• Afternoon Links

    The Daily Texan Life and Arts section is happy to complement your afternoon with a smattering of news from across the cultural spectrum.

    I’m sure I’m not alone in complaining that today’s humidity is making my hair crazier than normal. So why not take a look at Barbara Walter’s well-coiffed mane through the years. 

    Today is Hans Christen Andersen’s birthday. While he’s been dead a few hundred years, celebrate by reading some of his stories here.

    This Texas student wrote YOLO on the essay portion of a standardized test and got suspended. Don’t we all wish we were bold enough to do the same?

    Vulture previews comedy television show pilots for the 2013-2014 season. Looks like some 90s stars are trying to make a comeback.

    What does 2,000 calories look like? I’m not sure you want to know…

    The Guardian wants to know, what words make you cringe? Personally, we hate “moist” and “wound.”

    If you are feeling bitter this Tuesday, check out film’s greatest break up lines.

    Here’s what it looks like from the top of the new World Trade Center. The spot won’t be open until 2015.

  • Dusty the cat

    Dusty in reporter Laura Wright's home.
    Dusty in reporter Laura Wright's home.

    This is my cat.

    Well, sort of. She sleeps at the foot of my bed most nights, and I buy a brown bag of organic cat food for her twice a month. I am intimately acquainted with how much she sheds (my living room carpet, already unmistakably thrifted, now bears a thin layer of gray hair to further label it as well-used). I didn’t name her; my two roommates did that. They called her Dusty; I begrudgingly accepted. (Naming gray cats after gray objects has been one of my pet peeves since childhood. Why not name them something interesting that only hints at their cloudy color, like Bruce Wayne or Anchovy?)

    Last week, when she jumped up at 6:30 AM and began pawing at me to let her out, the reality of her nose poking my face and the dream I was having about reporting a story merged into a vision of her as an up-and-coming cat reporter eager to get the first morning scoop. (I’m serious. In my dream she was wearing an old-fashioned press hat and poking me with a reporter’s notebook.)

    In short, this cat has become a big part of my life, which I never expected when I first put out a slice of prosciutto for her on my front porch. But because of certain clauses in my lease, and the across-the-street neighbor who may or may not still feed the cat (which she is ‘watching temporarily’ for her daughter), I cannot call her mine. I can’t even commit to taking her to the vet, even though I suspect she has fleas and she remains disturbingly skinny.

    In a few months, I’ll move to a new house, which, like my current one, doesn’t allow pets. I’m not sure if the next-door neighbor will resume feeding Dusty, or if she’ll allow her to sleep on the foot of her bed. I’m not sure how morally questionable it is that I have every intention of continuing to feed and cuddle and Instagram the cat on daily basis. Maybe I’ll just leave a can of tuna on my new front porch and hope she finds her way.

  • Targeted advertising may not be that bad

    Everyone has heard the familiar horror story: An irate father barges into a Target in Minneapolis and complains that his teenage daughter has been receiving coupons for diapers and other common baby products. He fears that the large corporation has been attempting to encourage the teenager to become pregnant. So what’s the twist? Target accurately deduced that the girl was pregnant before her dad could. 

    The fallout from this has even included concern over privacy and safety violations by companies like Target. By compiling lists of purchases by customers, Target is capable of analyzing buying patterns and profiling an individual’s lifestyle. But does this really constitute an invasion of privacy? Is this kind of marketing strategy dangerous?

    The system itself is not dangerous, since it’s simply a marketing tool. Facebook, YouTube, Spotify and hundreds of other online sites use your personal information to customize visual, auditory and textual advertisements. For example, if you list that you like soccer on your Facebook wall, there is a high probability that advertisements for soccer camp, shoes and gear will appear in the margins of your browser. 

    Right now, the technology behind this system is rather clunky and can even be annoying, often soliciting things that people may no longer have an interest in. But imagine encountering advertisements that make you aware of internship opportunities that you didn’t know about. Imagine not having to sit through another dumb Progressive commercial even though you don’t own a car or house. Imagine receiving information that actually means something other than a 30-second intermission from the new "Game of Thrones" episode. 

    What people should be concerned about, including the employees of these corporations and businesses, is the abuse of power that information opens the door to. As of now, patient medical information is protected heavily under federal law, yet highly revealing statistical information from consumers is not. As these marketing developments become increasingly personal, there needs to be an equivalent barrier of protection by the law for consumers.  

  • Torchy’s April Taco of the Month — the Holy Diver

    Editor’s Note: In the interest of full disclosure, Bobby Blanchard, the author of this blog post, has an unhealthy relationship with Torchy’s Tacos. And by unhealthy, we mean he eats there on a tri-weekly basis.

    To me, April 1st meant two things. One: April Fools' Day (yuck) and two: Torchy’s Tacos had a new taco of the month (yum.)

    April’s taco of the month is called the Holy Diver, and it has more ingredients than you can fit in your mouth at once. Packed inside a flour tortilla is a grilled achiote shrimp on a bed of cabbage slaw, covered with chopped mango, pickled onions and jalapenos, queso fresco and cilantro.

    Out of a historical dislike of seafood, I had never eaten shrimp before. But for tacos, and especially for Torchy's, I am willing to try anything. I was not disappointed.

    Because of the onslaught of ingredients, each bite has a bit of a different taste to it — it's tough to get every ingredient in your mouth at the same time. That makes eating this taco an adventure of sorts. It’s also a challenge to keep it all together in one tortilla.

    On the spiciness spectrum, this taco is tame. You don’t even need a drink to wash it down. Depending on your tastes, this could be either a very good thing or very bad thing. Personally, I prefer a bit more kick. The abundance of other ingredients and flavors almost makes up for the lack of spice, but I think the taco would have fared better if Torchy’s had replaced one of the Holy Diver’s many ingredients with some kind of hot sauce. Of course, you can always add your own sauce.

    March’s Chicken Waffle Taco is a tough act to follow — but somehow Holy Diver isn’t stuck in the shadows. April only has 30 days, so I recommend you give the taco a shot. I will not be deviating from my regular Trashy Trailer Park taco, but that doesn’t mean I regret trying it.