Texas Liberal

All People Matter

Michelle Obama & Ted Kluszewski—Both Sleeveless

Ted Kluszewski

February 28, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | 5 Comments

In Galveston Today—Extinct Fish, Sea Monsters, Mermaids, Merbabies And Neptune

What do I hope to see and film in Galveston today when I go down to the island with my new Flip Camera to film some videos for this blog?

(Update–Here is the video I recorded in Galveston.)

Extinct sea beasts ( Here is information on prehistoric fish.)  

File:Stethacanthus BW.jpg

Sea monsters  (Here are drawings of all types of sea monsters) —

Mermaids ( Here are mermaids from the American Museum of Natural History.) —

Mermaids with merbabies (Yep–That’s a real painting. By an Arnold Bocklin who lived from 1827 until 1901. Check out this one.)

And, of course, Neptune himself  (Here is a measure of information on Neptune.) —


Here are some things you might also see if you visit Galveston.

Thank you for reading Texas Liberal. Without the blog reading public, what is a blog?

February 27, 2009 Posted by | Art, Blogging, Galveston | , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Seeking The Unified Disco Ball Of Existence

(Blogger’s note–Short posts this week as I think out my next blogging move.)

Yesterday I wrote a status update on Facebook saying I wanted my mind to be flexible enough to find coherence out of the fragments of life.

My friend Kip from Cincinnati—that’s just who he is, “Kip from Cincinnati”—-remarked that this thought was, in essence, looking for a disco ball instead of a broken mirror.

Excellent. That’s right.

From the fragments that comprise daily life, I’m looking to put it all together in a  “Unified Disco Ball of Existence” ……  

….Instead of being lost in a senseless pattern of broken shards of glass.

Kip’s thought reminded me once again that, in many cases at least, we are only as smart as the people around us.

February 26, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | 2 Comments

Big Texas Liberal Blogging Announcement & Innovation

Hello Blog Reading Public!

I’ve purchased one of the small Flip Cameras because I’m going to film videos and post them on this blog from time-to-time.  I have many ideas for these videos—Though as yet these ideas are not fully formed.

( Update–Here is the link to the first video I recorded.)

(Above–19th Century camera. This would be a bit bulky to carry around. Here is some history of 19th century photography.)

Over the next week, I’m going to think what I would like to say, do and film in my videos. I’m going to test the camera both inside and outside to see how it works in various settings and how well it records sound. Later this week, I’m going to go to Galveston, Texas, on the sunny shores of the Gulf of Mexico, and film my first videos.  

(Below–A movie camera of a type still in use. It is an Arricam ST. This camera is a bit elaborate for what I plan to be doing. Think of the batteries it must take. ) 

Because I want to do the videos right, I’m going to post on a reduced basis for the next week or so here at Texas Liberal. There’s only so much time I can spend blogging while keeping my job and spending time with the excellent wife. 

I’ll post a picture or something else short and easy.  Despite these short posts, I urge regular readers to still visit the blog as often as possible. The higher my blog traffic each day, the better I feel about the collective judgement of those I share the planet with.

(Below–A disposable camera. Hopefully you’ll feel that this blog merits more than one use.)

Texas Liberal has averaged 1645 page views a day since the first of the year. I have the goal of being the largest individually operated political blog in Houston and in Texas. I’m also a featured political reader blogger at the Houston Chronicle. (And I post on things other than politics as well.)

( Below–This self-portrait of one Robert Cornelius from 1839 is said to be the first picture of a person ever taken. Will anything I do last 170 years?)

If you like this blog, please forward the link. A blog grows one reader at a time.  Please also feel free to add me as a friend on Facebook. My name is Neil Aquino and I live in Houston. My profile picture at the moment is a boat stuck on land after Hurricane Ike.

Thank you for reading Texas Liberal. If you have any ideas for my videos, please offer a comment.  

(Below–A Flip Camera just like the one I now have. I hope I do a good and creative job with my videos. Please visit Texas Liberal very often and see how I am doing.) 

February 24, 2009 Posted by | Blogging, Galveston, My Wife Is The Best Person Ever | , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Censure Texas State Representative Leo Berman

Texas State Representative Leo Berman, a Republican from Tyler, should be censured by the Texas House of Representatives. This is the view of  the leading political bloggers in Texas. It is the view of all   freedom-loving Texans.

Reasons for Mr. Berman’s censure by the full Texas House of Representatives, and a full account of his appalling, insensitive, hard-hearted, and racially charged behavior as a Member of the Texas House are found at Censureleo.com.  

From CensureLeo.com

“On Thursday, February 18, 2009, State Rep. Leo Berman (R-Tyler) committed an act which we believe constitutes conduct unbecoming a member of the Texas Legislature—for which he should be censured by members of the Texas House of Representatives… After a panel discussion sponsored by Texas Employers for Immigration Reform, Rep. Berman was engaged in a heated verbal conflict with Harry Joe, a Chinese American immigration lawyer from Dallas…. Berman, who was invited to participate in a panel discussion to speak about a bill he authored requiring illegal immigrants to relocate to “sanctuary cities,” was approached by Mr. Joe after the session….Following their exchange, Berman told Harry Joe to “go home” (as in “back to China”) and “kiss my ass.”…While the Rules of the Texas House of Representatives set forth no specific standards for member decorum and behavior, it is clear to most people that Berman’s actions are clearly unbecoming a member of the Texas Legislature….The Texas House of Representatives should immediately censure Berman and condemn his conduct….We–netroots activists from across Texas–seek to see the Texas House of Representatives pass a resolution censuring Rep. Berman. Using this site, you can find out how to contact your Representative to urge them to support a censure resolution, and how to contact House Speaker Joe Straus to demand that the Speaker formally and officially condemn Rep. Berman’s conduct.”

Please visit CensureLeo.com and see what steps you can take to make sure that Mr. Berman is called to account for his poor behavior while in the performance of his duties as an elected representative of the people in the State of Texas.

February 24, 2009 Posted by | Politics, Texas | , , , | 11 Comments

Lady Fishing In D.C. Tidal Basin—1957

Image, Source: digital file from original

Above is a person fishing in the Tidal Basin in Washington, D.C.,  in 1957.

Here is the current fishing forecast for the D.C .Tidal Basin.

Here are facts about the Tidal Basin. 

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

The picture was taken by Toni Frissell. She took many pictures and is worth your further review.

About Ms. Frissell—

“Toni Frissell (1907-1988) …a photojournalist and fashion photographer..She demonstrated ..versatility.. in her work as a staff photographer for Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, and Sports Illustrated and in her publication of several photographically illustrated books, ranging from A Child’s Garden of Verses (1944) to The King Ranch, 1939-1944 (1975).

Frissell is perhaps best known for her pioneering fashion photography and her informal portraits of the famous and powerful in the United States and Europe, including Winston Churchill, Eleanor Roosevelt, and John F. and Jacqueline Kennedy. She is noted for taking fashion photography out of the studio into the outdoors, thus placing an accent on the active woman. She is also known for the imaginative angles, both physical and metaphorical, from which she covered her subjects.”

February 23, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | 7 Comments

Brendan Halpin—Please Consider Reading His Fine Novels

Brendan Halpin is one of America’ s leading novelists. If you’ve not heard of him, where have you been?

Brendan’s most recent title, Forever Changes, is a compelling story.

This is how Brendan describes Forever Changes

“Forever Changes is a novel about life, death, math, and Love (the emotion and the band).  It’s the story of a high school senior with Cystic Fibrosis whose unlikely friendship with her calculus teacher, who claims to have been the guitarist for Love, helps her to come to terms with her own mortality.  But it’s not about dying–it’s about living with the knowledge that you’re going to die. Which is really everyone’s problem; it’s just that it’s a more immediate issue for some people than others. ” 

Brendan is, as I am, a native of Cincinnati, Ohio. You might think, based on this blog, that all anyone from Cincinnati can do is spend hours of his life working on a blog that does not earn a single penny. 


Brendan Halpin, one of America’s most beloved authors, has published seven books.  You can click here to visit Brendan’s blog and see all his titles.  You can poke around his blog and get a sense of his work. Brendan has written both adult and young adult titles. He’s also written non-fiction. It Takes A Worried Man is a well-reviewed account of Brendan’s late wife’s fight against breast cancer.

Give Brendan a shot. Though he has some success getting his work published, making a buck can, in fact, be a harder thing than getting published. The hours and thought that Brendan puts into his writing also have great value as man cannot live on bread alone. 

Brendan is currently a teacher in Boston.

February 23, 2009 Posted by | Books, Cincinnati | , , , | Leave a comment

Massive Fossil Find–Should Ice Age Creatures Be Brought Back From The Dead?

A big find of ice age fossils has been discovered in Los Angeles. These fossils are near the La Brea Tar Pit.

( Above–Los Angeles!)

(Here is information on the concept of an Ice Age. Here is information on the La Brea Tar Pits.

(Above–Bubbly La Brea Tar Pit. )

From the Los Angeles Times story on the fossil find

“Workers excavating an underground garage on the site of an old May Co. parking structure in Los Angeles’ Hancock Park got more than just a couple hundred new parking spaces. They found the largest known cache of fossils from the last ice age, an assemblage that has flabbergasted paleontologists.”

Below is a LA Times photo of the fossil dig–

Fossils at Rancho La Brea

Can these Ice Age beasts be brought back to life with DNA? If they could be brought back to life, maybe they could be taught tricks and be shown off at some type of Ice Age World theme park.

According the magazine New Scientist the following things will be needed to bring an extinct ice age beast back to life—

* Well-preserved DNA.

* Several billion DNA building blocks.

* A suitable surrogate species

* Some seriously advanced technology.

(Here is the full New Scientist article on this subject. This magazine is available on many newsstands and for online subscription. Nothing is free in the end.)

From the New Scientist article, here are the steps that need to be taken to bring back an extinct animal—

1. Extract the DNA from your extinct species, sequence the fragments and assemble to obtain a complete genome.

 2. Now take your DNA building blocks and recreate the DNA of your extinct beast, in the correct number of chromosomes. 

3. Package the chromosomes up into an artificial nucleus and pop it in an egg collected from your suitable surrogate species. This should then develop into an embryo, which will be a clone of a long-dead animal.

4. Grow a baby animal from the embryo. For mammals, implant the embryo in the womb of a compatible surrogate mother. For a reptile or bird, incubate embryo using yet-to-be-developed techniques. For an amphibian or fish where fertilisation takes place outside the body, just sit back and watch.

Beasts that could possibly be brought back include the Woolly Rhinceros  , Sabre-Toothed Tiger, Short-Faced Bear and Irish Elk.

It is not certain to me that these creatures should be brought back to existence even if possible.

First, there is the prospect that they could come back as some sort of vampire creatures if raised from the dead.

It’s possible these creatures would harbor an “Ice Age Pox” that would wipe out half our population.

Also, these revived beasts would be seen as nothing but freaks. Theme parks and zoos would bid for them and they would become no more than modern day Shamus.

I say let these creatures rest.

(Below–Irish Elk skeleton.)

February 22, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Obama And Clinton Must Maintain Human Rights Pressure On China

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, while on a tour of Asia,  has said that human rights issues in China should not interfere with areas of possible cooperation with China. Secretary Clinton mentioned climate change and the global economic downturn as other issues in U.S.–China relations.

As important as these issues are, how can the freedom of over a billion people not be at the top of the Obama-Clinton agenda for our China policy? 

Here is what Amnesty International says about Mrs. Clinton’s remarks–

“T. Kumar, Amnesty International USA advocacy director for Asia and the Pacific, made the following statement in response to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s comments to reporters that human rights will not be at the top of her agenda in her first visit to China”

“Amnesty International is shocked and extremely disappointed by U.S. Secretary Clinton’s comments that human rights will not be a priority in her diplomatic engagement with China.

“The United States is one of the only countries that can meaningfully stand up to China on human rights issues. But by commenting that human rights will not interfere with other priorities, Secretary Clinton damages future U.S. initiatives to protect those rights in China.

“The Chinese people face a dire situation. Crackdowns on Tibetans, Uighurs and religious groups such as the Falun Gong are widespread, resulting in thousands of political prisoners–some of whom have been executed. Half a million people are currently in labor camps. Women face forced abortion and sterilization as part of China’s enforcement of its one-child policy.

“It’s not too late for Secretary Clinton to do the right thing for the Chinese people. Amnesty International urges Secretary Clinton to repair the damage caused by her statement and publicly declare that human rights are central to U.S.-China relations before she leaves Beijing.”

I agree with Amnesty’s view of this question. I hope that President Obama and Secretary Clinton will reflect further on this concern and choose a more just and decent path. 

Here is the web home of Amnesty International USA.

February 21, 2009 Posted by | Barack Obama | , , , , | 4 Comments

Eleanor Tinsley Thought Houston Was Important


It can be difficult to take Houston seriously. Our  people and elected leaders often do not seem to feel the place has much value. The population is transient—of course a lot of the transience has to do with the need to make a living—voter turnout in city elections is low, poverty is accepted as simply part of Houston’s natural condition, there’s little sense of history, and the few civic-minded citizens sometimes don’t seem to care about the place outside of the inner-core of the 610 loop.

For all these reasons, I read with some interest the obituary of former school board member and Houston city councilmember Eleanor Tinsley. Ms. Tinsley died on February 10 at age 82. This was a person who seemedto really believe  that Houston was important.

(Above–Ms. Tinsley watching a billboard being torn down in January of this year.  Ms. Tinsley despised billboards.) 

From her obituary in the Houston Chronicle–

“The former Houston school board chair and city councilwoman died of cancer…. at 82, a dozen days after she was honored at a fundraising luncheon for the local branch of Planned Parenthood. There, she told the audience why friends frequently brought her turtle-shaped objects from around the world. Turtles were her personal symbol, she said, because they only get things done when they stick out their necks.

The critics who portrayed Tinsley as the raging queen of liberal causes, government over-reaching and the “nanny state” were hardly the most venomous of her enemies. Unidentified people threw grease, garbage and black roses on her southwest Houston lawn during school integration in the early 1970s, friends and former aides recalled Tuesday. Death threats forced city officials to remove her name from a reserved City Hall parking space in the early 1980s as she pushed for fluoridization of the east side water supply.”

If Ms. Tinsley could risk all that harassment over integrating Houston’s schools, why do we accept our city leaders today who are silent on so many basic questions of quality of life and social justice?

However, since I can only control my actions, maybe the message of Ms. Tinsley’s life is that I should take Houston more seriously despite it’s many many flaws and absurdities.

I’ll think that issue over.

February 21, 2009 Posted by | Houston, Politics | , , | 4 Comments

Is 100 Foot Snake Larger Than Face On Mars?

The snake-like monster of Borneo in an allegedly real photograph of the river Baleh. The creature is said to be 100 feet long. Look at the apparent sizes of the trees and make your own geometrical judgment. The photographer is unknown. 

Is the above pictured 100 foot long snake in Borneo larger than the Face On Mars?

Here are some facts about snakes. Read and learn.

The picture of the 100 foot snake has just emerged in recent days.

I’ll leave it up to you decide which is larger. I just know that I’d like to see both these things  before the world ends in 2012.

Here are some facts about Mars. Read and learn.

If the world ends in 2012 I will suspend regular posting on this blog.

February 20, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | 4 Comments

The Vulgar Lady At Subway

Today I was in line at Subway. It was lunch time and there were maybe 15 people in line. The line was moving at a good clip.

When I was third to last in the line, a woman of about 60 walked up and asked the woman in front of me in  line if she could cut. She said she was running late. Somewhat to my surprise, the person in front of me said yes.

The cut-ahead lady then asked the next people up in line if she could cut past them. They said no.

When up at the sandwich line, the cut-ahead lady used the word “want” a lot. I’ve come to note use of this word as a mark of a vulgar person. She said, ”I want a turkey sandwich.” Or, “I want lettuce.”

The right way to say it is “May I please have a turkey sandwich?” Or, “lettuce please.”

“Want” is a vulgar term. As is the word “need.” As in “I need a turkey sandwich.” Starving people need food. You don’t “need” a turkey sandwich when you had breakfast a few hours ago and have every reason to expect dinner at the end of the day.

After her sandwich was made, the cut-ahead lady did not thank the person who made the sandwich. She just paid up and left.

This was a very rude and vulgar person. I hope she is a regular reader of this blog so she can realize the error of her ways.  There is no reason to use words such as “want” and “need” when we have the option of saying “may I please have.”

I am tired of people’s poor behavior and I have a blog available to me here to express this feeling.

February 20, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | 9 Comments

Light Rail In Houston And The Chimpanzee I Don’t Want To Be

It is difficult to know how to feel about the proposed extension of light rail in Houston.

(Above–Transportation in Minsk, Belarus.)

Four new lines, all in the inner loop as far I can determine, are on the table for a vote of the Metro Board in March. The cost of this project is said to be $2.6 billion. 

On one hand, I support mass transit. On the other hand, I support mass transit for all the people. Not just inside the loop.

For example, there is no bus on Highway 6 in-between 1960 and Westheimer. Yet many people live and work in this area and Highway 6 gets more busy each day.

How can we commit $ 2.6 billion for transit inside the loop without addressing all of Houston and the suburbs? (And when will all our Harris County suburbs grow up and incorporate and elect mayors and city councils and establish a police force beyond the Harris County Sheriff? Maybe these folks would get better services if they’d incorporate and find a coherent voice. )

A regional transit authority is clearly needed. Please click here to see my previous post of the likelihood of a regional transit authority in the Houston-area.

Then you have the issue of the folks on each side of the debate.

Seemingly against any extension of mass transit are folks who reflexively oppose government, hate taxes more than they value the future, and who think that if only they can stop the bus from coming their neighborhoods will be able to keep out “undesirables.”  I have supported light rail in Houston so far because it annoys conservatives to such a degree.

On the other side of the rail debate are what are often the most annoying folks of all. Liberals that I share 90%  in common with, but that remaining 10% is a difference in sensibilities that makes me want to send a check to the National Rife Association. An inside-the-loop focus that in the end values pragmatism and order over imagination and justice. These are the kind of folks I see getting most excited over these train cars. 

( And the idea that some have of streetcars for Houston! Oh!  As it says in Ecclesiastes– “Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities…..”  Must we spend public dollars to remake a small portion of the county in the imagined self-image of a narrow few? )

Here is part of the Phil Ochs song Love Me I’m A Liberal

I cried when they shot Medgar Evers
Tears ran down my spine
I cried when they shot Mr. Kennedy
As though I’d lost a father of mine
But Malcolm X got what was coming
He got what he asked for this time
So love me, love me, love me, I’m a liberal.

It’s like how I can’t stand chimps and monkeys. I despise them for being so like myself, yet being something I very much don’t want to be.  I don’t want to be a nasty chimp. I don’t want to be a process-orientated  liberal who gets excited about boondoggle train cars in my neck of the woods while folks out in county can’t get a ride to work. Mass transit should not be about what seems cool or neat. It should be about getting people where they need to go. 

So where do I come down on the question of light rail for Houston?

When all is said and done, I’m for it as an extension of government in a small government region and state, as a job creation project, and because of the people it frustrates. It’s not like we’ll spend the money on something useful if we don’t build the trains. As for light rail being part of a coherent transit policy for the entire region, that is not part of the debate at this point. 

Light rail, so far, seems more an inner-loop vanity and a conceit to try to turn Houston into something it is not. But since it’s opponents offer nothing more useful than more highway building and endless government bashing, I say build the damn thing and let them stew. I’m with the chimps on this one. (Because, as I  sometimes face up to, I’m one of the chimps more than I’d like to admit. It can take so much effort not to revert to a less developed state. )

Now if we want to be serious and plan for light rail across the county and region, that’s something I could be on board with.

February 19, 2009 Posted by | Houston, Music | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What Is The World’s Biggest Insect?

Two nights ago my wife asked me to put outside a tiny bug that was crawling around our home. We did not kill the creature as all it wanted to do was crawl about and live. Now if it had been bigger and more scary looking…well we might have picked an alternate course.

Please don’t think the wife could not put the bug out herself. It’s just I was around and I should be good for something.

The little bug got  me wondering–What is the world’s biggest insect?


The picture at the top of this post is the answer to that question. It is a bug that is 55.6 centimeters long. How long is that? I don’t honestly know. Here is some information on the metric system if you’d like to figure it out. I think that what we can be certain about is that the bug in the picture is long enough.

Here is a story about the bug in the picture. The article says that the bug is nearly as long as your arm. Maybe this is not the heaviest insect in the world, but it does appear to be the longest one.

It lives on the top of trees in the rain forests in Borneo.  It is newly discovered and is called Chan’s Megastick.

If the wife and I saw this bug at home, we would leave and let the bug have the place.

February 18, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | 4 Comments

Shopping In Houston–1943

Image, Source: digital file from intermediary roll film

Above is a photo of people shopping in Downtown Houston in 1943.

This picture is from the American Memory project of the Library of Congress. The photo was taken by John Vachon.

February 18, 2009 Posted by | Houston | , | Leave a comment