News

Tim Cassedy, English, creates Shakespeare-inspired card game Bards Dispense Profanity

Mental Floss

Originally Posted: May 19, 2016

If you’re a recovering English major with a debauched mind, then bawdy, literary-inspired word prompt games are likely more your speed than Apples to Apples. That’s why there’s Bards Dispense Profanity

The Shakespeare-themed group party activity contains 100 “mock-serious” prompts and 375 answers copied word-for-word from Shakespeare’s works. Each player receives seven quote cards, which they use to anonymously finish an open-ended prompt. A “Profanity Judge” chooses the best (read: the dirtiest and/or most hilarious) one. Then the next player serves as arbitrator and the process begins anew. READ MORE

Early armored dino from Texas lacked cousin’s club-tail weapon, but had a nose for danger

SMU Research

Originally Posted: May 23, 2016

Pawpawsaurus’s hearing wasn’t keen, and it lacked the infamous tail club of Ankylosaurus. But first-ever CT scans of Pawpawsaurus’s skull indicate the dino’s saving grace from predators may have been an acute sense of smell.

Well-known armored dinosaur Ankylosaurus is famous for a hard knobby layer of bone across its back and a football-sized club on its tail for wielding against meat-eating enemies.

It’s prehistoric cousin, Pawpawsaurus campbelli, was not so lucky. Pawpawsaurus was an earlier version of armored dinosaurs but not as well equipped to fight off meat-eaters, according to a new study, said vertebrate paleontologist Louis Jacobs, Southern Methodist University, Dallas. Jacobs is co-author of a new analysis of Pawpawsaurus based on the first CT scans ever taken of the dinosaur’s skull. READ MORE

Rick Halperin, Embrey Human Rights, Pfizer stops selling drugs used for executions

KFAB Radio

Originally Posted: May 17, 2016

Rick Halperin is an SMU professor who is a specialist and expert on the death penalty. He says that Pfizer’s announcement last week that they will not allow any of their drugs to be used or sold for use in executions will be a major blow to many states who will now have no source of the drugs needed in their execution protocol. This leaves them only a couple options, which he outlines. READ MORE

Political Science professors Cal Jillson and Matthew Wilson comment on Greg Abbot latest book and political future

Star-Telegram

Originally Posted: May 21, 2016

Greg Abbott’s book, bus tour put him in the political fast lane

Gov. Greg Abbott’s bus tour is meant to take him places.

I mean, besides a Half Price Books near Westworth Village.

When Abbott’s Broken But Unbowed tour bus rolls into Fort Worth today, it will be hauling the governor’s political hopes but also his baggage.

Abbott, a 23-year elected official serving his first term as governor, is positioning himself for a possible national political campaign or appointment.

But even arriving by luxury motor coach, Abbott does not make as much noise as former TV sports anchor and radio entertainer Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, a potential political rival.

If Abbott has hope for higher office, he must clearly command state government. But with a divisive Republican presidential campaign ahead, followed by the Legislature in January (bringing more daily Patrick press conferences), this is almost Abbott’s only time to rally attention.

“Abbott is as cautious as Patrick is aggressive,” said Southern Methodist University political science professor Cal Jillson, “so Abbott always keeps an eye on him to be sure Patrick does not get by him on the right.”

Abbott is building his national conservative profile with the book, a memoir of his recovery from a disabling 1984 accident and also an essay on constitutional government. READ MORE 

Dedman College experts comment on Democrats’ internal struggles on display in Nevada

SMU News

Originally Posted: May 19, 2016

Comments below were taken from an SMU news release. READ MORE

DON’T SWEAT NEVADA, DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL CONVENTION SHOULD BE FINE
Matthew Wilson

MATTHEW WILSON: Associate professor of Political Science

The Democratic Party was shaken this week when the Nevada State Convention descended into chaos, sparked by disruptive Bernie Sanders supporters. The scenes of anger and reports of death threats prompted some to ask, . “Is the Democratic National Convention suddenly at greater risk of being a disaster than the Republican National Convention?”

“No,” says Wilson. “Because that’s a really high bar.”

“The Democrats have all long underestimated the level of dissatisfaction with their own establishment that exists within the ranks,” Wilson continued. “The real anti-establishment anger has been made obvious on the Republican side with Trump’s campaign, but there’s a lot of that with Sanders’ movement as well and some of that bubbled to the surface this week.”

Wilson predicts the Democrats will orchestrate a “reasonably” smooth convention this summer, but did say there are other causes for concern revealed by the hubub in Nevada.

“The thing we can lose sight of is that Hillary Clinton would be the least popular candidate that either party has ever nominated, which is obscured by the fact that Trump is even more unpopular,” Wilson says. “Clinton is not beloved by the Democratic Party. The big worry is disaffected Sanders supporters could stay home or gravitate toward Trump if he’s able to reach out to them with his populist message.”

And Wilson doesn’t expect Sanders to do anything to allay those fears anytime soon.

“Sanders thrives on the anti-establishment sentiment,” Wilson says. “He thrives on this sense the game is rigged and the party bosses are cheating him, and he doesn’t want to tamp that down. Clearly he doesn’t want violence, but he’s perfectly happy having a certain amount of righteous anger.”

As for the Democratic Party’s handling of the Sanders and the Nevada protests, Wilson thinks the party is doing just fine, with the caveat that maybe they should let Sanders have some of the delegates he’s fighting for since it won’t make up the difference in the end. But Wilson did caution that more acrimony could lie ahead.

“June 7 is the last day of primaries,” Wilson says. “It will be very interesting to see what Bernie Sanders says on June 8.”

PROVIDING HISTORIC PERSPECTIVE TO ‘YEAR OF THE OUTSIDER’ IN POLITICS

Jeffrey A. EngelJEFFREY ENGEL: Director of the SMU Center for Presidential History

It’s not uncommon for politicians running for the presidency to flash their outsider status and promise to, “Clean up Washington,” but normally they’re at least long-time, card-carrying members of the party they’re running to represent.

Not so this year, courtesy Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders. Engel says historians might have to look back 200 years to find a similar scenario.

“Ronald Reagan, in some ways, was an outsider and Jimmy Carter was, in some ways, an outsider, but you might have to look back 100 years ago to find a nominee like Trump who, if you had asked six years ago, would have been a member of the opposite party,” Engel says.

Despite the recent chaotic protests at the Democrats’ Nevada State Convention, Engel thinks the Democratic National Convention will still be more unified than the Republican National Convention this summer.

“Alliances are not made between friends,” Engel says. “Alliances are made in opposition to common enemies, and Sanders and the Democrats are a great example of this. Sanders has had some questions or political reasons to identify as an independent instead of a Democrat, but he sure as heck won’t identify as a Republican.”

Back in the Senate, Cruz could lay the foundation for 2020

Houston Chronicle

Originally Posted: May 18, 2016

By Kevin Diaz

WASHINGTON – There may be no Ted Cruz 2.0. Instead, all signs point to Cruz 2020.

The first clue came in a final pep talk to dispirited campaign staffers last week in Houston, where Cruz recalled Ronald Reagan’s first failed White House bid in 1976, a prelude to his victory in 1980.

“Reagan in 1976 came up short,” Cruz told them. “I suspect at that convention more than a few tears were shed. It’s going to be our task to go forward and continue fighting.” . . .

Outside political analysts say the Senate provides the perfect foil for a national political figure bent on highlighting Washington dysfunction.

“The Senate allows you to stay in the spotlight, even if your day-to-day life is very frustrating,” said Cal Jillson, a political scientist at Southern Methodist University in Dallas.

At the same time, Jillson is bearish on Cruz’s prospects of enacting meaningful tax reforms, a project that largely has eluded far more experienced lawmakers with good relationships in Congress, including House Speaker Paul Ryan and Texas Republican Kevin Brady, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee.

Moving legislation in the famously chummy Senate often depends on playing nice with colleagues – not something for which Cruz is known. “Judging from his first day back, he’s not going to make many changes in his personal style or demeanor, which almost guarantees he’ll get next to almost nothing done,” Jillson said. READ MORE

Bryson DeChambeau, former SMU golfer, applies physics to his sport

WFAA

Originally Posted: May 18, 2016

SAN ANTONIO, TX - APRIL 21:  Bryson DeChambeau tees off on the 12th hole during the first round of the Valero Texas Open at TPC San Antonio AT&T Oaks Course on April 21, 2016 in San Antonio, Texas.  (Photo by Marianna Massey/Getty Images)
SAN ANTONIO, TX – APRIL 21: Bryson DeChambeau tees off on the 12th hole during the first round of the Valero Texas Open at TPC San Antonio AT&T Oaks Course on April 21, 2016 in San Antonio, Texas. (Photo by Marianna Massey/Getty Images)

IRVING, Texas — During Bryson During Bryson DeChambeau’s press conference before the AT&T Byron Nelson, the subject of physics came up, and how it applies to golf.

Here’s part of his answer: “[…] especially Newtonian mechanics. See, quantum mechanics doesn’t really correlate — I mean, it does, on a really, really minute scale. But doesn’t affect how you’re striking the ball necessarily,” he said. “It’s more Newtonian mechanics.”

DeChambeau majored in physics at SMU and is trying to use what he learned to get better.

“I lean more to the technical side, just because I like numbers,” DeChambeau said. “I like understanding and seeing results. That gives me confidence.” READ MORE

SMU scientists co-authored study showing that humans have been causing earthquakes in Texas since the 1920s

SMU NEWS

Originally Posted: May 17, 2016

Earthquakes triggered by human activity have been happening in Texas since at least 1925, and they have been widespread throughout the state ever since, according to a new historical review of the evidence published online May 18 in Seismological Research Letters.

Causes of earthquakes in TexasThe earthquakes are caused by oil and gas operations, but the specific production techniques behind these quakes have differed over the decades, according to Cliff Frohlich, the study’s lead author and senior research scientist and associate director at the Institute for Geophysics at the University of Texas at Austin. SMU seismologists Heather DeShon, Brian Stump, Chris Hayward and Mathew J. Hornbach, and Jacob I. Walter at the University of Texas at Austin are co-authors. READ MORE