Originally Posted: June 29, 2015
July 2015 – D Magazine
By Ben Fountain
“A hundred years is a long life,” says Willard Spiegelman one warm spring Saturday in the office of the Southwest Review, the magazine he’s edited for the past 30 years. We’re on the fourth floor of Fondren Library at SMU, with a view out the window of rooftops aligned on the campus quad, oak trees in new leaf, and, far in the distance, the jumbled silver skyline of downtown Dallas.
Spiegelman, the Hughes Professor of English at SMU, is in a reflective mood, necessarily so, since his visitor keeps bugging him with questions about the 100th anniversary of the Review’s founding. It’s a fluke, a cosmic hiccup, a kink of cultural fate that the third-oldest continuously published literary review in the country is located in the heart of Dallas, where commerce is king, money screams, and living loud and large is the air we breathe. Try to imagine one of the Ewings sitting back on a quiet Southfork evening to peruse the latest issue of the Review. (Query: did we ever see a Ewing holding an actual book?) Easier to picture a blowup of Einstein’s head superimposed on the orb of Reunion Tower. Who gives a proud Texas damn about literature? READ MORE
Associate Professor of Political Science Pamela Corley was recently awarded the Hughes-Gosset Award for the best article published in the Journal of Supreme Court History in the previous year. Professor Corley received this prestigious award at the Supreme Court Historical Society during the Annual Meeting on June 1, 2015. The title of Professor Corley’s article is “Revisiting the Roosevelt Court: The Critical Juncture from Consensus to Dissensus” and she co-authored the work with Amy Steigerwalt (Georgia State University) and Artemus Ward (Northern Illinois University).
The SMU Geothermal Lab recently hosted its 7th international energy conference Power Plays:Geothermal Energy in Oil and Gas Fields. Along with discussion on generating geothermal energy from oil and gas fields, topics at this year’s event included desalination, flare gas and induced seismicity. A summary of the presentations is available at http://www.smu.edu/Dedman/Academics/Programs/GeothermalLab/Conference/PastPresentations.
Read a summery of the event here.
Read more on the event here.
Originally Posted: June 19, 2015
HOW YOU MAY BE UNCONSCIOUSLY SHAPING YOUR CHILD’S CAREER CHOICES
YOU MAY THINK YOU’RE ENCOURAGING YOUR CHILD’S DREAMS, BUT RESEARCH SHOWS THE TINY WAYS WE MAY BE NUDGING THEM IN ANOTHER DIRECTION.
BY GWEN MORAN
Ever since your son or daughter was little, you’ve been showering him or her with positive affirmations about the future. “Follow your dreams.” “The world is your oyster.” “You can do whatever you set your mind to doing.” And, one day, when you’re having the “what do you want to be when you grow up” conversation, you get the payoff for all of that empowerment: A crew member on one of the Deadliest Catch boats. An undercover homicide detective. Nik Wallenda’s next protégé.
Kids say the darnedest things—and sometimes their future career fantasies can be downright terrifying. The choices may range from dangerous to financially insecure, and somewhat far afield of what you had in mind, even if you’re loathe to admit it. But be careful in your response. A 2010 report by George Holden of Southern Methodist University found that the way we react to these types of situations can have a great deal of influence on the trajectories our children follow throughout life. The research found that the things to which we introduce them, how we help them navigate obstacles, and how we react to their actions and ideas has an impact on the decisions they make. READ MORE
Originally Posted: June 18, 2015
The relatives of a much-debated 8,500-year-old skeleton found in Kennewick, Washington, have been pinned down: The middle-age man was most closely related to modern-day Native Americans, DNA from his hand reveals.
The new analysis lays to rest wilder theories about the ancestry of the ancient American, dubbed Kennewick Man, said study co-author Eske Willerslev, an evolutionary biologist at the Natural History Museum of Denmark at the University of Copenhagen.
“There have been different theories, different mythology, everything from him being related to Polynesians, to Europeans, to [indigenous people] from Japan,” Willerslev told Live Science. “He is most closely related to contemporary Native Americans.”
A couple first discovered the skeleton in 1996 on the banks of the Columbia River in Kennewick. The coroner analyzing the remains noticed an arrow tip lodged in the man’s pelvis, and surmised he was a European felled by a Native American, said co-author David Meltzer, an anthropologist at Southern Methodist University in Dallas.
But the man’s bones revealed he was at least 8,000 years old.
At a news conference then, researchers studying the skeleton said the ancient man was “Caucasoid,” an archaic, 19th-century term that includes a wide swath of people with origins in Africa, Western Asia and Europe. Reporters heard the word “Caucasian,” and all of a sudden people were wondering how a European showed up in North America and was shot thousands of years before Europeans set foot on the continent, Meltzer said. READ MORE
Originally Posted: June 17, 2015
AUSTIN – Disposal wells that catch the high-pressure byproducts of natural gas drilling cannot conclusively be blamed for an earthquake near Fort Worth this spring, according to state experts.
The Railroad Commission of Texas tested five disposal wells in Johnson County after a 4.0 magnitude temblor on May 7 to assess the effect of injection operations on underground rock formations.
“At this time, there is no conclusive evidence the disposal wells tested were a causal factor in the May 7 seismic event,” the commission said in a statement released on Friday, citing an analysis by its seismologist, geologists and petroleum engineers.
Reports of injection wells elsewhere, however, suggest a link between disposal wells and seismic activity.
In April, a Southern Methodist University-led team found wastewater injection – along with extraction of saltwater from natural gas wells – was the most likely cause of earthquakes in 2013 and 2014 near Azle, west of Fort Worth. READ MORE
Originally Posted: June 12, 2015
Regulators: No Evidence Wells Caused 4.0 Quake
After wrapping up a round of testing, Texas regulators say they have found no evidence that injecting oilfield waste into five disposal wells triggered the largest recorded earthquake in North Texas’ history.
“At this time, there is no conclusive evidence the disposal wells tested were a causal factor in the May 7 seismic event,” the Texas Railroad Commission said Friday in a news release.
Last month, a 4.0-magnitude earthquake hit Johnson County, leading to a few reports of minor damage. It was the most powerful ever recorded in the Barnett Shale region, including more than 50 quakes that have struck since November 2013 — a surge that has coincided with the proliferation of disposal wells, deep resting places for liquid oil and gas waste injected underground at high pressures.
Under rules adopted last year, the Railroad Commission ordered testing at five disposal wells, which the four companies that operate them voluntarily shut down. On Friday, the commission said its analysis of “fall-off pressure”– tests to determine the effects of injections at the well sites – turned up no fault patterns nearby that could have been related to the earthquakes. READ MORE
Economist Says Monopoly Capitalism Is The Main Cause Of Economic Doldrums
More than seven years after the Great Recession began in 2007, many Americans are still struggling to put their economic lives back together. Factors such as low wages, high interest rates on credit cards and a mediocre job market continue to make a lot of families feel like the recovery passed them by, says Dr. Ravi Batra, an economist and author of the new book “End Unemployment Now: How to Eliminate Joblessness, Debt and Poverty Despite Congress.”
It doesn’t have to be this way, he says.
“The main cause of our troubles is monopoly capitalism, which is a system dominated by giant companies that charge high prices, pay low wages and extract huge productivity from employees,” says Batra, an economics professor at Southern Methodist University.
“As a result, supply rises faster than demand and generates layoffs. So the solution lies in breaking up the behemoths and returning to free markets, where many firms engage in price and quality competition.”
That’s easier said than done, though, because of the political considerations, Batra says. He surmises that any attempt to move legislation through Congress would meet with failure. READ MORE
San Antonio Current
Originally Posted: June 10, 2015
AUSTIN — The 2015 session of the Texas Legislature, which ended last week rather unceremoniously, was widely panned as a bust.
Immigrant advocates couldn’t be any happier. They’re claiming victory.
“We were very excited, but it kept us on our toes,” Chloe Sikes, a member of the Coalition to Save In-State Tuition, told the San Antonio Current.
A slew of proposals cracking down on undocumented immigrants — from repealing in-state tuition to targeting disadvantaged children in medical care programs — died on the vine as time expired on their proponents.
Post-battle, those in the political trenches described behind-the-scenes machinations that dealt the fatal blows to the anti-immigrant bills. Scenes of high drama — suffused with broken loyalties, clash of wills, moral indignation — that would’ve made Shakespeare raise an eyebrow.
Sikes’ group primarily focused on SB 1819. The proposed legislation by State Sen. Donna Campbell, R-New Braunfels, would have repealed a 2001 measure (signed by fellow Republican Rick Perry, former Texas governor now on his second presidential quest) allowing undocumented immigrants to pay in-state tuition at public colleges and universities.
After spurts surfaced threatening to advance Campbell’s bill, it finally died on May 20 after the deadline for discussion passed.
“It was extra concerning the repeal effort was put forth in this session,” Sikes said. “Texas was the first to pass that type of legislation,” she noted with palpable pride. Indeed, many other states followed in the Lone Star State’s footsteps.
Other anti-immigration measures died a slow death on the rotunda floor, most notably SB 1252, directing the governor to negotiate an interstate border security compact toward federal immigration law enforcement; SB 185 aimed at outlawing so-called sanctuary cities; HB 2835, which would’ve given lower priority to taking undocumented children off medical waiting lists.
The mainstream media attributed the mass death of bills to the GOP focus on gays and guns. But battle-worn lawmakers who fought the latest anti-immigration bills described a wholesale change in dynamics from past sessions, prompted by the upending of the two-thirds rule in the Senate. In January, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick ended the 70-year practice of requiring the support of two-thirds of senators to bring up a measure in favor of a three-fifths majority. The old rule was in place to protect minority interests, a less-than-opaque measure by Patrick to push his party’s priorities.
“While it was definitely a loss for the Senate, it has empowered the House,” said State Rep. Trey Martinez-Fischer, a San Antonio Democrat.
“The truth of the matter is there was no appetite for that kind of conversation in the state House, which is a more mature body,” Martinez-Fischer added. “Most of those bills originated in the Senate, but died a slow and painful death on the House floor.”
Indeed, SB 1819 and SB 185 never made it out of the Senate, while SB 1252 withered away in committee.
State Sen. José Menéndez, another SA Democrat, described a similar sense of empowerment in killing off bad bills — a rallying cry that even lured some Republicans to discreetly stray from party lines. The same three-fifths rule implanted this year now requires 12 senators to block a bill, prompting recruitment of dissenters across party lines.
“The Republicans who joined us think it’s not in the best interest of the state to be anti-Hispanic and anti-immigrant and don’t agree with those politics,” Menéndez told the Current.
The turncoats’ identities are being jealously guarded to shield them from potential backlash from their base in the next election cycle, Menéndez noted.
“We tried to provide them anonymity so they don’t get beat up in the next primary election,” he said.
The rise of the Tea Party and the intractable stance on social issues among its rank and file also increasingly complicates the way business gets done at the Legislature — prompting some Republicans dissenting from party ideology to quietly support Democrats with votes. “It’s caused so many moderate Republicans to be kicked out by these far-right Tea Party members,” Menéndez noted.
Cal Jillson, professor of political science at Southern Methodist University, said that anti-immigration bills largely failed — for the second consecutive legislative session — because they ran counter to the powerful businesses lobby.
Jillson invoked the trope of “campaigning in poetry and governing in prose” to further his argument.
“Texas has seen the value of a substantial supply of cheap labor. The anti-immigrant rhetoric and border security rhetoric is standard fare of elections, and that rhetoric is very effective,” he explained. “But when you get into governing, you have the lobbies pushing in a different direction.” READ MORE