Texas Liberal

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One Sentence Reviews Of Last Five Novels I Have Read

Here are one sentence reviews for the last five novels I have read along with a link to each book—

Henderson the Rain King by Saul Bellow—Too much testosterone for my tastes and not as good as its reputation.

The Emperor’s Children by Claire Messud—First-rate story of the shortcomings of literary and Ivy League elite in days leading up to the exploiting of America’s larger vulnerabilities on 9/11.      

Augustus by John Williams—National Book Award winner from 1973 is story of first Roman emperor told by the well-researched imagining of personal and official correspondences.   

The End Of The Affair by Graham Greene–At first I thought nothing would happen in this book, but in the end it read like a thriller. 

Malgudi Days by R.K Narayan–A collection of short stories, it is an account of India that matches your best concepts of that country while remaining surprising and original.

I found The Emperor’s Children the best of this group. Though I would strongly recommend any of the above books with the exception of Henderson.

March 31, 2008 Posted by | Books, Reading Lists | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Poem Called Climate


Here is a poem I wrote called Climate.


Rain coat.


Turn on a light.



Moral climate


As if

No response is possible.

March 31, 2008 Posted by | Poetry | | 3 Comments

Many Despise Political & Intellectual Freedom

Many people despise political and intellectual freedom because they believe the average person can make no good use of it, or, they believe that they themselves are not up to the challenge of using such freedoms well.

Most people yearn to breath free, but it would be a mistake to assume that all do.

March 31, 2008 Posted by | Politics | , | Leave a comment

Photo Of Seaweed and Sea-Tumbleweed

Above is a photo I took of seaweed and what is, as far as I’m concerned, a sea-tumbleweed.

This picture was taken on the Gulf of Mexico side of North Padre Island National Seashore just outside of Corpus Christi.

Here is a definition of seaweed-

Any of various red, green, or brown algae that live in ocean waters. Some species of seaweed are free-floating, while others are attached to the ocean bottom. Seaweed range from the size of a pinhead to having large fronds (such as those of many kelps) that can be as much as 30.5 m (100 ft) in length. Certain species are used for food (such as nori) and fertilizer, and others are harvested for carrageenan and other substances used as thickening, stabilizing, emulsifying, or suspending agents in industrial, pharmaceutical, and food products. Seaweed is also a natural source of the element iodine, which is otherwise found only in very small amounts.

Here is a link to the well-done Seaweed Site. It will teach you a lot about seaweed.

Here is information from NOAA about deep water seaweed in the Gulf of Mexico.

The first tumbleweed I ever saw was covered with snow at a truck stop in Sidney, Nebraska. Though since it was covered with snow it was not tumbling very much.

Here is a link to a tumbleweed farm in Kansas that will ship tumbleweeds around the world.

Here is the definition of a tumbleweed—-

Any of various densely branched annual plants, such as amaranth and Russian thistle, that break off from the roots at the end of the growing season and are rolled about by the wind.  

March 30, 2008 Posted by | Sea Life, Texas | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Because Of Clinton Caused Climate, I Had To Sign Away Status As Obama Delegate For Texas Senate District Convention

On Texas primary night I went to my precinct convention here in Houston and was selected as an Obama delegate for the senate district convention.

This is part of the complicated and silly process used by Texas Democrats to select delegates to the Democratic National Convention.   

I was told on primary night that the senate district convention was likely to be in the evening. But it turned out to be in the morning and I must work in the morning.

So it goes.

I got a call this evening from the Obama leader in my precinct. The delegates for tomorrow’s convention from my precinct drew up a form for me to sign saying I had duly authorized my replacement by the alternate they had selected. 

This was because of the reports going around that the Clinton folks will have lawyers out tomorrow challenging the credentials of Obama delegates.

I’m going to support the Democratic nominee no matter who it turns out to be. It would take a lot to get me to waver from that view.

But I have to say I feel the majority of the suspicion and hostility at work here has come from Senator Clinton’s side. 

I don’t understand why this needs to go on when the national delegate math appears to strongly suggest Senator Obama will win the nomination.

Please click here to view Senator Obama’s campaign webpage. 

March 29, 2008 Posted by | Campaign 2008, Houston, Politics, Texas, Texas Primary '08 | , , , , , | 6 Comments

Measures & Philosophies Of Progress In Houston

A contentious urban planning issue in Houston in recent months has been the so-called Ashby High Rise.

Houston has no zoning codes. You can build pretty much what you want where you want. 

Sleazy developers want to build an absurdly tall building in a residential neighborhood. The building is planned at 23 stories.  

On the other hand, many people of the targeted neighborhood are affluent and strike me as annoying. I just can’t believe, as they assert at times, that they also care about other parts of Houston.

I’m certain many of the individuals fighting the project are decent people. But I’m not aware that this neighborhood was organized before to assist people who live near the stench and toxins of the Houston Ship Channel.

Folks opposed to the high rise have the resources to print up bumper stickers and yard signs. They have a web page. 

A few months ago I suggested the tallest building on Earth should be built in this community.

Maybe a compromise could be that the Ashby high rise is built, but all profits from the project are stripped from the developer and architect.   

That way everybody loses.

I was taking a walk a few days ago and I asked myself why I support the construction of the tallest building on Earth at the Ashby location.   

The most positive outcome of all this seems to be that the City of Houston use the issue as a starting point towards increased regulation of development in Houston.  If people I don’t like are the first to benefit, so be it.

But I just can’t get myself there. 

One sometimes appealing aspect of Houston—when I am feeling the small measure of self-loathing that I see as essential to the broadly healthy personality— is that little pretense is made that it is a decent place. 

Many of Houston’s people are poor and the city is often quite ugly. These facts have been the case for many years now.

A small bit of increased regulation holds out the dispiriting hope that things can be better, when what you really feel is that the people proposing the small changes are not at heart sincere.

You could argue some progress is better than no progress, but I’ve seen many times that a little bit of progress often benefits those who least need the help.

A little bit of progress provides political cover for politicians who at heart lack the political will and imagination to advocate for more substantial change. A little bit of progress allows people to think that things that are bad are instead okay.

The other problem with the some progress is better than no progress point-of-view, is that it is often put forth by people who call themselves “moderates” or “pragmatic.” This implies that others are extremists and off the charts. Only the moderate is being “reasonable.”

Yet in many cases the more moderate position involves letting ongoing wrongs go unaddressed.

This is why Martin Luther King often spoke of “The urgency of now.” (Please click here for my Martin Luther King Reading & Reference List.) 

Also, I find it is often those who already hold power who define what moderation and pragmatism are for the rest of us.   

The people living around the Ashby high rise seem to have been done okay by Houston. So let them have Houston  in all its forms. Build the damn building.

Life is, of course, often a series of incremental steps, and if I had final say-so over the Ashby high rise I suppose I’d veto the project. ( Though I’d squeeze the neighborhood for some cash for other parts of Houston.)

Yet I also know that mammals would not have been able to rule the Earth unless the dinosaurs had gone away. Sometimes—if only just sometimes– life requires sweeping change.

To show I’m reasonable, I no longer support construction of the tallest building on Earth at the Ashby high rise location.

Instead, I now support construction of a biosphere. ( See picture below.) With this compromise solution, local residents who feel the neighborhood would be diminished by a large out-of-scale structure, would now at least have the option of moving into one of the many environments contained within the biosphere.

March 28, 2008 Posted by | Houston, Martin & Malcolm | , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Chinese Islamic Restaurant & Links About Islam In China

A “Chinese Islamic” restaurant has opened in Houston. It is in the location of another Chinese restaurant I often went to but is now closed.

(Update—I have now eaten here three times. It is very good and there is a large menu with many items. The place is clean and the people working there are nice. ) 

The restaurant is called Jamillah Garden and is located at 15514 FM 529 in Houston. Call 281-855-4818 for takeout.  

The word “Jamillah” is a variation of the female Arabic name Jamila. Jamila means beautiful.

Beautiful garden.

Below is a picture of the Bogar Botanical Gardens outside of Jakarta. You see there an Islamic woman enjoying the garden. All people like nice things like a beautiful garden. Here is a link to information about these gardens.

I have not yet visited the Chinese Islamic restaurant. But I will soon. Today I was handed a menu.

What do Islamic Chinese people eat?   

Well–Looking at the menu I see some different offerings from the previous restaurant in that location.

Cold Ox-Tendon for example.  And Spicy Ox-Tripe.

I will order neither item.

There are many lamb dishes. That will do just fine. And many standard Chinese food offerings.

Though the Sweet & Sour Pork is gone.

Here is information on Islamic Dietary restrictions. 

Here is an excerpt from the Koran

“You who believe! Intoxicants and gambling, idols and raffles are only a filthy work of satan, turn aside from them so that you may prosper. Satan only wants to stir up enmity and jealousy among you by means of intoxicants and gambling, and to hinder you from remembering God, and from praying; so will you not abstain?”(5: 90 – 91) 

I don’t follow all that. But I have some sympathy for the position. 

Here are a number of articles about Chinese Muslims from the Islam Awareness Homepage.

The above source says China is 2% Islamic. That comes out to 24 million people.

Here is a BBC story about Chinese Muslims living in the Ningxia province of China

Here is a picture of Yinchuan. This is the capital of Ningxia.  

Here is a history of Muslims in China from the Los Angeles Chinese Learning Center.

Here is an Economist story about Muslims in the Chinese frontier province of Xinjiang.

Here is information on Islam.

Here is an Islamic blogger from the great state of Ohio—The Tales of a Modern Muslimah.  I think she has the makings of a good blog and I hope she begins to post on a more consistent basis.

I hope the new Chinese Islamic Restaurant is a good place and I hope people will be willing to give it a chance.

March 27, 2008 Posted by | Blogging, History, Houston | , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

The Time I Was Mistaken For A Black Man

One time in my life I was mistaken for a black man.

I once worked in the office of a black member of the Cincinnati City Council.

In late 1992-early 1993, my boss, current Ohio State Representative Tyrone Yates, was critical of racial comments made by former Cincinnati Reds owner Marge Schott.

This did not sit well with right-wing bully Bill Cunningham at Cincinnati radio station WLW. 

This is the same Bill Cunningham who made news not long ago at a John McCain rally leading up to the Ohio primary. 

Mr. Cunningham and other WLW programmers encouraged listeners to call Councilman Yates and voice their displeasure about his views on Mrs. Schott’s comments.

We took many hundreds of calls.

Because of death threats our office received, a Cincinnati police officer was posted in our council office for three days.

One caller said to me that because of comments made by Mr. Yates and because I worked in his office, he was going to come to City Hall and “hang you by your black balls.”

I told the caller I was Italian.

He did not miss a beat. He said—“I’ll hang you by your spaghetti.”

Did the caller hate only black people or was he a hater in general? Likely it was a close call.

Often when a black person who speaks up, whether the comments are valid or not—and Tyrone’s comments were valid— that black person is demonized.

Forces of “respectable” conservatism sit back while the shock troops do the dirty work.

We see the pattern today with John McCain silent as Barack Obama is portrayed as some kind of militant. ( The burden is on any black politician to establish that he or she is not some kind of “militant.”)  

We see this in my current hometown of Houston just this morning. The Houston Chronicle reports that Jeremiah Wright has canceled three planned sermons in Houston due to death threats.

Is it any wonder why many black folks, and people of all kinds, don’t see American society as fundamentally decent? 

March 26, 2008 Posted by | Cincinnati, History, Houston | , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Blogger & Wife—8th Anniversary Photo Essay

Today is my eighth wedding anniversary. Ms. Blogger ( No Mrs. for her! ) and I were married March 25, 2000 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Here is a drawing of the ceremony–( No photography was allowed at our wedding. All the photographers we spoke with insisted on some type of payment.)

Yes, we do very much look like Grover and Frances Cleveland.

Please click here to read about 48 year old Grover marrying 21 year old Frances in an 1886 White House ceremony. 

I was very hungover on my wedding day from my all day bachelor party the previous day–

Here is a history of the bachelor party

Below is a photo of a gay wedding. Why can’t gay people get married? Because of miserable bigoted feelings—That is why. Here is a good blog about a gay marriage in Massachusetts.  

Before the ceremony I did my wife’s hair—

Here is a history of hairstyling and hair styles.

Below is a picture of the food at the reception. 

Here is information about what it is like to get married in Vietnam.  

Bronze is the correct gift for an eighth anniversary. See below what I’ll be giving my wife later tonight. ( Please don’t tell Interpol you know where this piece can be found.)

Here is information about the Zhou Dynasty. It goes back nearly 3000 years. Here is information about bronze.

Though we were married 8 years ago, it seems like just yesterday.

Please click here for a real picture of Ms. Blogger on our Wedding Day.

Please click here for a photo essay in favor of voting. 

March 25, 2008 Posted by | History, My Wife Is The Best Person Ever | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Democrats, Republicans, Texans & All People Like Earmarks—Because Earmarks Are Good

Here is a link to a Houston Chronicle story about the widespread good done by federal earmarks in the Houston-area and in Texas.  

Our government has the right and the responsibility to promote the general welfare.  

Earmarks return taxpayer money back to the people in form of help for needed projects that would otherwise go undone, and in the form of the jobs these projects create. 

Here is some of what the story says–

•Earmarks are bipartisan. Sen. Hutchison was the state’s most successful proponent of such spending in 2007, bringing home $254 million in projects. Every other Texas lawmaker in Congress except one, Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Dallas, sought them.

•Military and water projects accounted for nearly 85 percent of the funding of Texas’ earmarks. The military projects included the construction of barracks and other facilities designed to improve the lives of the troops. The water projects included flood-control and dredging programs….

The state won 18 earmarks worth about $6 million for a variety of cultural projects, including the Pearl Fincher Arts Museum in Spring, the Audie Murphy American Cotton Museum in the North Texas town of Greenville and a museum marking the site of a World War II prisoner-of-war camp in the Central Texas community of Hearne.

Other earmarks included agricultural research programs, such as a $242,000 project for bee studies at the Agriculture Research Service in Weslaco in Central Texas and a $111,000 grant for dairy and goat research at Prairie View A&M University.

Don’t be ashamed to tell friends and family that you support earmarks. Earmarks help people in all walks of life and all across the United States.

March 25, 2008 Posted by | Houston, Politics, Taxes---Yes!, Texas | , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Congratulations To Protestors Who Disrupted Olympic Torch Ceremony


Congratulations to the protesters who disrupted the torch lighting ceremony in Athens for the Beijing Olympic games.

Here is a story about the protests

Update 4/8/08Here is a story about further protests against the torch run. Protestors forced the torch to be extinguished in Paris.

Above you see the Reporters Without Borders Olympic handcuff flag. Click here to learn more about Reporters Without Borders. 

The immediate cause of the protest was the Chinese denial of freedom in Tibet. 

In addition to Tibet, the Chinese goverment denies political freedom to more than one billion people who live in China.

The Summer Olympics were held in Nazi Germany in 1936 and in the Soviet Union in 1980.    

Here is the story about the torch lighting ceremony on the official web page of the U.S Olympic team. No mention is made here of the disruption. 

How can our U.S. Olympic team represent American values when it ignores people fighting for freedom?     

March 24, 2008 Posted by | Politics | , , , , , , | 5 Comments

You Can Tip The Person Who Helps You At The Dunkin’ Donuts

You can tip the person who helps you at the Dunkin’ Donuts.

( Above is my local Dunkin’ Donuts. I think it is an older store. )

You can tip at any place you feel you’ve received good service and you figure the staff is not paid very much.

Take this morning for example.

I ordered one dozen doughnuts, two cups of coffee, and a cup of tea from the Dunkin’ Donuts. ( I was hungry and thirsty.) 

The young lady who helped me was on the ball so I tipped her.

There you have it.

Here is a history of doughnuts. 

March 24, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

I Know Who Spray Painted The Anarchy Symbol On The Statue Of President Garfield

Above you see a statue of President James Garfield. This statue is located in Piatt Park in Cincinnati, Ohio

If you look closely at the base of the statute, you’ll see a faded anarchy symbol.

That anarchy symbol was spray painted on the statue somewhere between 15 and 20 years ago.

I remember the first time I saw the statute after it was spray painted.

I said to myself something along the lines of–“I bet I know whoever the person is who did that.” 

I had no idea who had done it. I just was fairly certain that it was some person I would know.

It was only last year that I asked somebody I thought might know who had vandalized the statue.

That person told me who did it and it was indeed somebody I had known.

If you’re reading this from the cold case unit of the Cincinnati Police Department, I can tell you that the guilty party is now dead.    

20 years ago I was a punk rocker.

At 40, I’ve moved even further down the social scale by being a blogger.

Please click here for my greatest punk rock moments.

Please click here for information on James Garfield.

Please Click here for information on Piatt Park.

March 23, 2008 Posted by | Cincinnati, History | , , , , | 1 Comment

Photo Of Old Typewriters And Link To Typewriter History And Facts

Here is a photo of old-time typewriters from the Corpus Christi Museum of Science and History.

Here is an excellent page of history and facts about typewriters.

It seems the idea of the typewriter goes back to 1714. 

The museum is very well done. Here is the link to see what they have on exhibit.

March 22, 2008 Posted by | History, Texas | , , , , | 4 Comments

Poem Called Self-Reliance

Here is a poem I wrote called Self-Reliance

He did not imagine the characters

He did not write the script

When told he was the author

He immediately saw the trick

March 22, 2008 Posted by | Poetry | | 2 Comments