Texas Liberal

All People Matter

Academic Tournament—All People Can Learn Something New

I’d like to see a big televised tournament where America’s top 64 history, literature, and art professors are bracketed against each other in a competition.

(Above–An illustration of academic gowns worn at Princeton University in 1902. Maybe professors in this tournament could wear gowns such as these as a type of uniform.)

Each professor would give a lecture that would scored by an attentive public.

The best professors would advance to a Final Four that would take place in a giant sold out stadium.

A selection committee would make sure that professors from small colleges across the nation would be also be considered for the tournament.

Imagine the bracket-busting excitement when, for example, an unkown academic at the Quaker school Earlham College in Richmond, Indiana surprised a heavy hitter from Yale.

(Above–Carpenter Hall at Earlham College.)

Tickets would be so valued that people would pay thousands for them on Stub Hub.

Millions would watch this Final Four on TV.

There could also be another televised competition for college teaching assistants, high school teachers, and teachers at every level of education.

The best teachers would move on to the next round.

In each category, the best of the best would be eligible be move onto a global event that would be held in a large global city every four years.

Television networks all over the world would bid hundreds of millions of dollars for the broadcast rights to this academic Olympiad.

(Above—Professors in lecture halls across the nation would prepare for the big event.)

As for that March Madness basketball tournament now taking place—More power to you if you enjoy watching the games.

People work hard and they need to relax. I follow the baseball season closely.

Just please also consider starting a new book, picking up again one you never finished, or learning about a new subject.

There is no subject so complex that the average person can not learn something useful about it.

No collge education is required to learn about our world. It is only your effort that is required.

March 18, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Facts About Juneteenth—Juneteenth 2010

What is Juneteenth?

Juneteenth is the celebration to mark the end of slavery in the United States.

On June 19, 1865, Union General Gordon Granger, landing at Galveston, Texas, made the announcement that the Civil War was over and that slaves were free.

Juneteenth for 2010 will be observed on Saturday, June 19.

Here is information on Juneteenth from the very useful Handbook of Texas Online.

From the Handbook—

“On June 19 (“Juneteenth”), 1865, Union general Gordon Granger read the Emancipation Proclamation in Galveston, thus belatedly bringing about the freeing of 250,000 slaves in Texas. The tidings of freedom reached slaves gradually as individual plantation owners read the proclamation to their bondsmen over the months following the end of the war. The news elicited an array of personal celebrations, some of which have been described in The Slave Narratives of Texas (1974). The first broader celebrations of Juneteenth were used as political rallies and to teach freed African-Americans about their voting rights. Within a short time, however, Juneteenth was marked by festivities throughout the state, some of which were organized by official Juneteenth committees.”

Though the Emancipation Proclamation took effect in 1863, it took time for word to get around that slavery was over. People went around for two years not knowing they were free.

The knowledge you need for your freedom is out there. You just may not be aware.

It’s up to you to gain the knowledge you require about your history. I mean this for people of all colors because history is a shared thing. The fate of all people is connected.

The knowledge you need is on-line, in books, and at the library. The knowledge you need is all around you if you take the time and make the effort to learn.

You are intelligent and you are able to gain the knowledge you need.

After Juneteenth came the failure of Reconstruction and over 100 years of Jim Crow. many people had their lives wasted in these years.

Here is a history of Reconstruction.

Here is a history of Jim Crow.

Here is a collection of links that form a history of slavery in the United States.

These folks think Juneteenth should be a holiday.

Here is a list of Juneteenth events here in Houston.

Here is additional information about the Juneteenth event at Houston’s Hermann Park to be held on Saturday June 19 at 7 PM.

( I’ve also written the best Martin Luther King Reading & Reference list on the web. Please click here to see the list.)

Below is a picture of a man who was a slave and who was whipped many times by his overseer.

File:Cicatrices de flagellation sur un esclave.jpg

The man in the picture above had no choice about his fate in life.

And even today we are not in full control of our fates. Circumstance and chance play a role in life.

Yet you always have the option to learn about your freedom and to conduct yourself as a free person.

Sometimes our freedom  is restricted by our self-imposed limits of imagination. Other times our freedom is challenged by the greed of the wealthy.

In any case, we must always press ahead towards freedom and emancipation.

June 17, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Icelandic Volcano Eruption—Facts About Volcanoes & Volcanic Ash

An ash cloud from a volcano in Iceland is disrupting air travel in Europe.

(Above–The offending volcano. It is called Eyjafjallajoekull. This name is combination of the worlds “islands”, “mountain” and “glacier”. The picture was taken by a photographer giving his or herself  the name “boaworm” )

(Update–5/21/11–The volcano erupting in Iceland at the moment is a different volcano. However, much of the information in this post is about volcanoes in general, and would be useful to read to learn more overall about the subject. Thank you for reading Texas Liberal.) 

Here is a story from the BBC detailing the eruption.

(Update4/19/10—There is a new ash cloud.)

(Update—4/20/10—Half of EU flights may be in the air by the end of Tuesday.)

(Update–4/21/10—More flights up and running.)

(Update–4/22/10—There are now disputes in Europe about the need for such an extensive flight ban in the aftermath of the eruption.)

(Update–4/25/10–Europe is looking for new ways to deal with a future eruption.)

(Update–4/28/10—A geology professor from the Univ. of Houston offers views on what may have caused the eruption.)

( Update–5/4/10—Another ash threat from the same volcano. Though this one is more limited.)

(Update–5/4/10–Europe is looking at  plans on how to deal with eruptions  in the future.)

(Update–5/5/10–Airports are closed in Ireland and Scotland.)

(Update–5/8/10—Yet more ash in the sky.)

(Update 5/16/10—It goes on and on.)

There are many accounts of what is taking place that you can find on the web or in your local newspaper. (This blog is a big believer in supporting your local newspaper and taking the time to read the news and reflect upon the news with a cup of coffee or in some other civilized way.)

In this post, I’ll address some more basic issues of what is taking place that are not always discussed in news reports.

First of all—What exactly is a volcano?

Here is an explanation of volcanoes from an interview with a scientist conducted by the children’s book publisher Scholastic—

“Volcanoes are really mountains that build taller and taller, with time, as they erupt. That means that molten rock, magma, comes from within the earth and erupts onto the surface. The volcano might be explosive and produce ashes or be effusive and produce lava. The explosions are usually first because there are lots of gases inside the magma. When you have a bottle of soda pop, you do not see any bubbles of gas, but when you open it, bubbles form almost instantly. Once the gas bubbles have all escaped, the soda is flat. Once the magma is flat, a lava flow comes out. Most of the volcanoes from around the Pacific Ocean are composite, which means that there are layers of ashes and lava. Most volcanoes are 10,000 to 100,000 years old — it takes time for them to grow big.”

Here are 11 more facts about volcanoes.

Some volcanoes are underwater. Here is a post I recently wrote that has many facts about undersea volcanoes.

The Cascades Volcano Observatory in Vancouver, Washington reports the following about the origin of the word volcano–

“The word “volcano” comes from the little island of Vulcano in the Mediterranean Sea off Sicily. Centuries ago, the people living in this area believed that Vulcano was the chimney of the forge of Vulcan — the blacksmith of the Roman gods. They thought that the hot lava fragments and clouds of dust erupting form Vulcano came from Vulcan’s forge as he beat out thunderbolts for Jupiter, king of the gods, and weapons for Mars, the god of war. In Polynesia the people attributed eruptive activity to the beautiful but wrathful Pele, Goddess of Volcanoes, whenever she was angry or spiteful. Today we know that volcanic eruptions are not super-natural but can be studied and interpreted by scientists.”

(Below—A picture of the Vulcano island.)

The issue from the Icelandic volcano that is causing all the trouble is volcanic ash. Here are facts about volcanic ash from the United States Geological Survey. This link gives you all the facts you need about volcanic ash.

From these facts—

“Small jagged pieces of rocks, minerals, and volcanic glass the size of sand and silt (less than 2 millimeters (1/12 inch) in diameter) erupted by a volcano are called volcanic ash. Very small ash particles can be less than 0.001 millimeters (1/25,000th of an inch) across. Volcanic ash is not the product of combustion, like the soft fluffy material created by burning wood, leaves, or paper. Volcanic ash is hard, does not dissolve in water, is extremely abrasive and mildly corrosive, and conducts electricity when wet.”

However, if you need even more facts on ash, the BBC has a Q & A.

You can see why you would not want something like that clogging up your jet engine.

There are health concerns in Iceland about the effects of this ash.

Iceland is a place with many volcanoes.

The Earth is a complex place with an interesting geology that merits study even when no big disaster is taking place.

Here is a link to Geology. com. There is a great deal of information at this site about the Earth.

A very useful book to learn about these topics is called Earth–The Definitive Visual Guide. I have this book at home and look at it often. It has great pictures and helpful text to help folks understand the world.

There is a lot more to our existence than just freak-show ash clouds that make people study things they might not otherwise consider. Please be someone who is informed and who is curious about as many things as possible. We all the ability to know many things. The information we need to learn these things is all around us if we just make some effort.

(Below—The Cleveland Volcano in Alaska as photographed from space in 2006.)

April 17, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

De Gaulle’s Great Speech Of June 18, 1940—Learning About Charles De Gaulle

File:De-gaulle-radio.jpg

June 18, 1940 is the day that General Charles De Gaullemade the speech on the BBC from London that began French resistance to Nazi occupation. It is a great speech that is still recalled in France and in all places where the great events of World War II are remembered.

(Above–De Gaulle speaking on the BBC during World War II.)

De Gaulle left France in 1940 as an exile and came back four years later to lead France.

France and De Gaulle appeared to have been defeated in 1940, but they were not defeated.

A great two-volume of De Gaulle was written by Jean Lacouture. The first volume is called De Gaulle–The Rebel, 1890-1944Here is a review of that book. The second volume is De Gaulle–The Ruler, 1945-1970.

A good one-volume biography is The Last Great Frenchman–A Life of Charles De Gaulle by Charles Williams.

De Gaulle’s war memoirs are justly well-regarded.

(Below—De Gaulle on the cover of Life Magazine in 1958.)

Here is some biographical information about Charles De Gaulle.

Here is a BBC biography of De Gaulle.

De Gaulle was neither a figure of the political left or right. His loyalty was to France and, sometimes, to the idea of putting on a grand performance on the world stage.  He was often both serious and absurd at the same time

What could have been more absurd than the notion of one lone general banished to London after the Nazi overrun of France, coming back within a few years as the political master of France?

Charles De Gaulle is a subject that merits your further study. In studying the life of De Gaulle you will learn about French history, World War II, European and Cold War politics of the 1950’s and 60’s, and the bloody battle for Algerian Independence.

You’ll also learn about fighting and winning a fight that seemed at first, in the eyes of many at the time at least, hopeless.

Here is the great speech I referenced above. It is also called the Appeal of June 18—

The leaders who, for many years, were at the head of French armies, have formed a government. This government, alleging our armies to be undone, agreed with the enemy to stop fighting. Of course, we were subdued by the mechanical, ground and air forces of the enemy. Infinitely more than their number, it was the tanks, the airplanes, the tactics of the Germans which made us retreat. It was the tanks, the airplanes, the tactics of the Germans that surprised our leaders to the point to bring them there where they are today.

But has the last word been said? Must hope disappear? Is defeat final? No! Continue reading

June 16, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What Is Juneteenth?—It Is Up To You To Learn About Your Freedom

What is Juneteenth?

Juneteenth is the celebration to mark the end of slavery in the United States.

On June 19, 1865, Union General Gordon Granger, landing at Galveston, Texas, made the announcement that the Civil War was over and that slaves were free.

Please click here for a list of Juneteenth celebrations and observances in the United States.

Here is information on Juneteenth from the very useful Handbook of Texas Online.

From the Handbook—

“On June 19 (“Juneteenth”), 1865, Union general Gordon Granger read the Emancipation Proclamation in Galveston, thus belatedly bringing about the freeing of 250,000 slaves in Texas. The tidings of freedom reached slaves gradually as individual plantation owners read the proclamation to their bondsmen over the months following the end of the war. The news elicited an array of personal celebrations, some of which have been described in The Slave Narratives of Texas (1974). The first broader celebrations of Juneteenth were used as political rallies and to teach freed African Americanabout their voting rights. Within a short time, however, Juneteenth was marked by festivities throughout the state, some of which were organized by official Juneteenth committees.”

Though the Emancipation Proclamation took effect in 1863, it took time for word to get around that slavery was over. People went around for two years not knowing they were free.

The knowledge you need for your freedom is out there. You just may not be aware.

It’s up to you to gain the knowledge you require about your history. I mean this for people of all colors because history is a shared thing. The fate of all people is connected.

The knowledge you need is on-line, in books, and at the library. You don’t need money if you are willing to learn.

You are intelligent and you are able to gain the knowledge you need.

Of course— just because someone says that you are free, does not mean that you really are free.

After Juneteenth was the failure of Reconstruction and over 100 years of Jim Crow.

Here is a history of Reconstruction.

Here is a history of Jim Crow.

Here is a collection of links that form a history of slavery in the United States.

( I’ve also written what I think is the best Martin Luther King Reading & Reference list on the web. Please click here to see the list.)

Below is a picture of a man who was a slave and who was whipped many times by his overseer.

File:Cicatrices de flagellation sur un esclave.jpg

The man in the picture above had no choice about his fate in life.

And even today we are not in full control of our fates. Circumstance and chance play a role in life.

Yet you have the option to learn about your freedom and to conduct yourself as a free person.

I ask all people to make use of this option.

June 12, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

If We Are Having An Information Revolution, Why Are So Many People Still So Ignorant?

I’ve been wondering today that if we are having an information revolution, why are so many people still so ignorant?

I’m sure that in many parts of the world computers and the web have made a great deal of difference in terms of access to information.  

In the United States though, it is not clear that people are any more knowledgeable than they were in the time of just three major television networks and no cable, print-only newspapers, and bookstores and libraries as the only places to get books and do research.

Here is a 2007 Pew study where only 69% of the people knew the name of the Vice President.  

Information revolution?

Maybe instead it’s a revolution in fragmenting people’s attention to the point of constant distraction, and a revolution in making people unemployed with technology. 

I can’t say that I’ve yet to see people with any better grasp of information than they had in the past as a result of the so-called information revolution.

June 1, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Poem Called Knowledge That Stands In Calm Opposition To The Tone Of Our Society

Here is a poem I like called Knowledge by Louise Bogan. ( 1897-1970) I think this poem helps show how to live a life useful to others and manageable for one’s self. —-

Now that I know

How passion warms little

Of flesh in the mould,

And treasure is brittle,-

I’ll lie here and learn

How, over their ground

Trees make a long shadow

And a light sound. 

June 11, 2008 Posted by | Poetry | , , | Leave a comment

   

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