By Chris Lane
By Jeff Balke
By Aaron Reiss
By Angelica Leicht
By Dianna Wray
By Aaron Reiss
By Camilo Smith
By Craig Malisow
The preliminary estimates for Ike damage are coming in — the Harris County Housing Authority is issuing a report that pegs the figure at about $8.5 billion — but you shouldn't worry.
You, as a Houstonian, could not be more pleased with the job the city has done picking up storm debris. At least according to the people who pick up that storm debris.
Here's how the Solid Waste Department puts it: "Preliminary Survey Results: Houstonians Extremely Pleased With Storm Debris Removal Efforts." The release says "A huge majority of the citizens who were interviewed were extremely pleased."
A huge majority? "Extremely" pleased? Well, maybe.
The department conducted a random survey of 590 residents in Memorial, Third Ward and Westbury earlier this month, says Gloria Bingham, director of the city's helpline. Of those called, 176 were actually interviewed.
And, according to the department, "86 percent of those surveyed had already received an initial pass and were pleased with the service rendered."
Solid Waste Department spokeswoman Marina Joseph tells Hair Balls that the 152 respondents who had gotten a first pass were listed as "satisfied" while the 24 others were "not satisfied."
Okay, but where does the "huge majority" of "extremely pleased" Houstonians come from?
From comments made by some of the 152, Joseph says. "It was things like 'very satisfied,' 'excellent job,' 'they did do a good job,'" she says. "The ones who might not have been happy were the ones that had damage done by the contractor."
We guess one person's huge majority of extremely pleased people is another person's small sample of adequately satisfied people. — Richard Connelly
Brains for Science
Have you ever wanted to win an award from the good folks at PETA? Well, here's a way to do it without actually having to deal with filthy stinking animals: agree to donate your brain to science when you shuffle off this mortal coil.
PETA has awarded its Compassionate Action Award to two Houstonians — retired boxer Maurice "Termite" Watkins and former Houston Texan Ben Lynch. As PETA states in a press release: "PETA is praising the athletes because many studies of head trauma use nonhuman primates who are caged, severely injured, then killed."
A humble Watkins tells Hair Balls that his intent to donate his brain is but a small gesture compared to others.
"I'm not sure I should get an award for it," he says. "There are so many more people who do bigger things than me. I appreciate being honored for it, but there are so many people who have dedicated their whole life to this study."
Watkins's career lasted from 1974-1990, and his 61 wins included 42 knockouts.
Although he hasn't actually filed any legal paperwork that wills his brain to science, and specifically the study of brain trauma, he says the most important people in his life are very clear about his wishes.
"My wife and family know what I want to do...it doesn't get much stronger than that," he said.
Lynch and his brain could not be reached for comment. — Craig Malisow
Houston's K.A. Paul Speaks
For those still on the fence for the presidential election, and for those silently pondering the question, "Who would a leper-stealing, lawsuit-losing, non-debt-paying fake minister vote for?" — your prayers have been answered.
Allowing the rest of the voting public to exhale, Anand "K.A. Paul" Kilari has officially endorsed Senator Barack Obama.
"The current administration, I believe, has delayed the second coming of Jesus," Kilari stated in a press release issued October 22; "...as I travel around the globe, it is apparent that America's image is at historic lows."
The press release also describes Kilari as "the man The New Republic magazine called the world's most popular Christian evangelist" — which hurt our feelings, because the Web site for one of Kilari's ministries, Global Peace Initiative, describes the Houston Press as a "free gas station newspaper." (In all fairness, the GPI might have gotten one important thing right: It's at least theoretically possible that one reporter from the Press was hired by U.S. and Indian operatives to "write bad stories" about Kilari. But we'll never tell!)
But being endorsed by Kilari is sort of like a dude from NAMBLA giving you the thumbs up: It's not really the kind of attention you want.
And unfortunately, chewing the fat with Kilari about Obama proves difficult, since sources indicate that Kilari fled to India shortly after his April 2007 arrest in Beverly Hills on suspicion of "lewd and lascivious acts with a minor," which in technical California legal parlance means "getting freaky, or trying to get freaky, with a 14- or 15-year-old child, where the alleged perp is at least ten years older."
However, it looks like the L.A. County District Attorney's Office never pressed charges.
Kilari doesn't just talk about W and his anti-Christ-cronies. Last July, he filed suit in a D.C. federal court against W and the heads of just about every government department you can think of, accusing them of tapping his ministry's phones and hacking its computers.
In language that betrays a profound misunderstanding of point-of-view consistency, Kilari accuses all the W's men of dispatching goon squads to jack up his global peacekeeping mission, to wit: "In August 2006, Dr. Paul and [a colleague] were hemmed in on a freeway near Austin, Texas. With a sneering wave, the driver of the black SUV with dark windows suddenly sped off as the Texas Highway Patrol pulled up behind us and stopped us, frisked them, and held them long enough to miss their flight."
A copy of the complaint, which should be read by every law student in America, as well as by anyone with even a passing interest in bizarre thought patterns, can be found on the Hair Balls blog. — Craig Malisow