Monday, June 17, 2013
Tuesday, June 04, 2013
Picasso in Black and White
The Museum of Fine Art Houston sent me a letter saying that if I renewed my membership I could see the Picasso in Black and White show for free. I haven’t joined the museum since we were dragging our children there, (now they visit museums on their own) but I was glad of the reminder that this show was leaving town soon and I hadn’t seen it yet. I’m a sucker for these “blockbuster” exhibits. They allow me to see masterpieces from around the country and across the world without the trouble and expense of leaving town.
This show was a monster! Nearly one hundred paintings, drawings and sculptures by Pablo Picasso. I wasn’t ready for all this. Room after room, decades of artworks boggled my mind, and not just because I have a hard time with cubism. I’ve seen many Picassos, most major museums own a few, but I would never have imagined that he made so many pieces in black and white. The pieces were grouped chronologically, which showed his style changing over the years but also served to point out the images and techniques that he repeated over sixty-some years of work. Some works were familiar; “Frugal Repast” -1904 lives at the MFAH, there was a “Portrait of Sylvette David” -1954 from the McNay and “Nude Figure” -1910 from the Albright-Knox. The El Greco inspired “Woman Ironing” -1904 was here from the Guggenheim; one of the few pieces that had a little color. His “Woman in White” -1923 was one of the more representational paintings here. But this show was a crash course in cubism for me, and it helped me get behind it when after gazing at a canvas full of some mangled figure somehow folded in on itself I turned around to see a similar figure, only a head in bronze this time, or a painting done on folded sheet metal. Also, the black and whiteness of everything had me seeing like I’d just staggered out of a silent film festival or something.
The picture at top is Las Meninas after Velasquez, one of forty-some studies he did of Diego Velasquez’s 1656 painting, which Picasso first saw at the Museo Del Prado when he was fourteen years old. This was a show-stopper for me at 76” x 102.” I’ll put up Velasquez’s original below, along with some other faves from the sixties.
Thursday, May 30, 2013
I’ve been getting crapaganda about the UN Small Arms Treaty. I got some from my brother, my neighbor, my congressman.. Just goes to show there’s no telling what people will get riled-up about; where have you gone Anna Nicole Smith?
I call this NRA-sponsored baloney. The three countries that opposed the small arms treaty are North Korea, Syria and Iran. Is that the side we want to be on? The world is awash in guns, to the sorrow of all but the gun manufacturers that bankroll the NRA. When Texas Congressman Charley Wilson wanted a million AK-47s to arm the Afghan mujahideen he was able to buy them, a million of them, at gun shows in Texas. Now those guns are still there being used against our sons and daughters, ‘chickens coming home to roost.’ Who said, “As ye sow so shall ye reap?”
Tuesday, May 28, 2013
Texas District 129
Dear Rep. Davis,
I would like to take this opportunity to commend you on your efforts in this session to remove politics from the administration of the Texas Enterprise Fund. I suspect that you knew the long odds against passage of this measure and the near-inevitability of a gubernatorial veto if it were to have passed; but sometimes it’s important to stand on the right side of an issue, even in a lost cause, if only to further public understanding of an important matter.
So, while I’m on the subject of windmill-tilting I would like to ask that you take on another intractable cause, that of the drawing of Statehouse and Congressional districts, which I hear is to be the primary business of this year’s special session. It is my hope that you and other members of the Legislature take this opportunity to propose the establishment of a non-partisan or bi-partisan body to draw legislative districts that more closely resemble existing communities and geography; precluding the practice of gerrymandering. The Post Office’s system of zip codes might be a workable model for this. Again, this effort may not be successful in this special session, but you would have made a first step towards bringing representative democracy to Texas.
Clear Lake, Texas
Wednesday, May 15, 2013
Tuesday, May 14, 2013
Monday, May 13, 2013
The Armed Citizen
Boy dies from accidental shooting
By Megan Gray The Denton Record Chronicle
A 5-year-old boy was pronounced dead at Children’s Medical Center in Dallas Monday after allegedly being shot in the head at his Denton home Saturday morning by a friend.
Officer Orlando Hinojosa, spokesman for the Denton Police Department, said it was with “a heavy heart” that he had to announce the little boy’s death to the media Monday afternoon.
He said the boy, whose name is not being released at this time, was pronounced dead at 12:05 p.m.
The reported incident took place inside the boy’s home after 11:30 a.m. Saturday in the 2700 block of Stockton Street.
Police said the 5-year-old and his 8-year-old friend were in a bedroom alone when the 8-year-old found a .22-caliber rifle.
The 8-year-old boy then allegedly pointed the rifle at his younger friend and shot him in the head, according to a news release issued by the department.
Officials are unsure where the loaded gun was found, but ruled out the parents’ bedroom.
“The parents were at work at the time of the accident,” Hinojosa said.
The 5-year-old’s grandparents, along with a teenage uncle, were home when the shooting occurred, police said.
The 5-year-old was taken from Denton Regional Medical Center to Children’s Medical Center Dallas.
The investigation is still ongoing and no charges are being filed at this time, but that could change pending further investigation, Hinojosa said Monday.
Sunday, May 05, 2013
The Armed Citizen
BURKESVILLE, Ky. — A 5-year-old boy accidentally shot his 2-year-old sister to death in rural southern Kentucky with a rifle he had received as a gift last year, authorities said.
The children’s mother was home at the time of the shooting Tuesday afternoon but had stepped on to the porch for “no more than three minutes,” Cumberland County Coroner Gary White told WKYT-TV.
White told the Lexington Herald-Leader the boy received the .22-caliber rifle as a gift. He said the rifle was kept in a corner and the family didn’t realize a bullet was left inside it.
“It’s a Crickett,” White said, referring to a company that specifically makes guns, clothes and books for children. “It’s a little rifle for a kid. … The little boy’s used to shooting the little gun.”
White said the shooting was an accident.
It wasn’t immediately clear who gave the boy the gun or exactly what led up to the shooting. White did not return a telephone call from The Associated Press on Wednesday.
State police said in a brief news release the shooting occurred when the boy was “playing” with the rifle, but did not elaborate.
It is not clear whether any charges will be filed, said Kentucky State Police spokesman Trooper Billy Gregory.
“I think it’s too early to say whether there will or won’t be,” Gregory said Wednesday.
Keystone Sporting Arms, based in Milton, Penn., produced 60,000 Crickett and Chipmunk rifles in 2008, according to its website. It also makes guns for adults, but most of its products are geared toward children.
The company’s slogan is “my first rifle” and its website has a “Kids Corner” section where pictures of young boys and girls are displayed, most of them showing the children at shooting ranges and on bird and deer hunts. The smaller rifles are sold with a mount to use at a shooting range.
“The goal of KSA is to instill gun safety in the minds of youth shooters and encourage them to gain the knowledge and respect that hunting and shooting activities require and deserve,” the website said.
No one at the company answered the phone Wednesday.
Tuesday, April 30, 2013
The line-up this week was unusual; all Republicans. They were:
Laura Ingraham, a conservative talk show host who makes a nice living scaring old people on Fox News and selling books smearing President Obama and Hillary Clinton.
Mickey Edwards, an eight-term congressman from Oklahoma who was primaried out of his seat in 1993 after the House Banking Scandal.
David Brooks, an establishment weather vane for the New York Times.
And finally Ralph Reed, the former “right hand of God,” who escaped prosecution for his part as a bible-thumping shill for Jack Abramoff’s Indian casino shakedown and then got whipped in his campaign to be elected Lieutenant Governor of Georgia.
The motion for debate was “The GOP Must Seize the Center or Die.”
Before the debate each audience is polled on the motion. They are again polled after the debate and the side that makes the most headway wins. This audience initially supported the motion 65% to 14% against.
Next, the four panelists argued over who were the real conservatives, and whether Ronald Reagan was a saint or merely a hero. Quite entertaining if one likes that sort of thing.
Afterwards, 65% of the audience again favored the motion, but now 28% were opposed. So Reed and Ingraham, the ‘opposed’ side, won the debate, and no doubt went home that night happy that they had proven their point, that the ‘Party of God’ ought to go on its merry way, pushing for a heavily-armed theocratic plutocracy that bashes gays and immigrants.
Some win. I think this shows the future of the GOP; a hell-bound snowball. With such ideologically pure leadership, this party that just a decade ago plotted a ‘permanent majority’ will end up in the wilderness on the strength such pyrrhic victories. Demographics aside, as a great Republican once said; “you can’t fool all of the people all of the time.”
Tuesday, April 23, 2013
“Oversight of the plant has been sporadic. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which oversees workplace safety, last inspected the plant in 1985. Throughout the past 25 years, various local and state agencies responded to complaints of foul odors and improper storage. Resolutions sometimes took months to occur, but the plant did document the necessary changes, including better labeling on storage tanks and adoption of an emergency plan.
“"If there's a better way to do this, we want to know about it," Perry said last week.”
“Gov. Rick Perry on Monday defended the state's inspections process regarding the West fertilizer plant where a fire and explosion last week killed 14 people and devastated the small Central Texas town while officials began offering theories on a cause.” –Houston Chronicle
“Somebody has to tell the E.P.A. that we don’t need you monkeying around and fiddling around and getting in our business with every kind of regulation you can dream up,” he said. “You’re doing nothing more than killing jobs. It’s a cemetery for jobs at the E.P.A.” - Governor Rick Perry
“The EPA is a runaway federal agency that must be reined in.” -Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott.
“In the city of Houston, sexually oriented businesses are forbidden to be within 1,500 feet of a school. Say what you want about strip clubs, they are generally not prone to exploding. From a safety perspective, it’s no contest.” –Charles Kuffner
Tuesday, April 16, 2013
News that Gets My Goat
From today’s Chronicle:
“The Texas attorney general would be able to settle environmental lawsuits filed by cities and counties without input or approval from local officials, under a bill backed by business interests that is scheduled for a hearing in Austin on Tuesday.
“A second bill would bar cities and counties from hiring outside lawyers if they are to be paid from winnings to help fight costly environmental cases aimed at extracting penalties from polluters.
“Together the bills, to be heard before the House Environmental Regulations Committee, effectively would limit local governments' ability to pursue environmental claims against deep-pocketed companies accused of causing significant environmental damage requiring expensive cleanups, according to county and municipal attorneys across the state. The bills are being carried by state Rep. Cindy Burkett, R-Garland.”
“Environmental groups are questioning the Texas environmental agency's proposal to remove from its pollutant watch list a chemical that figured prominently in a massive release that led to more than 48,000 claims for damaged health.
“The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality is considering removing benzene and hydrogen sulfide from its air pollutant watch list for Texas City, saying monitoring stations in 2009 and 2010 recorded significant drops in emissions.
“During 40 days in 2010, however, the former BP refinery, now owned by Marathon, belched more than 538,000 pounds of gases into the air. The release included at least 17,371 pounds of benzene, the third largest release of that chemical in Texas from 2009-11. Environmentalists say this makes the decision to remove benzene from the watch list questionable.”
-Well, as Rick Perry is fond of saying, “the State of Texas is open for business.” These foxes really resent anything getting in the way of their running the henhouse. Texas cities have had to take polluters to court because the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality is an unabashed flackcatcher for industry. Now industry would have relief from even that feeble channel for monitoring and regulation. And benzene! A toxicological revue prepared by the Harvard School of Public Health in 1948 for the American Petroleum Institute (!) states that "it is generally considered that the only absolutely safe concentration for benzene is zero."