Texas Liberal

All People Matter

My Wife Is Person Of The Decade And My Blog Is Blog Of The Decade

With my last post of 2009, I am selecting my wife as Person Of The Decade.

Below is a picture of my wife from the beginning of the decade. This picture was taken on our Wedding Day—March 25, 2000 in Las Vegas, Nevada

And here is a picture I took of my wife just a few days ago—

The wife and I have made a great life together.

The wife is kind and intelligent. Here is a poem I have written about my wife.

She is easily the best thing that has happened to me in my life

Also, I am selecting my blog—Texas Liberal—as Blog Of The Decade.

Here is the Martin Luther King Reading & Reference List. This list is the best of its kind on the web and is the signature post of Texas Liberal.

I work hard at this blog. I’m glad of the fact that within the next few weeks I’ll reach one million page views since I started Texas Liberal in July of 2006.

Thank you for reading Texas Liberal and please pass on the link to someone you value. A blog grows one reader at a time.

I wish these honors came with some prize money. Maybe I will go to the ATM, withdraw some money, and hand it to myself.

December 31, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | 9 Comments

Tip Time-And-A-Half On New Year’s Day—Fellow Working People Merit Our Respect

Image, Source: digital file from intermediary roll film

If on New Year’s Day  you make use of the services of a person who normally would receive a tip,  please be certain to tip that person the same time-and-a-half rate you would expect to be paid for working a holiday.

(Photo above–The Di Costanzo family on New Year’s Eve 1942 at the restaurant they owned in New York City.)

This is only fair.

Cab drivers and waiters are working people just as you are.

If you are not paid extra for working a holiday, please do not take it out on others.

The rights and status of working people in this country are tenuous enough as it is.

If we do not respect each other as fellow working people, we are all screwed.

Please respect the labor of others just as you would hope others would respect the hours of your life that you spend at work.

And, also, please don’t drink and drive on New Year’s Eve.

December 31, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment

Snow At Amsterdam’s Centraal Station

Above is a picture of a recent snowfall in Amsterdam.

The picture was taken by my friend Lisa. Lisa lives in Amsterdam.

The picture is of Centraal Station in Amsterdam. Those folks over there spell the world “Central” with two A’s.

Everything must be crazy over there.

Here is a history of Centraal Station.

From that history—

“The building of the Amsterdam Central Station was built between 1881 and 1889, at the time when several important public buildings in Amsterdam as Rijksmuseum(State Museum), Concertgebouw (Amsterdam Philharmonics), Stadsschouwburg (City Theater), Central Post Office (now a shopping mall Magna Plaza) were constructed. All these fine-looking buildings were concoction of Neo-Gothic or Neo-Renaissance styles. Central Station was designed by Petrus J.H. Cuypers – one of the biggest Dutch architects, assisted by Adolf L. Gendt, who was a responsible for the structure of the Station’s building and its immense platform halls. Cuypers received in 1897 for the Central Station building Golden Medal from the Queen.”

Below is another photo Lisa took. It is of some bicycles that are covered by the snow.

Speaking as someone who has lived in Houston, Texas for 11 years, the bicycles seem more foreign than does the spelling of central.

Do all these bicycles mean that the people of Amsterdam reject Jesus Christ and free enterprise? Don’t they have cars and trucks?

Thanks to Lisa for letting me use these pictures.

Here is information about visiting Amsterdam.

Someday I hope that the wife and I will be able to visit Amsterdam.

December 30, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | 1 Comment

Manuel Acosta’s Portrait Of Cesar Chavez—The Need For A More Politically Active Hispanic Community In Houston

File:Portrait of Cesar Chavez by Manuel Gregorio Acosta, 1969.jpg

Above is a portrait of the labor leader Cesar Chavez that was completed by the artist Manuel Acosta.

The painting is from 1969. Mr. Acosta lived 1921-1989.

Here are some facts about Mr. Acosta and a number of his paintings. This information comes from the El Paso Museum of Art.

Here is a biography of Mr. Chavez from the Cesar Chavez foundation.

From that biography–

“For more than three decades Cesar led the first successful farm workers union in American history, achieving dignity, respect, fair wages, medical coverage, pension benefits, and humane living conditions, as well as countless other rights and protections for hundreds of thousands of farm workers. Against previously insurmountable odds, he led successful strikes and boycotts that resulted in the first industry-wide labor contracts in the history of American agriculture. His union’s efforts brought about the passage of the groundbreaking 1975 California Agricultural Labor Relations Act to protect farm workers. Today, it remains the only law in the nation that protects the farm workers’ right to unionize.”

Here in Houston, I very much wish that our Hispanic population was more active in fighting for a better Houston, and for a greater role for Hispanics in Houston politics.

Here is an article from the excellent magazine Next American City that discusses the longstanding political inaction of Houston’s Hispanic community.

(Blogger’s Note–I subscribe to the print edition of Next American City. Content costs money to produce.)

From this article—

“Yet another factor in Houston, says Cano, is the lack of community organizations. There are far more community organizations in Los Angeles and Chicago than in Houston, and the groups in other cities engage in political campaigns more often. This is not to say that community organizations in Houston don’t exist. “If you look carefully, there is a whole ecosystem in the desert . . . under the sand,” says Cano. “In Houston, an organization can have a meeting once every two years, they can get together and solve a problem.”

Our new mayor-elect in Houston, Annise Parker, has a history as a community activist fighting for the rights of gay citizens on Houston.

Sharing some of her knowledge of community activism with groups still in need political and social advancement, would be a very cost efficient way for Mayor Parker to help accomplish the needed goal of a Houston that is a good place to live for all it’s people.

December 29, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

I Was About To Write A Blog Post, But Then Got Caught Up In A Facebook Chat

File:AbelTasmanNP.jpg

I was about to begin writing a blog post a few minutes ago, when, instead, I became engaged in a Facebook chat with a friend of many years who now lives in New Zealand.

People are easily distracted in this time of so-called social media.

It is as if I am no more than a leaf in the wind.

Though I was quite glad to hear from this person who I have known since 1980.

30 years is a solid friendship and stands in great contrast to a leaf in the wind.

There are many trade-offs involved with this technology many of use each day.

It is now too late in the evening to begin the post I had intended to write this evening.

Being flexible of mind—As we are told we must be in this globalized age—I will offer up this post you are now reading as a replacement.

Above is a photo taken by a Steffen Hillebrand of Abel Tasman National Park in New Zealand.

That sure looks like a nice place to visit.

I wonder if I could connect to the internet at Abel Tasman National Park and if I could call someone from my cell if I were at that park.

December 28, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Texas Progressive Alliance Round-Up—Photo Of A Lousy Way To Spend Christmas Night

Here the weekly posting of the round-up of the Texas Progressive Alliance. The TPA is a confederation of the best political bloggers in Texas.

The photo above is of a bus that broke down on Westheimer Avenue in Houston on Christmas Night.

I was out taking a Christmas Night ride—because as much as I love my wife, I need time to myself—and saw this scene of a Houston Metro police car behind a Houston Metro bus. (I pulled over to take this picture.)

There were people out in the cold boarding a replacement bus. What you see in the picture is the broken-down bus.

I thought to myself what a lousy way to spend Christmas. The people on the bus likely had to work the holiday. Then they had to wait for the bus to come on what was no doubt a reduced holiday schedule. And, finally, the bus broke down.

I hope Christmas Day had some up moments for the bus passangers and for the bus driver. I hope that you and yours had a nice and safe holiday.

The round-up—-

As the deadline to file for a place on the 2010 March primary ballot drew near, there was lots of activity on the Democratic side: Kinky Friedman followed Hank Gilbert over to the race for agriculture commissioner, Linda Chavez-Thompson was rumored to be running for lt. governor, and, late on Friday, Ronnie Earle dropped his name in the hat for that same post. There’s more on all this news from PDiddie at Brains and Eggs.

BARNETT SHALE GAS THREATENS HUMAN HEALTH ! TXsharon posted the final results of the DISH, TX health survey at Bluedaze.

WhosPlayin broke the story about a former Republican county commissioner who got arrested this week for shoplifting a vacuum cleaner.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme wonders why some men in power (herehereherehere and here) think that abusing women and children is their right? Why does Senator Cornyn choose to enable rapists?

Over at Bay Area Houston, John Coby is bored and thinks Kay Bailey Hutchison’s commercial sounds like a Whataburger commercial.

Looking for ways to green up your life? Start by making some thoughtful changes to the way you spend your holiday, and check out Texas Vox’ Green Up Your Life: Holiday Edition for tips and tricks!

Neil at Texas Liberal wrote about the fifth anniversary of the terrible Indian Ocean tsunami, in Five Years Since Terrible Indian Ocean Tsunamia –People Are Recovering. While many are still suffering from the impact of this killer wave, there are also many who are recovering and getting back their lives.

The folks over at McBlogger are desperate for your help! Find out how you can do them a solid when you help get a planet named for the blog! Continue reading

December 27, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

Holiday Gift: Lone Stars Of David–The Jews Of Texas

A holiday gift exchanged this year at my home was the book Lone Stars of David–The Jews of Texas.

The book is a collection of essays about being Jewish in Texas and the impact Jews have had over the years on Texas.

The book is published by Brandeis University Press.

From the publishers description of Lone Stars —

“Jewish life in the United States is too often told from an East Coast perspective. Lone Stars of David presents a different panorama, with narratives of Jews who ventured to Texas before the battle of the Alamo, who fought for the Confederacy, who herded cattle up the Chisholm Trail, who drilled for oil, and who forged Jewish communities far from New York’s Lower East Side. These essays also describe how Texas Jews faced the Ku Klux Klan and how they respond today to Christian fundamentalism.”

0.6% of Texans today are Jewish. That comes out to around 130,000 people.

While I’ve not yet time to read much of Lone Stars, it looks like a quality publication.

December 25, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment

Christmas—Denver, 1927

Above is a picture of Christmas on Sixteenth Street in Denver from back in 1927.

I bet downtown Denver was hopping back in 1927.

The picture is from the American Memory Project of the Library of Congress.

December 24, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment

Time To Check Your List—All People Matter

[christmas_pinup.jpg]

It is time to check your Christmas list to make sure that you have done all your holiday shopping.

It’s a bit easier for me because my in-laws and Jewish and Hanukkah usually wraps up before Christmas day.

Everybody please be careful on the roads and try to enjoy the remaining days of the holiday season.

Even if you not having some type of idealized Christmas with family or with many presents under the tree, you are still of great value in the world.

The good that you are able to do and the positive relationships you have are of great value.

Please have a nice holiday.

December 23, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

Annise Parker Knows The Stone The Builders Rejected Will Be The Cornerstone—How Will She Lead Houston?

The Houston Chronicle recently ran an excellent profile on Houston Mayor-elect Annise Parker.

Here is the link to that profile.

From the Chronicle story—

“She loved sports and tagged along with her father when he refereed boxing matches and high-school football games around Houston. She also loved her grandparents’ 100-acre farm in Spring Branch, where she learned how to ride horses, milk cows and fix tractors….School was more problematic. She much preferred walking the rows of her grandparents’ organic farm picking bugs off tomato vines than trudging, head cast down, through the hallways of Spring Branch Elementary. She enjoyed learning, but school was a nightmare for the frightened little girl…It got even scarier in 1968, when her father bought a fishing camp on the back bay of Biloxi, Miss., and 12-year-old Annise was forced to adapt to new surroundings. A year after the Parkers moved to Mississippi, a runaway barge knocked down the only bridge connecting the fishing camp to the mainland. Cut off from its customers, the camp went bust…Les Parker eventually found a job with the American Red Cross, and his position required frequent moves. Annise attended three junior high schools and three high schools, including a high school in Mannheim, Germany. As a teenager, she was prey to anxiety attacks and in a constant state of stress…Coming to terms with her sexual orientation also was stressful. From an early age, she said, she felt different. At 15, while living in Mannheim, she fell hopelessly in love; many a night she found herself playing Romeo beneath the upstairs window of her winsome Juliet. Her parents realized the nature of the relationship and did everything they could to keep the two girls separated...As a senior at R.B. Stall High School in Charleston, S.C., she was a high jumper and long jumper on the women’s track team and a member of the school’s Ecology Club, National Honor Society and Christian Youth Fellowship. She graduated in 1974, won a coveted National Merit Scholarship and enrolled at Rice University, the only college she had ever wanted to attend.”

Texas Liberal readers know I’m not a policy wonk. I’m more concerned with abstraction and analogy than the specifics of day-to-day policy. I do a lot of reading about many subjects because you can’t draw analogies or the grasp the symbolism of an act without an understanding of the world. However, for the purposes of communicating, I see all things as connected rather than as standing alone. Every word and deed is representative of some other word and deed.

As Sojourner Truth said–I sell the shadow to support the substance.

Annise Parker is a policy-wonk. I bet she knows Houston city government up-and-down. She has been clear as an elected official that she is a pragmatic leader. Her focus seems always on what she feels she can accomplish as a practical matter.

The thing is that politics is at core about imagination.  Something that needs to be accomplished  is imagined, and a plan or strategy is worked out to reach the objective. Often, the concern is minor. Yet at other times, broad social and economic change is the issue.

From my own experiences, and from my reading, I’ve found there is little greater spur to imagination than a feeling of being on the outside of the so-called mainstream of society.  As it says in the Bible—The stone the builders rejected became the cornerstone.

Houston has a lot of poverty and lot of people on the outside looking for inclusion. Mayor-elect Parker knows this is the case. She knows many folks will turn their backs without  second thought on people who want to be fully included in society.

Ms. Parker can let her past be her guide and address these issues of full-inclusion in Houston. She knows that full-inclusion is about economic progress as well as the social progress of Houston electing an openly gay Mayor. Ms. Parker has the opportunity to imagine a Houston where all people matter.

Or, as she did in her campaign , Ms. Parker can continue to ignore issues of poverty, homelessness, and the under- representation of Latinos in Houston’s political process.

All progress is connected. Freedom for one group of people is directly connected to the freedom and progress of all people.

Ms. Parker has a decision to make about how she will govern our city. Let us hope that she follows her best impulses and does not hide behind the excuse of pragmatism at the expense of people in Houston who need a city government that is on their side.

December 23, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | 2 Comments

If Polar Bears Could Vote

(12/22/09—This is a reposting from July of 2008.  Thank you for reading Texas Liberal.)

(Blogger’s Note—This is the second of my series “If Animals Could Vote.” Please click here for a discussion of Crayfish voting.)

What if Polar Bears were allowed to vote? What would they ask for? How would they organize? Would they care for others or would they be selfish?

If Polar Bears were allowed to vote, the first thing they might do is insist on quick action regarding climate change. Many scientists fear that the ongoing melting of the polar ice caps will erode the Polar Bear’s habitat.

Polar Bears would also demand an end to Polar Bear hunting. Some whack jobs hunt Polar Bears for fun. Others for food and skins. With only 25,000 polar bears left in the wild, it would seem that all Polar Bear hunting should be banned.

The Polar Bears below have captured a submarine. This should even the odds with hunters.

Enfranchised Polar Bears living within the United States might well demand inclusion in the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA). The National Audubon Society’s Guide To Marine Mammals Of The World defines Polar Bears as marine mammals. However, the MMPA does not currently list Polar Bears.

The Polar Bear’s Latin name is Ursus Maritimus. This means “sea bear.”

The MMPA extends a variety of protections to included species. (Though not full protection from hunting by native groups.) It is possible that if listed in the act, Polar Bears would then be granted “Majority-Bear” electoral districts to ensure Polar Bear representation.

Below you see a Polar Bear flag. This flag is from a majority-bear district in Russia where Polar Bear rights are strongly advanced.

Polar Bears have also been known to practice so-called identity politics. Below is the flag of gay Polar Bears.

BEAR PRIDE FLAG

It is good that Polar Bear diversity is acknowledged, but a more cohesive “pan-Arctic” view by Polar Bears might lead to faster and more complete rights gains for all Polar Bears. The recent move to a Polar Bear postal system as illustrated by the stamp below, can be seen as an attempt to join Polar Bears more firmly into one large community.

Polar Bears have a lot to think about as they move towards the vote. One thing is certain though–No Polar Bear has ever been so misguided as to vote for Ronald Reagan or George W. Bush. Here’s hoping  Polar Bears will get it right and vote not just their own best interests, but vote in the best interests of others as well.

Here is some basic information about Polar Bears.

December 22, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | 2 Comments

We All Seek The 60 Votes Of Learning, Hope & Kindness To Defeat The Filibuster Of Ignorance And Anger

All of us are looking for the 60 votes of learning, hope, and kindness to get past the endless filibuster of ignorance, anger, and greed

We are corralling all our efforts and resources to get to the point where we can proceed.

We want to proceed so that we can have good lives and so that we can help others have good lives.

Each of us has a different path and strategy to get our 60 votes.

I read, take long walks, try to communicate my values with words and deeds, and work hard on my relationships in life.

You will have your own path and strategy.

Once one filibuster in broken, another may appear.

The forces of darkness and obstruction are relentless.

What is good is that the Senate of life is always in session.

We always have the chance to gain the needed coalition of people, deeds, and resources in our lives required to move the agenda ahead.

Let us move the agenda ahead each day that we are able.

December 21, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | 2 Comments

Texas Progressive Alliance Round-Up—Xmas Mail At Corpus Christi, Texas Trailer Court In 1940

Image, Source: intermediary roll film

At the bottom of this post is the most recent weekly round-up of the Texas Progressive Alliance. The TPA is a confederation of the best political bloggers in Texas.

The picture is of a gentleman sorting Christmas mail at a trailer court in Corpus Christi, Texas in 1940.

Here is some history of trailer courts and trailer parks from the Affordable Housing Institute.

Here is a list of mobile home and manufactured home parks in Texas.

The picture was taken by Russell Lee for the Farm Security Administration. I found the photo at the American Memory Project of the Library of Congress.

Here is a poem I have written about the main reading room at the Library of Congress.

The round-up–

The picture taken by RuTXsharon @ Bluedaze: DRILLING REFORM FOR TEXAS helps you follow the money to see why Governor Perry and others want Texans to keep breathing toxic air.

BossKitty at TruthHugger is proud to give a hat tip to Houston – Annise Parker inherits a City of Progress.

The Stonewall Democrats of Denton County denounce Rep. Michael Burgess for his recent actions against openly gay Safe Schools Czar Kevin Jennnings, at the Texas Cloverleaf.

This week on Left of College Station Teddy covers the dispute in Waco between the McLennan County Republican Party and the Hispanic Republican Club of McLennan County over whether or not the Republicans needs to reach out to minority voters. Also, the tradition of homophobia continues at Texas A&M and the Coalition for Life invites anti-choice and anti-woman Jeb Bush to speak at their annual fundraiser. Left of College Station also covers the week in headlines.

While Houstonians took great pride in the election of Annise Parker as mayor, it was discouraging to see — despite his company’s multi-million dollar contracts with the city and his apparent misunderstanding of their value — that Stephen Costello was elected to city council over a good Democrat, Karen Derr.

Continue reading

December 20, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Time To Put The “Mas” back in Christmas.

It is time to put the “mas” back in Christmas.

As defined by The New Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, “mas” means—carnival, a festival, a procession, a parade.

Above is a scene from a carnival in Brazil.

That looks like a fine way to say “Merry Christmas.”

Let’s get back to the true meaning of Christmas.

December 19, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment

Cats Decorating Christmas Tree

Image, Source: digital file from intermediary roll film

Above is an illustration of cats decorating a Christmas tree.

The artist was a Louis Wain. Mr. Wain lived 1860-1939.

Mr. Wain drew cats for a many years.

A recent article in the excellent New Scientist magazine says that dogs are smarter than cats.

I think that dogs are smarter than cats.

December 19, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment

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