Let's use the soft power of our own example and leadership to create a climate where progress is possible and anticipated.
Please take the time to explore all of NeilAquino.com if you are so inclined. Thank you.
Tip Well And Thank Working People Over Labor Day Weekend---Create A New Climate With the Soft Power Of Your Example
Please consider tipping well over the Labor Day weekend and please recall that Labor Day is a holiday and service workers merit a tip at 150% of what you normally tip. This is just as you'd expect time-and-a-half for working a holiday. If you go to a store or business place where tipping is not expected, you can hand out a $1 scratch-off lottery ticket to the person helps you. At the least, you can thank people for working a holiday meant to give working folks a rest.
Let's use the soft power of our own example and leadership to create a climate where progress is possible and anticipated.
Please take the time to explore all of NeilAquino.com if you are so inclined. Thank you.
I was going to write about the Houston mayoral campaign and Labor Day for the blog today, but I got an offer of Houston Astros' tickets this evening that has changed my plans.
As a quick post, here is a picture I took a few days ago of a Galveston Seawall staircase along the Gulf of Mexico.
There are a number of metaphors you can derive from this picture. I could offer some, but I have sufficient confidence in you to come up with you own.
Or you could just see the picture as what it is on face value--A staircase that when the tide is up leads into the Gulf of Mexico. I trust your impressions.
Metaphor is a big part of NeilAquino.com. and of how existence works. Please consider looking around the site to see what I am saying.
Where We Stop Working Collectively Is Often Where Things Start To Slide---This Even While This Website Is An Individual Effort
The picture at the top of this blog is of a wall in Fairview Park in Cincinnati.
It is a wall built by the New Deal-era Works Progress Administration.
The WPA employed people in useful projects to give them work during the depression. Here we see the work of the WPA from 73 years ago.
I use this picture to make the point that where our collective efforts end can be where things begin to slide apart.
At the same time, this website is the result of individual effort. There are times when we must pursue goals by ourselves.
The point here is a rough balance between collective efforts and the efforts of the individual, with a gentle deference to the fact that we are often at our best when we work together for a hopeful common purpose.
Life Boat On Texas Taxpayer-Funded Bolivar Ferry Little Different Than Need For Texas Support Of Obamacare And Need For Each Of Us To Care For One Another
Contrary to the sink-or-swim polices of our Texas political leaders, there is a life boat under the Flag of Texas on the state-funded Bolivar Ferry that runs across Galveston Bay.
Not only is there a lifeboat, but there are even steps installed here to help people get to the lifeboat.
What is the difference between providing a lifeboat on the Bolivar Ferry and support from the Texas legislature of Obamacare that will help so many uninsured people get health coverage?
There is no difference that I can see.
We all need to look out for each other in our sometimes difficult world. What a fine example of this fact is provided in this taxpayer-bought lifeboat.
This post makes use of metaphor to make a point.
Metaphor is a big part of NeilAquino.com. Please take the time to look around the full site if so inclined.
The world is metaphor.
Examples of kindness and concern are all around us.
Above is a note that was recently on the front door at Duttenhofer's Books in Cincinnati. This is a store I visited often when I lived in Cincinnati and that I still visit when back in town.
The note talks about longtime owner of the shop Russell Speidel. Mr. Speidel recently passed away. I like the note because it is a simple everyday acknowledgment that there are gentle, simple and hopeful ways to approach life.
The Duttenhofer's website I link to above allows easy access to a large number of used and fine books. Please consider ordering from Duttenhofer's as this Cincinnati landmark stays the course even as times change.
There is a new icebreaker ship being built in Finland called the Baltika. When the ship is constructed it will be used by Russia.
The interesting thing about the Baltika is that the ship has an asymmetric hull that will cut a wider clear path for shipping than do current icebreakers.
(Above--An image of the Baltika from the Arctech Helsinki Shipyard.)
The wider path will allow for bigger ships to pass through Arctic shipping routes being opened by ice melt caused by climate change.
A risk for the new ship is that the oddly-shaped hull will make the vessel more difficult to control in heavy seas.
Here is the combination of metaphor and the physical world that when combined form existence.
An innovative design opens a wider channel on a new and productive route. Yet at the same time this design in rough seas comes with an increased risk of capsizing.
This idea of metaphor being all around and relevant to everyday life is a big theme at NeilAquino.com.
Blogger's Note--With August 28th the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King's I Have A Dream speech, it seems a useful time to post my Martin Luther King Reading & Reference List. This is a post I've made and updated since 2008 on my old Texas Liberal blog. At the bottom of the post are what I view as the best recourses of all to learn about Rev. King.
While it is always instructive to watch a rebroadcast or listen to a recording of the I Have A Dream speech, there is a next level for someone who wants to better understand Martin Luther King and his message.
Here is the home page of NeilAquino.com
Reverend King asked serious questions about America as a war criminal nation in Vietnam. He asked if America merited divine judgement as a wicked nation of racism and social inequality. These questions are as relevant as ever as America is engaged in endless war and as income inequality grows.
It is within your power to bring about a better world. You have the ability to understand complex things. Learn about what a true prophet of justice Martin Luther King was in our society. After you learn more about Dr. King, take action yourself to address the great pressing social problems of American life, and to address adverse conditions in our world as a whole.
Here is an admittedly incomplete, but I hope useful, Martin Luther King viewing, visiting, listening, and reading list.
An excellent book is Martin & Malcolm & America---A Dream Or A Nightmare by James H. Cone. This book follows the words and the careers of both these men. The premise of the book, which holds up in the telling, is that Dr. King and Malcolm X were not as far apart as often portrayed. Malcolm was a man with a broader vision than one of simple racial solidarity, and King was in many respects a fierce and almost apocalyptic critic of America.
I'm glad to say I bought my copy of Cone's book at the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site in Atlanta, Georgia. This site is operated by the National Park Service. You can tour Martin Luther King's boyhood home at this location. You'll also want to tour the Auburn Avenue Historic District around the King home.
In Washington, when you visit the Lincoln Memorial you can find a small marker indicating the exact spot where Rev. King made the "Dream" speech. It is a good place to stand.
The best one volume work on King's life is David Garrow's Bearing The Cross---Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.
Bearing The Cross was the 1987 Pulitzer Prize winner for biography. You can't help but feel the deep-sea like pressure on Dr. King in the final years of his life. I wondered if towards the end of his life King felt death would be the only true escape from the exhaustion, the misunderstandings and the conflicts.
An interesting DVD is King--Man Of Peace In A Time Of War. Much of the hour long presentation is a rehash of King biography. What makes this special is a roughly 15 minute interview Dr. King did with afternoon television host Mike Douglas. Mr. Douglas asked tough questions about Dr. King's stance against the Vietnam War and about the effect of that opposition on the Civil Rights movement. Dr. King is calm, cool and collected. You could see how King was a leader who could speak anywhere and to anyone.
A solid explanation of Reverend King's theology and a good analysis on the failure of Southern segregationists to mount an even more aggressive opposition to the Civil Rights Movement, can be found in A Stone Of Hope---Prophetic Religion And The Death Of Jim Crow by David L. Chappell.
A Testament Of Hope---The Essential Writings And Speeches Of Martin Luther King, Jr is needed for a complete King library. In honesty I've always found this book to be sprawling and without clear focus. It consists of King sermons, some interviews and excerpts from his books. You might want it on your bookshelf , but there are more concise ways to get at the "essential" King.
New Listings for 2009---
A quality children's book on King is Martin's Big Words by Doreen Rappaport. The writing in this book is clear and concise and respectful of the intellect of children. It's a great introduction to King and a gateway to further studies by young people.
A comprehensive examination of King's radical views on economic questions can be found in From Civil Rights to Human Rights---Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Struggle for Economic Justice by Thomas F. Jackson. King had leanings towards forms of socialism and came to see the fight for fair wages as an essential element in the fight for full human rights. It should not be forgotten that King died in Memphis fighting for striking sanitation workers.
A web resource to learn about King is the Martin Luther King, Jr, Research and Education Institute that is run by Stanford University. There are King sermons and addresses you can read and a link to a King Online Encyclopedia. (These things said, there is nothing as good as having you own printed collection of King sermons that you can take anywhere.)
New Listings for 2010---
Beacon Publishing in Boston has re-released two titles written by King. The books are available in both paperback and hardcover and are attractively presented.
The titles are---
Stride Toward Freedom--The Montgomery Story.
Where Do We Go From Here--Chaos Or Community?
Beacon describes Where Do We Go From Here in this way---
"In 1967, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., isolated himself from the demands of the civil rights movement, rented a house in Jamaica with no telephone, and labored over his final manuscript. In this significantly prophetic work, which has been unavailable for more than ten years, we find King's acute analysis of American race relations and the state of the movement after a decade of civil rights efforts. Here he lays out his thoughts, plans, and dreams for America's future, including the need for better jobs, higher wages, decent housing, and quality education. With a universal message of hope that continues to resonate, King demanded an end to global suffering, powerfully asserting that humankind-for the first time-has the resources and technology to eradicate poverty."
Construction has begun in Washington of a King Memorial on the National Mall. The project is scheduled to be completed in 2011.
Here is the web site of the King Memorial.
New Listings for 2011--
King---The Photobiography Of Martin Luther King, Jr by Charles Johnson and Bob Adelman is a top-notch photo record of the life of Rev. King. It's necessary that you read Dr King's words and understand what he was saying. It also has great value to see King as he battled the Southern sheriffs and as he marched with the people.
Powerful Days---The Civil Rights Photography of Charles Moore helps place Dr. King in context as part of a much larger movement. We can't forget that the Civil rights movement was, when all was said and done, led by average Americans who demanded that our nation finally live up to its founding ideas.
Going Down Jericho Road--The Memphis Strike, Martin Luther King's Last Campaign by Michael Honey reminds us that King died in Memphis fighting for the rights and wages of city sanitation workers. As I write this in early 2011, public employees are being blamed by some for the economic hard times we are facing. Don't be tricked. Public employees are our fellow working people and Martin Luther King gave his life to make sure that they would be treated with dignity and respect.
New Listings for 2012---
Malcolm X--A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable was one of the N.Y. Times best books of 2011. It offers a new and expanded view on another great figure of the civil rights era.
The Occupy Wall Street movement is consistent with the focus of King's final years on economic inequality. I cannot know for sure, but I believe King would have strongly supported Occupy Wall Street. Economic justice was an essential part of Martin Luther King's work.
The Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth died in 2011. Rev. Shuttlesworth was a leader of the Birmingham Civil Rights campaign. Here is Shuttlesworth's obit from The Birmingham News. This link also ofers additional links to learn more about the Birmingham campaign.
New Listings for 2013---
The 2005 Citizen King video from the American Experience series on PBS can be watched in parts on You Tube. This 2 hour presentation focuses on the last 5 years of King's life. It is well worth your time.
The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute tells the story of the black experience in that city and of the famous civil rights struggles that took place in Birmingham. The center also focuses on the fight for human dignity all over the world. I was lucky enough to be able to attend the opening ceremonies of the Institute in 1992. If life takes you to Birmingham, this is the place to go.
A book that a made a great impact on me in recent years was John Brown--Abolitionist by David S. Reynolds. Brown is one of the very few people I've ever read about who saw all people as full equals. That he was able to do this in the 19th century makes this accomplishment all the more amazing. Brown was a prophet.
There are three reference sources on Dr. King that stand out as best.
Here are the three---
Strength To Love is the best collection King sermons. It is a concise manageable book. You can cram it in your back pocket or in your purse. ( A larger purse at least.) I think you could read nothing but this one 158 page book, and know everything you need to know about Martin Luther King.
The audio collection of King's sermons called A Knock At Midnight might change your life. Stick the CD's in your car stereo or listen to them at home and you'll hear King just as he was---Mighty and frail at the same time. I've listened to the sermons on Knock many times and they never get old. You can't help but learn something or see an old question a new way each time you listen.
The definitive books on Martin Luther King's life and the Civil Rights era are found in Taylor Branch's three-volume America In The King Years series.
These three books are the Pulitzer Prize winning Parting The Waters 1954-1963, Pillar Of Fire 1963-1965, and At Canaan's Edge, 1965-1968.
These books stand not only at the top of King biography, they stand as great examples of American biography. The picture of Dr. King is complete. You get the good and the bad. There will be times you'll shake your head and ask yourself how Rev. King could have said that or done that.
You'll also see how brave King was and how brave the Civil Rights marchers and protesters were. You'll get a clear sense of the obstacles faced not just from whites, but from status quo blacks as well. Mr. Branch offers a great deal of context for King's life and experiences. He provides full portraits of other great Civil Rights leaders.
I can't recommend all three volumes strongly enough. Read them and you'll be an expert.
Below is the most recent Texas Progressive Alliance round-up as well as some other notable posts of the past week from other Texas bloggers.
The TPA is a confederation of the best political bloggers in Texas. TPA members are citizen-bloggers working for a better Texas.
(Above--A picture I took in Houston some time back of Texas flags on display.)
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.
We can also seek to impact society by consistently acting in a way that reflects our best values. Or by working on an artistic or creative effort that expands the range of thought and imagination we have in our society.
Here is the round-up--
Off the Kuff believes that changing the culture is necessary to change the Legislature.
Texpatriate went undercover in Montgomery, TX to attend Brandon Creighton's big announcement for ag commish ... and lived to tell the tale.
Wendy Davis gave a speech at the National Press Club this week, and the major theme was "giving voice to the voiceless". WCNews at Eye on Williamson calls it a must-see video.
Though we just passed the 40th anniversary of the Roe vs. Wade decision, Texas Leftist can't help but have some "pseudo deja vu" from copious hours in history class. It turns out that once upon a time, there was a significant pro-choice contingency in the Republican Party. Though it's a struggle, a few are trying to push the party back towards sanity, and cease the *latest* war on women.
There's going to be at least one debate in the Houston mayoral race, because PDiddie at Brains and Eggs got all the inside dope on it.
CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme wants everyone to know the latest dirty deal Rick Perry gave the children in our state.
Neil Aquino, formerly of Texas Liberal, made his first post at his new blog All People Have Value. This blog is at Neil's new website called NeilAquino.com. Neil is open to all comments and input from folks as he debuts his new blog and website.
And here are some posts of interest from other Texas blogs.
Too Twisted For Color TV detailed all of the things that she and other people with disabilities have to go through to enter the Capitol. These obstacles were even more daunting during the second special session.
Jason Stanford wants Dan Patrick to keep his word and debate Thomas Ratliff about CSCOPE.
Concerned Citizens calls on San Antonio to finish the job on equality.
Educate For Texas informs us that the state of Texas hasn't updated its cost of education Index since 1991.
Beyond Bones castigates the Discovery Channel for its fake "documentary" on Megalodon.
Better Texas calls the sales tax holiday "well-intentioned but misguided".
Patrick Michels at the Texas Observer crunches the numbers and concludes we are still spending less per student today in Texas than we were a few years ago, and barely more than we were a decade ago.
The Texas Green Report documents the effect of coal pollution on people's health.
I'm Donating 25 Cents To Amnesty International For Each Attack E-Mail I Get From The Annise Parker And Ben Hall Campaigns For Mayor Of Houston
84 days before the November 5 Election Day, incumbent Mayor Annise Parker and top challenger Ben Hall are polluting the public airwaves and public debate with negative advertising and attacks in the campaign for Mayor of Houston.
(Here is the home page of NeilAquino.com)
I know this is how it is done and how it has often been done in American history. But just because things are normally done in a certain way does not mean you can't move ahead in a different fashion.
(Above--Ben Hall is on the right with a man holding a Hispanic Pastors for Ben Hall sign. Mr. Hall is clear that he supports Hispanics and God.)
Democrat Annise Parker has been Mayor of Houston since January of 2010 and is an honest enough and knowledgeable public official in a conventional sense.
Ben Hall is also a Democrat. I'm not certain why he is running as he has not to this point shown any clear ideological or policy differences from Mayor Parker. I get the impression he would very much like to be Mayor.
In any case, anybody who has had the misfortune of following Houston politics knows how this will all go---
Mayor Parker and Mr. Hall will spend a lot of money. Much of this money will come from big companies and the rich. Issues of poverty and social justice in Houston will be ignored. Turnout will be 15%-20% of eligible adults. There will be ceaseless negative ads and many of them will be stupid. Neither candidate will get 50% of the vote on Election Day and so we will be subjected to more weeks of campaigning with a runoff vote.
None of this reflects the values of hopeful people. Not much of it reflects anything of value to the people of Houston. Mayor Parker and Mr. Hall will go at it and people will tune it out or just think of both of them as equally bad. Only a small percentage of Houstonians will bother to vote.
Without forgetting the many volunteers each campaign will have of committed everyday people, none of this will inspire people to take action for themselves and with others to offer alternatives from the bottom and middle up to a failed and corporate-bought political system.
I'm on the e-mail list of both the Hall and Parker campaigns. Just today I've received three negative e-mails from these two campaigns. I've resolved today that I'm going to donate 25 cents to Amnesty International for every negative e-mail I get from Parker and Hall.
We can't change how people running for office behave. We can't stop folks from responding to negative attacks if they choose. But we can as individuals and by working together create new and more hopeful value systems.
We can understand that there are people in the U.S. and across the world who take real risks for freedom while we get the corporate-owned rottenness of the modern American political campaign. It is the people who take these risks that Amnesty International works to protect.
The optimistic work of freedom is up to each of us. Don't let people acting in a harmful manner define our politics and our society. Take hard-working steps on your own to define our city, nation and world in the tough-minded hopeful terms of the power of everyday people to create something better. Please consider responding to negative actions in a positive forward-looking way.
Below--Mayor Parker speaking to a packed house. Maybe she was also pouring the drinks.
The New York Times recently ran an article about people opposed to the barbaric Florida so-called stand your ground law, who are sitting-in and occupying a place in the Florida State Capitol in Tallahassee near the office of Governor Rick Scott.
(Above--Picture I took in 2012 in Houston of a rally opposed to the laws and circumstances that brought about the Trayvon Martin shooting.)
Something one of the protestors said in this article is consistent with the theme of this blog.
Here is the link to the front page of NeilAquino.com
Here is the quote--
“I’ve had it going through the normal routes because it doesn’t work,” said Ciara Taylor, 24, a Florida A&M University political science graduate who helped lobby lawmakers as a student and is now the Dream Defenders’ political director. “People tell us that certain things aren’t possible, but they are coming through every day. We are proving them wrong every minute.”
Here is the website of the Dream Defenders group referenced above. These are the folks leading the efforts against so-called stand your ground at the Florida capitol.
The work of freedom is up to each us. All of us have the ability to start something new, and do something that offers a challenge to the inability of the current political system to deliver simple justice and fair play.
If we are not ready or inclined to lead, we all are able to follow and support new and innovative thinkers and leaders who need our support for a better America and a better world.
Everyday is hopeful and everyday offers an opportunity to make progress. Being hopeful and innovative is resistance is a society such as ours.
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My name is Neil Aquino and I live in Houston, Texas. Here is my autobiography.