Texas Liberal

All People Matter

Texas Funnel Cakes Sold With U.S. Flag—Houston International Fest

You see that the sign above, from a booth at the annual International Fest in Houston, offers “Texas Funnel Cakes And More” while still using the United States flag.

There is no Texas flag or Confederate flag being used to sell the food despite the talk of secession and  treason from far right-wing people like our Texas Governor Rick Perry or extreme Texas Congressperson Ron Paul.

It seems that peddlers of fajitas and tortas may be better and more loyal Americans than some of our leading Republican elected officials in Texas.

I’m sorry that many on the right don’t seem to love our nation anymore.

In any case, you can sell stuff to Texans without being a right-wing crazy.

Liberals love the U.S flag and our federal union. The new health care reform bill, which will benefit millions of Americans, is a fitting symbol of the superior powers of the federal union over the far more limited powers held by the states.

Here are facts about funnel cakes.

The Houston International Fest runs one more weekend. The last two days are Saturday 4/24 and Sunday 4/25. You should go if you are anywhere near Downtown Houston.

While it is somewhat expensive in my view, the festival is good-natured and attracts all types of folks. There are bands to see, cultural exhibits, and food to eat. The Caribbean is the region of the Earth that is the focus of the festival this year.

While my post here and my blog are on the left, the International Fest is happy to have visitors of all ideological leanings.


April 19, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment

Green Party Ballot Access Drive For Texas In 2010—Texas Progressive Alliance Round-Up

At the end of this post is the weekly round-up of the Texas Progressive Alliance. The TPA is a confederation of the best political bloggers in Texas. (Each week I run the TPA round-up and include  facts about Texas politics or Texas history. Running the round-up this week with information about the Green Party in no way implies that my TPA fellow bloggers support or do not support Green Party ballot access or any Green Party candidates in Texas for 2010.)

With the round-up this week is information about efforts by the Green Party of Texas to get ballot access in Texas for the 2010 election. If successful, these efforts may lead to automatic ballot access for Texas Greens in 2012.

Greens are running a candidate for State Comptroller named Ed Lindsay. There is no Democrat in this race. If Mr. Lindsay can get on the ballot and then win 5% on Election Day, the Green Party would qualify for automatic Texas statewide ballot access in 2012. With no Democrat on the ballot, the 5% goal is very possible.

There are Greens running for other positions for the Texas Statewide ballot and in other races in Texas. A petition effort is underway to help get these folks on the ballot. This petition effort is detailed at the link to the Green Party of Texas.

The statewide races in Texas are important in 2010. Bill White for Governor and Linda Chavez-Thompson for Lieutenant Governor are the Democratic nominees who I strongly support. Given the difference between these two candidates and their Republican opponents, it is essential that they be elected for the economic and educational well-being of all Texans. Another big issue is how Texas will implement federal health care reforms. Will Texans get access to health insurance and have a chance to get well when they get sick, or will our state government fight health care reform all the way and allow people to die from lack of care in order to satisfy the Republican political base?

These things said, Texans deserve options at the ballot box. In addition to giving Texans a true choice in the race for State Comptroller, Greens are offering a candidate , Paul Cardwell, for the District 9 State Board of Education race where there is also no Democrat on the ballot.

Libertarians are on the ballot all over Texas. Libertarian ballot access gives Republicans an option when they do not like their own nominees, and it gives voice to constituencies in Texas that may not always find something to support with the two major parties. While Libertarians are a dismal selfish lot, they have the right to ballot access and to try to convince voters to accept their barbaric law-of-the-jungle views.

Greens should have the chance to advocate for economic, social, and environmental justice and fair play. Here are the ten core values of the Green Party.

The Green petition can be signed by any person who did not vote in either the Democratic or Republican primaries last month. I voted in the Democratic primary and am not eligible to sign the Green petition. You must also be a registered voter to sign the petition. Here is a list of county Green Party contacts in Texas if you want to volunteer to circulate the petition.

The Greens are making the petition available online for you to print up and circulate. You can print it and have family members and friends sign. Here is an explanation of this process. Even the smallest number of signatures makes a difference.

Please consider the helping the Green Party get on the ballot in Texas in 2010. Green party ballot access will strengthen democracy in Texas by giving voters more options.

Here is the weekly TPA round-up—

At Texas Voxour thoughts remain with the victims of the West Virginia mining disaster, the worst mining accident in 25 years.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme wants to know why Republicans like Victoria’s DA Steve TylerNueces County’s DA Anna Jimenez and (who could forget) Alberto Gonzales abuse their offices?

The Texas Cloverleaf thinks Rick Perry is eyeing 2012 before 2010 is even over with. Continue reading

April 18, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Icelandic Volcano Eruption—Facts About Volcanoes & Volcanic Ash

An ash cloud from a volcano in Iceland is disrupting air travel in Europe.

(Above–The offending volcano. It is called Eyjafjallajoekull. This name is combination of the worlds “islands”, “mountain” and “glacier”. The picture was taken by a photographer giving his or herself  the name “boaworm” )

(Update–5/21/11–The volcano erupting in Iceland at the moment is a different volcano. However, much of the information in this post is about volcanoes in general, and would be useful to read to learn more overall about the subject. Thank you for reading Texas Liberal.) 

Here is a story from the BBC detailing the eruption.

(Update4/19/10—There is a new ash cloud.)

(Update—4/20/10—Half of EU flights may be in the air by the end of Tuesday.)

(Update–4/21/10—More flights up and running.)

(Update–4/22/10—There are now disputes in Europe about the need for such an extensive flight ban in the aftermath of the eruption.)

(Update–4/25/10–Europe is looking for new ways to deal with a future eruption.)

(Update–4/28/10—A geology professor from the Univ. of Houston offers views on what may have caused the eruption.)

( Update–5/4/10—Another ash threat from the same volcano. Though this one is more limited.)

(Update–5/4/10–Europe is looking at  plans on how to deal with eruptions  in the future.)

(Update–5/5/10–Airports are closed in Ireland and Scotland.)

(Update–5/8/10—Yet more ash in the sky.)

(Update 5/16/10—It goes on and on.)

There are many accounts of what is taking place that you can find on the web or in your local newspaper. (This blog is a big believer in supporting your local newspaper and taking the time to read the news and reflect upon the news with a cup of coffee or in some other civilized way.)

In this post, I’ll address some more basic issues of what is taking place that are not always discussed in news reports.

First of all—What exactly is a volcano?

Here is an explanation of volcanoes from an interview with a scientist conducted by the children’s book publisher Scholastic—

“Volcanoes are really mountains that build taller and taller, with time, as they erupt. That means that molten rock, magma, comes from within the earth and erupts onto the surface. The volcano might be explosive and produce ashes or be effusive and produce lava. The explosions are usually first because there are lots of gases inside the magma. When you have a bottle of soda pop, you do not see any bubbles of gas, but when you open it, bubbles form almost instantly. Once the gas bubbles have all escaped, the soda is flat. Once the magma is flat, a lava flow comes out. Most of the volcanoes from around the Pacific Ocean are composite, which means that there are layers of ashes and lava. Most volcanoes are 10,000 to 100,000 years old — it takes time for them to grow big.”

Here are 11 more facts about volcanoes.

Some volcanoes are underwater. Here is a post I recently wrote that has many facts about undersea volcanoes.

The Cascades Volcano Observatory in Vancouver, Washington reports the following about the origin of the word volcano–

“The word “volcano” comes from the little island of Vulcano in the Mediterranean Sea off Sicily. Centuries ago, the people living in this area believed that Vulcano was the chimney of the forge of Vulcan — the blacksmith of the Roman gods. They thought that the hot lava fragments and clouds of dust erupting form Vulcano came from Vulcan’s forge as he beat out thunderbolts for Jupiter, king of the gods, and weapons for Mars, the god of war. In Polynesia the people attributed eruptive activity to the beautiful but wrathful Pele, Goddess of Volcanoes, whenever she was angry or spiteful. Today we know that volcanic eruptions are not super-natural but can be studied and interpreted by scientists.”

(Below—A picture of the Vulcano island.)

The issue from the Icelandic volcano that is causing all the trouble is volcanic ash. Here are facts about volcanic ash from the United States Geological Survey. This link gives you all the facts you need about volcanic ash.

From these facts—

“Small jagged pieces of rocks, minerals, and volcanic glass the size of sand and silt (less than 2 millimeters (1/12 inch) in diameter) erupted by a volcano are called volcanic ash. Very small ash particles can be less than 0.001 millimeters (1/25,000th of an inch) across. Volcanic ash is not the product of combustion, like the soft fluffy material created by burning wood, leaves, or paper. Volcanic ash is hard, does not dissolve in water, is extremely abrasive and mildly corrosive, and conducts electricity when wet.”

However, if you need even more facts on ash, the BBC has a Q & A.

You can see why you would not want something like that clogging up your jet engine.

There are health concerns in Iceland about the effects of this ash.

Iceland is a place with many volcanoes.

The Earth is a complex place with an interesting geology that merits study even when no big disaster is taking place.

Here is a link to Geology. com. There is a great deal of information at this site about the Earth.

A very useful book to learn about these topics is called Earth–The Definitive Visual Guide. I have this book at home and look at it often. It has great pictures and helpful text to help folks understand the world.

There is a lot more to our existence than just freak-show ash clouds that make people study things they might not otherwise consider. Please be someone who is informed and who is curious about as many things as possible. We all the ability to know many things. The information we need to learn these things is all around us if we just make some effort.

(Below—The Cleveland Volcano in Alaska as photographed from space in 2006.)

April 17, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

This Brother Of Ours Is Fishing In Houston Ship Channel Because He Needs Something To Eat

Above you see a brother of ours—we are all connected—fishing in the Houston Ship Channel.

I took this picture yesterday.

I’ve got a better picture of the guy, but just in case he was skipping work or fleeing the law I don’t want to get him in trouble.

You’ve got to be out of your mind to fish in the Houston Ship Channel.

Or—Maybe you need something to eat.

That man knows full well that the Houston Ship Channel is not a clean body of water.

There are specific guidelines for how much fish you should eat from the Houston Ship Channel.

Yet I can’t imagine that this man would eat fish from the Houston Ship Channel if he felt he had other options.

People do what they feel they must do.

April 16, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | 2 Comments

Door To Open Door Mission Is Closed

The door to the Open Door Mission on Harrisburg Blvd. in Houston is closed.

I’m not saying that this place does not do good work or that the door is closed for a good reason.

It is not out of business.

I’m simply saying that the door to the Open Door Mission is in this picture quite closed and locked.

April 15, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

Two Pictures Of Your Friendly Blogger—Contrasting Aspects Of Our Shared Existence

Here are two pictures of your friendly blogger.

I know I don’t look so friendly in these pictures. You’ll simply have to take my word for the fact.

In this first picture I am at Burnet Woods in Cincinnati, Ohio on what was a very cold day this past February.

In this next picture, I am at the Houston Ship Channel just a few hours ago. This was a much warmer day in Houston then the day you see pictured in Cincinnati.

Burnet Woods and the Houston Ship Channel are places with both organic and man-made elements.

These are aspects of existence that are found in each of us.

We are partly our own creation and we are partly a creation of things beyond our control.

I dig both these aspects of our existence.

I took these pictures by myself with my iphone.

The ability to be alone, and still to be able to share what I’ve done alone with others is yet another contrasting aspect of the existence we all share.

What an interesting world and existence we all share.

April 15, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Election Day In The United Kingdom Is May 6—Facts About The U.K. Election

This post has been updated elsewhere on the blog. Thank you for reading Texas Liberal.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has called an election for Great Britain for May 6, 2010. The ruling party decides when an election will be contested within the guideline that one must be held at least every five years. Elections may be called before five years if the governing party thinks they can win at a given moment.

(Above—The chamber of the British House of Commons.)

In this election, the ruling Labor Party is looking to win a fourth consecutive term. The Conservative Party currently leads in the polls. A third party, the Liberal Democrats, will also win a number of seats in the House of Commons.

The incumbent Prime Minister is Gordon Brown of the Labor Party. If Labor wins a majority of seats, Mr. Brown will be returned to office.  The Conservative leader is David Cameron. As the leader of the second largest party in the British Parliament, Mr, Cameron is currently leader of the opposition. The leader of the Liberal Democrats is Nick Clegg.

If you click the name of the party leaders in the paragraph above, you will get a profile of each gentleman from the BBC.

(Update—4/17/10—Liberal Democrats are moving up in the polls after a strong debate showing by Nick Clegg.)

(Update–4/19/10–Liberal Democrats now lead in some polls.)

(Update–4/21/10–Conservative newspapers now attacking Liberal Democrats as they advance.)

(Update–4/26/10–A hung parliament still seems very possible.)

(Update–4/28/10–Prime Minister Brown is overheard calling a woman a bigot. The woman was obnoxious and did merit an insult from the Prime Minister. )

(Update–5/1/10–While the Tories appear to have the edge, many outcomes remain possible.)

( Update–5/1/10--Leading newspapers that have in the past endorsed Labor are now supporting the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats.)

In the United Kingdom and in a parliamentary system, a vote for your local member of parliament is a vote for which party you’d like to see control the national government. In the United States, voters spilt tickets all the time. In England, if you like your local M.P. but want a Prime Minister of a different party than your M.P, you have a choice to make.

(Below–Prime Minister Brown with his wife Sarah Brown.)

There are 648 seats in the House of Commons. If you win a majority of seats, then your party runs the government. It is also possible that no party will win a majority of seats. Here is a link to what happens if no party wins a majority of seats. Here is a BBC history of Parliaments in the 20th century where no majority was won.

Here is the link to the U.K. Parliament. Here is a list of frequently asked questions about the British Parliament.

(Below—In Wales, Labor has the edge but Conservatives did very well in elections for the European Parliament held last year. The Liberal Democrats and a Welsh nationalist party called Plaid Cymru also have boosters in Wales. Picture is of the Welsh city of Swansea.)

Here are parties with five seats or more in the current line-up of the House—

1. Labor–341

2. Conservative–193

3. Liberal Democrats–63

4. Democratic Unionist Party–8

5. Scottish National Party–7

6. Sinn Fein–7

If you click the name of a party, you’ll get the official web page for that party.

You see that the British House of Commons has many more parties than does the U.S. Congress. The Democratic Unionist Party and Sinn Fein are parties that have to do with the politics of Northern Ireland. The Scottish National Party favors an independent Scotland.

Update–4/20/10—The Scottish Nationalists say a hung parliament would enhance Scottish interests.)

(Below–In Scotland, Labor is the leading party, but there is also strong support for the Liberal Democrats and the Scottish National Party. Conservatives hope to gain in Scotland in 2010. Here is a link to a story about the small Scottish Socialist Party. This party says they hope make Scotland a green socialist place. Sounds good to me. Picture is of the Isle of Skye in Scotland.)

The Liberal Democrats are the perennial third party of British politics. They are not the same as liberal democrats in the United States. Though they are sometimes—though not all the time— to the left of our Democratic Party. Click the Liberal Democrat link above and read more if you wish to understand better. The Liberal Democrats often urge reform of the practices of the House and of how campaigns are financed. It is possible that if neither Labor or the Conservatives win a majority on election day, that the Liberal Democrats could help form a coalition government in exchange for ministerial seats in the new majority.

(Below–David Cameron, in the center of the picture, on the hustings in 2006.)

The Conservatives are still seen by many in the U.K. as the party of the privileged.  That may be, and I would not vote for them if I lived in the U.K., but I do note that when I  visited their web home a few minutes ago there was a plank against the bullying of gay kids in schools and a plank in favor of the National Health Service in Great Britain.  It must be nice to have party of the right that is not fully crazy. However, on the question of British integration into the political structures of Europe, the Conservatives are to the right of the center-right governments that lead Germany and France. This is a position that can lead to immigrant-bashing and Muslim-bashing rhetoric on the campaign trail.

(Below–Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg making what appears to be a campaign stop on the sun.)

Labor moved to the right with the election of Tony Blair in 1997.  Under Mr. Blair’s leadership, Labor gave up on some of the more economically socialist and militant of its positions. Some on the old left resented this, but ,on the other hand, Labor has won three elections in a row beginning in 1997 after the wilderness of the Margaret Thatcher years.

(Below–In Northern Ireland. local issues and local parties will hold sway over national issues that move the election elsewhere. Though if there is a hung parliament, all seats will matter. Picture is of Belfast City Hall.)

The BBC has comprehensive coverage of the election.

(Below–In London, it is a fight between Labor and the Conservatives with other parties playing only a small part.)

C-Span will be broadcasting debates between Mr. Brown, Mr. Cameron and Mr. Clegg. This will be the first time that British party leaders will meet in American-style debates for the top office. At the C-Span site there are also archives of the weekly Question Time sessions in the House. Watch these sessions and you can see the three leaders in action.

(4/16/10 Update—The NY Times writes about the role of immigration in the election as some blue collar British voters decide who to to support. I wish people would stop blaming immigrants for their problems.)

The left-wing Guardian newspaper is covering the election. The Guardian has a regional breakdown of the election that will fill in the facts from the regional pictures I offer in this post.

(Below–In England outside of London, Labor and the Conservatives are the leading parties. Though other parties are not conceding this important area.  The picture is of Stonehenge. The Druid vote might be important in a close contest.)

With the prospect of a change in government or of a hung parliament, the upcoming British election looks to be worth following.

If you feel this post has merit as an introduction to the U.K. election, please forward it on. A blog grows one reader at a time.

April 14, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Freedom-Hating Tax Evaders Should Go To Iran Or Burma And See How Much They Like It In Those Places

Tomorrow–April 15–is the day we are due to pay our taxes.

Some people don’t pay all the money they owe. The IRS estimates that 16% of people intentionally cheat on their taxes or file no return at all.

People who willingly cheat on their taxes should go off with their freedom-hating, census-hating buddies to Iran or Burma and see how much they like it in those places.

Here is an article from CNN about how to report people to the IRS who have been cheating on their taxes.

Pay your damn taxes.

April 14, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | | 1 Comment

In An Ethnically Diverse Society, All People Have The Right To Be Apathetic

Here in Houston and Harris County, Texas, it is runoff day for candidates in races where nobody reached 50% of the vote on Primary Day last month.

There are votes such as this all over Texas today.

The estimated turnout for this vote in Harris County is around 5%.

In Harris County, you can take your ballot in three different languages as illustrated by the sign you see above that was outside my polling place today.

You can vote in English, Spanish or Vietnamese.

In a diverse part of the nation like Houston and Harris County, all groups of people have the right to be apathetic and to have no idea what is taking place.

In less diverse parts of Texas, only one group of people is likely to be ignorant of the events of the day. Here in Houston though, there is a near limitless number of racial and ethnic groups that are ignoring this election.

This is what freedom is all about.

April 13, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment

When Will The So-Called Tea Party Stick Up For Coal Miners In W. Virginia Who Die From Greed And No Effective Regulation Of The Mines?

A few days ago I made a post about the coal mine disaster in West Virginia.

(Above—A vigil in West Virginia for the miners killed last week.)

Two causes of the tragedy may be greedy mine ownership from Massey Energy that put safety before profits and, also, poor federal safety oversight of the mine.

In my post, a blog reader left a comment wondering where Sarah Palin was on this issue.

This is an excellent question. Where is Mrs. Palin and all the alleged working class champions of the so-called Tea Party movement?

You’d think these champions of working people would be demanding that greedy mine owners and lax regulation be addressed right now for the safety of  blue-collar Americans.

Instead, these so-called Tea Party people are out trying to get average working people to fight against finally getting some health insurance.

Let’s be clear—These so-called Tea Party folks are sick with self-revlusion and with anger at anyone they feel has a better life than they do. They also don’t seem to like people that they see as different from themselves.

They are blinded by this self-hate and by this anger.

April 12, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | 3 Comments

How Many People Does It Take To Sharpen A Pencil In My Home?

In my home it takes two people to sharpen a pencil.

The “mini-sharpener” you see above has suction cups on the bottom that allow you to keep it on a surface while you sharpen the pencil. The problem is that the suction cups son’t work.

This is why it takes two of us to sharpen a pencil. However, it still takes but one of us to screw in a lightbulb.

It is okay that it takes two of us to sharpen a pencil because it takes two to make a thing go right.

Here is some history of pencil sharpeners. If you look at the top of the page, you will see links to more facts about the evolution of this device.

April 12, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | 2 Comments

Four Bird Species Work Together To Eat Trash

Here are four bird species working as a team to eat trash on the Galveston Seawall. I took this picture last week.

I think this picture really shows that we can all come together in life despite our differences.

April 11, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | 2 Comments

Texas Progressive Alliance Round-Up

Here is the most recent weekly Texas Progressive Alliance round-up. The TPA is a confederation of the best political bloggers in Texas.

Normally I have additional commentary or facts or photos about Texas to go with the round-up. But this week the TPA round-up is a solo act.

The round-up—

Off the Kuff looked at how voting returns changed in Texas from 2004 to 2008 in the Presidential and judicial races.

Aruba Petroleum: The Epic Fail of the Barnett ShaleBluedaze: DRILLING REFORM FOR TEXAS brings you 55 posts to document this failure of epic proportions.

Marshmallow Peeps make sweeping endorsements of Democrats on The Texas Cloverleaf.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme wonders why Republicans and Republican suck ups act like bleeping thugs? Perry appointee Nueces County DA Jimenez threw out the board certified attorneys to bring in her cronies, and HD 76 incumbent Norma Chavez channels Karl Rove.

Continue reading

April 11, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | | Leave a comment

Justice Stevens Retiring From Supreme Court—Resources To Learn About The Supreme Court

Justice John Paul Stevens will be retiring from the Supreme Court at the end of the current term.

(Above—Justice Stevens in 1976.)

Let’s hope that President Obama picks a liberal to replace Justice Stevens. Let’s hope the President selects relatively young liberal who will serve on the Court for many years to come.

Here is a review of Justice Stevens’ time on the Court from The New York Times.

The article explores–among other things–how Justice Stevens became a leader of the Court’s so-called liberal wing after having been appointed to the Court by President Gerald Ford.

Here is a Huffington Post article on possible replacements for Justice Stevens.

There are resources both online and in books to help you learn about the history of the Supreme Court. It is also so that just by regularly reading a daily newspaper you can learn a lot about the court and about the confirmation battle ahead after President Obama makes his nomination.

Below are some links to learn about the court. It is up to you to know what is going on the world.

Here’s the Supreme Court web home.

Here’s a review of A People’s History of the Supreme Court by Peter Irons.

Here’s a review of the book The U.S. Supreme Court–The Pursuit of Justice edited by Christopher Tomlins.

Here’s a link to learn about some important cases in Supreme Court history.

Here’s a list of all 111 Supreme Court Justices to date.

The Oxford Companion To The Supreme Court is a very useful reference. This book has brief but useful biographies of each Justice who has served on the court, and has accounts of many cases that have been decided over the years.

(Below—William Brennan was a liberal on the Supreme Court. He was a member of the Court between 1956 and 1990. Here is Justice Brennan’s obit from the Washington Post.)

April 10, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | 2 Comments

1975 Barney Miller Episode Shows A Greater Respect For People Than We Often See In 2010

I just watched a 35 year old episode of Barney Miller where gay characters helped bust gay-bashing cop and where, in a separate plot line, a mentally ill man was treated with respect after he tried to kill himself.

Don’t you wish that views and conduct such as I relate from this show could be mastered in 2010?

Open-minded views are always best.

In this episode, one of the gay characters had to be convinced that the cops in Captain Miller’s station house would not do violence to him simply because he was gay. Open-mindedness must be a two-way street.

With exceptions, it is people on the left who best exemplify  the views of compassion and open-mindedness that I am relating in this blog post.

April 10, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment