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Life & Arts
11:16 am
Tue January 13, 2015

VIDEO: Matthew McConaughey's Audition for 'Dazed and Confused'

Wiley Wiggins and Matthew McConaughey audition for Richard Linklater's "Dazed and Confused."
Screengrab via Criterion Collection's YouTube channel

Last night, as lawmakers were polishing up their boots for the 84th Texas Legislature’s kickoff and Richard Linklater was, presumably, spit-shining his Golden Globe for Boyhood he won on Sunday, the Internet, as it often does, produced a nugget of gold.

As the Wall Street Journal writes, the Criterion Collection released Matthew McConaughey’s audition from Linklater’s seminal Austin-based comedy Dazed and Confused on YouTube. The film launched McConaughey’s career, proved Linklater could be both a commercially and critically successful filmmaker, and educated those outside of Austin on moontowers and Top Notch hamburgers.

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In Black America
10:56 am
Tue January 13, 2015

Remembering Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

King shortly before his speech on the National Mall on August 28, 1963
U.S. National Archives and Records Administration

On this edition of In Black America, producer/host John L. Hanson Jr. presents a tribute to the late Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

During the less than thirteen years of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s leadership of the modern Civil Rights Movement, from December 1955 until April 4, 1968, African Americans achieved more genuine progress toward racial equality than the previous 350 years had produced. King is widely regarded as the preeminent advocate of nonviolence and one of the greatest nonviolent leaders in world history.

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Austin
6:30 am
Tue January 13, 2015

Find Out What's Buried Inside Austin's City Hall Time Capsule

A plaque marking the spot of Austin's city time capsule, to be opened in 2105.
Credit Joy Diaz/KUT News

Buried under the Austin City Hall building is a time capsule.

Today, that capsule is ten years old. The box is scheduled to be opened in 2105.

Since it’s very likely you and I won’t be alive 90 years from now, KUT asked the people who filled up the box to reveal some of the things that are in it.

It's hard to imagine the Austin of 2105, when the capsule is supposed to be opened.

If you just consider that we double our population every 20 years, you can picture how crowded Austin is likely to become.

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Education
5:54 pm
Mon January 12, 2015

Q&A: Texas Legislature to Tackle School Vouchers

Credit David/flickr

The 2015 legislative session is upon us. And while there haven’t been any committee hearings or votes yet, lawmakers are already beating the drum on a variety of issues. When it comes to education, conservative lawmakers, including Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, are already talking about the idea of school choice for all Texas students.

“Not just the wealthy who can send their children to private school, and not just those who have the mobility to move to the suburbs," Patrick said last week.  "But for parents in the inner cities where their children are trapped in failing schools, it is their right to have those same opportunities.”

Patrick thinks one solution is school vouchers.  But what are school vouchers? KUT's Kate McGee and Nathan Bernier break down the issue:

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Economy
2:30 pm
Mon January 12, 2015

Hegar: 'Moderate Expansion' of Economy is Expected

Comptroller Glenn Hegar announced the state's biennial revenue estimate on Jan. 12, 2015.
Bob Daemmrich/Texas Tribune

From the Texas Tribune:

Amid concerns that tumbling oil prices could push the Texas economy into a recession, Comptroller Glenn Hegar offered a cautiously optimistic tone on the future of the Texas economy Monday, announcing that lawmakers will have $113 billion to haggle over in crafting its next two-year budget.

“Our projections are based on expectations of a moderate expansion in the Texas economy and reflect uncertainties in oil prices and the possibilities of a slowing global economy,” Hegar said.

The biennial revenue estimate sets a limit on the state’s general fund, the portion of the budget that lawmakers have the most control over. The general fund typically makes up nearly half of the state’s total budget.

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Sports
1:14 pm
Mon January 12, 2015

Why Did Austin Postpone the Cyclocross Championships?

Just after the start of one of the event's races at Zilker Park.
Screen shot from Cyclocross Magazine YouTube video

What was supposed to be a run-of-the-mill extreme national outdoor cycling event on Sunday turned into a minor dust-up when the city of Austin postponed the 2015 USA Cycling Cyclocross National Championships due to inclement conditions.

About an inch of rain over the weekend muddied up Zilker Park, causing the Austin Parks & Recreation Department to postpone the event in an effort to dampen the race's impact on the root systems of 20 Zilker Park trees. After some backpedaling – and a course redesign – the event kicked off just after noon today.

Still, the city's initial decision was met with some derision from Cyclocross competitors and fans, who wondered via Twitter whether the event was "too messy for Texas."

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Arts Eclectic
9:48 am
Mon January 12, 2015

Help Decide the Plot of 'Deus Ex Machina'

Deus Ex Machina, a new co-production from Whirlygig, Fusebox, and Shrewd Productions, is not a show for folks who enjoy being passive observers to the action onstage. For this show, the audience takes an active role, essentially becoming the gods of Greek myth, deciding the fate of the players before them.

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State Legislature
7:30 am
Mon January 12, 2015

How Will Falling Oil Prices Affect the State Budget?

Oil prices will be a consideration for the state's two-year budget.

Lawmakers will find out this morning how much money they’ll have to work with as they craft the state’s next two-year budget. They’re expected to have plenty of wiggle room, but rapidly dropping oil prices have raised some concerns. Oil and gas prices could affect those numbers.

At the end of 2013, former Texas Comptroller Susan Combs said the state could have about $2.6 billion dollars in unspent revenue from the current budget. Some believe that surplus will be even larger when current Comptroller Glenn Hegar delivers his revenue estimate this morning. And that money could be a big help, considering the state's economic future might not be as rosy thanks to falling oil prices.

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Podcast
2:00 pm
Sun January 11, 2015

Higher Ed: The Importance of Failure to Learning

Credit creative commons

Welcome to the first episode of KUT's newest podcast, "Higher Ed." Each week, KUT's Jennifer Stayton will talk with Dr. Ed Burger, President of Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas, about higher education, lifelong learning, and exercising the brain. But if you're thinking this is going to be just another boring chat with a talking head.... think again and listen on!

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Winter Weather
9:08 pm
Fri January 9, 2015

Central Texas Winter Storm Warning Downgraded to Advisory; AISD Cancels All Saturday Activities

Central Texas could gets its first real dose of wintry weather of 2015 Saturday morning.
National Weather Sevice

12:30 p.m.update: The National Weather Service has canceled the Winter Storm Warning that had been in effect for Hays, Travis, and Williamson counties until midnight tonight. A less severe Winter Weather Advisory is now in effect for the area until 4:00 p.m. 

A winter storm warning remains in effect for the Hill Country until midnight tonight. Caution is still advised on area roads as temperatures have been hovering right around freezing all day.

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Two Guys on Your Head
4:57 pm
Fri January 9, 2015

How Tongue Twisters Tie Us In Knots

Credit www.bbbpress.com

"He slit a sheet, a sheet he slit, upon a slitted sheet he sits." Okay now, five times fast.

Tongue twisters and rhymes are a great way to entertain yourself and your friends at parties and on long road trips, but what makes for a good tongue twister and how do they work in the brain?

In this edition of Two Guys on Your Head, Dr. Art Markman and Dr. Bob Duke, talk about why tongue twisters are so effective, and why rhymes are so attractive.

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Gay Marriage
4:37 pm
Fri January 9, 2015

Appeals Judges Raise Doubts on Gay Marriage Ban

The U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals building in New Orleans.
Credit Alexa Ura/Texas Tribune

From the Texas Tribune:

Signaling significant doubt about the constitutionality of Texas' ban on same-sex marriages, two federal appeals judges on Friday questioned a state attorney's argument that marriage is a “subsidy” that the state has the right to grant and withhold.

In sharp exchanges with two judges of the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, Jonathan Mitchell of the Texas attorney general’s office argued during the roughly hourlong hearing that defining marriage should be left to the states, not the courts or the federal government. He added that the state should not be forced to recognize marriages that are not between a man and a woman because such marriages do less to “further the state’s interest” in the procreation of its residents.

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City Hall
10:09 am
Fri January 9, 2015

New Council Plans To Change Meetings, Committees

Austin's new City Council plans to shake up their committee layout and meeting schedules.
Credit Courtesy of City of Austin

This story comes to us from our city hall reporting partner, the Austin Monitor.

Wasting no time, Austin’s newly inaugurated City Council launched into a proposal Thursday to change its meetings and committee structures. The changes, members say, will make for a more efficient, more transparent city government.

For now, the details of the change remain tentative. Council will hold a public hearing Jan. 22 to discuss the change and plan to take up the changes for a vote at the first meeting, set for Jan. 29.

“I’ve been here seven years,” said City Manager Marc Ott. “And I can’t even remember how many times things have gotten to the point of my desk or even to the Council’s agenda where we recognized they had not been fully vetted. So, in other words, we found ourselves dealing with unanswered questions about staffing impact, fiscal impact and other kinds of impacts.”

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Austin
5:16 pm
Thu January 8, 2015

How Will An Overpriced Housing Market and Low Oil Prices Affect Austin?

Credit creative commons

The price of oil is the lowest it's been since 2009. And housing prices have all but stopped rising in Austin. So, what could those two things mean for the Austin economy in 2015?

Angelos Angelou is one of Austin's most trusted economic forecasters.

He said he doesn't think Austin is facing a housing market bust, even though Austin's is one of the most overpriced housing markets in the nation. 

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College
3:56 pm
Thu January 8, 2015

On College Admissions Essays, Even the Smallest Words Matter

A new UT Austin study found that students who used the words 'the' and 'a' more often than personal pronouns such as 'I' and 'they' in their college admissions essays had higher GPAs.
Credit https://www.flickr.com/b-tal/

Small words like ‘the’ and ‘a’ may say more than you think. New research from UT Austin finds they can tell us a lot – even predicting a student’s grades in college.

Researchers analyzed more than 50,000 college admissions essays, and they found that students who used words such as 'the’ and ‘a’ in their essays tended to have higher grade point averages. Students who used more personal pronouns, such as ‘I’ and ‘they,’ tended to have lower GPAs.

Researchers say these smaller words can show what people are thinking about and how they frame that thinking.

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Abortion
1:50 pm
Thu January 8, 2015

Portions of Texas Abortion Law Under Scrutiny Again by Federal Judges

On Jan. 7, judges at the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans heard oral arguments from opponents and backers of Texas' abortion law, HB2.
Karina Kling/Time Warner Cable News

Back in October, the U.S. Supreme Court blocked two parts of a Texas abortion law called HB2, but only temporarily, until a federal appeals court rules on their constitutionality.

One key provision of the Texas law would require that all abortion clinics adopt the building standards of ambulatory surgical centers, a standard that most existing providers don't meet. These buildings cost millions of dollars to construct.

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State Legislature
12:40 pm
Thu January 8, 2015

Public Integrity Unit Will Be Left Out of Texas Senate Budget

Lieutenant Governor-elect Dan Patrick announced the Senate will not restore funding to the Public Integrity Unit.
Credit Bob Daemmrich / Texas Tribune

The next Lieutenant Governor of Texas has announced the Senate will not restore funding to the Public Integrity Unit. The operation, based in the Travis County District Attorney's office, had its funding vetoed by Governor Rick Perry in 2013. That came after District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg was arrested and spent time in jail for drunk driving.

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Life & Arts
7:16 pm
Wed January 7, 2015

Public Art Program Seeking Artists For Hire

"Your Essential Magnificence" is a sculpture created by James Edward Talbot at 2204 S. Congress Ave. It was a project of the city's Art in Public Places program, which is hoping to recruit artists to its pool of pre-qualified talent.
Photo by Philip Rogers philiprogersphotography.com

If you are a visual artist or know of any who want to get paid for their work, the City of Austin is looking for people to add to a pool of artists they call upon to create works of public art. We were curious about this, so we called the city's Art in Public Places program administrator Meghan Wells to ask some questions about it.

KUT: What kind of artists are you looking for exactly?

Meghan Wells: We're looking for qualifications from artists who are interested in being commissioned for public art projects through the program in a streamlined way. In essence, we're looking for a way to create a pool of artists we can pull from to expedite the selection project for various public art projects that are coming along.

KUT: How much money could an artist expect to earn? 

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Austin
5:08 pm
Wed January 7, 2015

Austin's New Mayor Wants to Hear From Every Austinite

Austin Mayor Steve Adler wants to reach the community-at-large.
Credit Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT News

Right now, if you live in Austin and you want to talk to your city council members, you have few options. You can sign up for citizen communications on Thursdays at noon, or you can wait until the end of regular business at a council meeting. That’s pretty much it.

And it isn't as though council members don't want people to call them or email them. But few people do.

Austin's new mayor Steve Adler believes the current system is leaving the community at large with no access to the officials it elected, that's why today, he and the new council are holding brainstorming sessions to find ways to get more people engaged. "Wouldn't it be great if people could give their testimony or their input on ideas on issues facing the city remotely?"

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Energy & Environment
5:05 pm
Wed January 7, 2015

Earthquakes Are New, But Not Unique, To Dallas Area

Credit OLIVER BERG/DPA/LANDOV

People in Dallas were surprised by a swarm of small earthquakes that started shaking the city a couple of days ago. There have been 11 by last count.  And the quakes, though new to the Dallas area, are just the most recent in a major upsurge in earthquakes in Texas over the last few years.

Earthquakes were pretty much unheard of in the Dallas area until 2008. Since then there have been a lot of these swarms of quakes. In Irving, Texas, where this new cluster is located, there have been more than 50 in the last several years, according to the city manager. This current swarm started around September.

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