Apr 24, 2015

EoT: Truancy and Turning the Other Cheek

Eyes on Texas, a roundup of news, columns and features about the state, from media around the world.

When BuzzFeed is not posting listicles or quizzes, the Millennial-favorite website is educating Texas lawmakers on what goes on in their own backyard.

BuzzFeed News posted an investigative report on Wednesday that more than 1,000 students had been jailed in the past three years for failure to pay court fees associated with misdemeanor truancy charges. “The investigation found that more than 300 students in nine of the state’s ten largest counties were locked up in 2014,” a follow-up story posted yesterday said.

Apparently, State Rep. Harold Dutton, Jr., and Sen. John Whitmire, both Democrats from Houston, didn’t understand the scope of the issue until they read the report, the follow-up story said. Whitmire, who wrote the bill to decriminalize truancy that was approved in the Senate last week, said he was so floored that he planned to distribute printed copies of the report on the Senate floor.

“I’m gonna personally hand one to every senator today and ask them to read it,” Whitmire told BuzzFeed.

Several Austin residents are sick of smelling barbecue. Some may deem it sacrilege, but their noses aren’t the only ones tired of sucking up unwanted scents.

The New York Times recently addressed the Austin City Council resolution that aims to require restaurants and mobile food vendors “to mitigate the impact of smoke emissions,” especially that of barbecue. Scent wars are happening in other cities too. In Denver, residents complained about odors caused by now-legal marijuana leaves drying.

The New York Times delved into the science. It could be that we’re more sensitive to smells than in the pre-plumbing days. Or it could be emotional. Our sense of smell is linked to the brain’s limbic system, which produces emotions, so maybe these residents have bad memories associated with the scent of barbecue.

Or maybe they’re simply fed up with smelling cooked meat with their coffee.

“The smell becomes highly offensive because of the distress of being exposed against your free will,” Rachel Herz, a psychologist and neuroscientist at Brown University and author of “The Scent of Desire: Discovering Our Enigmatic Sense of Smell” said in the story.

Regardless, city council chose to study the proposal further. The exhaust systems that businesses would need to install are so expensive that the council is considering various other measures.

A Texas man gave a new meaning to “two-faced” when he got a black-and-white portrait of his infant son tattooed on his cheek. Now, the man Starcasm identifies only as “Chris” and his girlfriend are expecting another child, a daughter, according to the website.

Chris got the tattoo when his son was born last year. The photo initially circulated on Reddit, but just recently showed up in online news sites. Now, the tattoo is making it difficult for Chris to find a job.

At least the Facebook commenters Starcasm quoted had some solid advice: “If you and [girlfriend] decide to have more after this, than you always have your butt cheeks:p.” [sic]

By Alison Killian