Webb Report: Texas is big, but is it bigger than the Death Star?

Jan 07, 2018
American-Statesman Staff
Even Darth Vader knows that everything is bigger in Texas. AMERICAN-STATESMAN 2016

It’s the matchup of the millennium: Lone Star State vs. Death Star vs. Starkiller Base. In the war of stars, who comes out the biggest?

An image posted to a “Star Wars” Instagram meme account called @gungan_grand_army has been making the rounds on Texas social media, and it plays to the state’s well-documented obsession with size.

That’s right, everything is bigger in Texas, and even Resistance pilot Poe Dameron knows it. The meme plays on a scene from “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” where Dameron (played by Oscar Isaac) explains to his comrades via holograph just how big the First Order’s new Starkiller Base is in comparison to the Empire’s iconic Death Star, from the original “Star Wars” trilogy. In the meme version, Texas is shown to dwarf both planet-killing bases.

“This was the Death Star. This is Starkiller Base,” the meme reads, “-and THIS is Texas.”

One assumes the scene is talking about the Death Star from “A New Hope” (and “Rogue One”), not the second Death Star from “Return of the Jedi.” But is Texas actually bigger than the Death Stars and Starkiller Base? “Actually” is a loaded word, given the fictional nature of the two celestial weapons, as well as their fluctuating dimensions depending on the source. That’s not even mentioning the fan theories about their theoretical sizes. But let’s give it a shot.

Keep in mind, we’re comparing a (large) plot of land to spheres, so there are inherent limitations. According to Texas Almanac, the state is 801 miles at the longest distance between two points north to south; it is 773 miles at the longest distance between two points east to west. Citing the 2016 edition of “Star Wars: Complete Places,” Wookieepedia puts Starkiller Base at about 410 miles in diameter. The online “Star Wars” resource puts the first Death Star at about 99 miles in diameter, citing 2016’s “Star Wars: Rogue One: The Ultimate Visual Guide.” Death Star II, meanwhile, is about 124 miles in diameter, which Wookieepedia got from 2017’s “Star Wars: Rogue One: Death Star Deluxe Book and 3D Wood Model.”

So, our answer is yes, Texas is bigger than Starkiller Base and both versions of the Death Star — if you’re looking at them in two dimensions. If you want to talk surface area, the comparison is a whole different story. Texas’ total area is 268,596 square miles. The surface area of Starkiller Base, using Wookieepedia’s diameter measurement, is about 528,102 square miles. The first Death Star’s surface area would be about 30,791 square miles; Death Star II would be 48,305 square miles. So in that contest, Starkiller Base blows up Texas.

Now, the next question: Which is hotter, Texas or Tatooine?

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Next queue-stion

Ever gotten in a line before you were sure what the line was for? It’s OK. There’s no shame here. This is Austin.

Our beloved city is known for many things, and among them is the thinking that if something’s good, you might have to wait for it. Keep Austin weird and keep the lines long. But how much time do Austinites really spend waiting in line? Here are some of the city’s most popular/dreaded lines and about how long you’d have to spend to get to the front of them:

• Lick: The artisanal ice cream shop now boasts three locations, but there was a time when a scoop of roasted beets and fresh mint goodness meant a wait. Numerous Yelp reviewers claimed waiting no more than 30 minutes at the store’s South Lamar location.

•Micklethwait Craft Meat: Good barbecue does not come quickly. A manager at the East Austin food truck estimates a wait, on a peak day, at anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour and a half. But, just like with Franklin Barbecue, the line forms early, with an estimated 20 people gathering before opening.

• Ramen Tatsu-ya: Ramen Tatsu-Ya is known for more than just its delicious ramen. Whether you made it out to the restaurant’s south or north location, if it’s dinner time, there’s a chance you’re going to have to wait before you slurp. Several Yelp reviewers mention waiting around an hour, while one mentions an hour and a half on a Friday night. Another reviewer mentions ceiling heaters to warm those waiting outside. This line is serious.

• Hopdoddy: According to an employee at Hopdoddy’s popular South Congress location, there’s a wait of “no longer than an hour.” But if the impressive line (known to wrap around the building) is dissuading you, we were assured that drinks are available for those queued up.

• Franklin Barbecue: The mother of all lines. The boss line. Stacy Franklin estimates the longest someone might wait for some of the joint’s famed barbecue is five hours on a Saturday (their busiest day). But she notes the bulk of the wait is before their opening time of 11 a.m., and that arriving any time after 9 a.m. assures you won’t eat until 2 p.m.

Currently stuck in line somewhere and want to talk about it? Sorry.

— Amanda O’Donnell, American-Statesman staff

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Download the aisle

Like many other people on a holiday break, Alexa Dell got engaged. Her boyfriend, the millionaire real estate investor Arshia Harrison Refoua, 40, popped the question to Dell, 24, at a resort in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii. (The resort is co-owned by Michael Dell, Refoua’s soon-to-be father-in-law and CEO of Dell Technologies.)

But unlike most other brides to be, Dell got a 12-carat ring that some are estimating cost $3 million.

The rock got a lot of attention on Instagram, where Dell first posted the news. She also posted it in her Instagram story that day with a “He did good” caption.

Dell’s mother, Susan, voiced her approval in the Instagram comments: “I’m so happy for you two! Dad and I are thrilled!!”

Dell grew up in Austin with her family, went to Columbia University and is now a brand and business development strategist for startups, according to her LinkedIn profile.

— Jake Harris, American-Statesman staff

Cruel winter

Have you noticed it’s been cold in Texas lately?

The freezing weather across the state has wreaked havoc on Texas’ wildlife, namely sea turtles along the Gulf Coast. According to Texas Monthly, the turtles have been suffering from hypothermia, leading them to float near the surface of the water and endangering them to being eaten by predators or being hit by boats.

The good news, though, is that emergency crews are helping nurse the turtles back to health. According to the Corpus Christi Caller-Times, as of Tuesday afternoon, rescue crews had found 41 “cold-stunned” sea turtles in the water along the coast.

In December, the Texas State Aquarium took in more than 100 hypothermia-stricken turtles to rehabilitate them.

— Katey Psencik, American-Statesman staff