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Flexibility Is Life And Progress—Different Sets Of Tracks Can Lead In The Same Direction

Last week I watched President Obama’s State of the Union speech.

On my Facebook that evening, I saw a number of reactions to the speech from both moderate and liberal Democrats, from Green Party supporters, from Occupy Wall Street backers and from socialists.

The Democrats all liked the speech, while some of my friends further along on the left had reactions ranging from partial approval to scorn.

This is all fine with me. While I am not President Obama’s most ardent supporter, I am on the side of all good people who want to  help move our great nation to the left.

There is no point in a rigidity that excludes people on our side of the aisle.

Here is the entirety of  chapter 76 of the Stephen Mitchell translation of the Tao Te Ching

Men are born soft and supple;

dead, they are stiff and hard.

Plants are born tender and pliant;

dead, they are brittle and dry.

This whoever is stiff and inflexible

is a disciple of death.

Whoever is soft and yielding

is a disciple of life.

The hard and stiff will be broken.

The soft and supple will prevail.

Yet–of course–we must move in a hopeful direction and this does require at the least a measure of coordination.

The good news is that different sets of tracks can lead in the same direction. We see this in picture below of railroad tracks that I took in Houston last year.

There are multiple tracks, but they merge.

See who your friends and allies are and see the good in them. Focus on where you agree and move forward.

We can be both flexible and focused on a common goal.

January 31, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Water’s Edge—A Lot Of Things Started Here

Here is a photo I took a few hours ago at the water’s edge in Galveston, Texas. 

Very primordial.

You say that this blog and that many things as well began at the water’s edge.

At The Water’s Edge is a well-reviewed book by Carl Zimmer about—among other topics—sea creatures first walking on land.

Life–A Natural History of the First Four Billion Years of Life on Earth by Richard Fortey is a very good book.

Prehistoric Life–A Definitive Visual History of Life On Earth by DK Publishing is enjoyable.

Things we see each day in life can spur us to think of the big picture. And of the fact that we all have a place in the big picture.

January 30, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | Leave a comment

House Decorated For Valentine’s Day In Galveston,Texas—Gay Marriage Makes Valentine’s Day 2012 Even Better

Here is a home decorated for Valentine’s Day that I saw a few hours ago in Galveston,Texas.

I thought this was friendly.

Here is a history of Valentine’s Day.

With more and more states allowing gay marriage, Valentine’s Day 2012 will be extra happy for folks able to live as they wish in a tough world.

January 30, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

Review Of Contraband—I Liked All The Ships In The Movie

Last night I saw the movie Contraband.

This movie was about people smuggling stuff aboard big ships.

Here is my review of this movie—

“Contraband was enjoyable. There was plenty of action and many interesting pictures of ships and of Panama City, Panama.”  

This covers my thoughts about Contraband.

Here are some facts on what it is like to visit Panama.

Last week I saw The Artist.

There were many more people in the theater to see Contraband than there were to see The Artist.

The Artist was quite enjoyable as well. It was a black-and-white mostly silent movie about the film industry back in black-and-white, silent film days.

Go see The Artist so that the big megaplexs will still show such type movies along with action-packed movies about people smuggling stuff on big ships.

Above is a picture I took in Galveston, Texas a few hours ago of ships passing in the day. These are the type of ships that were in Contraband.

This is because art echoes life.

Or is it the other way around?

January 30, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Texas Progressive Alliance Weekly Round-Up–I Was Going To Write More, But Decided To Go To Galveston Instead

Here is  the weekly posting of the  Texas Progressive Alliance round-up. The TPA is a confederation of the best political bloggers in Texas. TPA members are citizen-bloggers working for a better Texas.

Often I post some additional Texas related political or historical material with the round-up. However, I’m going to go to Galveston instead later this morning so that I can take walk along the sunny shores of the Gulf of Mexico. Galveston, Texas is always a great place to visit.

In terms of the round up–It serves as a reminder that every Texan and every American has the ability to attend a public meeting, attend or organize a protest, write or call an elected official, talk to friends and family, start a blog, donate money, write a letter to the editor, volunteer for candidates and causes, engage in acts of civil disobedience, and to run for public office.

The work of freedom is up to each of us.

Here is the round-up—

The big story last week was the SCOTUS ruling on interim redistricting maps. Off the Kuff has an initial look.

It turns out that PDiddie and Paula Deen have more in common than just their initials; there’s also a morality tale involved. Read “Paula Deen, diabetes, and Novo Nordisk” atBrains and Eggs.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme is tired of the media ignoring grossly untrue, inflammatory, and just plain disgusting things Republicans like Rick Perry say.

Perry’s run for the presidency is over! WCNews at Eye On Williamson posts on it here:Good riddance for now; Perry drops out. Continue reading

January 29, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment

As Houston Skyline Shows, No Conflict Exists Between Being Connected And Apart

In bright sunshine, objects are all under the same light while also standing quite distinctly from one another.

Since metaphor gives form to solid things, this may be the case solely to show that we can acknowledge what we hold in common while existing quite clearly on our own.

To hell with all that rugged individualist propaganda we are fed to help make the powerful even more powerful.

As shown by no less an example than the skyline of the big sunbelt city of Houston, Texas, no conflict exists between being part of  something larger and being our own person.

Photo copyright 2012 Neil Aquino 

January 28, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Two Great Web Resources Of American History And Culture—Everybody Has The Ability To Learn And To Act

While much of what is on the web is junk, there are some great resources for folks who want to use their discretionary time effectively.

C-SPAN has a full archive of all its programming over the years.

One thing I find of value at the C-SPAN site is the Booknotes page. Booknotes was a weekly interview program that ran each week for a number of years.

The most recent interview I listened to was one from 1989 with Colonel David Hackworth. Colonel Hackworth was a decorated solider from Korea and Vietnam who came to oppose war and much about how the Army operated. This is programming you can listen to on your home computer while you are getting other stuff done.

Here is a Colonel Hackworth’s obituary from 2005. 

An interview on Booknotes I found of interest was one from 1998 of Iris Chang who wrote The Rape of Nanking–The Forgotten Holocaust of World War II. This book is about the Japanese occupation of China. Here is an obituary of Iris Chang 

If you look on the top left on this link, you’ll find access to a full list of old C-SPAN series and programs about a great number of topics. There is a great deal of interest here on a wide variety of topics relating to American history and American authors.

Another great resource is the website of the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art.

While there is a great deal of interest at this site, it is the new American wing that most holds my attention.

Here is a New York Times tour of some of the exhibits in the American wing.

You can look at and read a bit about every piece of art in each gallery of the American wing. You can do this for the art in the other galleries of the museum as well.

This works on a mobile device as well if you look it up that way.

Each work also has a link to its place the very good Heillbrunn Timeline of Art History.

This art is an insight to the political, cultural and personal lives of Americans.

If these resources don’t sail your ship, find something that does.

Everybody has the capacity to understand complex things. The resources are out there to learn all sorts of stuff.

Empowered with what we learn, we all have the ability to put forth our views and to act. Progress is up to each of us.

(Below–Enoch Wood Perry‘s Talking It Over from 1872.)

January 27, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

State Of The Union Another Reminder That It Is Up To Each Of Us To Act—You Can’t Just Sit And Watch Stuff

I just watched the State of the Union address.

Here is a brief history of the State of the Union address from the website of the U.S. House of Representatives.

(Above–1963 State of the Union. President Kennedy is addressing Congress. Behind Mr. Kennedy is Vice President Lyndon Johnson on the left and House Speaker John McCormack on the right. The Miller Center at the University of Virgina is a great non-ideological resource to learn about all the Presidents from Washington to Obama.)

Anything I write on the topic will be stale by tomorrow afternoon and I want to go watch Elizabeth Warren on The Daily Show. I suppose I can go as far to say that the speech was effective enough as the President seeks reelection and that the most wealthy should indeed pay a fair share of the taxes.

We should also recall that President Obama has raised a lot of money and that he has obligations to his large contributors. It is wishful thinking that the President is a socialist.

Here is a story on the speech from the New York Times.

Here is a transcript of the speech. 

Here is a take on the speech from the great liberal magazine The Nation. 

As a matter of general principle–Here is Occupy Wall Street.

Learn your history, keep up with the present, get involved in whatever way suits your life, take responsibility for the future of our nation and the world, and please forgive my preaching in this run-on sentence.

January 25, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Single Payer Health Care Advocacy Conference Being Held In Houston On Jan. 28

Here is an event relating to single payer health care that is being held in Houston later this week.  My comrade Perry Dorrell at the great Texas political blog Brains & Eggs has a list of a number of hopeful liberal and progressive events taking place in Houston over the next few days.
National Single Payer Strategy Conference in Houston

WHAT: Over 120 Representatives from 25 states and 52 organizations will meet in Houston this weekend to plan strategies to advance a single payer national health insurance plan in the USA. The best health care system plan for accessible, cost-effective, equitable and high quality health care is expanded and improved “Medicare for All”. Workshops and topics include:

*economic impact of the PPACA legislation, funding and affordability, the individual mandate, challenging electoral candidates to press forward for single payer during the election year

* defending attacks on Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security

* health care inequities; exposing pharmaceutical and insurance industry corruption of government

* state plans for universal health care coverage

* building coalitions with faith-communities, professionals, peace, justice, consumer rights and labor groups

* shareholder “divestment” campaign from profit-making insurance companies

* connecting to the Occupy Wall Street movement and occupying the health care debate

* lessons from the southern states and the civil rights movement to achieve health care as a civil right

WHEN: Saturday, January 28, 2012 2pm-9pm and Sunday, January 29, 9:00am-5:00pm

WHERE: Hilton Hobby Hotel, 8181 Airport Blvd, Houston

Agenda here (.pdf). Conference info: http://www.healthcare-now.org/campaigns/strat-conf/ Co-sponsor host: Health Care for All Texaswww.healthcareforalltexas.org

WHO: Senior leaders from national and regional coalitions, academic, medical care, health policy analysts, movie producers, videographers, writers and activists. Speakers available for interview include: Continue reading

January 25, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | 2 Comments

The Purpose Of Republican Presidential Debates Is To Spur Good People To Action—They Are Telling You Just How Mean They Are

I watched the Republican debate this evening.

It was a very bad program—Lousy characters and an awful script.

I realize it was a poor use of my time to watch this debate.

Though this poor decision making on my part would only matter if folks trusted the judgment of bloggers in any case.

I’m hesitant to use my blog to attack these Republican candidates each day, as they are interchangeable with a thousand other race baiting, health care destroying, job killing, fear mongering politicians who could be up on that stage instead. There are so many more hopeful things in life to discuss.

The debate was like a game show where the contestants answer each question in the form of a hate speech.

The most important thing about Santourm, Romney, Gingrich & Paul is that they are up there, and they are saying for all to hear who they are and what they are about.

At that point it is up to each of us to make sure that one of these folks does not become President.

More significantly, it is up to each of us to help create a nation where people like these are not viable candidates for the highest office in the land.

The work of freedom and a more hopeful nation is up to each of us. The point of these Republican debates is to spur good people to action.

There they are up on the stage spewing hate and talking about making the rich richer.

What are you going to do about it?

January 24, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Dodge Swinger Brings Back The Past—Everything Is Something Else As Well

I recently saw this old Dodge Swinger here in Houston.

Here is a Dodge Swinger commercial from 1971. 

This car remined me of the two Dodge Darts my family drove in the 1970’s.

The Swinger was apparently the Dart in most respects, with the exception of the fact that the Swinger was a two door car.

I looked inside the car, and the dash and radio were of the same design I recall from the Darts.

I looked at this car for a number of minutes and it brought back a number of personal memories.

It is interesting how an object can bring back the past.

Everyday objects often have a meaning beyond their acknowledged purpose.

Sojourner Truth said —“I sell the shadow to support the substance” 

Arguments can be made in which symbolism is employed, and day-to-day life can offer us a chance encounter with thoughts of one kind or another.

Everything is almost always something else as well.

Dodge is bringing back the Dart  for 2013 after many years of not making the car. I don’t find that very interesting. This new Dart will come without memories as an accessory.

A great book to learn about automobiles is Car–The Definitive Visual History of the Automobile.

January 23, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Phineas & Ferb Is My Favorite TV Show—Perry The Platypus Graffiti

My favorite television show is the Disney Channel cartoon Phineas & Ferb.

The show is intelligently written, the characters are kind, and a big theme of the show is that we are each responsible to get out and do something each day.

Yet this message of sieze the day is conveyed in a humane way and not with Ron Paul meanness and vindictiveness.

One of the main chacters in this show is Perry the Platypus. Perry is a family pet and also a secret agent.

Here are facts about the platypus.

I was out and about in Houston a few weeks ago and saw the Perry the Platypus graffiti that you see above. The water below the picture is Buffalo Bayou.

Here is some history of American graffiti. 

You see that Perry is holding a sign encouraging people to recycle. Here is a history of the recycling symbol. 

One of the best things you can do when you seize the day is to be of benefit to others.

Checking out the Occupy Wall Street website would be a good start to taking action on your own and being of service to others.

January 22, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Rick Perry Back To Doing Harm Primarily In Texas—Texas Progressive Alliance Round-Up

Here is  the weekly posting of the  Texas Progressive Alliance round-up. The TPA is a confederation of the best political bloggers in Texas.  TPA members are citizen-bloggers working for a better Texas.

It’s been a mixed week for freedom-loving Texans. The menacing prospect of Rick Perry winning the Republican nomination is gone. Yet now Rick Perry will be back in Texas with plenty of free time to do harm. There is rarely any hopeful scenario when Rick Perry is involved. At least though we have the satisfaction of having witnessed Mr. Perry’s terrible Presidential campaign.

In any case, Mr. Perry is back and he is still Governor. You can enjoy a brief laugh at his expense as you get back to the work of mitigating the evil Governor Perry will surely attempt  now that he is back in Austin. The moment you think you are smarter than your foes is the moment they get the best of you.

(Above–Governor Perry at the 2011 Iowa State Fair. This did not turn out to be time well spent. Photot by IowaPolitics.com)  

Every Texan and every American has the ability to attend a public meeting, attend or organize a protest, write or call an elected official, talk to friends and family, start a blog, donate money, write a letter to the editor, volunteer for candidates and causes, engage in acts of civil disobedience, and to run for public office.

The work of freedom is up to each of us.

Here is the round-up–

Off the Kuff takes a look at Democratic primary races as they now stand in Harris County and elsewhere in Texas.

Refinish69 at Doing My Part for the Left thinks sometimes you just have to say “What the Hell?”

Bay Area Houston says it is time for a Joe Driver law. Continue reading

January 22, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment

79 Folks At Occupy Forum On Corporate Personhood On A Friday Night In Houston

I’m sitting here at the Occupy Houston forum on corporate personhood and how citizens can fight back against the privatization of the nation. This event is being held on the campus of the U. of Houston.

I count 79 people in this lecture hall. That is a pretty good crowd for a discussion of corporate personhood on a Friday night in Texas.

Day-by-day the Occupy Wall Street movement is showing it is around for the long haul. Day-by-day people are are waking up and fighting back.

The bottom line is that there are many who share the concern that big money is running this nation, and there are many who realize that they can act to take back power for everyday Americans.

Here is Move to Amend.

Here is Occupy Wall Street.

January 21, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment