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537 - What's the Plural of Texas?
The plural of Texas? My money’s on Texases, even though that sounds almost as wrong as Texae, Texi or whatever alternative you might try to think up. Texas is defiantly singular. It is the Lone Star State, priding itself on its brief independence and distinct culture. Discounting Alaska, it is also the largest state in the Union.
Texas is both a maverick and a behemoth, and as much an claimant to exceptionalism within the US as America itself is on the world stage. Texans are superlative Americans. When other countries reach for an American archetype to caricature (or to demonise), it’s often one they imagine having a Texan drawl: the greedy oil baron, the fundamentalist preacher, the trigger-happy cowboy (1).
Texans will rightly object to being pigeonholed, but they probably won’t mind the implied reference to their tough-guy image. Nobody minds being provided with some room to swagger. See also the popularity of the slogan Don’t Mess With Texas, the state’s unofficial motto. It is less historical than it sounds, beginning life only in 1986 as the tagline of an anti-littering campaign.
You’d have to be crazy to mess with a state that’s this big and fierce. In fact, you’d have to be Texas to mess with Texas. Really. That’s not just a clever put-down. It’s the law. When Texas joined the Union in 1845, voluntarily giving up its independence, it was granted the right by Congress to form “new States of convenient size, not exceeding four in number and in addition to the said State of Texas.”
This would increase the total number of Texases to five, and enhance their political weight - at least in the US Senate, which would have to make room for 10 Senators from all five states combined, as opposed to just the twosome that represents the single state of Texas now.
On May 26, 1930, TIME Magazine reported on one of the periodical bouts of Texas Divisionism that have gripped the state ever since its annexation:
As other States were last week gloating over population increases which, by reapportionment next year, would give them greater political strength in the House of Representatives, Texas, biggest of them all, pointed with huge pride to Pampa as a sample of its own spectacular growth. In 1920 Pampa, high in the Panhandle, had 987 inhabitants. This year, thanks to oil and energy, it was found to be a full-fledged city of 10,453, a population increase of 959% in a decade. The disclosure of Pampa's spurty growth came just 24 hours after Texas' Congressman John Nance Garner, Democratic Leader of the House, had made a proposal which, if ever executed, would be far more subversive of U. S. political divisions than any readjustment of House representation consequent to the Census.
Leader Garner declared that the time had come to carve five States out of Texas. Purpose: "To transfer the balance of political power from New England to the South and secure for the Southern States . . . prestige and recognition." What moved Representative Garner, as a Texan, as Minority leader of the House and as a member of the House Ways & Means Committee, to advocate this major change was the apparent victory of the industrial Northeast over the South & West in the Hawley-Smoot Tariff Bill. If the Lone Star State were changed into a constellation of five, Mr. Garner foresaw eight additional Democratic Senators from the four new States — enough to overwhelm Grundy-Republican-Tariffism. And incidently, under the Garner plan, what is now Texas would cast 28 electoral votes for President instead of 20. The mule-like kick in Mr. Garner's threat-proposal lay in the fact that Texas can turn itself into five States whether or not the rest of the U. S. approves […]
So immense is Texas (265,896 sq. mi.) that few persons can conceive of its size. It takes as long by train to travel from the Panhandle on the north to Brownsville on the south as it does to go from New York to Key West. Leader Garner gave his own figures: "Texas would make 220 States the size of Rhode Island, 54 the size of Connecticut, six the size of New York. Texas is four times bigger than the combined New England States. . . . With an estimated population of 5,600,000 Texas ranks fifth among the States, being exceeded only by New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois and Ohio..." Such a split-up of Texas into five States the size of Arkansas fired Mr. Garner's political imagination. He foresaw an East Texas, West Texas, North Texas, South Texas and just plain Texas in the middle. New State capitals would blossom on the mesa. Political jobs would increase fourfold. Every U. S. flag would be rendered instantly obsolete.
So how would such a quintet of Texases look like? Over the decades, several proposals - some more serious than others - have been put forward.
In 2009, the political blog FiveThirtyEight overlaid their plan on a county-level map of the Obama-McCain presidential election results (showing Texas to be overwhelmingly red, except for a band of blue along the Rio Grande). The five Texases are:
Back in 1998, Mother Jones, in a thought experiment aimed to end the tyranny of Wyoming, dreamed up 25 new states, among which four new ones for Texas. The nomenclature for the five new states being:
The MoJo map showed some similarity with the FiveThirtyEight one. But why speculate on the names for the new states and their exact borders, when the State of Texas itself has prepared a Master Plan, right under everybody’s noses? This map, masquerading as an innocuous infographic over at the deceptively-named Texas Department of Insurance, openly flaunts the state-orchestrated divisionist plan and its nomenclature, opting for a Central, North, East, South and West Texas, each where you’d expect them. This is almost exactly as foreseen by John Nance Garner back in 1930.
One has to wonder why Texas divisionism - a political force with such clear aims, and with aims that have such potential benefit for Texans - has never come to fruition. Maybe John Nance Garner had the answer to that question all along, as TIME concludes:
But as clearly as anyone else Leader Garner saw that Texas itself will object to five Texases. The bigness of Texas is the supreme boast of every Texan. To hack the State up into five Arkansases would, to most of its citizens, be dismembering an empire. No longer could Texas brag of the fact that it grew more cotton (five million bales), produced more oil, than any other State. In such a split-up, North Texas would lose the historic glory of The Alamo (Roman Catholic mission at San Antonio cruelly besieged by Santa Anna). Bunker's Monthly, unique journal of and for Big Texas, would become just an ordinary interstate publication.
Proud columns of Texas figures would wilt away. Vainly did Mr. Garner argue: "To divide the State would in no wise detract from the glory of the past but would add to the glory of the future by reason of additional political power and the enhancement of sectional initiative. . . ." This sentimental opposition to any partition of the State the New York World described thus: "A Texan is so proud of Texas as it is he can hardly sleep at night. He boasts that if all the steers in Texas were one big steer the critter would stand with his forefeet in the Gulf of Mexico and his hindfeet in Hudson's Bay and would drink water out of the Panama Canal while brushing the flies off the North Pole with his tail."
(1) Major T.J. ‘King’ Kong, the character in Dr Strangelove who rides the nuclear bomb into oblivion as if it were a bull at a rodeo, is about as over-the-top Texan cowboy caricature as they get. He was played by Slim Pickens - a native and lifelong Californian.
What is human dignity? Here's a primer, told through 200 years of great essays, lectures, and novels.
- Human dignity means that each of our lives have an unimpeachable value simply because we are human, and therefore we are deserving of a baseline level of respect.
- That baseline requires more than the absence of violence, discrimination, and authoritarianism. It means giving individuals the freedom to pursue their own happiness and purpose.
- We look at incredible writings from the last 200 years that illustrate the push for human dignity in regards to slavery, equality, communism, free speech and education.
The inherent worth of all human beings<p>Human dignity is the inherent worth of each individual human being. Recognizing human dignity means respecting human beings' special value—value that sets us apart from other animals; value that is intrinsic and cannot be lost.</p> <p>Liberalism—the broad political philosophy that organizes society around liberty, justice, and equality—is rooted in the idea of human dignity. Liberalism assumes each of our lives, plans, and preferences have some unimpeachable value, not because of any objective evaluation or contribution to a greater good, but simply because they belong to a human being. We are human, and therefore deserving of a baseline level of respect. </p> <p>Because so many of us take human dignity for granted—just a fact of our humanness—it's usually only when someone's dignity is ignored or violated that we feel compelled to talk about it. </p> <p>But human dignity means more than the absence of violence, discrimination, and authoritarianism. It means giving individuals the freedom to pursue their own happiness and purpose—a freedom that can be hampered by restrictive social institutions or the tyranny of the majority. The liberal ideal of the good society is not just peaceful but also pluralistic: It is a society in which we respect others' right to think and live differently than we do.</p>
From the 19th century to today<p>With <a href="https://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?year_start=1800&year_end=2019&content=human+dignity&corpus=26&smoothing=3&direct_url=t1%3B%2Chuman%20dignity%3B%2Cc0" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Google Books Ngram Viewer</a>, we can chart mentions of human dignity from 1800-2019.</p><img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDg0ODU0My9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1MTUwMzE4MX0.bu0D_0uQuyNLyJjfRESNhu7twkJ5nxu8pQtfa1w3hZs/img.png?width=980" id="7ef38" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="9974c7bef3812fcb36858f325889e3c6" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
American novelist, writer, playwright, poet, essayist and civil rights activist James Baldwin at his home in Saint-Paul-de-Vence, southern France, on November 6, 1979.
Credit: Ralph Gatti/AFP via Getty Images
The future of dignity<p>Around the world, people are still working toward the full and equal recognition of human dignity. Every year, new speeches and writings help us understand what dignity is—not only what it looks like when dignity is violated but also what it looks like when dignity is honored. In his posthumous essay, Congressman Lewis wrote, "When historians pick up their pens to write the story of the 21st century, let them say that it was your generation who laid down the heavy burdens of hate at last and that peace finally triumphed over violence, aggression and war."</p> <p>The more we talk about human dignity, the better we understand it. And the sooner we can make progress toward a shared vision of peace, freedom, and mutual respect for all. </p>
Scientists find that bursts of gamma rays may exceed the speed of light and cause time-reversibility.
- Astrophysicists propose that gamma-ray bursts may exceed the speed of light.
- The superluminal jets may also be responsible for time-reversibility.
- The finding doesn't go against Einstein's theory because this effect happens in the jet medium not a vacuum.
Jet bursting out of a blazar. Black-hole-powered galaxies called blazars are the most common sources detected by NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope.
Cosmic death beams: Understanding gamma ray bursts<div class="rm-shortcode" data-media_id="cu2knVEk" data-player_id="FvQKszTI" data-rm-shortcode-id="c6cfd20fdf31c82cb206ade8ce21ba3f"> <div id="botr_cu2knVEk_FvQKszTI_div" class="jwplayer-media" data-jwplayer-video-src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/cu2knVEk-FvQKszTI.js"> <img src="https://cdn.jwplayer.com/thumbs/cu2knVEk-1920.jpg" class="jwplayer-media-preview" /> </div> <script src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/cu2knVEk-FvQKszTI.js"></script> </div>
Philosophers have been asking the question for hundreds of years. Now neuroscientists are joining the quest to find out.
- The debate over whether or not humans have free will is centuries old and ongoing. While studies have confirmed that our brains perform many tasks without conscious effort, there remains the question of how much we control and when it matters.
- According to Dr. Uri Maoz, it comes down to what your definition of free will is and to learning more about how we make decisions versus when it is ok for our brain to subconsciously control our actions and movements.
- "If we understand the interplay between conscious and unconscious," says Maoz, "it might help us realize what we can control and what we can't."
Puerto Rico's iconic telescope facilitated important scientific discoveries while inspiring young scientists and the public imagination.
- The Arecibo Observatory's main telescope collapsed on Tuesday morning.
- Although officials had been planning to demolish the telescope, the accident marked an unceremonious end to a beloved astronomical tool.
- The Arecibo radio telescope has facilitated many discoveries in astronomy, including the mapping of near-Earth asteroids and the detection of exoplanets.
Bradley Rivera via twitter.com<p>In 1963, the concave dish was built into a natural sinkhole on the northern coast of Puerto Rico. The location was <a href="https://www.space.com/20984-arecibo-observatory.html" target="_blank">picked because it was near the equator,</a> providing scientists a clear view of planets passing overhead, and also of the ionosphere, which is the uniquely reactive layer of Earth's upper atmosphere where the northern lights form.</p><p>Since its construction, scientists have used the Arecibo telescope to map near-Earth asteroids, detect gravitational waves, study pulsars, detect exoplanets and <a href="https://www.seti.org/goodbye-arecibo" target="_blank">search for alien civilizations</a>, among other projects. Here's a brief look at some of the discoveries and accomplishments made using the Arecibo telescope:</p><ul><li>1964: Astronomer <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gordon_Pettengill" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Gordon Pettengill</a> discovers that Mercury's rotation period is 59 days, significantly shorter than the previous prediction of 88 days.</li><li>1974: Physicists Russell Alan Hulse and Joseph Hooton Taylor Jr. discovers the first binary pulsar, for which they won a Nobel Prize in Physics.</li><li>1974: Scientists use the telescope to transmit the "Arecibo message" to <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Globular_Cluster_in_Hercules" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">globular star cluster M13</a>. The message, when translated into image form, contains basic information about humanity and human knowledge: the numbers one to 10, a map of our solar system, an illustration of a human being, and the atomic numbers of certain elements.</li><li>1989: Scientists use the telescope to image an asteroid for the first time.</li><li>1992: Astronomers Alex Wolszczan and Dale Frail become the first to discover exoplanets.</li></ul>
The Google-owned company developed a system that can reliably predict the 3D shapes of proteins.