, once considered the pride of the Texas penal system, came to find itself in the middle of one of the fastest-growing communities in the nation.
The Texas Observer  |  Patsy Sims  |  06-18-2008  |  Housing & Development

Lauri Lebo Tackles Intelligent Design, Evolution, and the Medianew

After reading this book and thinking of the millions of dollars and thousands of hours squandered, the hatred, the vitriol, and the disbelief that we're still fighting this age-old battle, I just feel tired and sad. This isn't the end of the story. We'll see it again, fight the battle once more, spend the money, fire up the troops, spar with the same theory in a different cloak, attract the international media, meet at a different courthouse, pass judgment on a different school district.
The Texas Observer  |  Ruth Pennebaker  |  06-18-2008  |  Nonfiction

The Texas Presidential Delegate Selection Process Works Just Fine ... Without Candidatesnew

My friends from foreign states don't understand why I'm so impressed with a voting system in which you don't know the outcome for a month and a half, and the caucuses end in fights with lawyers getting called (which, in my opinion, is far scarier than calling the police). My answer is that you don't finish a good book in a day, but a blockbuster ending is so worth it.
The Texas Observer  |  Susan DuQuesnay Bankston  |  06-11-2008  |  Commentary

David Milne Dissects the Life of Walt Rostow, Who Never Examined His Role in Terrible Violencenew

Walt Rostow's advice as LBJ's chief advisor led to aggressive military action Vietnam, culminating in massive bombings that left the taint of death and failure on LBJ's presidency.
The Texas Observer  |  Thomas Palaima  |  06-11-2008  |  Nonfiction

John McCain's Phil Gramm Gamblenew

In Gramm, McCain has chosen for a campaign co-chair and adviser a former senator who espouses free market, conservative principles, but whose actions in public office served wealthy contributors and even himself, leading to economic crises like the credit crunch and skyrocketing fuel costs.
The Texas Observer  |  Patricia Kilday Hart  |  06-03-2008  |  Politics

Choice Words: How We Talk When We Talk About Politicsnew

We asked 2,500 Texas Democratic primary voters participants two open-ended questions about their preferences. By analyzing the words people used to answer the questions, we were able to see how supporters of the different candidates are psychologically different. We also see the similiarities between the rhetoric of the campaigns and the language of their supporters.
The Texas Observer  |  James W. Pennebaker  |  05-30-2008  |  Politics

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