by Max Brantley
Some odds and ends to start the morning. I'll be traveling today — extra baggage on a law school reunion trip to Charlottesville — so posting will be reduced.
* A WINNING WAGER: Channel 4 provides a link to news about a new degree program at Southern Arkansas University in Magnolia for people interested in making a career in computer "gaming" and animation. Somebody has to do the high-tech work on the newfangled versions of one-armed bandits that produce millions for the casinos at Oaklawn, Southland and beyond. This reminds me again about the futile meanderings of the Little Rock Technology Park Authority, whose gray-headed leaders think building a building is the ticket to job creation, though they aren't entirely sure what "high tech" means or whether they should focus on biotech or something. People and ideas create businesses, not buildings. Baton Rouge has a big business going in video game design. It didn't take a fancy lab to get that started. Maybe Magnolia can show Little Rock the way. CORRECTION: The program at SAU is aimed only at the lucrative video game market, but I don't know why the techniques aren't also applicable to video gambing, as in gambling, terminals. Lots of washover from game to slot machines, judging by my limited casino exposure.
* EXXON COUNTY ARKANSAS: KATV has a story up about a home owner in Mayflower denied access to his own home by somebody acting in behalf of ExxonMobil, whose pipeline gushed Canadian tar sands on an upscale Mayflower neighborhood. Maybe Rep. Tim Griffin could explain to the aggrieved property owner that pipeline operators are good citizens and know what's best for him.
* NEW MISSION ON TARGET FOR FORT SMITH: Stephens Media reports that the Air Force chief has sent reassurances that plans haven't changed to have a new mission — guiding drones — for the 188th Fighter Wing in Fort Smith by 2016.
* INMAN IS IN THE SECRETARY OF STATE'S RACE: I first reported two days ago news of state Election Commissioner Susan Inman's interest in challenging Republican Mark Martin for secretary of state. She's made it official. She ran a friendly and accessible office as election coordinator in Pulaski County.
* THE TEXAS MODEL: You might think that a disastrous fertilizer plant explosion would have people supportive of a little more government safety regulation in Texas. If so, you don't know Texas.
Since the accident, some state lawmakers began calling for increased workplace safety inspections to be paid for by businesses. Fire officials are pressing for stricter zoning rules to keep residences farther away from dangerous industrial sites. But those efforts face strong resistance.
Chuck DeVore, the vice president of policy at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, a conservative study group, said that the wrong response to the explosion would be for the state to hire more “battalions of government regulators who are deployed into industry and presume to know more about running the factory than the people who own the factory and work there every day.”