Way to go Texas

I’ve been quiet recently for no other reason than I’m mid-move from Austin Texas to Louisville Colorado. I don’t think Texas will miss me, or care if I’m gone, but I can’t help but be glad to turn my back on the what must be some of the most vindictive, small minded, and regressive politicians I’ve ever come across.

11380987_867608403331615_1505800615_n[1]It kind of doesn’t matter where you stand on the abortion issue, I’m pro-choice. However, when you look at the time, effort, money and all the laws, regulations that Texas has pursued in their attempt to de-fund Planned Parenthood, it is nothing less than a scandal. Worse though are the indirect consequences, the way womens health has just become an acceptable casualty in the battle, little more than mere shrapnel.

While the Texas politico’s have gone after Planned Parenthood, what they’ve actually achieved is the large scale closing of family planning clinics around the state. Of the 82 clinics that have closed, only a third were Planned Parenthood. Those clinics didn’t perform abortions, they were not there just to encourage women to have sex outside of marriage, they provided obstetrical care, gynecological care, and Pap smears.

For those that remain open, there are often massive distances to travel, and long waits, less than a quarter of those that should be seen, are being seen for subsidized preventive health care treatment. That would barely meet the World Health Organization requirements for a third-world country. Welcome to Texas.

Wade Goodwyn has a good report on NPR on the state of affairs in Texas, from George W. Bush childhood home of Midland, far west Texas. The most depressing thing Goodwyn says in his report is:

Texas is becoming the model for other conservative states that would like to defund all family planning clinics associated with abortion providers.

http://www.npr.org/player/embed/464728393/464744500

69!

It’s David Bowies 69th Birthday today, Happy Birthday David.

It’s also 44-years since a 1972, a wet evening photo-shoot in Heddon Street in London gave us one of the more iconic album covers ever; and finally, it’s the release date for Bowies 28th studio album, Blackstar.

He was hugely influential on me in my early teens. I saw him live a few times, including during the first Spiders from Mars Tour in 1972 at his second gig that year in High Wycombe. I also saw Bowie at the Milton Keynes bowl in 1990 as the UK Leg of the Sound+Vision Tour, which famously was the last outing of his back catalog. The concert was overshadowed though by a car crash on our way home, when another driver ran a red-light and very nearly killed both me and my wife Wendy.

Asides from trying to copy his style in the early 1970’s, I used used many lines and couplets from David Bowie lyrics in my English language course work. Sadly I don’t have any of that now but can recall getting A’s for some of the submissions. Mr (Paul) Coffman must have known, but I assume since I could actually explain the structure that was good enough.

YoungerTowards the end of 1974, the end of Ziggy Stardusts 5-Years, I started working on Wembley Market, selling pub mirrors and 7-inch singles on two stalls(Proprietor: Tony Clifford),  as Bowie switched to a more soulful music direction, so did I.

Robert Elms on BBC Radio London featured Bowie today in his “fourfer” weekly segment, where listeners call-up and request their favorite four tracks. You can hear the whole program here, the fourfer starts at 1:05:00.

The foufer featured only 1-track I would have chosen, but it did make me think what my personal fourfer would be. Enjoy.

“And it was Stalking time
for the Moonboys, the Bewley Brothers”


And it was cold and it rained so I felt like an actor
And I thought of Ma and I wanted to get back there
Your face, your race, the way that you talk
I kiss you, you’re beautiful, I want you to walk

Letting “them” win.

US AlertThe “media” (rather than actual news) is all over the US State Departments general, extended travel warning. The warning is pretty useless, anyone paying attention should have assumed most of this already.

Despite the worldwide spying, intelligence, phone hacking, the NSA has carried out, this is the best they can come up with?

At the same time governments are using this as a reason to demand more intrusive technology, and less privacy for us. Remember, the French bombers did not use encryption… yet the cries to break or insert back doors into encryption grow daily.

I’m travelling anyway…  If two planes get blown up,  or 100 Americans killed,  that would be terrible, but you are still more likely to die of heart disease or a traffic accident,  or shot by a white guy with a legal gun in the cinema or at a school. The fact that 100,000 people every year are wounded  or killed in America by guns every year, puts the Paris tragedy into context.

The worst thing about these vague, generalized threats is they are being used as a justification for more war, even boots on the ground. There is no easy answer, but lets remember that the middle east is a western created mess going back over 100-years.

The US never really fixed Korea, or Vietnam, or for that matter Afghanistan. The memorial wall for the Vietnam soldiers alone killed in action contains some 58,000 names. Does anyone really think that letting in Syrian Refugees in would cost 58,000 lives? If you have kids, are you willing to let your kids be part of the draft?

It’s impossible to imagine we can fix the Middle East by bombing alone. [See this, and this].

Remember, if you have NOT been protesting the bombing done in our names, you have no right to protest the refugees.

Don’t be intimidated over travel, ask yourself,  what would chuck Norris do…  Otherwise you are letting them win…

Them being the war mongering American politicians,  and ISIS.

A Change Is Gonna Come

Then and now
Then and now

Notwithstanding Sam Cookes heavily racially motivated “A Change is gonna come“, that is exactly what is happening in Texas. Change is coming. The freedoms that have been held here as a right, are being diluted, and by that, I don’t mean the ridiculous moves by the far right, mostly white Christians.. Sure, they may win in the short term, but in the long term, they’ll have to change.

Why? They very growth former Governor Rick Perry espoused and celebrated as often as he could, proclaiming the Texas miracle, the traditional freedoms can’t hold at the growth rates we see in Texas cities. This is more pronounced in the big cities of Austin, Dallas, and Houston, but there is spill over into the mid-size and even the small cities.

This article from BBC amply illustrates the issues and what one, very small place, Kingsbury TX is doing.  I assume at least Kingsbury residents pay property tax to the county, and sales tax goes to the state, so in practice they are getting what they pay for. If they don’t have much of anything for a city government then that’s fine until they need it, at which point they won’t be generating enough property tax and sales revenue to cover it, and like everyone else in smalltown Texas, they’ll be expecting the “big city folk” to pickup the slack.

Metropolitan Texas is coming, when people live in close proximity, their priorities and problems change, and that drives the laws and loss of freedoms these people, and apparently a lot at the Texas State house are afraid of. Along with that liberty, also comes a change in attitude to toleration for everything from LGBT to the non-white community.

Instead of historically being able to segregate them, divide, force them to the fringe, more and more people live alongside those formally discriminated against, and learn that, really, they are just people too.

Of course this will take time, looking at the ridiculous, gerrymandered districts that include swathes of big cities intersected with sub-urban and rural areas will make it difficult to unset the time travelers that want to keep Texas in the 1950’s. However, as we’ve seen in the Indiana Religious Freedom debacle, big business, mostly metropolitan based, now holds all the cards and they will halt the journey back to 1950, because their success is dependent on being able to hire and keep the best and the brightest, and they don’t want to work in the 1950’s.

Pray for rain?

I’m completely baffled, and offended by this. Anyone who has jumped aboard the knowledge train about water in Texas, and doesn’t see why this is a bad thing, just hasn’t thought it through. If you believe in God, I can’t see how you can pray for rain. The amount of rain needed to make a real difference would be gargantuan.

A major news item in the last 24-hours has been the announcement by the TCEQ that “Dozens of Texas communities have less than 90 days of water“. The report was carried far and wide, and included a video segment, see the Shreeveport Times version here.

Then there was last weeks’ HBO Vice. It carried a 15-minute segment called Deliver Us From Drought, on the drought in Texas. Unsurprisingly for a show with Bill Maher as Executive Producer, it included a focus on the religious types Praying for rain.

We should already have a permanent ban on watering lawns, even with reclaimed water. There are plenty of reasons why that reclaimed water could be used elsewhere. However, how anyone who is a Christian can pray for rain is beyond me. For it to rain enough to make a difference, we are going to need to a major hurricane. How can anyone pray for something that would cause misery and possibly death to thousands of people?

Perpetuating the myth that God can solve this problem, just means that the people, religious or otherwise are being denied real information.