The Galveston Plague of 1920

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Courtesy of the Blocker History of Medicine Collections, Moody Medical Library
Galveston officials fought the 1920 plague by declaring war on rats and poisoning thousands of them.

While Ebola is the most recent incredibly unexpected disease to show up in Texas, it isn't anywhere near the most deadly. Long before anyone even knew Ebola existed, the city of Galveston grappled with an outbreak of bubonic plague.

When the first few patients started getting sick in June 1920, bubonic plague was such a foreign possibility that most doctors in the town didn't even consider it, according to reports from the time. It was only after the first patient, a 17-year-old boy, died that tests confirmed he'd had plague.

The disease sprang up in four different Gulf ports at almost the same time, including Galveston, according to a report published in 1921 by Dr. Mark Boyd and Dr. T.W. Kemmerer, the doctors who ran Galveston's plague laboratories. The timing indicated that there was a common source for the disease, but they were never able to figure out what the source was.


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Texas Companies are Pretty Awesome About LGBT Equality, According to Report

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Even if politicians in our deep red state are lagging behind, it seems Texas businesses know a thing or two about good, old fashioned equality, according to a new report from the Human Rights Campaign Foundation.

Each year, the HRC looks at Fortune 500 companies and top law firms around the nation and ranks them according to their LGBT equality on the Corporate Equality Index using five categories: Non-discrimination policies, employment benefits, demonstrated organizational competency and accountability around LGBT diversity and inclusion, public commitment to equality, and responsible citizenship.

This year's index included 44 Texas businesses, and what they found is pretty darn astounding. According to the new rankings, Texas private sector businesses now lead the nation in workplace equality.

Yep, we were surprised too.

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Halliburton Is Buying Baker Hughes: Another Sign the Oil Industry Is Nervous?

Categories: Texas

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It's finally happened. After months of reading the tea leaves, we have the first clear indication that all is not entirely well in the land of Big Oil in the form of the merger between Halliburton and Baker Hughes.

There are lots of stories right now about the Houston-based companies -- the second- and third-largest oil field service providers in the world, respectively -- and what the merger will mean. For one thing, there will almost certainly be layoffs when these two soon-to-be-former rivals put a ring on it and make everything official. Plus there are already questions about how exactly -- with antitrust laws on the books and Standard Oil in our history -- this deal wouldn't violate antitrust laws.

But the thing that has really grabbed our attention is that after weeks of falling oil prices and rumbling in the industry, this merger is just another tell that the oil industry might be readying itself for hard times -- which is a kind and gentle way of saying that, based on oil prices that make the shale plays that have been driving this whole U.S. oil boom less profitable to drill, they may be bracing for a bust.


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Weather Week: The State of Texas Is Pretty Blue, Thanks to the Weather Map

Categories: Texas, Weather

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Weather Bell
According to Weather Bell, Texas will be a blue state this week.

If you spent any time last week whining about the unseasonably hot November temperatures, well, we're blaming you for this impending arctic blast that's about to ruin Houston's sandal weather.

So should you be one of the offending parties, just fess up now, and please start sending sweaters and/or hot toddies our way. After today, we're gonna need 'em.

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Watch Our Favorite Texas Tech Cheerleader Go Gator-Huntin'

Categories: Texas

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YouTube screenshot.
You can follow that dead alligator at @ohgodpleasekillmeagain.

"I want to shoot a gator in the face!" says a charming H-town gal in the debut episode of our favorite new YouTube show, "Game On," featuring Texas Tech cheerleader/elephant killer Kendall Jones.

Jones got a ton of flack for posting huntin' pics from what we're sure was a dangerous African expedition, but thanks to show sponsors Remington, we get to see Jones and a pal in live-action glory. It is a wonder to behold.

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Texas Could Soon Be Home to a Giant, Crowd-Funded Vagina

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Kickstarter Screenshot

With any luck -- and about $600 in Kickstarter donations -- Austin, Texas will soon be home to one giant vagina statue.

Aptly entitled "Texas Women by Chloe," the project is currently in the fundraising phase on Kickstarter, and appears -- at least on the surface -- to be awesome. The crowd-funded tribute to the vulva is set to be about six feet tall, and will be built by Chloe, an artist and activist out of Austin.

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Daily Show Comes to Texas This Week, Should Be Easy Pickins

Categories: TV Land, Texas

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Good news, guys. Jon Stewart and The Daily Show will be making Texas the new (temporary) world news headquarters this week, just in time for midterm elections.

In a segment they've dubbed "Democalypse: South by South Mess," Stewart will be in Austin from October 27 - 30, putting all of Texas' embarrassing political news on blast. Given the political climate in our fair state, Texas will need to be on its best behavior if we have any chance of saving face, so perhaps should keep Rick Perry away from, well, everything for a couple of days.

But even if Perry manages to mind his Ps and Qs, there's still plenty of recent Lone Star news for Jon Stewart to rip on. Since we're bound to receive our fair share of ridicule anyway, let's give the good folks over at the Daily Show a few ideas, shall we?

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Activists Planning to Broadcast Live Abortions Near the Alamo

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There is such thing as an "Abortion JumboTron TV," and it will be deployed for some extremely graphic anti-abortion protesting in San Antonio on Wednesday, as the fight over reproductive rights in the State of Texas rages on.

Parents are being warned to keep their children away from the Alamo in San Antonio on Wednesday afternoon, as activists from two anti-choice groups, the Ohio-based group Created Equal and Love of Truth Ministries, will be broadcasting footage of abortions -- complete with what are supposedly fetal body parts -- on that "JumboTron TV" projection screen near the historic building.


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Does Breitbart Texas Want Ebola Nurse's Dog to Die?

Categories: Texas

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Facebook screenshot
Cuddly furball -- or scourge of humankind?
Breitbart Texas wants Dallas Ebola patient Nina Pham's dog to die. Or at least that's our take-away from two alarmist articles suggesting that the Cavalier King Charles spaniel, like one of those fast-moving zombies in 28 Days Later, only with more hair, might infect every last one of us.

Pham's "dog remained in her apartment for over 24 hours following her diagnosis," Kristin Tate wrote for Breitbart. "It is possible that the pet has Ebola -- CDC studies have found that dogs may carry and be a source of the deadly virus."

True. It's also possible the dog has fleas. We just don't know!

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Texas Is Terrible at Energy Efficiency, According to Study

Categories: Texas

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Texas isn't getting any energy stars.
Houston is the energy capital of the world. We practically bathe in oil around here. So, it should come as no surprise to anyone that a recent study from Wallethub found Texas to be near the bottom of the list of states in energy efficiency. According to the study, Texas ranks 45th out of the 48 states in overall energy efficiency -- Alaska and Hawaii were excluded -- including 34th in home energy efficiency and 44th in car-related energy efficiency.

The only states with lower rankings were Kentucky, Louisiana and South Carolina. Vermont, New York, Wisconsin, California and Rhode Island top the list. Also not very surprising, the top 16 states are all north of the Mason-Dixon line.

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