Texas Liberal

All People Matter

Academic Tournament—All People Can Learn Something New

I’d like to see a big televised tournament where America’s top 64 history, literature, and art professors are bracketed against each other in a competition.

(Above–An illustration of academic gowns worn at Princeton University in 1902. Maybe professors in this tournament could wear gowns such as these as a type of uniform.)

Each professor would give a lecture that would scored by an attentive public.

The best professors would advance to a Final Four that would take place in a giant sold out stadium.

A selection committee would make sure that professors from small colleges across the nation would be also be considered for the tournament.

Imagine the bracket-busting excitement when, for example, an unkown academic at the Quaker school Earlham College in Richmond, Indiana surprised a heavy hitter from Yale.

(Above–Carpenter Hall at Earlham College.)

Tickets would be so valued that people would pay thousands for them on Stub Hub.

Millions would watch this Final Four on TV.

There could also be another televised competition for college teaching assistants, high school teachers, and teachers at every level of education.

The best teachers would move on to the next round.

In each category, the best of the best would be eligible be move onto a global event that would be held in a large global city every four years.

Television networks all over the world would bid hundreds of millions of dollars for the broadcast rights to this academic Olympiad.

(Above—Professors in lecture halls across the nation would prepare for the big event.)

As for that March Madness basketball tournament now taking place—More power to you if you enjoy watching the games.

People work hard and they need to relax. I follow the baseball season closely.

Just please also consider starting a new book, picking up again one you never finished, or learning about a new subject.

There is no subject so complex that the average person can not learn something useful about it.

No collge education is required to learn about our world. It is only your effort that is required.

March 18, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A New Literary History Of America—A Good Book To Read

Vanity compels me to tell you that I am reading the 1095 page A New Literary History Of America.

This egoism can’t surprise you as blogging itself is an act of vanity.

As you can see from the picture below, A Literary History is a larger book than Last Train To Memphis— The Rise Of Elvis Presley by Peter Guralnick, and the 2010 The New York Times Almanac.

A Literary History has been well- reviewed. I’d link to a review if I knew how to make links when blogging with my iPhone while my computer us busted.

A Literary History is a collection of essays. They range in time from the first point the word America appeared on a map–that was in 1507—up to Barack Obama’s election last year.

I’m on page 113 at the moment. The next essay is about John Adams defending the Constitution.

The essays tell the history of the nation by examining, among other things, books, poems, art, political essays and sermons.

These writings and comunucations are considered, and then are connected to some larger aspect of American history,or some larger characteristic or trait of the American makeup.

There are around 225 esays in the book. If one bores you it will end soon enough.

Nothing had bored me yet in A Literary History. The topics are eclectic and often creative while remaining relevant.

It may be that telling you I’m reading a 1095 page book is snobby, but the other side is that I believe people have a far greater capacity to understand complex things than they realize.

Go get yourself something new and interesting to read. Suggest to someone you value that they do the same. Life is too short not to learn and understand as much as we can in the time we have.

November 3, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment

Your Ship Will Arrive

Above is a picture I took a few weeks ago of ships waiting to enter Galveston Bay and the Houston Ship Channel.

Your ship in life may come in if you assist its navigation with love, friendship, hope, learning and imagination.

You can set your own course for your ship in life.  

You can set your own course and still have many others on board your ship.

You might have to wait for your ship to arrive. But as you see in the picture above, even a ship that must wait will gain entry to a safe and productive port.

October 14, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

De Gaulle’s Great Speech Of June 18, 1940—Learning About Charles De Gaulle

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June 18, 1940 is the day that General Charles De Gaullemade the speech on the BBC from London that began French resistance to Nazi occupation. It is a great speech that is still recalled in France and in all places where the great events of World War II are remembered.

(Above–De Gaulle speaking on the BBC during World War II.)

De Gaulle left France in 1940 as an exile and came back four years later to lead France.

France and De Gaulle appeared to have been defeated in 1940, but they were not defeated.

A great two-volume of De Gaulle was written by Jean Lacouture. The first volume is called De Gaulle–The Rebel, 1890-1944Here is a review of that book. The second volume is De Gaulle–The Ruler, 1945-1970.

A good one-volume biography is The Last Great Frenchman–A Life of Charles De Gaulle by Charles Williams.

De Gaulle’s war memoirs are justly well-regarded.

(Below—De Gaulle on the cover of Life Magazine in 1958.)

Here is some biographical information about Charles De Gaulle.

Here is a BBC biography of De Gaulle.

De Gaulle was neither a figure of the political left or right. His loyalty was to France and, sometimes, to the idea of putting on a grand performance on the world stage.  He was often both serious and absurd at the same time

What could have been more absurd than the notion of one lone general banished to London after the Nazi overrun of France, coming back within a few years as the political master of France?

Charles De Gaulle is a subject that merits your further study. In studying the life of De Gaulle you will learn about French history, World War II, European and Cold War politics of the 1950’s and 60’s, and the bloody battle for Algerian Independence.

You’ll also learn about fighting and winning a fight that seemed at first, in the eyes of many at the time at least, hopeless.

Here is the great speech I referenced above. It is also called the Appeal of June 18—

The leaders who, for many years, were at the head of French armies, have formed a government. This government, alleging our armies to be undone, agreed with the enemy to stop fighting. Of course, we were subdued by the mechanical, ground and air forces of the enemy. Infinitely more than their number, it was the tanks, the airplanes, the tactics of the Germans which made us retreat. It was the tanks, the airplanes, the tactics of the Germans that surprised our leaders to the point to bring them there where they are today.

But has the last word been said? Must hope disappear? Is defeat final? No! Continue reading

June 16, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What Is Juneteenth?—It Is Up To You To Learn About Your Freedom

What is Juneteenth?

Juneteenth is the celebration to mark the end of slavery in the United States.

On June 19, 1865, Union General Gordon Granger, landing at Galveston, Texas, made the announcement that the Civil War was over and that slaves were free.

Please click here for a list of Juneteenth celebrations and observances in the United States.

Here is information on Juneteenth from the very useful Handbook of Texas Online.

From the Handbook—

“On June 19 (“Juneteenth”), 1865, Union general Gordon Granger read the Emancipation Proclamation in Galveston, thus belatedly bringing about the freeing of 250,000 slaves in Texas. The tidings of freedom reached slaves gradually as individual plantation owners read the proclamation to their bondsmen over the months following the end of the war. The news elicited an array of personal celebrations, some of which have been described in The Slave Narratives of Texas (1974). The first broader celebrations of Juneteenth were used as political rallies and to teach freed African Americanabout their voting rights. Within a short time, however, Juneteenth was marked by festivities throughout the state, some of which were organized by official Juneteenth committees.”

Though the Emancipation Proclamation took effect in 1863, it took time for word to get around that slavery was over. People went around for two years not knowing they were free.

The knowledge you need for your freedom is out there. You just may not be aware.

It’s up to you to gain the knowledge you require about your history. I mean this for people of all colors because history is a shared thing. The fate of all people is connected.

The knowledge you need is on-line, in books, and at the library. You don’t need money if you are willing to learn.

You are intelligent and you are able to gain the knowledge you need.

Of course— just because someone says that you are free, does not mean that you really are free.

After Juneteenth was the failure of Reconstruction and over 100 years of Jim Crow.

Here is a history of Reconstruction.

Here is a history of Jim Crow.

Here is a collection of links that form a history of slavery in the United States.

( I’ve also written what I think is the best Martin Luther King Reading & Reference list on the web. Please click here to see the list.)

Below is a picture of a man who was a slave and who was whipped many times by his overseer.

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The man in the picture above had no choice about his fate in life.

And even today we are not in full control of our fates. Circumstance and chance play a role in life.

Yet you have the option to learn about your freedom and to conduct yourself as a free person.

I ask all people to make use of this option.

June 12, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Sick Bighorn Sheep In Idaho—The Public Owns The Public Lands

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A Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep in Idaho is thought to have pneumonia. This could be a problem for other Bighorn Sheep.

( Above– A Bighorn Sheep in Alberta. As a general rule it is cold in Alberta. But it seems like an nice day for a sheep stroll in that picture.)

Here are many facts about Bighorn Sheep. They eat grass and seeds and plants.

From an Associated Press story about the sick sheep that I referenced above—

The hunt is on for a Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep ram believed to be sick with pneumonia. It’s a race wildlife officials saycould mean life and death for other members of the wild herd in the Salmon River canyon.  Idaho Fish and Game wildlife managers are trying to kill the ram, to keep it from spreading disease to the roughly 100 other bighorns that live here. But the ram has eluded them for more than a week and is now running with other rams. The afflicted bighorn ram was seen near domestic sheep and this incident could prove another flashpoint in the contentious debate over how to manage wild sheep and livestock in remote western Idaho. The ram is reported to be lethargic, coughing, sneezing and discharging mucus from its nostrils, all signs of a disease that has plagued bighorn sheep all over the West. Most wildlife researchers believe it is contracted by wild sheep after coming into contact with their domestic cousins…In the 2009 Legislature, bighorns were front and center when lawmakers voted to require the Idaho Department of Fish and Game develop a plan to keep bighorns away from domestic sheep now being blamed for spreading diseases. That was after a harsher version that would have required the agency to either relocate or kill bighorns that wandered onto public grazing allotments was vetoed by Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter…”

Here is how the issue is reported in the Lewiston (Idaho) Tribune.

(Below—A Bighorn sheep taking in the view at the Grand Canyon.)

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The blog Ralph Muaghan’s Wildlife News also writes about the sick sheep.

This is how Dr. Maughan describes himself in his blog—

“How big is my spread? Well it’s about 700-million acres, but the funny thing is it’s your ranch too if you’re an American citizen. The ranch is our American public lands, our great national commons. Trouble is there are a lot folks around who want to steal our land. . . plenty of them here in Idaho, but even worse ones in other states. As for me, I want to put a few more wolves and grizzly bears on the ranch and run fewer cattle. I tend to favor real elk over “slow elk” and bighorn sheep over sheep. Some folks say that’s the wrong idea. Maybe it’s because like most westerners my ranch house is in a Western small city. For me, that’s Pocatello, Idaho.”

Dr. Maughan is a Dr. because he was for many years a professor of Political Science. His blog is worthy of your review.

It is always the right day to learn something new or to learn more about a subject you care about.

Dr. Maughan is also President of the Wolf Recovery Foundation. This group seeks to reintroduce Wolves into the Rockies.

Here is a report from this past April about the status of wolves in the Rocky Mountains.

Dr. Maughan is right that we all own the public lands.

Here are lyrics from Woody Guthrie’s This Land Is Your Land—

This land is your land, this land is my land
From California, to the New York Island
From the redwood forest, to the gulf stream waters
This land was made for you and me

As I was walking a ribbon of highway
I saw above me an endless skyway
I saw below me a golden valley
This land was made for you and me

Here are the full lyrics. Here are facts about Woody Guthrie.

Bighorn Sheep and Wolves have a right to live in the Rockies and in Idaho because that is where they were meant to be in the first place. I care about how people live and I know people must live and work. Yet a balance must be struck. Wiping out a creature or driving it out of its habitat is not a balance. That’s what I would term a slaughter.

(Below–Bitterroot Mountains in Idaho and Montana. Here is the link to the Bitterroot National Forest.)

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June 4, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Analysis Of Upcoming Sotomayor Debate—You’ll Have To Learn About Supreme Court On Your Own

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Below is analysis and a transcript of upcoming debate over the appointment of Judge Sonia Sotomayor for the Supreme Court.

“Blah Blah Blah.”

She’ll legislate from the bench. She’s an activist judge. She’s a liberal.

Blah Blah Blah.

Same stuff every time.

(Above–Robert Bork with Ronald ReaganMr. Bork was, thankfully, rejected for the court.)

President Obama has said he’s looking for a mix of real-life experience and knowledge of the law for the Supreme Court.

It’s seems that this is just what he’s found.   

I’m not saying you should not read about Judge Sotomayor. You should. Here’s a good story to get started.  

Here’s how Business Week magazine sees her record on business issues.

What I’m saying is  that instead of following the moronic debate that will end with Judge Sotomayor being confirmed, one could learn about the history of the court and gain some context beyond the same old junk.  

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 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 110 Supreme Court Justices to date.

You won’t learn this stuff in school, on CNN or with a Twitter message. You’ll have to learn it on your own.

In many respects, the best sources remain books, a good daily newspaper and your own hard work.

(Below–The great Chief Justice Earl Warren.)

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May 26, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments