Americana: Smear Campaign

Texas A. & M. University, founded in 1871, is the state's oldest public institution of higher education. Nevertheless, "Aggie jokes" are a Texas staple. (Sample: Did you hear about the Aggie grad who lost his job as an elevator operator? He couldn't remember the route.) But this is no joke: workmen plan to complete a $723,000 restoration of the campus' Academic Building by smearing fermented cow manure across its brick façade.

The engineering term for the process is organic patination, a technique believed to have been used in ancient times to add color to buildings. Manure is fermented in water for ten...

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