Archive for March 2013

Attn ATX Workers: Austin premier screening of Shift Change, April 11th @ 7

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Please join us for this movie about the growing movement for a new economy through worker ownership in the US.  That’ll be thurday, April 11th, at 7 pm, and it’ll be followed by a panel of local Austin members of worker-owned businesses.  We’ll have snacks and drinks, and the suggested donation is $10.

Check out all their news and upcoming events at


Written by messwatx

2013/03/29 at 12:01 am

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SXSW Reflection (Part Two): Future Shock

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Or: Five Ways to Keep SXSW from Eating Austin Alive

By Rob Patterson | March 19, 2013

(edited down a lot and emphasis often refocused, BOLDED for the busy, read the whole thing at: )

1. Figure Out Where Festival Density Can Grow

This year’s Music Fest was the least far-flung in recent memory: No showcases at campus area clubs like the Hole in the Wall and 29th Street Ballroom, only the free Auditorium Shores concerts and shows at the Long Center, Continental Club and Saxon Pub south of the river. SXSW 2013 Music was concentrated in the center city: largely the Sixth St., Warehouse, Red River and Rainey Districts. Two large stages were located adjacent to the Convention Center along Cesar Chavez. This all made for fairly easy show-hopping even if traversing Sixth St. wasn’t easy most nights and a near Olympic challenge on Friday and Saturday.

2013 was SXSW as the compact city, but Austin is rapidly becoming a residential center city; the large stage sites by the Convention Center will soon be occupied by new highrises. As residential density increases downtown, the hustle, bustle and most of all noise is bound to affect and conflict with the quality of life for those who live downtown.

2. Some Venue Street Signage Please?

One way to help enable the flow of SXSW badge and wristband attendees would be to hang banners in front of each venue well above crowd level that clearly denote that the places are showcase hosts, and with each night’s scheduled acts and set times. You come up to a venue with a show you’d like to see but the line is long? Just scan the street nearby and it’s so much easier to see what the other options are. The effect on the crowd flow and distribution could make a difference.

3. Don’t Overlook Local Acts

This is a consistent gripe within the Austin music scene. Ten percent of the 2,200-plus 2013 showcase acts were local artists, which is certainly a fair amount. But without the local music community that keeps the clubs going the rest of the year, SXSW couldn’t happen. It’s in their own self-interest, as well as a civic duty, to do what they can to make doubly sure that Austin’s best get their stage time. The time is nigh for SXSW to explore how it can better serve an ever-growing and more significant local scene.

4. Fix the Mobility Mess

Fix the Mobility MessFix the Mobility MessFix the Mobility MessFix the Mobility MessFix the Mobility MessFix the Mobility MessFix the Mobility MessFix the Mobility MessFix the Mobility MessFix the Mobility MessFix the Mobility MessFix the Mobility MessFix the Mobility MessFix the Mobility MessFix the Mobility MessFix the Mobility MessFix the Mobility MessFix the Mobility MessFix the Mobility MessFix the Mobility MessFix the Mobility MessFix the Mobility MessFix the Mobility MessFix the Mobility MessFix the Mobility MessFix the Mobility Mess

Between now and March 2014, Austin needs to take a serious look at how to move people in and out of and around downtown.

5. Give showcase acts longer to play

40 minutes is a shame. As SXSW becomes a festival where even superstars play, a revamp is called for. And one that opens up shows even further to the Austin community.

MWTX 5. Austin is likely the most prominent year-round event-hosting locale in America, rivaled only by Las Vegas.

In the coming months, all options need to be explored by SXSW, the City, CapMetro and other parties involved to continue to allow all that SXSW does to thrive while also considering how the inconvenience to the city’s residents measures up against the economic benefits. And it’s not just a matter of SXSW that makes this a pressing priority.This year ACL Fest expands to two weekends. F1 will continue to grow as will the slate and size of other races at Circuit of the Americas. Fun Fun Fun Fest just received a major capital infusion that will enable it to expand. As Austin grows, so will the other events throughout the annual calendar.

SXSW offers the biggest test case for making Austin a welcoming, efficient and enjoyable host city for such events and the visitors that attend them. And maintaining that in a way that respects the fact that for some 1.5 or so million of us in the area this is also our home. Hence a concerted community examination of how things can be improved.

In the end, it’s undeniable that SXSW has grown into an astonishingly vital event that serves our city well. And even as much as we locals may gripe, we should still be proud. It’s an inextricable part of what Austin is all about. It offers lessons that can help us create a more livable and mobile city the rest of the year.

Written by messwatx

2013/03/23 at 9:30 am

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SXSW Reflection (Part One): SXSW History Lesson

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Did SXSW invent modern Austin?

“It’s like the world’s best singles bar. All you have to ask is: ‘What are you working on?’”

From a Statesman article Wherein: A case is made for the social spark that is our largest festival

By Michael Barnes American-Statesman Staff

In some ways, South by Southwest invented modern Austin. Or at least SXSW popularized what we were to become. It brought people downtown in great numbers all at once. It opened up the near-town neighborhoods. It created the impression that our sidewalks are regularly populated with smart, open, kind, fun, fit creative types.

At the very least, SXSW crowds predicted where Austin would go. As early as the 1980s, festival-goers tramped across deserted blocks to reach the essential Waterloo Records on West Sixth Street. Now that stretch between Congress Avenue and North Lamar Boulevard has become its own entertainment district. The same thing can be said for South Congress, far East Sixth, Rainey Street and other hotspots. This year, Rainey blossomed with the popular South Bites food trailer park, a tribute to Austin’s undying funkiness.

A visitor from Norfolk, Va. (metro pop. 1.7 million), said he could think of no food trailers in his hometown. Austin (metro pop. 1.8 million) is home to at least 1,200. Critical cultural marker?

These days, SXSW also stretches its tendrils down South First Street and South Lamar and up around the Capitol. If Texas Solons didn’t insist that the complex north of the Capitol remain an antiseptic state-worker reservation — putting the brakes on public-private projects — SXSW could embrace the University of Texas campus area as well.

Those Austinites who bitterly mourn the passage of the Armadillo World Headquarters more than three decades ago should get out into SXSW more often. The Armadillo’s core magic — the blissful mix of social unalikes — spills far beyond the demolished South Austin venue and onto almost every block of walkable Austin. The Armadillo lives! Everywhere!

A Brief History of Southby

From an Austin Post article Wherein: SXSW 2013 is reviewed

Since it began in 1987 as a grassroots music conference and festival spotlighting regional scenes primarily focusing on what was then American indie “college rock,” it has grown through a number of stages.

It used to be small and non-commmercial (obviously).

At the end of the 90s, as the record industry hit a downslide, SXSW Music suffered a downturn as well. It could have meant the end. Instead, Indie labels grew in might as the majors fumbled and took up the slack as showcase hosts. SXSW upped its efforts to draw international acts, with their appearances as well as parties, trade show booths, CD samplers and more subsidized by the nations’ governments. The surrounding party scene mushroomed even if SXSW tried at times to stifle it.Over the previous 10 years the music fest and conference burgeoned into something far beyond anything its founders originally dreamed of, and during the same time period that the music industry contracted, no less. By the middle of the last decade, consumer product companies began seeing branding value in the sizzle of pop music associations via the fest and started pouring funds into parties, promotions and their own non-SXSW showcase stages. The anguished hue and cry of “commercialization” became even louder.

The general public from outside of Austin also discovered the musical and party-hearty fun to be had, much of it for free. SXSW was originally scheduled for spring break because the University of Texas students were away and the clubs would be less crowded. Now it’s a mid-March vacation destination.

Over the years SXSW added first a Film and Multimedia confab and festival in 1994, split them in two the next year, then rebranded Multimedia as Interactive in ’96. SXSWi has ridden the rocketing digital zeitgeist to draw in more than 30,000 paid attendees this year. SXSWedu and a separate comedy fest have been launched alongside other elements. (Not to mention this year’s SWSW Gaming Expo!) At least 60,000 people bought badges to one or another of the SXSW events this year. Some 300,000 come to town for it. Simply put, SXSW is now fucking huge. 

SXSW 2013:  the surprise star shows exploded into a bounty of riches (if one managed to get into their shows): Justin Timberlake, Prince, Green Day, Depeche Mode, Snoop Dogg-now-Lion… the list goes on and on. There was so much musical star-power all over town that what would have been a lines-around-the block highlight in previous years, John Fogerty, only pulled in a half-house at ACL Live. It’s only going to get bigger.

Austin is the sizzling center of the popular music industry in mid March, and the biggest music event on the planet.

Written by messwatx

2013/03/22 at 9:30 am

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Texas Cities Are Growing Up Population and Transit Multipost

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The following population and transportation info was collected by by: Karl-Thomas Musselman  for Burnt Orange Report.

With new numbers out from the U.S. Census Bureau (summer 2012) the last year’s population booms in Midland, Odessa, and Austin take 3 of the Top Ten fastest growing Metro Areas. Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston have added a quarter million people in a year. Harris, Dallas, Travis, and Tarrant Counties all make the top 10 counties in the country by largest numerical increase in population.

Statewide Impact

    • Driverless car legislation (HB 2932) has been filed in Texas by Republican State Rep. Giovanni Capriglione, R-Southlake. I think this could ultimately be one of the most important bills filed in the legislature when taken in context of the impact it could have in coming decades, especially with as much as Texas spends on transportation. I’ll echo Kuffner’s sentiments.

      I think Rep. Capriglione has the right approach here in not requiring someone to be in the car while it’s in operation. Letting truly driverless cars be on the streets is a requirement for enabling car-sharing and other innovative and potentially congestion-reducing uses for these vehicles. If nothing else, a nice thing about a driverless car is that you can basically valet park yourself anytime you want. Drop yourself off and let the car go find someplace to wait for you to call it back, like the Batmobile. But that only works if you don’t have to be in the car at the time. Under this bill, that’s a possibility.

      The future could go a lot of different ways and I hope that we’ll write the law to keep a lot of them on the table. We’ve invested a huge sum of money and planning living around our cars in their current form. Changing our relationship with our vehicle from personal to shared may not be easy, but I think it’s appealing enough that the marketplace will answer the doubts some have. Plus, some ideas have the potential to dramatically alter our congestion patterns, and could end up saving taxpayers massive amounts of funds. We’ll see!

    • Texas had the most minimum wage workers in 2012, accounting for 13% of all jobs of that category in the country.

      DMN: Some 452,000 Texans – and nearly 3.6 million people nationwide – earned the federal minimum wage or less in 2012. Under the minimum wage, a person working 40 hours a week would make $15,080 a year.


    • Do you care about Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) or is your city considering it (Austin)? Then maybe you should read the 2013 BRT Standard which outlines what the minimums cities in the US can verifiably call “BRT”. Here it is boiled down in a segment of this interview.

      JG: What is your minimum standard for something to be called BRT?WH: It’s a fairly complicated formula but essentially it has to have a dedicated lane of at least four kilometers. If it’s on a two-way road, it has to run along the central median. If it’s a curb-running bus lane on a two-way street it’s pretty much ineligible. So there are a couple of baseline things, but there are a lot of details and nuances.

      And then you need to score a certain minimum number of points on BRT basics, which means it has to have at least some of the following elements like off-board fare collection, certain treatments at intersections, and other things that we consider to be pretty much essential.

      Needless to say, I don’t think what Austin is proposing as BRT would meet even one of the more minimal standards. Which is super annoying.

    • What SXSW Can Tell Us About the Geography of Indie Music– you’ll have to click through and check out their graphic to see.


    • What are the Top 8 Reasons that people quite riding public transit? You can find out the full list here. I hope policymakers note the frustrations about delays, you’ve probably run into one on the list if you ride public transit.


  • What the Steamship and the Landline Can Tell Us About the Decline of the Private Car is a great read on The Atlantic Cities blog.

    Sitting in the present, automobiles are so embedded in society that it’s hard to envision any future without them. But no technology – no matter how essential it seems in its own era – is ever permanent. Consider, just to borrow some examples from transportation history, the sailboat, the steamship, the canal system, the carriage, and the streetcar….

    We’re not terribly well positioned right now to think about what this future will look like. Part of the challenge is that, culturally, we’re much more accustomed to celebrating new gadgets than thinking about how old technology decays.

    “And people don’t have the perspective that extends beyond their own lives,” Cohen says. “They were born into a society and culture where cars were everywhere, and they can’t envision – with good reason – living their lives without a car.”

    He worries that in the U.S., we’ve lost our “cultural capacity to envision alternative futures,” to envision the Futurama of the next century. More often, when we do picture the future, it looks either like a reproduced version of the present or like some apocalyptic landscape.


  • A series of amendments hit the Planning Commission to expand and integrate bike parking requirements into city code. The creation of a Bike Parking Fund and expanding the cases where bike parking must at a minimum be required are all steps in the right direction.
  • Stats from Cap Metro on the first half of SXSW’s impact on MetroRail were released as follows.
    • Between March 8-12, there were approximately 20,000 trips taken on the MetroRail, which is about 7,000 more than there were during the same timeframe for SXSW 2012.
    • Compared to 2012, ticket sales at MetroRail stations are up 37 percent.
    • Capital Metro’s SXSW transit info webpage has received more than 12,000 unique page views, a figure that officials project will double by the end of the festival.

Written by messwatx

2013/03/21 at 2:15 pm

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No, This is Not the Event Page for Mess With Texas 2013

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But it Might As Well Be

It seems you may have arrived here after googling “MWTX 2013” or “Mess With Texas 2013”. Years past there was apparently a SXSW event named as such (Last year it was March 15, 16, 17). It had a twitter, a poster, and a website (since expired).

@FUNFUNFUNFEST confirms that there will be no MWTX this year:

Written by messwatx

2013/03/14 at 11:11 am

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Nice Everything You Have There: Mindful Minecraft

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3.9.13 – SXSW Gaming Expo 2013

(EDIT: FIXED. Original playlist had part one play twice, skipping part two. This has been corrected.)


By the time you read this, Minecraft will have surpassed 33 million registered users, and with ports to Xbox and iPad, it’s poised to hit the mainstream big this year. Combining elements of sandbox games, MMOs and First-person shooters, this video game has won over gamers, educators and designers alike.
But did you know that Minecraft has a lot to teach us about how we pay attention to, get distracted from, and cope with things? Embedded in the design and the lore of the game are nuggets of philosophy, neuroscience, and psychology. From work/life balance to physical and mental health to the meaning of life (woah, heavy) Minecraft has something to teach us.
This workshop will investigate the nature of mind as illustrated by Minecraft, its different versions, and content. We’ll take a look at how this game creates a mediated environment for relationship, gives us memes to live by, and points the way toward deeper mindfulness and well-being. All that and Creepers! BOOM.

Questions Answered

  1. How does Minecraft emulate human consciousness?
  2. How do video games function as social media?
  3. How can Creepers help us achieve peace at home and at work?
  4. What does Minecraft and Buddhist thought have in common?
  5. How can we use Minecraft as a mindfulness tool?

Panel Picker Tags + Meta  gaming, psychology, minecraft

Event                Interactive
Category            Solo
Theme               Gaming and Game Development
Level                   Intermediate

Speaker + Organizer : Mike Langlois, LICSW

Additional Supporting Materials

Written by messwatx

2013/03/12 at 8:41 pm


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If you haven’t gone to see this Friday or Saturday, definitely make some time to go today because it is at times mind blowing. New and unreleased games and systems, VR environments and custom interfaces, panel sessions about topics ranging from Minecraft and Mindfulness to the future of NASA.

As usual, the best part about this event is that it is totally free and open to the public!

Located in the Palmer Event Center right behind the Long Center just south of the lake.

(A recording of the Mindful Minecraft talk will be my next post)


Written by messwatx

2013/03/10 at 10:29 am

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