By Camilo Smith
By Craig Malisow
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By Sean Pendergast
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Highlights from Hair Balls
Every once in a while, a lawsuit is filed in Harris County that makes us jump for joy over its allegations of pure, unadulterated cray-cray. And this latest, filed last week by the founders of Houston real estate blog Swamplot against a condo owners association head named Mark Thuesen, doesn't disappoint.
Filed by Laurence Albert, an architect and Rice University lecturer, and his wife, Beth Brindson, the suit accuses Thuesen of viciously libeling them in an online campaign that reveals more about the alleged dark recesses of Thuesen's mind than anything else.
According to the suit, Thuesen has accused Albert of being a convicted sex offender of children and a competitor in the "Miss Boston Transgender beauty pageant" who proudly "claims to have the deepest man-gina in Montrose and Boston."
The attacks came after Swamplot, like other media, covered Thuesen's no-holds-barred war against a West University bar located next door to Thuesen's Kirby Drive condo. Here are some other Thuesen rants, as quoted from the suit:
Albert and Beth lured a young pizza hut boy into their house and offered sex for pizza. Houston Police are investigating. They have Alberts bite marks around boys private area [sic]. [Editor's note: Seriously, dude, if you're going to accuse someone of biting the genitalia of a young pizza deliveryman, at least have the decency to learn proper apostrophe placement.]
Laurence Albert (Gus Allen) was born in Los Angeles. This California Jew with a DWI conviction has come to Houston to buy and sell real estate with his family's Jewish money....Laurence Albert's Jewish [parents] are funding Jewish takeover of Houston through their dirty trust funds.
I'm gonna make an offer you caint refuse albert take the fuckin swamplot site down or ill dig a fuckin hole for you it's the long island way douchebad [sic.]. [Douchebad? Seriously, we don't know what's worse — the alleged libel and terroristic threats, or the typos.]
Katy Police Department is looking into Albert sending nude photos of himself to a 13 year old boy. He is going to get caught.
Albert still argues that he cannot get Aids from giving a blow job with a condum on [sic].
Thuesen sued Albert and Swamplot in 2011, seeking a permanent injunction against any further reports on Thuesen's litigation against his West University neighbors. (Thuesen ultimately dropped the suit.)
Albert's lawsuit specifically alleges defamation, stalking, threat of bodily injury, invasion of privacy, violations of Texas Civil Wiretap Act, and business disparagement, among others.
We have attempted to get in touch with Thuesen to get his side of things and will update when/if we hear back. We're sure this is all just a simple misunderstanding. A simple, Jewy misunderstanding.
HISD means "no fun"
Spoof text banned.
That seems to be the thinking of the creators of Fake Science 101, a book that bills itself as "A Less-Than-Factual Guide to Our Amazing World."
Its bona fides:
For years, readers have flocked to the Fake Science site for scientifically flavored information. The research there has been lauded by Mental Floss as "inaccurate and ridiculous in every way," praised by the Guardian as "brilliantly false," heralded by io9 as "amazing," and noted by Google as "a website."
Alas, it won't be coming to HISD.
A memo we've obtained has been circulated after new teachers, or at least one of them, put in a request to use Fake Science 101.
The brushback was harsh:
I received one such request for an alternative textbook "Fake Science 101." I am aware how it would be used, but we are concerned it will reflect poorly on the district. A book like that may be intended humorously, but it is mocking the quality of education in our district.
We cannot have our district ridiculed as a non-scientific one (see many Westinghouse/Intel awardees). This book is not permissable for you to distribute or your students to have. Our textbooks are not "fake" and no textbook should give that impression. It would negatively impact students.
We shall not be mocked!!!
HISD spokesman Jason Spencer tells Hair Balls he can't track down the memo in question but doesn't disagree with the philosophy: "[W]e would agree that spending taxpayer funds on what you've described as a 'spoof' publication with little or no educational value would be difficult to defend at a time when schools are losing state funding," he says.
All of which leaves co-author Phil Edwards baffled.
I guess my reaction (other than huh?) would be that...
Lessons from the blog have been used by teachers to introduce scientific concepts in the past and many classrooms have enjoyed using Fake Science to start conversations. I also think satire encourages the skeptical thinking that makes science work. That thinking shouldn't be prohibited.
The book has received a wide range of coverage from real scientists and other media...That said, it was not our intention to mock any textbook or district.
Edwards said if a specific teacher has any questions, "Tell him I'm happy to speak in front of the class until I'm tazed or something."
But we hope that's not necessary.
[cop for boxed item]