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Grave With View Of Traffic Would Be Fitting End To An Urban Life

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I saw this grave a couple of weeks ago at Glenwood Cemetery  in Houston.

It seems that a grave with a view of traffic would be a fitting end to an urban life.

Behind the grave in the center of the picture you see there is a car showing something of a ghostly image.

Maybe it was a ghost car.

January 7, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | 3 Comments

Houston Scene Reminds Me Of The Charles Sheeler Painting Classic Landscape—You See Stuff If You Just Go Out And Drive Around

Above is a picture I took while driving about Houston recently.

This picture reminded of the 1931 Charles Sheeler painting that you see below called Classic Landscape. 

The painting is of the massive Ford River Rouge plant in Michigan.

Here is how the painting is discussed in American Art And Architecture by Michael Lewis—

“….at the end of 1927…Ford unveiled the new Model A…to riotous crowds. Ford carefully planned its advertising campaign, engaging Charles Sheeler to photograph the complex at River Rouge where it was manufactured. His role was purely that of a  commercial artist but the immensity of the site and factory overwhelmed him. Sprawling over 1,100 acres, it had a sense of colossal scale like that of the Egyptian pyramids or the cathedrals of medieval Europe. And like those monuments, the factories seemed to embody physically the great social forces of the age….He soon began to make paintings based on his photographs, imitating not only their compositions but their photographic character: their crispness…and..abstract geometric forms in almost airless space….adopted the values of the machine–clarity, precision, razor edges, and clean form. (This) became known as Precisionism, the leading school of American realism in the art of the 1920’s and 1930’s. ”

Sometimes I like to get in my car and drive around.

When I drive around I see new things, and I see things that remind me other things.

May 4, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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

Industry Approved License Plate—Can’t We All Just Have The Same Message On Our License Plates?

Here is an industry approved license plate I saw on my travels in Cincinnati and Kentucky last week.

Here are some basic facts about coal in Kentucky. 

I wish we could just go back to license plates that had a nice tourism related saying on them– or some type of state motto—that everybody can support.

I don’t like thoughts expressed on license plates that I agree with anymore than ideas I do not support. I would not buy a license plate calling for higher taxes on the rich.

We just need to know that Pennsylvania is the Keystone State and that Texas is the Lone Star State and that Rhode Island is the Ocean State.

If you want to purchase a vanity plate—That is your affair. People have been able to buy such license plates for many years.

But it is best that government endorse no political or specific cultural message of any kind on our  license plates.

If you want to “choose life” or proclaim that you support pet adoptions or that you are a graduate  of Louisiana State or wherever —Then get yourself a bumper sticker.

Must we be bombarded with messages all of the time? Can’t we have just a broad identity common to all on our license plates?

There are so many avenues by which we can express ourselves these days.  The blog you are reading is a way I express myself.

As for my license plate—I’m happy to be known as a citizen of the Lone Star State no matter where in the nation I may drive. I’m happy to share that identity with every Texan.

Here is some history of Texas license plates.

Here is a great website with photos of many American license plates over the years.

Here are photos of license plates of the world.

Below is a fine license plate. It tells us that Nevada is the Silver State. The color makes the plate all the better. A common message need not be drab. (Photo by Stripey the Crab)

There should at least be some forum where we share a common identity. Just because we have the same message on our license plates, does not mean there are not plenty of other issues over which we can disagree and argue.

September 12, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Excellent Houston Taxi Cab

Here is a picture I took a few days ago in Houston of an excellent taxi cab.

I don’t know what kind of car that is and I’ll never own a convertable, but that is a fine taxi.

A great book I bought a few weeks ago is Car–A Definitive History of the Automobile by DK Publishing.

Here is a history of taxi cab service in the United States compiled by PBS.

From this history—

“By the end of the 19th century, automobiles began to appear on city streets throughout the country. It was not long before a number of these cars were hiring themselves out in competition with horse-drawn carriages. Although these electric-powered cabs were slightly impractical (with batteries weighing upwards of eight hundred pounds), by 1899 there were nearly one hundred of them on New York’s streets.”

(Photo copyright 2011 Neil Aquino.)

July 16, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | 2 Comments

Flat Tire Offered Many Opportunities

The flat tire I had a few days ago provided me with a number of opportunities.

1. While waiting for the AAA roadside assistance gentleman, I read a few pages of the book about President James K. Polk I’m currently reading.

2. I was able to tip the AAA gentleman $5 for his help. All our fellow working people merit respect. How we treat our fellow working people is a measure of our own self-respect. Almost all of us must work for a living.

3. The flat tire allowed me to take the picture you see above and provided me with the material for this blog post.

4. I got a new tire yesterday. While waiting for the tire to be changed, I took an almost hour-long walk in the sunshine.

I’m aware of the fact that a lot of things in life are lousy. We should not lose sight of all that is lousy.  We can only address the problems we know exist.

I’m simply saying we can make the best out of an inconvenience if we put some effort and imagination into our response to life’s daily hassles.

Here is an article on the history of automobile tires.  At the bottom of the article is an extensive series of links on the subject of tires.

April 30, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | 2 Comments

I Roll Down The Streets Of Cincinnati In My Cadillac—Turn Off That Fox News

You might wonder how a big time blogger such as myself rolls down our roads and highways.

I roll in style.

Above you see my black Cadillac parked a few hours ago at a White Castle in Covington, Kentucky.

How am I able to drive such a fine American-made car?

It is a rental.

How did I come to be able to afford to rent such a car?

The rental car company let me have it to get rid of me and my complaints.

The first car I rented on my current trip to Cincinnati, Ohio was a Dodge Charger. That was what they had on the lot that I could tolerate.

It turned out though that the headlights on the Charger only worked in high beam. I can’t go around town with my brights on for the duration of my visit.

I called the customer service number and they said I had to go back to the airport lot to get a new car.

Once back at the airport lot, they wanted to give me a car that I did not like as much as my first car. Also, I dealt with two people who could not offer up a simple apology about how I had to drive back to the airport in the rain to get a replacement car.

I went off the lot and into the car rental place office.

And, of course, the TV at the rental car office check out line was playing Fox News.

I say “of course” because  I have been in that car rental office a number of times in recent years, and every time I am there they have Fox News on that damned TV.

I know I should have said something a long time ago. But when I’ve got some time off and I’m out on the road, I just want some peace. 

This time though I said, in a calm tone because I respect my fellow working people, that I had to drive down to the airport lot in the rain, that  now they wanted to give me  a cruddy replacement car, and that I do not pay money to rent cars from these folks so that I have to look at Fox News for any amount of time.

And just like that they conjured up a nice black Cadillac.

I was so pleased with this car, that I stopped at the White Castle in Covington, Kentucky to celebrate with a cup of decaf and an order of fries.

You might see me any day now rolling down the streets of Cincinnati in my Cadillac. I’ll have the driver’s side  window open, and I’ll be playing my favorite New Order and Joy Division tunes.

March 5, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Two Flags Over The Demolition Yard

I’m not reflexively against consumption. I consume things. I discard things.

I own a car. When I am done with my car–After I drive it as long as it will run–I will discard the car.

People need jobs making and selling things. There are many valid reasons that people want to make use of material things.

I’m not looking to make a softball point that our Texas and United States flags stand in large part for our right to use stuff and then to toss it away.

Yet there is the picture as seen at an auto demolition yard near the Houston Ship Channel. There sure are a lot of cars in that lot.

So make of it what you will. See the picture using both nuance, and a recognition of what the photo shows–Even if unintentionally–clearly enough.

(Photo copyright 2011 Neil Aquino.)

January 27, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Please Vote Yes On Prop. 3 To Keep Red Light Cameras In Houston–Our Roads Are Already Filled With Crazies

(Update 6/18/11—A federal judge has invalidated the vote to get rid of the red light cameras.) 

There is an initiative on the ballot in Houston to get rid of red light cameras. This is Proposition 3 on our ballot. To keep the cameras, you must vote yes on Proposition 3.

The only reason to get rid of these cameras is so that we can run red lights and, by so doing, cause accidents that kill and maim people.

Anybody who drives in Houston knows that our roads are filled with drunks and crazies.

Why would we make our roads any less safe than they already are?

Red light cameras reduce accidents and save lives.

Red light running crash

One objection people make to red light cameras is that cameras exists only for cities to make money from tickets.

No money would be raised if people would stop running red lights.

Revenue from the cameras have raised millions of dollars for Ben Taub Hospital in Houston.

The bottom line is that red light cameras save lives.

Here is the Houston Chronicle editorial in favor of Proposition 3.

From this editorial—

“We’ve all seen the tragic consequences of motorists violating traffic signals and maiming or killing innocent pedestrians and occupants of other vehicles. The right to privacy doesn’t apply to reckless driving on public thoroughfares that endangers the community. We believe the cameras are a vital extension of our undermanned police traffic-enforcement capabilities. In this case, a picture can vastly multiply the eyes and extend the arms of the law…Mayor Annise Parker and a majority of City Council support red-light cameras. These elected officials are joined by an impressive group of community law enforcement officials and health care leaders of the Texas Heart Institute, Harris County Hospital District, Memorial Hermann Healthcare Systems, Teaching Hospitals of Texas and the Texas Hospital Association.”

Read more in favor of Proposition 3  at the web page in favor of the issue.

Safe driving is not an ideological issue. All people need safe roads.

Please vote Yes on Proposition 3.

October 17, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

See The Parts That Make The Whole

Above you see what is under the hood of my car.

There are many parts.

Each part has a specific function.

Here are some basic facts on how a car works. Here are more advanced facts on how a car works.)

The true value of the specific function that each part has, is, when all is said and done, realized by the fact of the smooth operation of the car.

Let’s see things as the sum of their parts. Let’s consider the greater function that can be achieved when all the parts are working as they should.

This is true for machines. This is true for individuals. This is true for society.

Yesterday I wrote a post in which I spoke of ideology, metaphor, advocacy and biography as 4 seemingly separate aspects of our existence that in fact tell one story.

What are the parts of your life that will make you the person that you want to be, and that will allow you make the difference in society that you are able to make?

What is required of a society to make it one where people have access to health care, quality education, and to a legitimate hope that life can be made better?

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

Here Is Where Your Car Goes When You Are Finished With It

Here is what happens to your car after you get rid of it.

This picture was taken a few days ago in the area of the Houston Ship Channel.

There were so many crushed cars in this lot.

Below is another picture of all the cars.

This sure is a big wasteful disposable society we inhabit.

January 21, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | 4 Comments

Black Man Drives Car With Confederate Flag License Plate And Robert E. Lee Written On Side

I saw a black guy today in Houston driving some sort of souped-up car with a Confederate flag front license plate. Instead of a normal Texas plate at the front of the car, there was a plate with an image of the Confederate flag.   

Painted on the side of the car were the words “Robert E. Lee.”

It was not exactly the Dukes of Hazzard car you see in the picture above,  but it was close. The car I saw the black man driving was orange and clearly modeled on the car in the photo.

If you live in Houston and see this man driving this car, could you please leave a comment on this blog ? I know what I saw today was not a mirage. Yet it was the kind of thing you don’t believe you’re really seeing at first.

The gentleman behind the wheel of that car is indeed free to drive whatever he wishes to drive, but he does seem a bit confused in my view.

October 26, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | 14 Comments

Time For Greater Compassion For Auto Employees Losing Jobs—The Need For A Program Of Full Employment

We all know that the American auto worker has taken a lot of hits in recent years and months.

It’s not only been auto plant workers. Car dealerships are taking cuts as well.

It’s become part of the routine when these folks lose their jobs, to criticize the American car industry for being out-of-touch with consumers and to criticize auto workers for not seeing the warning signs of trouble. 

These things may be true in some respects. Though we should not forget that much of the criticism of the UAW is coming from the right and what they are objecting to at core is the idea of unions.

We should also note that consumers were in fact buying the big gas-guzzling cars that now seem—to a degree since many people are still buying them and driving them —out of touch with the times. 

In any case, we all know the many issues involved. The point has been made—over and over again— that the auto industry had a large hand in its own troubles.

Okay.

It’s time for compassion for these folks. Anybody losing his or her job after years on the assembly line is in big trouble. You can’t leave a job like that and make that kind of money again. 

It’s easy to sit behind a keyboard and go on about some other guy’s troubles.  The question now is what are we going to do to help these folks? 

I don’t think anybody has an answer to that question. Just as I don’t think anybody knows what to do with the urban poor and rural poor in our country.  

I question the commitment of President Obama and of the Democratic Congress to really taking on these questions. Doing so would mean addressing some core issues of our economic system, and addressing basic attitudes and stereotypes about people who have not had success in life or who are having a hard time in life.

Our criticism of auto workers seems in some ways meant to absolve ourselves of any oconcern for these people.

Here is a recent article from the Nation Magazine about the need for a program of full employment in our nation.  

From the article—

“The right way to earn our way back to long-term prosperity is through stimulus efforts that will help develop, broadly deploy, fairly compensate and, especially, fully employ our human capital, which will always be our greatest source of national wealth. Only then will we have refired the commercial engines needed to recover from this dismal recession. And only then will we have addressed Americans’ belief that unemployment is by far, with no close second, the most important economic issue facing the country….We need an all-encompassing strategy on the massive scale we used at Normandy to win the war in Europe and that we later had behind the sweeping Marshall Plan to help rebuild Europe’s broken economies. This time, however, our big-thinking strategy must be about creating the 24 million jobs that are missing so that American workers will be nearly fully employed.”

This is the big way we need to be thinking. For all the improvement in our politics and policy with Mr. Obama in office instead of George W. Bush, we are not there yet.

( Blogger’s note—I do not subscribe to The Nation. I buy it on the newstand about once a month. It’s important to realize that seemingly free online content must be paid for by somebody. Please click here to read The Nation and please consider buying it on the newstand or becoming a home suscriber.)

May 19, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | 2 Comments

1961 Advertisement For Air Conditioning In Your Car

Here is the text of a 1961 ad for air conditioning in your car—

Go the healthful way…With Harrison Air Conditioning you breathe air that’s literally washed…cool invigorating air! This refreshing atmosphere helps take the tension out of everyday traffic…the stress and strain out of all-day trips. What’s more, you’ll enjoy refreshing new relief from pollen and other air-borne irritants. Go the neat way–Harrison Air Conditioning eliminates excess humidity…clothes hold for a sharp press, collars never wilt, hair keeps that combed-and-brushed freshness. Go the clean way–You car’s interior can be as spick-and-span as your living room. With Harrison Air Conditioning you lock out dirt, grime and insects….you knock out the road and wind noise that disturbs radio listening and conversation. So for a healthier, neater and cleaner way for you to go for you and your family…ask you GM Dealer for Harrison Air Conditioning in your new Cadillac, Buick, Oldsmobile, Pontiac or Chevrolet.”

( Photo above is of a 1961 Pontiac Tempest.)

Here is a link to a print ad for Harrison air conditioning in your car from 1959. 

Here is some history of air conditioning in automobiles. A few cars had air conditioning as far back as 1939. 

I read this ad and I thought what a bunch of hype. But then I gave some thought of what it must have been like driving without air conditioning in your car in Texas, Florida, Arizona or on a hot day anywhere. It must have been something along the lines of a revelation to get air conditioning in your car after years without it.

The text of the ad that I quoted above comes from the book The Golden Age of of Advertising—the 60’s. This book is published by Taschen.

February 17, 2009 Posted by | Books | , , , , | 2 Comments

Should Broken-Down Cars On Highway Shoulder Be Destroyed By Use Of Laser Weapons Or Missiles?

The U.S. Government recently tested its space warfare capabilities by shooting down a failing satellite.

We’re tough!

Why stop there?

In Houston we have a Safe Clear program. This means cars stalled out by the side of the highway are towed away rather than allowed to remain on the shoulder of the road.

Why don’t we instead destroy these cars with laser weapons or missiles?

People could call a number and report that their car no longer runs.

People with cars to be removed by laser weapons would be asked to stand 15 feet away from the vehicle. The use of missiles would require people to stand at least 25 feet away.

 The lasers could be space-based and outsourced—Such as we see here with these Klingons. 

Or ground-based individual private contractors could be used such as demonstrated here—-

 

Or the city could add vehicles such as this one below to the municipal fleet.

Think how quickly this aggressive policy would remove dangerous vehicles from our roadways.

And maybe best of all—No more tow trucks racing past you at 90 mph to nail the next sucker for $300.

February 23, 2008 Posted by | Houston, Uncategorized | , , , , , , | 5 Comments