Texas Liberal

All People Matter

25 Things About This Blogger—With Paul Revere Painting

I’ve been tagged for one of these 25 things about me lists on Facebook. Vanity compels me to comply. I’ve not yet posted this on Facebook. It’s just that I need a blog post for today.

I like Facebook. It’s an easy way to keep in touch with folks.  If any of the blog reading public would like to add a friend who is also one of America’s leading bloggers…..well, I can’t help you.  But if you’d like to add me, my name in Neil Aquino and I live in Houston. Look me up and I’ll add you on. The more the merrier. 

Here we go—

1. Anything good about me, or good in my life, is in large part due to my wife. Anything bad is my doing.

2. I’ve had four clear-cut best friends at points in my life. One is my wife. One was a grade school kid I’ve long lost touch with. One is just beginning the study of Chinese medicine in Portland, Oregon. I still exchange e-mails with her on and off.  The final one is the only I can’t have a decent conversation with anymore. I’m appreciative of her friendship at one time in my life, but I don’t regret the inability to converse with her now.

3. Sometimes I wonder if I would be better off giving up the blog and writing a letter to a friend each day. I give a fair amount of thought about the best ways to communicate.

4. I work hard to maintain friendships across the years and across what are now often great distances. I’m mostly successful with this. Yet I have room to do better.

5. When we keep up with friends, I feel we provide our lives with a measure of permanence that offers a rebuttal to death. We are saying there is a source of stability in an existence marked by things moving away from each other. Longstanding relationships also give a greater relevance to the ways we’ve spent our time in life. When you have a friend for a long time, it’s evidence that you made a good decision many years ago. 

6. I feel you can define family in anyway you choose.

7.  I wish I had the ability to be an artist of some kind. I’d like to be able to  paint a picture. I’d paint a picture of people in a way that conveyed who they are. I’m lucky to have seen in person Copley’s painting of Paul Revere in Boston. Below you see that painting. It’s my favorite.  In this painting, Mr. Revere is both a worker and a thinker. 


8. I wish I had the time in life to be as creative as I feel I could be. I could gain a measure of that time by the better application of self-discipline.  

9. I feel that both the material events in our lives, as well as the thoughts that we think, all need context. Nothing exists alone. We need to know what came before and what may come after.

10. I think one can merge the public and private aspects of life in ways that give greater meaning to both. The two should not be divorced from one another.

11. I often wonder how one can combine a strong desire to be alone with a need to communicate. Hopefully, I’m able to do this in a way that is neither (fully) stand-offish or involves being around to much. (Though in truth, I’ve not yet figured this mix out.)

12. I have a good memory. I recall some things with such clarity that I feel the events I’m thinking about are taking place again.  This makes me wonder that if man is the measure of all things, than does not the abilty to retain and relive our memories challenge some of our concepts of time? The past is present in our thoughts and as a guide to our future actions.    

13. If each morning we could take just a few moments to assess our lives and our goals for the day, that would be an act of creation and imagination we could accomplish each day.

We could create time and time again. We could do so in a way that builds upon what came before, so that even an act of creation comes with context. I want to have the discipline to be able to do this.

14. I’m not convinced our leaders really believe most Americans have a viable economic future. At least in relation to how we have lived before. 

15. I’ve never spent a night outdoors and I never will unless forced to do so by a bad turn of events.

16. Just because your life is very good, does not mean it is entirely the life you want. Expressing this thought does not detract from the good things in your life. 

17. I’d like to live on an island.

18. I feel at home when with the wife, when at the ocean in Galveston, Texas, when writing, and when reading.  I also felt at home when I was at a bar called the  Jockey Club in Newport, Kentucky. That place has long been torn down.

19.  Much about the practice of politics bores me. I did not like most people I met when I worked in politics. Though the time I spent involved in politics was worth it.

20. I’m proud of the fact that my name has been on the ballot twice. Once as a candidate for Democratic precinct executive a Hamilton County, Ohio. I was the only candidate and won with about 15 votes cast in my little voting precinct.  That was, I think, in 1992. I got a certificate of election from the county. In 1997, I ran for the Cincinnati Board of Education and won about 10,000 votes.  I finished 9th of 12 with the top four being elected. I was endorsed by Stonewall Cincinnati and by a number of unions. Beyond being glad I had not finished last, I felt that I had done well in the voting.

 21. The best non-fiction book I’ve read is S.E. Finer’s three volume history of government. The best novel I’ve read is The Remains Of The Day by Kazuo Ishiguro.  

22. I’d like to start volunteering somewhere. I have a place in mind.

23. I’m lucky.

24. I think we can balance a strong and autonomous personality, with the need for collective action in our political lives. What could be better than free citizens making the willing choice to work for common ends?

 25. I’ll end where I started—Anything good about me, or good in my life, is in large part due to my wife. Anything bad is my doing

January 31, 2009 Posted by | Art, Blogging, Books, Cincinnati, Galveston, Houston, My Wife Is The Best Person Ever, Politics, Relationships | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Sitting With Wife In Top Row Of Houston Opera Is As Good As Sitting In Royal Box In Europe

Two days ago I went to the opera with my wife. Though we sat in the very top row of the opera house, the truth is that when I’m with the wife, it is as if I’m sitting in an opera box reserved for a king, a czar, or a grand duke. It makes no difference where we sit. Next to the wife I am in the best seat in the house. 

Above you see a picture of the Royal Box at the Teatro Real in Madrid. (This picture was taken by one Andreas Praefcke.) Sitting  next to the wife in the top row must be just like sitting in that royal box in Madrid. 

My wife is the best person ever.

What the wife and I saw was an operatic adaptation of A Midsummer’s Night Dream at the Wortham Center here in Houston. I told my wife this was the first time I’d ever been to the opera. Though when we were driving to the show, I recalled that I had once seen an operatic version of Voltaire’s Candide at the Dayton, Ohio opera with a former girlfriend. (Please don’t tell the wife this fact.)  

My review of this Houston Opera show is as follows—-There was a great deal of singing and the performers were all in costume. The subtitles shown at the top of the stage were of great help. The wife and I had a fine time and we may well go again.

Here is a review of this show from the Houston Chronicle.

Here is a history of opera. This history says that opera began in Italy in the early 1600’s.  

Below you see a newspaper illustration from 1888. The people in the opera box are quite sophisticated at the performance. But later in the night they get drunk and whoop it up.

January 27, 2009 Posted by | Art, Houston, My Wife Is The Best Person Ever | , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

First Bit Of Good Luck For 2009—You Are Not A Camel

Above is a painting called Camels. It was completed in 1941 by Amirita Sher-Gil. Ms. Sher-Gil lived from 1913 until 1941. She spent her first years in Budapest, Hungary, and, when eight years old, moved with her family to India. Click the first link to read about Ms. Sher-Gil’s life. Click this link to see a number of her paintings.

You first bit of luck for 2009 is that you are not a camel. (Here is information about camels.)

Building upon this foundation, that fact that you are not a camel, do your best in our often harsh world to have a good and productive 2009. (You can define productive anyway that suits you and does no harm to others.)

January 1, 2009 Posted by | Art | , , | Leave a comment

A Painting Of People At Work

The painting above is called “Kitchen.” It was painted in the 1580’s by Vincenco Campi.

I enjoy blogging, hopefully I have some skills in expressing ideas, but I wish sometimes that I could paint. Among other things, I’d paint people at work and people as they are in life.

Along these same lines, I wish we had a greater respect for the labor of others. We need to recall that all work has value and dignity.

December 10, 2008 Posted by | Art | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The One-Two Knockout Blow Of A Hurried Pace Coupled With Indolence

Many would agree that the pace of our lives is often faster than we would wish. We all have a lot do to and it seems that the demands placed upon us only grow. ( Except for people unlucky enough to lose their jobs in the recent months of layoffs. Those are people with a different set of pressures in life.)

Yet at the same time we cannot keep up, there is the fact that the average American watches more than 4 hours of television each day. (Please click here for disturbing statistics and facts about American television viewing.) 

And that is just TV watching. What about the time we spend playing video games and surfing the web? It’s as if we have not enough time and extra time all at once.  

I’m not a reflexive critic of television. If you went back in time and told most people who have ever lived, that instead of getting up at 5 AM to milk cows and hauling water from a stream a mile away, you could instead sit down for hours and watch a box showing games and stories—Well, I bet they would have thought that was some kind of paradise.

Yet it seems the point we’ve reached in our lives is that we get the first blow during the day and early evening when we face the demands of work and family, and then we allow the second blow of the ease of mindless relaxation to knock us down for the count until we hit the sack for the night.   

Maybe it could be said that each night television knocks us out of the ring of thought and action. (Below is the painting Dempsey And Firpo painted in 1924 by George Wesley Bellows.)

There is hope however. Though it is Jack Dempsey shown below being punched out the ring, he still won the fight over Luis Firpo. Let’s pick ourselves off the couch and think about what we do with the hours of our lives.   

December 8, 2008 Posted by | Art, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Can It Be A Real Thanksgiving Without Smallpox?

The following is from an article called “The Truth About the First Thanksgiving” by James M. Lowen. Mr. Lowen has written Lies My Teacher Told Me and Lies Across America— (Above–One idea of the first Thanksgiving as painted by Jean Leon Gerome Ferris. Mr. Ferris lived 1863-1930.)

The summer after the Pilgrims landed, they sent two envoys on a diplomatic mission to treat with Massasoit, a famous chief encamped some 40 miles away at what is now Warren, Rhode Island. The envoys discovered and described a scene of absolute havoc. Villages lay in ruins because there was no one to tend them. The ground was strewn with the skulls and the bones of thousands of Indians who had died and none was left to bury them. 

( Can’t figure out how to fix the glitchy font on the above paragraph—Things happen.)

During the next fifteen years, additional epidemics, most of which we know to have been smallpox, struck repeatedly. Europeans caught smallpox and the other maladies, to be sure, but most recovered, including, in a later century, the “heavily pockmarked George Washington.” Indians usually died. Therefore, almost as profound as their effect on Indian demographics was the impact of the epidemics on the two cultures, European and Indian. The English Separatists, already seeing their lives as part of a divinely inspired morality play, inferred that they had God on their side. John Winthrop, Governor of Massachusetts Bay Colony, called the plague “miraculous.” To a friend in England in 1634, he wrote:

“But for the natives in these parts, God hath so pursued them, as for 300 miles space the greatest part of them are swept away by the small pox which still continues among them. So as God hath thereby cleared our title to this place, those who remain in these parts, being in all not fifty, have put themselves under our protect”

Here is a timeline of European disease epidemics among Native Americans.

Here is information about smallpox.

Most of us have much to be thankful for on Thanksgiving and on all days. Yet this does not mean we should forget how we got what we have, and what costs were inflicted on people we felt were in the way.

(Below —A scene from King Philip’s War. This 1675 conflict is a more accurate reflection of relations between white settlers and Native Americans in colonial New England than the painting at the top of this post.) 

Early American Conflict.jpg

November 24, 2008 Posted by | Art, Books, Colonial America, History | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Morning Snow Hudson River

The above painting is called A Morning Snow Hudson River and is from 1910.

It was painted by George Bellows.

Here is some information on the Hudson River.

I wish Houston had paintings I could look at that offered a sense of what life was once like here. It’s hard to learn Houston’s history. I don’t think it is something that is valued very much.

November 16, 2008 Posted by | Art | , , | Leave a comment

Ass Headed Demons—Do You Have Them In Your Life?

Above are ass-headed demons that are on display at the British Museum in London. This ceramic plaque is from 15th century Burma.

The ass-headed demons were sent by Mara, the god of death, to distract the Buddha from his course of enlightenment.  Mara was defeated after the Buddha asked the Earth-goddess to see how hard he was working for enlightenment. The Earth-goddess sent a giant earthquake and Mara retreated.

I bet we all have people in our lives we see as ass-headed demons.

Some might be well-known political figures or others in the news, while others might be people we’re forced to deal with each day in life.

November 10, 2008 Posted by | Art, Uncategorized | , , , , , | 6 Comments

Who Is Running For The Texas Supreme Court? How Should One Vote?

Who is running for the Texas Supreme Court? Who is currently on the court?

There are three Democrats running for the Texas Supreme Court in 2008. The current Court consists of nine Republicans and zero Democrats. Three of the nine seats are up for election this year.

(Above is Lady Justice holding the Scales of Justice in what is quite a scene. The painting was completed in 1686 by Luca Giordano.) 

Even if you are not a liberal such as myself, do you think a court of nine Texas Republicans will rule in a way that helps average people in Texas? I think only a hard right partisan would hold such a view.

Electing the three Democrats on the ballot in 2008 would simply restore a measure of balance to the Texas Supreme Court.  

The three Democrats are Jim Jordan for Chief Justice.

Sam Houston for Place 7. 

And Linda Yanez for for Place 8.

Texas Watch discusses here the bias on the current court in favor of insurance companies and polluters.

Here is an overview of the Texas Supreme Court races from the Houston Chronicle.

Here is the web home of the Texas Supreme Court.

How can nine justices of one party, and zero justices of the other party, be good for our democracy and for our State of Texas?

October 28, 2008 Posted by | Art, Campaign 2008, Politics, Texas | , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Copley’s Self Portrait & My Monarchical Impulses

Above is the self-portrait of the great artist John Singleton Copley. This portrait was painted in 1784 when Copley was 46.

In 1784 Copley lived in England. He had been born in Boston in 1738 and lived there for most of his life until he left for Europe in 1774.

The timing of Copley’s departure for Europe just before the American Revolution was no accident. He was a loyalist. Copley never came back to the United States.

Sometimes, when frustrated with the general public, I look at Copley’s haughty self-portrait and entertain a brief monarchical sympathy. It’s like a stiff drink to get past a rough moment.  

I think things out and always reject the option of a king or queen. I think the best way to support democracy is to be candid about the flaws of the masses. That way you are ready for what comes in politics and society.

October 16, 2008 Posted by | Art, Colonial America, History | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Top Vermont Art Teacher Sets Up Blog

Top Vermont art teacher, and maybe the leading art teacher in the United States, Kim Corey of Montpelier, Vermont, has set up a blog. It is called ArtTechie. Art Techie was recently linked to by the blog of the Vermont Art Teacher’s Association.

( Above is the painting Indian Summer, Vermont. This is a work by Willard Leroy Metcalf . Mr. Metcalf lived 1858-1925.)  

Ms. Corey teaches art for K through Grade 8 students in Montpelier. 

Good work, Ms. Corey.

Ms. Corey, a cousin of this blogger, is, as is this blogger, descended from those who stepped off the Mayflower. Also, it has been claimed that we are descended from Sir Isaac Newton.

Don’t tell the rabble, but Ms. Corey and I know we are Blue Bloods at core.

September 24, 2008 Posted by | Art, Blogging | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

It’s Wrong! Very Wrong! To Repeat Tabloid Stories


It’s very wrong to repeat tabloid stories about Governor Palin.

Oh…hold on! Maybe it’s okay if they are stories that favor Governor Palin.   

There is a whorehouse element to any effort to reach the public. I’m not sure who is “above” it. Nobody that I am aware of. I know I’m not.

Below is Vincent van Gogh’s The Brothel from 1888. 

September 3, 2008 Posted by | Art, Campaign 2008, Politics | , , , , | Leave a comment

Painting Of Sappho & Texas Progressive Alliance Weekly Round-Up

Above is the painting Sappho which was completed by Charles Mengin in 1877. It is hanging in the Manchester Art Gallery in Manchester, England. The Manchester Art Gallery is publically owned. I’m sure many of my Texas Progressive Alliance blogger friends would support the idea of public ownership of an art gallery.  

The current definitive translation of Sappho’s poetry is If Not, Winter–Fragments of Sappho by Anne Carson. Sappho lived on the Island of Lesbos 2600 years ago. Here is a link to a 1925 translation of Sappho’s poetry.

The Texas Progressive Alliance is a group of Texas bloggers, connected yet autonomous, who blog on Texas politics and other subjects. Each week a round-up is offered of best posts from the previous seven days. Here is this week’s collection—  

Check out The Truth About Texas Republicans, a new blogger-powered website designed to expose the real truth about GOP Texas legislators. The opening posts look at the stuff state representatives Dwayne Bohac, Betty Brown, John Davis, Bill Zedler and State Sen. Mike Jackson don’t want you to see.

refinish69 was happy to introduce a real progressive Democrat to the readers of Doing My Part For The Left a few weeks ago, but has to wonder how to describe Michael Skelly: Democrat or Republican Lite?

Vince at Capitol Annex takes a look at the Texas State Teacher’s Association lawsuit against the Texas Education Agency for giving public funds to private institutions.

Irony Alert: Mary McDaniels, Manager – Pipeline Safety, Texas Railroad Commission, lied on camera about the Atmos Energy gas pipeline couplings. She spoke in Fort Worth about pipeline safety, inspections, and regulations for Chesapeake Energy’s Barnett Shale pipeline, says TXsharon at Bluedaze.

Julie Pippert at MOMocrats asked: “Offshore drilling — whose issue is it anyway? The people’s? Or the politician’s?”

Continue reading

August 14, 2008 Posted by | Art, Blogging, Books, Poetry, Politics, Texas | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Samuel Adams Says Have A Great Fourth Of July

Here we see the patriot Samuel Adams telling you to have a great Fourth Of July.

Click here to learn more about Samuel Adams.

What Mr. Adams is pointing to in the painting, is a map telling him where all the best fried clam shacks are, and, which way to go to the fireworks tonight.

The artist was John Singleton Copley.

July 4, 2008 Posted by | Art | , , , | 2 Comments

Boston Museum Of Fine Arts Allows Lowlife Blogger To View Great Works

When did it all start to go wrong?

When the first words were put on paper, and the secret rites and acts of Pharohs and kings were no longer guarded over by powerful priests?

When the Catholic mass was no longer required to be delivered in Latin?

When the franchise was expanded beyond noble lords and long-established and well-propertied families?

Was it Andrew Jackson and the rise of American democracy?

Public education? Libraries? Paperback books? 

It seems that democratic norms and the pretensions of the lowest orders have breeched the barriers of tolerance when people like me are allowed into the Boston Museum of Fine Arts to view the works of the great masters. 

Any yahoo with $16 can get in.

You say not everybody has $16 to spare to look at art?

Just how far would you have us fall.

My inner-Federalist has been stirred by being in Boston. 

I’m just the type our more discerning founders were afraid of.   

A blogger is the most vile creature of them all. He or she presumes no barrier but ownership of a computer to sharing even the most obnoxious views with the entire world. 

I’ve had one glass of wine tonight. A few more and I’d confess that this liberal might even be a loyalist at heart.

I’d be in safe in saying so because a defining characteristic of the lower orders is fickleness of mind and view.  

The likes of me can change their minds as often as they wish

June 25, 2008 Posted by | Art, History, Political History, Politics | , , , , , | 1 Comment