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Five Years Since Terrible Indian Ocean Tsunami—People Are Recovering

It has been nearly five years since the terrible Indian Ocean tsunami killed at least 200,000 people in Asian-Pacific nations. There were deaths in Africa as well.

The tsunami took place on December 26, 2004.

(Above—The 2004 tsunami on the move in Ao Nang, Thailand.)

Here is an explanation of what causes tsunamis and how they do their damage.

In early 2005, National Geographic.com said the following about this tsunami—

“The earthquake that generated the great Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004 is estimated to have released the energy of 23,000 Hiroshima-type atomic bombs, according to the U.S. Geological Survey”

Here is the link to the BBC special report on the tsunami. Article featured here discuss the impact of the tsunami all the up to 2008.

Here is a country-by-country report on the loss of life. More than 130,000 people were killed in Indonesia and at least 31,000 dies in Sri Lanka.

In addition to the dead, many people lost their homes in this disaster.

Habitat for Humanity has been active in helping people rebuild.

Reuters reports that many in Thailand are still suffering today from the tsunami.

From the Reuters article—

“Ban Nam Khem, a small fishing village on Thailand’s Andaman Sea coast, lost nearly half its 5,000 people. Today it is a shell of its former self despite an outpouring of aid in one of the largest foreign fund-raising exercises in history…Its once-thriving center of dense waterfront stores, restaurants and wooden homes is gone, replaced with souvenir shops, a wave-shaped monument and a small building filled with photographs of the tsunami recovery effort….”So many people here are still looking for their family,” said Suvadee, a slight, 43-year-old woman with an easy smile and weathered hands that clutched worn photographs of her son.”

The Voice of America reports on how life has improved since the disaster struck for many who survived the tsunami.

Rarely are we so down-and-out that some improvement in our condition is not possible.

In the United States, the National Oceanic And Atmospheric Administration has been bolstering tsunami early-warning systems.

From NOAA–

In December 2004, lack of an effective international warning system contributed to unprecedented loss of life when a tsunami devastated countless communities around the Indian Ocean and stunned the rest of the world. Through NOAA, the United States accelerated preparation for a potential tsunami along the U.S. coastline and efforts to build partnerships for an international warning program. According to NOAA tsunami experts, the key to surviving a destructive tsunami is people’s ability to receive warnings and willingness to act quickly to move inland or to higher ground.”

I am glad that in addition to making U.S. coastal areas more secure, that we have working to help other nations deal with the threat of tidal waves.

Terrible disasters in the world come and go and we forget about them once they are out of the news.

It is easy to forget. I’m guilty of forgetting myself.

If we forget, we will lose sight of the things we can do in the future to save lives as detailed by NOAA as they prepare for the next tsunami.

If we forget, we will lose sight of the fact that things can get better even after they have been as bad as it possibly seemed they could get.

(Below–Folks in-front of a Habitat for Humanity built home in the tsunami zone in Indonesia.)

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

The Real St. Nicholas—A Friend Of The Poor And Opposed To The Death Penalty

(Blogger’s Note—This is a post from two years ago that seems worth another posting. Thanks for reading Texas Liberal.)

December 6 is the Feast Day for St. Nicholas. This is the same St. Nicholas who has become our Santa Claus.

St. Nicholas was the fourth-century Bishop of Myra. Myra was then in Greece. It is now in Turkey.

Not much is known of the life of St. Nicholas. He is said to have been generous to children and to the poor. St. Nicholas is the patron saint of children. Here is a link to a list of Saints.

St. Nicholas is said to have been born into a prosperous home. His parents died when he was a young man and he was left an inheritance. Nicholas used this inheritance to help a poor man support three daughters who otherwise would have been sold into prostitution to support the family home.

It was this gift giving that is the connection between the St. Nicholas of old and the Santa of the modern day. In the spirit of the gifts for the three children, people in Germany, Switzerland and the Netherlands began to give each other gifts at Christmas. Santa Claus is, after a few mutations, St. Nicholas.

Here is a link to the website of Adbusters. Adbusters suggests you should buy as little as you get away with at Christmas and offers often insightful critiques of consumer culture.

It is said Nicholas brought back to life two or three boys who had been cut-up and tossed in a brine-tub by an innkeeper. The innkeeper was going to sell the boys as pickled pork. It is not known how Nicholas performed this feat.

It is claimed God himself indicated to the people of Myra that Nicholas should be selected as Bishop. It is not clear what type of signal was sent.

Nicholas was renowned as a champion of the falsely accused. He saved the lives of three men who were going to be put to death based on a sentence that had been made on this basis of a bribe. That account is the basis of the picture above.

Many falsely accused people are put to death and placed in jail in the United States in the current day. Please click here to read about The Innocence Project.

Nicholas is the patron saint of prisoners and prostitutes. All people merit concern.  Here is a list of the many groups that can claim Nicholas as patron saint.

I notice “consumers” are not on the list. Caveat emptor!

St. Nicholas is said to have stopped a raging storm in Greece and in so doing saved the lives of many mariners. In Greece, he is the patron of sailors. Here is a link to a story about a United Nations treaty meant to protect the rights of the commerical sailors who help ship goods around the world.

Santa is about more than gift giving.  I don’t think St. Nicholas would have lined up at Best Buy at 5 AM the morning after Thanksgiving to get a bargain on a laptop.

One source for this post was The Oxford Companion To The Year—An Exploration Of Calender Customs And Time-Reckoning. It’s a great book

December 17, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How About Jolanda Jones & Sue Lovell Working As A Team For A Better Houston?

Houston City Councilmembers Jolanda Jones and Sue Lovell have been engaged in a public brawl.

This despite the fact that both are reasonably progressive Democrats.

Or so they both assert.

Now that each have won reelection to Houston City Council, maybe it is time for these two to make up.

How about a joint press conference where Ms. Jones and Ms. Lovell outline a progressive agenda for Houston that they will pursue as a team in the new council term?

Though I suppose what they could do instead, is keep on fighting while people in our city go without needed help or advocacy from our Houston City government.

December 17, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

What Shall My Wife And I Do With Our Day Off?

I have tomorrow off with my wife.

What will we do?

First, as you see above, we will get dressed up. We are quite formal people.

Then, we are going to go to the U.S. Post Office to mail off some holiday gifts.

My father-in-law worked at the U.S. Post Office for many years. His work helped my wife be able to attend college.

Please support your local post office.

Here is the link to the Smithsonian National Postal Museum. The wife and I once went there.

After the post office, I regret to say that we must go to the Apple Computer Store in the Houston Galleria.

You see that iphone in my hand in the picture above?

I dropped it last night and shattered the screen.

I’m not so pleased with this fact.

I do not want to go to the crowded Galleria nine days before Christmas, but hopefully it will be early enough in the morning to beat most of the crowds.

After the Apple Store, the wife and I will have lunch at a Japanese restaurant.

We use forks. Neither of us can handle chopsticks.

When the wife and I go out to eat, we bring newspapers and magazines to read.

We read and we talk to each other.  It goes quite well.

After lunch, we are going to go to the Houston Museum of Natural Science.

The wife and I will see an exhibit called Faberge–Imperial Jeweler to the Tsars.

After the museum, the wife and I may—or may not—take a walk in Houston’s Hermann Park.

The walk will depend on the weather and what time of day we are done with all we plan to do.

My wife and I will have a great day off together.

Take some time to be with the people you value in life.

At the same time, be sure to spend some time alone.

A balance of time with people you care about and time spent alone makes for a well-adjusted personality.

That is my theory at least.

December 16, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Cincinnati’s Aurore Press Has Many Fine Holiday Gifts

Cincinnati’s Aurore Press has many fine holiday gifts.

Above is the chapter book godLess. The book is a series of short essays about God and the absence of God in the lives of the contributing writers.

I have an essay in godLess.

This book would be an excellent  gift for whatever holiday it is that you observe or do not observe.

Also available at Aurore is a recording of the Jockey Club reunion concert from November of 2008.

The Jockey Club, located just across the Ohio River from Cincinnati in Newport, Kentucky, was the leading punk rock venue in all the midwest in the 1980’s.

Click here to see all that Aurore Press has to offer.

Be sure to visit the Aurore Press site often to see what is new.

December 15, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | 2 Comments

Holiday Lighthouse Reflects Competing Tendencies Of Our Existence

Above is my holiday lighthouse.

Each year I take the lighthouse out of the closet and put it on top of my television.

If you turn on the switch, the lighthouse makes a foghorn sound.

It makes sounds of bells, waves, and seagulls.

Also, Santa and his reindeer fly around and around the lighthouse.

The holiday lighthouse is meant to welcome you for the season—And to warn you away.

In these respects, the holiday lighthouse is reflective of competing tendencies in my personality.

You may also have contradictory or competing aspects of your nature.

Please don’t shy away from these aspects of who you are.

Contradiction and conflict are an essential part of our human nature, and of the structure of all things.

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

Gay Takeover Of Houston Underway—Let’s Have Both Social And Economic Justice In Our City

The openly gay Annise Parker has been elected Mayor of Houston.

Also, gay folks were elected to two of the five city council seats that are elected by the entire city.

(Correction–-A reader points out I am mistaken about the number of city at-large spots won by a gay candidate. It is one instead of two. Please see the comments below. Thanks to blog reader Horwitz for the help. One less solider for the gay takeover! )

Some on the right had warned of a “gay takeover” of Houston if these people were to be elected.

The gay takeover is here.

It seems to be going okay so far.

I’ve made myself a cup of tea and later I’ll do some reading before bed.

I think I can used to living in our new “gayocracy” here in Houston.

I hope these gay folks do a better job than straight folks have done of running this city.

Houston has had a black Mayor in recent years despite being the largest Jim Crow city in the U.S. in 1960.

Ms. Parker and her partner adopted black kids. You see the kids, now adults, in the grainy picture above that I took off of my T.V.

It really is all something of a miracle—Though a miracle that many worked hard to make happen.

Houston has plenty of problems. We have a lot of poor people in Houston.

But we must also be glad for the progress that has been made since Houston was the largest Jim Crow city in the United States.

Let’s now work for economic justice as well to match the ongoing process in our social relations.

December 13, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | 5 Comments

Household Menorah—People Not Unlike Ourselves Sought To Kill Every Jewish Person On Earth

Above is our household Menorah for the first night of Hanukkah.

(Update—The picture of our household Menorah won’t stay up on the blog. So now we have a picture of the stained-glass menorah you see above.)

One person of our two-person household is Jewish.

In the lifetime of people still alive today, people not so much different from us made an effort to kill every Jewish person in the world.

There were people who lived in a society not so much different from the society we live in today.

These were people who had radios and cars and read newspapers and lived in apartments and attended movies and followed soccer and followed the Olympics.

Please don’t think this could not happen again today in the United States or anywhere else.

People have not changed so much from the 1930’s and 1940’s.

The United States today is filled with millions of people sick with racism and violence.

The best chronicle I am aware of the history of the Nazi movement is a three-volume history of the Third Reich by Richard Evans.

Here is a review of the third volume of the Evans history with links to reviews of the first two volumes.

Here is the link to the United States Holocaust Museum.

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

Greenpeace Chief Naidoo Moves Focus To Climate Change And Global Poverty

Recently on Pacifica Radio’s Democracy Now program, I heard an interview with the new Director of Greenpeace.

Kumi Naidoo, of South Africa, is the first African to lead Greenpeace since it was founded in 1971.

(Above is a picture of Mr. Naidoo. I don’t know who that young person is next to him.)

Here is the Democracy Now interview.

Here is a profile of Mr. Naidoo from the BBC.

The BBC story says Greenpeace is shifting its focus from whaling and nuclear power to issues of global poverty and climate change.

Mr. Naidoo asserts that climate change is a matter of basic justice and human rights.

Mr. Naidoo says wars take place because of resources depleted and shifted by climate change, and some are forced to become refugees because of changing conditions on the Earth.

Here is an excerpt from an article Mr. Naidoo wrote for the BBC—

“I have been an activist for the majority of my life, and my personal journey began at the age of 15 in apartheid South Africa where I was involved with the liberation struggle, eventually having to flee to the UK in 1987. After the release of Nelson Mandela, I returned to South Africa and was involved in strengthening citizen action and civil society around the world, both through Civicus – the global organisation aiming to boost citizen involvement in issues – where I served as secretary general for the past 10 years, and through the Make Poverty History campaign of which I was one of the founders in 2003….I have always personally connected the poverty movement with stewardship for the environment; and having served for the past year as chair of tcktcktck, the global campaign for climate action, it felt like a natural progression to move to Greenpeace… I see a need to bring together the poverty movement and the environmental movement as we face up to the greatest challenge of our time: climate change….Climate change is real and happening now. It already accounts for over 300,000 deaths throughout the world each year, according to the Global Humanitarian Forum. Not only that, but I am aware that time is very much against us. We must take radical action, and I believe that the work that Greenpeace does across the globe is vital in our understanding of climate change and also the actions that are needed.”

Science Daily writes that climate change could worsen poverty in developing nations.

Here is the Greenpeace USA web home.

I enjoy the article on the Greenpeace site called “Hounding Obama in Oslo.”  It is about Greenpeace in Oslo asking President Obama to take the lead on climate change as he accepts the Nobel Peace Prize.

Greenpeace merits our attention and support. This new focus on global poverty and climate change addresses some of the most pressing issues in our world.

( Below–The Greenpeace ship Rainbow Warrior.)

December 11, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fetching Pin-Up Says Roll The Dice & Vote Your Hopes In Houston—Despite Locke, Green & Lovell

I promise—This is my last pre-election post about Houston City Elections.

Thank you to regular readers from outside of Houston for sticking with me as I write about his stuff.

I’ve got somewhat of a voice around here—Maybe— so I guess I should use that voice.

Runoff Election Day is Saturday, December 12.

Despite tax-dodger Green, gay-basher Locke and vindictive crud Lovell—All Democrats—We can still vote on Election Day and try to retain some hope about the future of Houston.

Without hope,what do we have?

Here are my endorsements for Election Day.

The theme of my endorsements post is gambling.

What is a bigger gamble than democracy?

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

Gene Locke Donor & Supporter Says Don’t Elect Lesbian As Mayor—Picture Of George Wallace

Today I got a political mailing from local Houston gay-basher Dave Wilson.

Mr. Wilson says we should not “elect a lesbian for Mayor.”

The mailing also says—“Vote For Gene Locke For Mayor.”

Youthful blogger David Ortez has shown that Mr. Wilson has donated to Mr. Locke.

Why not return this money? Mr. Wilson’s views are well-known.

Here is further information about  Mr. Locke’s involvement with gay-bashers.

Above is a picture of George Wallace—-Because how is one form of bigotry any different from any other form of bigotry?

Here are my picks for the December 12 runoff.

December 10, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | 3 Comments

Houston Councilwoman Sue Lovell Is A Vindictive Crud

So-called Democrat Councilmember Sue Lovell is letting her personal anger at fellow Democrat Councilmember Jolanda Jones get in the way of what is best for Houston.

Ms. Lovell is sending out a political mailing meant to benefit the far-right conservative challenger running against Ms. Jones.

The origin of the dispute between Ms. Lovell and Ms. Jones is an inside-baseball political conflict that had nothing to do with City of Houston affairs or public policy.

Why does Sue Lovell care more about her personal anger than about what is best for Houston?

Why should any good Democrat vote for this woman who puts personal anger before core values?

Here are my picks for Election Day, December 12.—-Except that now I might well have to ditch my support for Ms. Lovell and not vote at all in her race with a weak opponent.

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

Three Images Of Black Santa

This post is three images of Black Santa.

When will parents tell their children that Santa is black?

Above is a drawing of Black Santa.

Below is a picture I took off my TV of Henry Jefferson telling Archie Bunker that Santa is Black.

And, lastly, we have Black Santa for sale at Macy’s—

It does in fact matter that people have symbols and examples in society that at least look like them, or that are not always culturally alien.

December 9, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | 3 Comments

Why Won’t Gene Locke Admit What Types Of People He’ll Toss Under The Bus To Win An Election?

Houston Mayoral run-off candidate Gene Locke has denied any part in anti-gay mailings directed at his opponent Annise Parker.

Yet what Mr. Locke asserts may not be the case.

From the Houston Chronicle—

“The finance chairman and a finance committee member of Gene Locke’s mayoral campaign helped bankroll the conservative political action committee that sent out an anti-gay mailer targeting City Controller Annise Parker and other municipal candidates earlier this month, according to Texas Ethics Commission documents….The revelation immediately drew accusations of illegal coordination from the campaign of Parker, whom the mailer urged voters not to choose because she was endorsed by the “gay and lesbian political caucus.” Parker is openly gay.”

Here is the full story.

It seems we cannot trust Gene Locke to admit what types of people he is willing to toss under the bus to win this election.

(Above–One of our Houston city buses as photographed by Brian Reading. Gene Locke will —in a symbolic regard—run that bus over anybody!)

He’ll sell out one bunch of folks one day, and then maybe some other group of folks another day.

Regular readers of this blog–Thanks mom!!–will note that I’ve not criticized Annise Parker nearly as much in recent days as I have in the past few weeks.

Don’t worry! We’ll get Ms. Parker elected and then have two years to take after her.

Here are my endorsements in our Houston citywide races for 2009.

As I never weary of telling people, this blogger was in 1997 a Stonewall Cincinnati endorsed candidate for the Cincinnati Board of Education.

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

Toxins Mist Up From Ship Channel And Then Fall Back Down With Snow

Above is a picture of the Houston Ship Channel in the cold and snow last week.

The cold made the waters of the Ship Channel mist up into the air.

I saw this and thought that the mist was spewing Ship Channel toxins into the air.

Then—Maybe the toxins were latching onto the snow and coming back down into the water.

No harm-No foul.


December 8, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment