Herman: Robocalls, RVs and cushinons. Yes, cushinons.


It’s odds and ends day. We’ll touch on robocalls and a knotty question for everybody’s favorite indicted Texas attorney general. And cushinons.

Yes, “cushinons,” which are coming soon to an Austin neighborhood. Stay tuned to find out if a is an amusing French pastry, a tasty Asian appetizer or a nettlesome skin eruption that can be topically treated by ointment or salve.

First, an update: My fellow Texans, we’ve dropped to No. 2 in a particular category. I recently reported that we topped the nation in incoming robocalls last year with an astounding 3.4 billion, according to the National Consumer Law Center, which wants lawmakers and regulators to crack down on those annoying — some legal, some not — interruptions of life.

In conjunction with a U.S. Senate committee hearing Wednesday on the topic, the center reported that the 344,732,100 robocalls to Texas numbers in March put us second to California by about 2.7 million calls. But all is not lost.

“Despite losing the dubious honor of the most robocalled stated in the nation, Texas appears on track to exceed 2017’s record total of more than 3.4 billion robocalls received,” the group noted.

My favorite thing from the Senate committee hearing was Adrian Abramovich’s testimony.

“I am not the kingpin of robocalling that is alleged,” the Floridian told the committee, according to a Reuters report.

According to the Federal Communications Commission, if he’s not the kingpin, he’s at least somewhere in robocalling royal family. The FCC last year fined him $120 million (!) for making more than 96 million (!!) robocalls during just three months (!!!) in 2016.

The FCC says Abramovich — who, if not for the miracle of modern technology, would have a dialing finger worn down to a nub — scammed folks by falsely offering vacation deals. I think I heard from him a few hundred thousand times.

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Next, we have this dilemma that now falls to Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton to sort out by way an official opinion. It comes from Sen. Charles Perry, R-Lubbock. The good senator wants the indicted Paxton to opine on “whether recreational vehicle park guests are licensees or tenants.”

I don’t care. But, as Perry delineates in his letter to Paxton (did I mention he’s under indictment?), it’s “a question affecting the public interest.”

The deal seems to be this: Tenants can’t be evicted without formal proceedings (which might involve tuxedos). Licensees, however, can be evicted without formal proceedings.

“Recreational vehicle park guests are treated as licensees in some jurisdictions, yet treated as tenants in others,” Perry told Paxton (who is facing criminal proceedings that could send him to prison, where I think he’d be more of a tenant than a licensee).

So, bottom line, Paxton has to figure out whether RV parks provide “temporary or transient” housing for “licensees” or “permanent dwellings” for “tenants.”

If I’m Paxton, here’s my answer: “You’re kidding, right? I’m busy running for re-election and you want me to figure this out? And did I mention I’m under indictment?”

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Have a nice weekend. Wait a second. I promised to tell you about the pending arrival of cushinons in an Austin neighborhood.

Right there on Mountainclimb Drive in Northwest Austin, on a sign post that also says the speed limit is 30, a sign says: “Upcoming. Speed Cushinons. For Information Call 512-974-7656.”

Reader Alan Gee, who apparently shares my odd fascination with odd signs, brought this one to my attention.

“Mr. Herman, you may or may not be interested in the fact that we are getting cushinons on our street in NW Austin,” he wrote by way of complying with state law requiring Texans to notify me of entertainingly perplexing signage.

Turns out cushinons are small, cream- or fruit-filled pastries popular in the patisseries in the South of France. (So pretentious. What’s wrong with plain old South France? Has anyone ever referred to the East of Texas?) And “speed cushinons” are a variety made in the microwave. Yum, tasty. I’m going to ask our food writer Addie Broyles to publish a recipe.

(And the answer is yes, you can get paid to write about food, but only if you’re as good at it as she is.)

I know. You’re ahead of me here, as was reader Gee.

“Wait, wait, maybe we are getting speed cushions like the folks on Sierra, just up the hill,” he wrote.

Another sign on Mountainclimb Drive has been updated with an overlay that says “cushions” instead of “cushinons.” And the Northwest Austin Civic Association newsletter reports Mountainclimb Drive is getting “simple speed cushions without the flat tops seen on other speed cushions in the neighborhood.”

Which brings us back to the stupidity of traffic humps, bumps, lumps and cushions, all designed to prevent us from driving the legal speed limit. There is a particular dissonance involved in a signpost that simultaneously tells us we can drive 30 mph and that devices are being installed to prevent us from driving 30 mph.

Get rid of the humps, bumps, etc. Replace them with speed cameras that ticket speeders. Who could be against that, other than speeders and wheel alignment guys?



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