The Austin Chronicle

Politics Gift Guide: Warm the Cockles of a Special Someone's Heart

December 9, 2011, News

Pity-No-More Radar

If you're a Republican presidential candidate, you've learned that what most gets you in trouble on the campaign trail is any expression of a humane impulse of any kind. Let a few working immigrants stick around? Booooo! Soft on capital punishment? Liberal! Think there's such a thing as too much torture? There go your poll numbers! How do you keep from letting slip some sign of emotional empathy for the less fortunate? You need Pity-No-More Radar – the handy, battery-operated electronic tool that lets you know when you're in danger of drifting off the hard-right message. PNMR sets off a low beeping signal whenever you find yourself uttering a less-than-bloodthirsty opinion, and a loud, squawking alarm should you express anything other than contempt for the lamestream media. It's the perfect holiday notion – we mean Christmas gift – for that GOP big shot who wants to have everything! And if you're the candidate – or official spokesman – don't campaign without it! – Michael King

The Book on F1

Formula One Racing for Dummies
by Jonathan Noble and Mark Hughes, Wiley Publishing Inc., 313 pp., $24.95

When three minutes of mic time isn't enough to express your appreciation to City Council members, wow them with the bible on Formula One racing. Not surprisingly, the book is in high demand – Amazon reports limited copies in stock this week (with more on the way) – so don't hesitate a minute to snap up the gift of the season. Your council member will thank you for it. Amy Smith

Color Your Political Junkie

Are you an Aqua Blue Democrat or a Red Currant Republican? No matter your political persuasion, Capitol Candles ( has you covered. The local concern has created six differently scented candles covering the political spectrum, including Senatorial Sage, Veto Vanilla, Legislative Luck Lavender, and Sine Die Spice. Available online and at Parts & Labour, 1117 S. Congress. – Wells Dunbar

Old-School Education

As Good as It Gets: What School Reform Brought to Austin
by Larry Cuban, Harvard University Press, 304 pp., $25.95

"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it," as Spanish philosopher George Santayana wrote. Some­times it seems as if Austin's school board and senior cabinet need a lesson on what has and has not worked in Austin's schools. So we've been recommending Stanford Univer­sity professor Larry Cuban's scholarly but readable work on the district's troubled 60-year slog to everyone at the Carruth Admini­stra­tion Center for months now. Every closed school, every wrecked community, every hubris-fueled plan, every failed-campus conversion, and every purge of staff and students that was supposed to fix the district is chronicled in clear and concise fashion. Unfortunately, while boards and administrators come and go, it will be the district's families that are condemned by their lack of historical perspective. – Richard Whittaker

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