Aggies Go Big
Largest college-football statue EVER
By Richard Connelly
When most institutions of higher learning put out press releases about a new art installation on campus, they go heavy with how cutting-edge it is, or how breathtaking it will look, or how famous the artist doing it is.
Not the Aggies.
Here's the headline on their newest release: "Largest Statue to a College Player to Be Unveiled at Texas A&M."
It's gonna be huuuuge. In terms of statues of college players.
The biggest ever, it turns out, will be "twice life-size."
Now, there are many, many famous and inspiring Aggie football players who deserve such a statue, of course. Houston's own Johnny Jolly, now with the Green Bay Packers, could be displayed holding the world's largest statue of a purple drank container.
But no. Not even Bucky Richardson deserves this singular honor.
Instead, the World's Largest Statue of a College Player will feature...John David Crow.
"A&M is a unique American institution," explained Erie Nye, who with his wife is donating the statue. "The university has a rich legacy of service, leadership and loyalty. Alongside these qualities, we have a remarkable history of athletic achievement. In many ways, John David Crow represents all of these qualities. His story, his skill, the determination and commitment he showed on the field are a lasting source of inspiration to A&M players, students, former students and fans."
The statue, by Steven Whyte, will be displayed at the south end of Kyle Field, at least until the Louvre makes an offer for it that simply can't be resisted.
HISD Looking for a Few Good (Minority) Men
By Margaret Downing
Acknowledging that "with guys it's sometimes not cool to be smart," Houston ISD Superintendent Terry Grier said the district is particularly short of "non-white males" among the ranks of those taking Advanced Placement tests.
HISD has been on a push for years, even before Grier arrived, to get more kids to take AP courses and exams. At most Texas state schools, a score of 3 or above (out of a possible 5) on an AP final exam means college credit. This, Grier pointed out, can save parents money.
In 2005, HISD had 7,169 students take the AP exam and 3,522 scored at least a 3. Last year, 16,556 took the exam and 6,262 scored at least a 3.
Grier repeated what he has said before, that there is value even if a student scores only a 1 on the AP exam because he or she has been exposed to a more academically rigorous course that better prepares kids for college.
He also said, however, that he wants to see more kids testing out at the 3-or-higher level. His administration is going to be evaluating test results and if, for instance, there's a teacher who's been teaching AP courses for years and only a small percentage of her kids are scoring at the 3-or-higher level, the teacher will be given some additional training and if that doesn't do the trick, will no longer be allowed to teach AP classes.
Getting back to those teenage boys, Grier said that the best thing to do is attract them to a particular class in groups, counting on them to join in on what their friends are doing. Principals and counselors throughout the district are being encouraged to up their AP numbers, he said.
Another Reason to Hate Banks
By Richard Connelly
Who doesn't love how banks charge overdraft fees? Getting every single cent out of harassed and cash-strapped customers?
It's a work of art, it is, and the Michelangelo of it all just might be Woodforest Bank of The Woodlands.
The bank, whose branches are in Walmarts and grocery stores, has settled a case with the feds by agreeing to refund $32 million in overdraft fees to its customers.
The beauty part: Woodforest's fine print contained a recurring fee for overdrafts. That kind of made it hard for customers to get their accounts current, when they weren't aware the bank was continuously hitting them.
Woodforest also charged the plain old excessive overdraft fees on individual actions, said the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.
"In addition, in its marketing brochures the bank emphasized the free or low cost features of certain accounts while omitting information about costly features such as overdraft protection.
"The bank's marketing also suggested that certain accounts were well-suited for consumers who had previous difficulty in managing their bank accounts, while omitting information about the high-cost features of its overdraft protection."
In a statement, Woodforest CEO Robert Marling said there was nothing to see here, move along, and they would have fought this to the death if lawyers weren't so darn expensive: "While we believe that Woodforest has complied with applicable laws and regulations, we have agreed to the settlement terms with the OCC to avoid a protracted, costly and distracting legal dispute, which would not have been in the best interests of our customers, employees and shareholders," he said.
DOING IT DAILY
There is a ton of stuff each day on the Houston Press blogs; youre only getting a taste of it here in the print edition. Head to blogs.houstonpress.com/hairballs (or /rocks or /eating or /artattack) and under Tools on the top-right side of the page, use the categories drop-down menu to find these stories:
We offered you a chance to see how you stack up against Rice freshmen with a version of the sexual purity test that's a mini-tradition there; we also explored the disturbing arms race involving gigantic homecoming mums, and gave photographic evidence that things have gotten out of hand. A charter school, meanwhile, was sued by a former teacher who claimed it was a hotbed of sex-toy sales.
The Astros are going to put a disturbingly large high-def TV screen into Minute Maid Park, along with even more distracting electronic ad signage. Because, you know, there are just not enough ads in the place, we guess. Tracy McGrady's self-ballyhooed comeback hit a snag; there were plenty of stumbles among the local pro and college teams, and apparently Brett Favre did something or other.
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We followed events at Falcon Lake with a somewhat skeptical eye, as few explanations of the alleged drug-cartel shooting of a jet-skiing Texan seemed to make sense. A Beaumont church is trying to attract followers by calling Christians "jerks," and Dick Cheney's shooting victim finally spoke out.
We listed the best Halloween e-mail warnings frantically forwarded by parents throughout the years (There's LSD in those temporary tattoos!!), caught the Chilean miners up on all the important news they missed, like Lindsay Lohan, and examined Houston's finalist in Maxim's Hometown Hotties contest.