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President Of Chile Is The People’s Choice—Maybe Folks Are Moving In My Direction

When I go to the supermarket, I talk to Carlos. Carlos is a bagger at the supermarket. He is from Central America.

Carlos is a bit to the right politically. I roll with that as he is not a U.S. citizen. He can do harm by voting absentee in his country, but that is the problem of the folks down there.

I don’t need any help taking my groceries to my car, but I’ve struck up a relationship with Carlos. While walking out to my car we discuss various Central and South American politics and governments.

Carlos and I agree that Hugo Chavez in Venezuela is no good. He is little more than a dictator. However, Carlos supported the coup in Honduras while I supported the rule of law and democracy.

Last time I spoke to Carlos, I told him I had just read a favorable article about Michele Bachelet. Ms. Bachelet is the center-left President of Chile.

A woman in a nurse’s uniform, or maybe a pharmacy uniform, heard my comment. She said something like “Michele Bachelet–very good!”

I wish the world was more like that brief moment. You mention a left-leaning President from some other nation, and your fellow working person who hears the comment not only knows who that leader is—She offers her approval as well.

( Which is not to imply that so-called professional people have any idea about anything.)

I’m sorry I don’t have any links or pictures on this post. I’m posting from my iPhone while my computer is down. Though if you care enough about Latin American politics, plenty of information is out there for you to learn.

I’m going to go out and talk out loud to myself about a public option for health insurance and see if folks around me chime in with supportive comments. Maybe people are moving on my direction.

November 1, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | 5 Comments

Here Is What Malcolm X Wrote About Making His Hair Something Other Than Natural

Here is some of what Malcolm X wrote in his Autobiography about changing his hair to make it more like the hair of a white person—

“Shorty soon decided that my hair was finally long enough to be conked. He had promised to school me in how to beat the barbershops’ three- and four-dollar price by making up congolene and then conking ourselves…I took the little list of ingredients he had printed out for me and went to a grocery store, where I got a can of Red Devil lye, two eggs, and two medium-sized white potatoes. Then at a drugstore near the poolroom, I asked for a large jar of Vaseline, a large bar of soap, a large-toothed comb and a fine-toothed comb, one of those rubber hoses with a metal sprayhead, a rubber apron, and a pair of gloves…

….A jellylike, starchy-looking glop resulted from the lye and potatoes, and Shorty broke in the two eggs, stirring real fast—his own conk and dark face bent down close. The congolene turned pale yellowish. “Feel the jar,” Shorty said. I cupped my hand against the outside and snatched it away. “Damn right, it’s hot, that’s the lye,” he said. “So you know it’s going to burn when I comb it in—it burns bad. But the longer you can stand it, the straighter the hair.”…He made me sit down, and he tied the string of the new rubber apron tightly around my neck and combed up my bush of hair. Then, from the big Vaseline jar, he took a handful and massaged it hard all through my hair and into the scalp. He also thickly Vaselined my neck, ears, and forehead. “When I get to washing out your head, be sure to tell me anywhere you feel any little stinging,” Shorty warned me, washing his hands, then pulling on the rubber gloves and tying on his own rubber apron. “You always got to remember that any congolene left in burns a sore into your head.”The  pre=”The “>congolene just felt warm when Shorty started combing it in. But then my head caught fire….I gritted my teeth and tried to pull the sides of the kitchen table together. The comb felt as if it was raking my skin off….My eyes watered, my nose was running. I couldn’t stand it any longer; I bolted to the washbasin. I was cursing Shorty with every name I could think of when he got the spray going and started soap-lathering my head…

….My first view in the mirror blotted out the hurting. I’d seen some pretty conks, but when it’s the first time, on your own head, the transformation, after the lifetime of kinks, is staggering…The mirror reflected Shorty behind me. We both were grinning and sweating. And on top of my head was this thick, smooth sheen of shining red hair—real red—as straight as any white man’s…How ridiculous I was! Stupid enough to stand there simply lost in admiration of my hair now looking “white,” reflected in the mirror in Shorty’s room. I vowed that I’d never again be without a conk, and I never was for many years…This was my first really big step toward self-degradation: when I endured all of that pain, literally burning my flesh to have it look like a white man’s hair. I had joined that multitude of Negro men and women in America who are brainwashed into believing that the black people are “inferior”—and white people “superior”—that they will even violate and mutilate their God-created bodies to try to look “pretty” by white standards.”

(Here is a link to a more complete view of this passage)

People are free to look anyway they want in life. I’ve no notion of what it is like to be black. People of all colors dye their hair and wear wigs and toupees.

And yet with all that said, I’ve never understood the desire to match a style of beauty or appearance that at core does not respect what some people are, and that’s never going to be consistent with the perfectly good way folks are born into the world.

October 22, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Show Respect For Others By Communicating In A Clear And Concise Manner About Complex Things

Please take one minute to watch this video I filmed in Houston’s Memorial Park. In this video, I hold up a sheet of paper that reads “Show Respect For Others By Communicating In A Clear And Concise Manner About Complex Things.”

The video has sound. You can hear the motorcycle that passes by and the people talking on the motorcycle. 

I believe all people have the ability to understand complex things. It is a respectful course to follow to make the effort to convey to others what you feel and believe.

Behind me in the video is a flag at half-mast for the death of Senator Kennedy. A flag at half-mast conveys complex ideas of loss, care, loyalty, respect and patriotism. It is a simple symbol that conveys a great deal.

We all have the ability to communicate and to understand. We all merit the respect inherent in the effort to communicate and understand.

September 2, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Long-Term Friends Offer Temporary Response To Death And Give Life Context

I’m about to go to dinner here in Cincinnati with a bunch of friends I’ve had for 20 years and more.

Long-term friends create an illusion of permanence and offer at least a temporary rebuttal to the inevitability of death.

Also, long-term friends give context to life and give a greater value to what you have done in the past. When I’m with people I’ve been friends with for many years, I know that decisions I’ve made  over the years about how to spend my time and who to spend my time with, were in fact the correct decisions.

August 12, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | 4 Comments

Despite Hassles Of Life, Woman At BP Station At Intersection Of Milwaukee & Illinois State Route 22 Is Always Kind And Friendly

The woman working at the BP station at the intersection of Milwaukee Ave. and Illinois State Route 22 in the Chicago-area is always kind and friendly.

I have gone to this station each of the last three mornings to buy newspapers and lottery tickets.

Given the hassles of life, it takes discipline and toughness to be kind and friendly on a consistent basis.

August 9, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

One Of The Best Pictures On The Web—Picture Of Happy People

Above is a photo of my friend Kelly and her husband Mark. They live in New York State.

This picture was posted by Kelly on Facebook. She said I could use it on the blog.

This picture is one of the best pictures I”ve seen on the whole of the web. These are happy people.

Life is often difficult. Yet we can’t forget that things often go quite well.

June 27, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

Top Texas Political Blogger Sings The Damned At Houston Ship Channel—Let Go As Life Is Brief And Brutal

Above is a video of me singing The Damned’s Wait For The Blackout at the Houston Ship Channel.

Life is short and you’d might as well just let go.

One way to let go is to tell the people you care about how much you care about them.

Life is brief and often brutal.

At the end of the song it says–“There is no vision here.”

Quoting the Bible, Franklin Roosevelt said in his 1933 inaugural address that “Without vision the people perish.”

I stand by both the song and by President Roosevelt’s speech.

Please don’t forget—I’ll be hosting the biggest punk rock event in the nation this August 15 in Newport, Kentucky. Newport is just across the Ohio River from Cincinnati.

June 19, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

A Promise I’ll Keep—I’ll Never Cheat On My Wife

Republican Senator John Ensign of Nevada has announced that he cheated on his wife with a campaign staffer.

Senator Ensign is a member of the so-called Promise Keepers.

Here are the seven promises that Promise Keepers promise. 

Here is promise # 3 of the Promise Keepers—

A Promise Keeper is committed to practicing spiritual, moral, ethical, and sexual purity.

Here is promise #4—

A Promise Keeper is committed to building strong marriages and families through love, protection and biblical values.  

I’ve not reflectively dismissive of people who join this group. Life is hard and people need help getting by and doing what they feel is right. I really have no problem with the first six of the seven promises that are listed. If someone is serious about staying loyal to his spouse, more power to him.

Promise number 7 though is about trying to convert people. I have some problem with that in some contexts.

That said, what were the odds that Republican Senator John Ensign of Nevada was keeping up with any standard of morality from either the right or the left?  If the Promise Keepers had been smart they would have long ago kicked him out as a preventive move.

Just look at the picture up above. Senator Ensign is like a successful Willy Loman. Somebody who merits none of the sympathy you would offer a guy simply trying to get by in life. 

(Below–Brian Dennehy playing Willy Loman in an adaptation of Death of a Salesman.)

Brian Dennehy, as Willy Loman, lectures Biff, played by Douglas Henshall

I’ll tell you, the blog reading public, one promise I’m certain to keep—This liberal will never cheat on his wife. My wife is the best person ever. 

It’s wrong to cheat on your spouse. It is likely that your spouse cares about you and will be hurt by your actions. Be loyal to the people who are  loyal to you.

Here is a picture of my wife on our wedding day.

(Update 6/25–I don’t believe that Republican South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford is a member of the Promise Keepers. I do however know that Governor Sanford also cheats on his wife.)

June 18, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Keeping Relationships Together As Existence Moves Things Apart

A longtime friend will be visiting me for a few hours today in Houston. His name for the purposes of this blog is George from Cincinnati.

George from Cincinnati is seen above as he was 20 years ago. He is the kid in the glasses behind and to the left of the older gentleman. The older gentleman was known as Shorty.

The kid to the left of George in the white shirt was Scott. Scott is dead now which is a source of regret. I’m certain that Scott and I would still be friends were he not dead.

George from Cincinnati and I have been friends for maybe 25 years. When you ponder that the very laws of existence compel objects to move apart from each other, there is a lot to be said for a long term friendship.

Such a relationship is an example of keeping things together. 

(Below–Existence racing away from us.)

File:NGC 7331 - Peris.jpg

The New York Times recently ran an article saying that good friendships might be more beneficial for you than even family ties. Here is that article.

From that article—-

Exactly why friendship has such a big effect isn’t entirely clear. While friends can run errands and pick up medicine for a sick person, the benefits go well beyond physical assistance; indeed, proximity does not seem to be a factor.

It may be that people with strong social ties also have better access to health services and care. Beyond that, however, friendship clearly has a profound psychological effect. People with strong friendships are less likely than others to get colds, perhaps because they have lower stress levels.

Last year, researchers studied 34 students at the University of Virginia, taking them to the base of a steep hill and fitting them with a weighted backpack. They were then asked to estimate the steepness of the hill. Some participants stood next to friends during the exercise, while others were alone.

The students who stood with friends gave lower estimates of the steepness of the hill. And the longer the friends had known each other, the less steep the hill appeared.

“People with stronger friendship networks feel like there is someone they can turn to,” said Karen A. Roberto, director of the center for gerontology at Virginia Tech. “Friendship is an undervalued resource. The consistent message of these studies is that friends make your life better.”

June 17, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | 4 Comments

If We Are Having An Information Revolution, Why Are So Many People Still So Ignorant?

I’ve been wondering today that if we are having an information revolution, why are so many people still so ignorant?

I’m sure that in many parts of the world computers and the web have made a great deal of difference in terms of access to information.  

In the United States though, it is not clear that people are any more knowledgeable than they were in the time of just three major television networks and no cable, print-only newspapers, and bookstores and libraries as the only places to get books and do research.

Here is a 2007 Pew study where only 69% of the people knew the name of the Vice President.  

Information revolution?

Maybe instead it’s a revolution in fragmenting people’s attention to the point of constant distraction, and a revolution in making people unemployed with technology. 

I can’t say that I’ve yet to see people with any better grasp of information than they had in the past as a result of the so-called information revolution.

June 1, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

I’m Willing To Sail With A Ship Of Fools

Above is the video for the song “Ship of Fools” by World Party. The song is from 1987.

If you’re old enough, you likely recall the song and the video.

The lyrics say–” I don’t want to sail with this ship of fools.”

The song is about economic and environmental exploitation.   

The lyrics also say–“You’re gonna pay tomorrow.”

Here are the full lyrics.

I understand not wanting to set sail with a ship of fools. It is often hard to understand why the world is as it is.

And we may well pay tomorrow. Our current recession seems to be a form of payment for overconsumption.

Though it is really the very poor that pay in ways we never see or give much thought about.    

That said, I’m willing to to share the ride with a ship of fools. You’re born, you do your best, and you take your chances.

We’re all connected to each other and I accept that fact. 

I’m not resigned or fatalistic. I feel I try in life.

If I do my best but go down with the ship—I have at least done my best.  I’d rather sail with a ship of fools than sail alone.

Anyway—What if I’m the fool and the rest of you are doing me a favor by letting me stay on the ship? 

Please click here to read about World Party’s Karl Wallinger.

May 31, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | 3 Comments

The Big Five Personality Traits

Below are what I saw listed as the Big Five Personality Traits.

I can’t recall where I got this from. I think it may have been the Wall Street Journal.

No matter.

Here are the big five personality traits that a person might wish to possess—

1. Openness

2. Conscientiousness

3. Agreeableness

4. Stability

5. Extraversion

I think these qualities are an excellent goal for people to shoot for in life. I’m going to print this list up and keep it in my wallet because this stuff decribes the person I wish to be.

It’s also describes the person I wish you were.

May 22, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | 5 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

Albino Buffalo Seen In Kenya

An albino buffalo has been found in Kenya. Above you see a picture of the albino buffalo. 

This albino buffalo, the first ever seen in Kenya, may have a life ahead of nothing but trouble.

First, because it is white it may be more visible to predators.

Also, local Maasai farmers have a prejudice against both albino animals and albino people. They view albinism as a bad omen.

Recently I wrote about Africans who keep big, expensive and somewhat useless Ankole Cattle as status symbols. I noted that it is in a way reassuring  to know that people in other parts of the world behave in as dumb a manner as we do in the United States.  This story leads me to repeat that observation.

Here is information about the Maasai people. I’m sure they are excellent people, but they should leave albino people and creatures alone. Below are some Maasai people.  

File:Ludzie03(js).jpg

The type of buffalo that lives in Africa is the African Buffalo. Please click here to learn about the African Buffalo.

Here is an explanation of albinism.

Please click here for a previous post about an albino killer whale.

May 1, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | 3 Comments

Virtues Of Longtime Friendships

Few subjects closer to my heart than that of the benefits of longtime friendships. I’m lucky to have a strong network of people I’ve known for many years. I hope they feel I do a good job keeping in touch.

I’ve made a video on friendships and how they can connect to the larger world.   

I’ve been pleased with Facebook as a way to keep in touch. It’s true that on Facebook you can load up with people you don’t really know. But when you’re in contact with someone you have good history with, it does not take much to feel connected. Even a small exchange can make a big difference.

One can also call, write letters or visit with friends.

It is also good to know that friends we make today will in time be longtime friends.

A recent New York Times article deals with the subject of longtime friends. From the article—

“Researchers are only now starting to pay attention to the importance of friendship and social networks in overall health. A 10-year Australian study found that older people with a large circle of friends were 22 percent less likely to die during the study period than those with fewer friends. A large 2007 study showed an increase of nearly 60 percent in the risk for obesity among people whose friends gained weight. And last year, Harvard researchers reported that strong social ties could promote brain health as we age.”

You can read the full article here.

We don’t give our friendships enough thought. We’re very centered on the idea of family in this country, and that’s fine I suppose, but people need as much support as they can find.

When we let old relationships lapse, we’re letting go of a big chunk of our time and personal history. The things we did in the past have value and connection to who we are today.

We would all be well-served to consider our friends more so than we now do. We formed relationships with these people because we liked them and maybe also because we had a place and time in common. These things mean a lot in an impersonal and fragmented world.

April 23, 2009 Posted by | Relationships | , , , | Leave a comment