Texas Liberal

All People Matter

I Mailed A Letter—Someone Would No Doubt Enjoy A Letter From You

A few days back, I mailed a letter for the first time in at least 3 or 4 years.

Below you see my notecard, envelope, dictionary and pen.

I mailed the letter to someone I know in Amsterdam.

I’m thinking that I may start to write a letter each week.

I bet there is somebody in the world who would be happy to get a letter from you.

People should slow down and reflect and keep in touch with others.

If you don’t, you’ll always be rushed and out of touch. Who wants to live like that?

November 18, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Staircase To The Ocean

Here is a picture of a staircase that leads to the ocean. I took this picture yesterday.

The staircase extends from the Galveston Seawall to the Gulf of Mexico.

The oceans are all connected and occupy a great deal of the Earth’s surface. Though you would not get very far into all that connectedness if you were to walk down this staircase.

There is a path to feeling connected to more of our world. The most obvious and visible route may not be the route to that feeling of connection.

November 17, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | 2 Comments

Names On The Land Is Lunchtime Reading On Shores Of Gulf Of Mexico

It is always good to read a book with lunch or with any meal.

Find some time by yourself and use that time to read and think.

With my seafood platter in Galveston today, I read Names On The Land—A Historical Account Of Place-Naming In The United States. This book, written by George Stewart, was first published in 1945 and revised in 1957 and 1967.

As you might guess from the title, this book discusses how place names orginated in the U.S.

For example—Wheeling, as on Wheeling, West Virginia, comes from a Native American word that means ” place of the head.”

This is the name of Wheeling becuase the city was founded at a place where these native people had killed a captive of some sort and stuck his head on a sharp pole.

November 16, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | 3 Comments

At First There Was No Sun, But Now There Is Some Sun

This morning there was no sun at all in Houston and Galveston. As you can see by the picture, there is at least some sun now in Galveston and the Gulf of Mexico.

Things are looking up.

Though clouds or sun, it is always a good day to take a walk in Galveston.

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

Gene Locke Willing To Tell Bigger Lies Than Annise Parker To Win Right-Wing Voters

Gene Locke, a Democrat running for Mayor of Houston, has apparently entered into a coalition or agreement of some kind with local far-right conservatives.

Mr. Locke’s rival for Mayor, City Controller Annise Parker, is a lesbian. These conservatives don’t want a gay Mayor. Mr. Locke, a black man, seems willing to use these prejudices to help get elected.

Ms. Parker has also sought the support of Republicans and conservatives in this election. The Mayor’s race has not featured a credible Republican candidate, so Democrats Locke and Parker have in essence lied to convey the idea that they are acceptable to Republicans.

( Does Ms. Parker think that Republicans here in Houston, Texas who might vote for her are enlightened in some fashion? Could she please point us to the enlightened wing of the Republican Party in Texas?)

Mr. Locke has no known history of bias towards gay folks. It’s clear enough that he’ll do pretty much anything to win.

Ms. Parker will not do anything to win. She would likely lose a “lie-off” with Mr. Locke. I doubt she’ll fake hating black folks to win that segment of the hate vote.

Another thing Ms. Parker hasn’t done to win is energize the Democratic base in our majority-Democratic city of Houston with a consistent focus on social and economic justice and fair play.

Mr. Locke is a wrongdoer. Decent folks in our city would be crazy to vote this guy.

As for Ms. Parker—I can offer my enthusiastic support of the clear fact that she is at least not Gene Locke.

November 15, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | 3 Comments

Most Muslims Want No Trouble—It Is The Simplest Stuff That Needs To Be Repeated Most Often

An Islamic person is the alleged shooter in the Fort Hood massacre earlier this week.

There is a mosque that has connections to Houston that is under federal investigation for links to Iran—but nothing yet has been established as certain.

Muslim individauls are seen by many in our nation as guilty by defintion for acts of terrorism.

But the fact is that there are hundreds of millions of Muslims in the world, and very few of them want trouble.

They want satellite television and Coca-Cola and porn and soccer and they want their kids to be able to come to America and get high SAT math scores.

It is possible that many Muslims could be complicent by silence to bad acts. Though this is a charge that could be brought against people all around the world.

It is often the simplest stuff that needs to be repeated the most.

Even decent people can fall into a mental habit of seeing people for something other than what they truly are in life.

There are hundreds of millions of Muslim folks in the world and very few of them want any trouble.

November 14, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

Are American Workers Overpaid?—We Need To Find A Viable Economic Future

A recent New York Times story suggests that the wages Americans earn for manufacturing work may have to decline as much as 20% to remain competitive with global rivals.

From the story—

“Of course, workers in the United States should earn more than their peers in China, Moldova or Vietnam. Americans take advantage of the higher productivity that makes their country rich: better education and infrastructure, abundant capital and a strong work ethic. But how much higher should American wages be? The answer depends in large part on two measures: the difference in productivity in making goods that can be traded across borders, and the quantity of such goods. Both measures point to a narrowing wage gap. Many factors are raising productivity in poor countries. Fast development, cheap capital and more efficient shipping all help. Cheap communication via the Internet reduces costs and makes it easy to trade many more goods and especially services.The global wage gap has been narrowing, but recent labor market statistics in the United States suggest the adjustment has not gone far enough.

One indicator is unemployment, which has risen unexpectedly rapidly. The 7.3 million jobs lost are more than triple the 2 million during the 1980-82 recession. Some of that huge increase reflects the sharp decline in gross domestic product, but there could be another factor: the recession shows that many workers are paid more than they’re worth. Another possible sign is the huge surge in reported productivity, which has begun while output is declining. That suggests that some production is being outsourced, often to lower-paid foreign workers.

The big trade deficit is another sign of excessive pay for Americans. One explanation for the attractive prices of imported goods is that American workers are paid too much relative to their foreign peers.

Global wage convergence is great for the poor but tough on the overpaid. It’s possible to run the numbers to show that American manufacturing workers should take average real wage cuts of as much as 20 percent to get into global balance. The required cut may be smaller. But if American wages get stuck above global market-clearing levels, as in the 1930s, the result could well be something approaching Depression-era levels of unemployment. Anything would be better than that. Both moderate inflation to cut real wages and a further drop in the dollar’s real trade-weighted value might be acceptable.”

It is hard to look at the future and see good prospects for the average American worker. Most folks are never going to be able to find jobs in “knowledge industries” or whatever term is used at the moment to denote jobs for the relative articulate and skilled few in a country that has no real interest in educating all people. Why would our elite pay the taxes needed to create competitors for their children for the shrinking supply of good jobs? Where would a fully educated workforce find jobs?

This fact of a hard-pressed American labor force is one of many reasons the health care reform “debate” is so maddening. Where do people think they are going to find good benefits in the future? If government does not help provide good health insurance, where do people think it will come from as employers cut back?

The American Prospect, a liberal magazine of politics and views, has a series of articles that discuss the role regulation,  organizing by workers, and sound public policy can play in helping maintain a supply of good jobs in our country.

Regardless of one’s politics, how can anybody in this country look at the economic future and feel hopeful about the path ahead? The issue is not people in other countries who have a right to decent lives no different from anyone in the United States. The issue is what we do as working people here in America to make sure that we have  a viable future in a changing world.

November 13, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | 2 Comments

People Often Do Lousy Things Simply Because They Are Able To Do So

The illustration in this post is of folks shooting alligators for the hell of it on a boat traveling on Houston’s Buffalo Bayou. This was in the late 19th-century.

People do harmful things often not for any real reason, but simply because they are able to do so.

November 12, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment

I Missed Chance For Chocolate Covered Bacon

Here is a picture I took of the chocolate covered bacon stand at the Indiana State Fair last August.

This was the only time I’ve ever seen chocolate covered bacon for sale. I wish I had bought some at the fair.

I’m not certain when I’ll ever get another chance to enjoy this delicacy.

November 12, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment

Today Is Veteran’s Day

Today is Veteran’s Day.

Those who have served in our wars since 1776 have risked everything for the good of others.

In our all volunteer forces of today, it is just a few who are willing to serve.

Thank you to our veterans and to those who serve today.

November 11, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | | 1 Comment

Sultry Pilgrim Holds Turkey—Women In Colonial New England

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Above you see a sultry Pilgrim holding a Thanksgiving Turkey.

She’s going to have that turkey beheaded and served up for dinner.

What was the role of women in Colonial Massachusetts and Colonial New England?

From American Colonies—The Settling Of North America by Alan Taylor—

“It took a family to cope with the diverse and constant demands of building and maintaining a farm in New England. English culture expected all adults to marry and divided their labors into male and female responsibilities. Men conducted the heaviest work, including clearing, constructing, tending the livestock, harvesting the hay, and cultivating the grain crops. Women maintained the home and its nearby garden, cared for the numerous children, made clothing and soap, and prepared and preserved foods, including butter, eggs and cheese. But when a husband was away or incapacitated, the wife also had to assume his labors, taking the role of  ” deputy husband” until he returned or recovered….The New English understood marriage as both romantic and economic. Husband and wife were supposed to be both temperamentally and financially compatible…As in the mother country, New English men monopolized legal authority, landownership and political rights….In all this, New England simply replicated the gender hierarchy of the mother country. More noteworthy are the modest ways in which the Puritan faith provided a bit more authority, protection, and respect for women in New England than they enjoyed in the Chesapeake or the old England. … Above all, Puritanism preached the  importance of love and mutual respect as the foundations of Christian marriage.”

American Colonies is a great book.

 Take the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday to learn more about our colonial origins.

A great source to learn this history is the blog History of American Women.

November 10, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Old Car At Metabolife Booth

Here is an old car that is pulled up to the Metabolife booth.

The booth does not appear to be well-attended.

The driver of the car must be out looking for the person who should be in the booth.

When you are out driving around, you never know what you will see.

I took this picture while out driving around.

I don’t know that I have ever seen a Metabolife booth. I don’t really even know what Metabolife is—Though I’m not fully certain one can get the things they need in life from a booth.

Maybe you will find the things you need in a library.

I located a Salon article where Bill Bradley and his wife walked past a Metabolife booth in New Hampshire in 1999 when Senator Bradley was seeking the 2000 Democratic Presidential nomination.

From the articleErnestine Bradley is much more charismatic on the stump than her terse hubby. Bradley was typically mellow as he careened past the Metabolife booth and Perfumania while Ernestine bubbled to voters, “Hi! You going to vote? I hope so. I hope you vote for the right guy! I’m the wife.”

I guess that article is proof that these booths did once exist.

If you know what kind of car that is, please leave a comment.

November 9, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | 4 Comments

5000 Blog Comments—Hermit Looking To Build A Peddle Houseboat

A few days ago Texas Liberal registered the 5000th comment since the blog started in July of 2006.

I was glad to note this milestone. Comments mean that readers are engaged and feel  you have written something that merits a response.

I’d like to thank Bill, Sarah V. and Newton for many of these comments in recent months. I’d like to thank (almost) everybody who has left a comment on the blog.

There is one recent comment  I would like to note as a very good comment. It was from a blog reader named Patricia.

In February of 2008, I wrote what was something of a throwaway post that involved a picture of a houseboat in India and 8 words of text. I just needed to get something up on the blog for the day.

Here is the link to that post.

As simple and silly as the post was, it has become the 8th most viewed post of the 1,600 I’ve run on the blog. It has gained more than 5,600 page views.

So last June I asked people who were reading the post why it was they were reading the post.  Here is a response I got from Patricia—

‘Hi there! You asked why your boat clip is getting so much attention. Well, I can’t speak for others, but I’m a hermit hunting for hermitage options. I don’t know anything about boats, but I had a crazy thought recently that I could build a peddle houseboat, so now I’m here… I’m sure there’s a reason why it probably hasn’t been done! I’ll find out one way or another! The little boat shown there is a pretty clever design though.~Blessings”

You just can’t beat that. Patricia wants to build a peddle-powered houseboat so she can live a life as a hermit. That seems like a worthwhile pursuit in my view.

I’m sorry my post did not have the information Patricia was seeking.

I am glad and appreciative though that people continue to read and respond to the blog.

November 9, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

Folks Sometimes Say There Is No Difference Between The Political Parties, Yet This Is Not True

People often say there is no difference between the two major political parties in our country.

The health care vote in the House last night shows that this is not the case.

While counting on Democrats can be frustrating for liberals, think of the difference it will make in people’s lives to have greater access to health insurance.

Great legislation like Social Security or Voting Rights comes along only so often. But when it does arrive, it helps people for years and years.

Liberals rarely have the upperhand in our Federal Government. Yet the impact of liberal legislation is lasting.

We were promised hope and change by Mr. Obama. In this very important matter of health care reform, hope and change is exactly what appears to be on the way.

November 8, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | 3 Comments

It Does Not Hurt Anything To Let People Vote In Spanish Or Vietnamese—Even Here In Texas

Below is a picture I took of the electronic ballot box I used to vote in our Houston city elections earlier this week.

If you look, you see that one can vote in English, Spanish or Vietnamese. These are the options we have here in Harris County.

If English is our so-called official language, how come we can vote in languages other than English? How come we can do so even here in Texas?

It doesn’t hurt anything to let people vote in Spanish or Vietnamese.

All people are our fellows.

November 7, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment