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The Princess and the Pea: A messy metaphor

November 9, 2016
The Princess and the Pea: A messy metaphor

Are you familiar with the story of The Princess and the Pea? According to Wikipedia, it “is a literary fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen about a young woman whose royal identity is established by a test of her physical sensitivity. The tale was first published with three others by Andersen in an inexpensive booklet on 8 May 1835 in Copenhagen…In 1959, The Princess and the Pea was adapted to the musical stage in a production called Once Upon a Mattress starring Carol Burnett.”
Earlier this year, while writing my latest book, I worked with a writing coach. One of the effectiveness tips he gave me was “embrace the Princess and the Pea within.”
What he meant was that the best writing and deepest focus comes from addressing the physical writing atmosphere and getting rid of irritants that tend to distract us because they make us uncomfortable.… Read the rest

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Why Texas voted Democratic for years after the Civil War

November 9, 2016
Why Texas voted Democratic for years after the Civil War

This column first appeared August 22, 1974.

One purpose of the study of history is to help us understand situations today and why they came to be.
One such situation is that Texas and much of the South usually vote solidly Democratic in local and state elections.
The reason for this goes back over 100 years when Yankees or Yankee sympathizers after the Civil War – all of them Republicans – were the only ones allowed to hold public office in the state.
The defeated Southerners resented them, naturally. Once white Southern Democrats got back into office again, they weren’t about to let any hated Northern Republicans get elected to anything.… Read the rest

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Briefs filed in support of Texas’ voter ID law

November 9, 2016
Briefs filed in support of Texas’ voter ID law

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton on Sept. 23 filed a petition on behalf of the State of Texas, asking the U.S. Supreme Court to reinstate the Texas voter ID law.
On Oct. 31, Paxton announced that a coalition of states and members of Congress had filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the United States Supreme Court, in support of Texas’ voter identification law that passed in 2011 as Senate Bill 14.
“Our democracy does not work unless voters have confidence that election results are not skewed by fraud,” Paxton said, alleging the existence of a nationwide voter-fraud problem.
The coalition in support of the Texas voter ID law includes the states of Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Utah and West Virginia.… Read the rest

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I’m Batman, the REAL one, the Adam West one

November 2, 2016
I’m Batman, the REAL one, the Adam West one

To me, when it comes to holidays, this is the order of importance:
1. Christmas
2. Halloween
3. Everything else
My brother and I were always crazy for Halloween. I liked the creepy aspect of it all while he was more of the candy hoarder.
We always dressed so we could make the rounds then switch costumes and revisit all the houses.
This year, I told the grandkids I would have a groovy costume. So I ordered one – the 1960s Batman.
You are really taking a chance on mail ordering a “one-size-fits-all” costume – well, a one-size-fits-all anything, really.
I got a crazy good deal on this Batman costume.… Read the rest

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An open letter to Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton

November 2, 2016
An open letter to Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton

Dear Donald and Hillary:
Is it OK if I call you by your first names? I realize that, in a just a few days, apart from something totally unexpected and unprecedented, one of you will be the president-elect of the United States of America. Then, we will all have a couple of months of getting used to saying “President Clinton” (round two) or “President Trump.”
Before election day, I believe we owe both of you some apologies and I offer those on behalf of my fellow Americans. I realize that some people who read this will insist that I don’t speak for them.… Read the rest

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O. Henry’s curious life centered around Austin

November 2, 2016
O. Henry’s curious life centered around Austin

This column first appeared October 27, 2000.

I really do not have a great memory. I’m terrible with people’s names, for instance, especially when I’m trying to introduce a well-known friend to another well-known friend.
So, with my bad memory, if I can remember the plot of a short story and the author that I read in high school or college – I can’t remember which! – then that must have been some short story or some writer.
The short story was “The Gift of the Magi” and the writer was O. Henry – whose real name was William Sidney Porter.… Read the rest

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Texas officials urge state’s high court not to expand federal same-sex marriage ruling

November 2, 2016
Texas officials urge state’s high court not to expand federal same-sex marriage ruling

Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton last week filed a friend-of-the-court brief with the Texas Supreme Court over issues they say were not addressed in a landmark U.S. Supreme Court case declaring same-sex marriage a fundamental right.
The three officials asked the Texas Supreme Court to accept their view that Obergefell v. Hodges, the U.S. Supreme Court’s June 2015 decision recognizing a right to same-sex marriage “does not resolve all constitutional issues relating same-sex marriage.” The brief points to Parker v. Pigeon and related cases involving a Houston mayor’s extending benefits to same-sex spouses of city employees, and asks that a lower court’s temporary injunction preventing the extension of those benefits be reinstated.… Read the rest

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Here’s a Halloween treat (trick?) for you

October 26, 2016
Here’s a Halloween treat (trick?) for you

It’s really hard to write a scary story. One that invokes dread. Or fear. Or eeriness.
For every Stephen King, there are a million wannabes.
Like me.
A while back, I really thought I had a great idea for a funny/scary story. It was about a guy who kept dragging his wife to horror/splatter movies which she hated.
One day she finally says no more and stays home. Then, of course, some psychos break into her house while her husband is at yet another gorefest.
The woman manages to fend off her crazed attackers by using defenses learned in all those scary movies she had been forced to watch: eye-gouging, jury-rigged electrocution, stabbing with repurposed objects like broken chair legs, etc.… Read the rest

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Choose your companions well

October 26, 2016
Choose your companions well

He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm. (Proverbs 13:20)
For the past several years, I have been part of a Facebook Bible reading group. The 202 (currently) members of this group live all over the world and are involved in a variety of ministries. We read a chapter a day (determined by the group moderator) and are invited to briefly share how God spoke to us through the reading. We are also encouraged to share prayer requests with the group and encourage each other.
Often the thoughts I share in this column and with my own Facebook group, Dr.… Read the rest

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One great Texan: Sam Houston

October 26, 2016
One great Texan: Sam Houston

This column first appeared February 18, 1971.

Although Sam Houston’s name is familiar to all Texans and the city bearing his name is the state’s largest, there still are many facts about the man that most Texans probably don’t know.
For a starter, he probably would have had a good chance at the presidency of the United States had he remained in Tennessee. As governor of that state and as Andrew Jackson’s fair-haired boy, he most likely would have done quite well for himself. Jackson handpicked his own successor, Martin Van Buren, in 1836. It could have been Houston had he remained.… Read the rest

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