Texas Liberal

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The Things I Have Done With Time Alone—Time Alone Is Excellent

I’ve got a 47 hour stretch with no work and with nobody else at home.

Here is how I have spent the first six hours of this time alone.

First—I got a can of clam chowder for dinner at Walgreens as I drove home from work.

Below you see the food aisle from where I got the chowder at a local Walgreens. They got everything you need in that aisle so long as you don’t need very much.

I also stopped at Memorial Park here in Houston on the way home and took a 3 mile walk on the jogging trail.

While walking I read Mayflower by Nathaniel Philbrick. I’ve been walking and reading on the Memorial Park trail for 14 years so far and have not bumped into anything yet.

There certainly is wickedness at the core of our national history when you read how we double-dealt the native population at every turn in the 17th century.

I’m reading Mayflower to study up for Thanksgiving.

I’m sure that Thanksgiving is not all about food and then rushing out to buy stuff as soon as your meal is over.

Once home I fell asleep for 2 hours and had a dream that I was walking along the ocean in Corpus Christi, TX, and that I saw a seal.

I suppose I had the dream about Corpus Christi because I was recently looking at some pictures of a trip I took to Corpus in 2008.

Visit Corpus Christi for a good time. All the Texas coast has interesting things to see.

Below is the picture I took four years ago that formed the central image of my dream.

There was once a Caribbean Monk Seal that had a range just south of Texas. But people killed them all. There are no seals in the Gulf of Mexico.

Click here to read about this seal and where it lived before they were all killed.

After waking up from my dreamy nap, I busted open the clam chowder for a fine dinner and have now moved on to writing a blog post.

With six hours down and 41 hours to go, who knows what more will happen with my excellent time alone.

November 20, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Who Can Liberals & Progressives Support In 2011 City Of Houston Elections?—Who Is Running For Houston City Council?

It is time for our Houston municipal elections.

(Above–Houston City Hall.)

Early voting runs October 24-November 4. General Election Day is November 8.

Here is a link to help you find out where to vote.

Who can a liberal or progressive support in these elections?

As is so often the case in Houston, the pickings are slim.

Houston city elections are low-turnout affairs in which an electorate not representative of Houston’s demographics chooses from candidates who discuss a very narrow range of issues. Just how much is it that can we hear about red light cameras?

The credibility of the candidates on the ballot is often judged by how much money they have raised.

Here is my look at the Houston city ballot and, also, some additional links to help you figure out how you’d like to vote.

Houstonians merit liberal and progressive options at the ballot box.

Houston was a 61% Obama city in 2008. If we can’t muster up some decent candidates, then maybe we should use our political energies to support Occupy Houston.

While we should vote in every election, the energy and hope we are seeing from the Occupy Wall Street movement is more positive  and hopeful than anything occurring in our municipal elections.

Here are my endorsements—

Mayor-–I’m leaving my ballot blank for Mayor. I simply don’t believe Mayor Annise Parker has any consistent commitment to progressive values. Good people will disagree, but the Mayor has had two years to offer leadership on pressing issues of poverty and on the lack of broad political participation in Houston. She seems to have little interest in these subjects.

Mayor Parker is likely to win reelection in 2011. The absence of competent and credible opponents, and her campaign war chest of more than $2 million helps make this so. Yet despite her good electoral outlook for 2011, the Mayor is concerned with winning a strong majority of voters in 2011 so as to strengthen her hand with City Council, and to help her fend off challengers in 2013.

I’ve no desire in helping the Mayor accomplish these goals. No matter what percentage of votes cast in 2011 Annise Parker ends up  winning, it will be done with an overall turnout of somewhere between 10% and 15%. There is no way the Mayor will have a credible mandate from an involved public. Why should Mayor Parker be given the illusion of a mandate when she has never engaged in serious grassroots efforts to expand voter turnout in Houston, and when she does not pursue policies that are inclusive of Houstonians of every economic status?

(Update 10/31–Mayor Parker has received a grade of A- for fiscal conservatism from the Texas Conservative Review. I say again that Mayor Parker does not warrant the support of liberals and progressives.)

(Below–Recent picture of ongoing drought in Houston as seen in Memorial Park. The grassroots have dried up. Photo copyright 2011 Neil Aquino)

Council At-Large #1–Incumbent Stephen Costello plays all sides of the political aisle while Green Don Cook does not work hard in his campaigns. Mr. Costello’s Renew Houston plan addresses the serious issue of flooding in Houston, but is also regressive in how it is funded and makes little effort to include green solutions in the plan. I’m leaving my ballot blank in this race.

Council At Large #2–I’m supporting Jennifer Rene Pool in this 10 candidate race.  She will occasionally say liberal and progressive things. Maybe she means some of them.

Council At-Large #3–Incumbent Melissa Noriega is a thoughtful person and has my support.

Council At-Large #4–Green Amy Price is an energetic and upbeat. She works hard to learn the issues and will be a councilmember who seeks solutions and who listens. Incumbent Democrat C.O. Bradford has on his balance sheet his terrible administration of the crime lab when he was Houston’s police chief, and his calls for austerity-type budgeting for Houston.

Council At-Large #5–Only you know if you want to support Jolanda Jones for one last term. She is always involved in some type of fuss. Sometimes it seems to be her fault, while other times it is not her fault. In any case, you wish that Ms.Jones was a more disciplined and effective advocate for the poor and disenfranchised in Houston. Her story on Council seems in good part to be of an opportunity missed. After some thought, I’ve decided I’m going to vote for Ms. Jones.  Ms. Jones made a recent visit to Occupy Houston and I appreciate that fact. I’m not aware of any other incumbent city official who has done the same.

Council District C-–I live in this district. Karen Derr is a more progressive option than Ellen Cohen. I’m going to be voting Ms. Derr. Ms. Cohen is a fund-raising machine who in the recent past has accepted campaign funds from gay marriage opponent Bob Perry. I’d rather have a fresh voice in City Hall rather  than a candidate who seems to have the advantage in part due to her friendship with Mayor Parker, and in part due to her ability to raise a lot of money from big donors. Ms. Cohen gives the impression of being an incumbent even before she is elected.

Council District H–I don’t live in this district. However, incumbent Ed Gonzalez merits mention as a decent person and as someone open to hearing voices on all sides of a debate.

There are also 10 amendments to the Texas Constitution on the ballot. Here is my in-depth analysis of these propositions.

There are 2 resources that stand out when considering our city elections. These resources cover all the Houston district council seats up for election in 2011.

Houston blogger Charles Kuffner has a page at his blog Off The Kuff with his interviews of many of the candidates. This page also has links to the websites of the candidates and listings of selections by the various interest groups that endorse in city elections.

The League of Women Voters of the Houston Area offers a voter’s guide that profiles and asks questions of all the Houston candidates.

Fellow blogger Perry Dorrell at Brains And Eggs has made a series of excellent posts endorsing candidates in Houston for 2011.

Greg Wythe at Greg’s Opinion has also made some well thought-out endorsements.

Houston city elections often seem to be a taxpayer-financed subsidy for a political class of consultants, city contract seekers, and all-purpose opportunists who all have little do with everyday life in Houston.

That said, you should still go and vote. I don’t have the heart to tell you otherwise.

The work of freedom and democracy is up to each of us.

Vote in Houston in 2011 and then commit yourselves to making our local democracy better.

(Below–Houston skyline in 1971. Photo by YixilTesiphon. Here is a link to a history of Houston.) 

October 25, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

It Is Hot And Dry Every Day In Houston, Texas

Two pictures of the record breaking Houston drought as seen in Houston city parks this past Sunday—

Above you see trees losing leaves and dying from a lack of rain in Memorial Park.

And here you see parched grass and an empty park even on a weekend at Discovery Green Park in Houston.

It is hot and dry every day in Houston, Texas. It has reached at least 100 each day in August so far.

(Both photos copyright 2011 Neil Aquino.)

August 23, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | 2 Comments

Not A Place To Sit

Just because you’ve been provided with a bench, does not mean you’ve been offered a place to sit.

This bench is in Houston’s Memorial Park.

Photo copyright Neil Aquino.

December 14, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

What Shall I Do With My Day?—Houston Ship Channel Leads Out To A Wide Sea

I’ve got the day to myself and there are things I plan to accomplish.

1. I’m going to make a blog post. The blog is a daily demand and I sometimes assess if it is worth the effort. I feel it is worth the effort for the moment because it  allows me to have a voice in the world. Even when I am out doing other things, the blog is getting traffic. I view it sometimes like that record playing on the Voyager space probes that transmits facts about the Earth as the Voyagers fly off into space. My message is out there.

(Below–Voyager. Here is the Voyager web home at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory.)

2. I’m going to have lunch at Brady’s Landing which is located on the  Houston Ship Channel.

I enjoy driving down historic Harrisburg Blvd. in Houston. That is how I will get to the Ship Channel. I think about things that once were and how these things are connected to the present day. All things are connected.

The Ship Channel is both organic and man-made. It is the widening and deepening of an existing body of water. You and I are both organic and man-made. We are who we are and we are the creation of the world around us.

Also, the Ship Channel is a narrow body of water that leads out to a wide sea. I find that hopeful. You never know what something will lead if you make an effort.

On my ride, I’ll take my camera and my Flip video camera in case inspiration hits. You never know when you will have a good thought.

(Below–The Houston Ship Channel)

3. I’m going to take a walk in Memorial Park here in Houston. There is a jogging/walking trail in this park. Jogging is not civilized. While I’ve never done any jogging, it looks jarring. All that wear and tear. On the other hand, a nice thoughtful walk  will make me a better husband, friend and citizen.

(Below–Memorial Park.)

4. I have a bunch of other stuff to do as well. Boring stuff like laundry.

If I sit here all morning with the blog, I will never get to any of those things—So now I’m hitting the road.

Thanks for reading the blog and please have a hopeful, creative, and liberal day.

April 21, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | 3 Comments

I Was Accosted By Angry Weirdo Because I Was Reading Ted Kennedy’s Book

This afternoon I took a walk in Houston’s Memorial Park while reading a book. I often read while I walk when on the Memorial Park walking/jogging trail.

The book I read today was Ted Kennedy’s recently published autobiography. It is called True Compass–A Memoir.

One-third through the book so far, it is a title I can recommend. While an autobiography must often be taken with a grain of salt, there is a measure of candor. The Kennedy story is so well-known that readers can fill in some of the gaps on their own. 

More to the substance of what is gained by reading this title, it is interesting to learn how the Kennedy’s lived as a private family. As I get further along, I’d like to understand better how Senator Kennedy was able to maintain friendships with Republican Senators. Did he do it because it made him more effective as a Senator? Or did he really find a way to look past what in my view are frequent acts of evil by these people?  

Also, it is simply interesting to know what Senator Kennedy thought of the people and events he had seen over his life.

Here is the New York Times review of this book.

As I was walking in the park with my book, another man who was walking asked me what I was reading. This happens sometimes. 

This person was maybe in his 50′s.

I don’t mind talking to people, but what he asked me was—”What are you reading? About sex?”

I looked at him for a moment. I was uncertain why he thought I was walking around reading a book about sex.

When he asked me the question he did not know what I was reading. I think it would have been fine with him if I had been walking around the public park with a sex book of some kind.  

I showed the cover of the book. I said I was reading about Ted Kennedy.

This gentleman sure did go on when I told him this fact. He said “That’s terrible!” He went on about people being murdered for reasons of politics and about election fixing and on and on and on until I walked fast enough and far enough to be out of earshot.

He still might be going on.

I hope I had a hand in ruining this guy’s day.

Again, Senator Kennedy’s book is enjoyable and useful. Today it was useful in annoying a wacko.   

Here is the link to liberal magazine The American Prospect. It is always the right time to learn more about liberalism and to recommit yourself to liberalism.

Here is a post I wrote with links to facts about Senator Kennedy’s life and links to information about some of the causes he supported. 

September 24, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Reading Bird Sermon Of St. Francis To A Dancing Duck/Chicken

This is a video of me reading St. Francis of Assisi’s Sermon To The Birds in Houston’s Memorial Park. I’m reading it to a dancing duck/chicken. The video is just under two minutes.

Here is a profile of St. Francis from American Catholic. org.

Here is a link to the Memorial Park Conservancy.

Here is a link to a great deal of information about North American birds from Cornell University.  If you poke around you can learn a lot.

Below is a 1658 painting of St. Francis by Francisco de Zurbaran.

Here is my most recent video before this one—Reading Malcolm X In An Old Black Cemetery.

March 18, 2009 Posted by | Art, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Harris County District Clerk Candidate Jackson Gives Me A Shirt—I Will Wear It Where It Will Be Seen

This afternoon Harris County District Clerk Candidate Loren Jackson gave me a campaign tee shirt. I promised him I would wear this shirt while walking around Houston’s Memorial Park. There is a popular walking/jogging trail at Memorial Park and the shirt will be seen by many voters.   

Candidate Jackson obeys all laws and, unlike his opponent, does not place campaign signs on public property.  

I read as I walk around the Memorial Park trail. Today I will be reading Arthur M. Schlesinger’s Journals 1952-2000.

If you see me, please say hello.

October 3, 2008 Posted by | Books, Campaign 2008, Houston, Politics | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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