Have Pen. Will Travel.

A friend of mine is currently applying for her passport. I suggested she take a grand tour of the world and follow the route that Phileas Fogg took is Jules Vernes novel, "Around the World in Eighty Days," a route investigative journalist Nellie Bly took in 1888, in 72 days, after only two days of planning I would add.

Fogg's adventures took starting at the Reform Club, to him to the following locations; London, Paris, Turin, Brindisi, Suez, Aden, Bombay, Kholby, Allahabad, Calcutta, Strait of Malacca, Hong Kong, Yokohama, San Francisco, Salt Lake City, Chicago, New York City, Liverpool, London, and lastly the Reform Club.

My friend would obviously start in a different location and I believe Teapioca Lounge (north) is a good enough starting point as any, considering it's a favorite place of hers. Her travels would take her from Austin, Chicago, New York City, Liverpool, London, Paris, Turin, Brindisi, Suez, Djibouti, Mumbai, Chitrakoot Dham, Allahabad, Kolcata, Malacca City, Singapore, Hong Kong, Yokohama, San Francisco, Salt Lake City, Austin, ending back at Teapioca Lounge.

As you may notice a couple of her stops have changed. Due to safety concerns Aden has been replaced with its sister city Djibouti and instead of traveling through the Strait of Malacca and its problem with pirates, it's been replaced with separate stops (likely by plane) to Malacca City and Singapore. The names of both Bombay and Calcutta have been replaced by their contemporary names of Mumbai and Kalcata. And since Kolby doesn't even exist, it's been replaced by Chitrakoot Dham which comes closest in cultural description and physical description to Kolby.

Oh, and if my friend were to want to travel with her own "goes-anywhere" and Passepartout to her Phileas Fogg, I am an relatively experienced world traveler with a passport. Just saying... 

Of the true beginning of Spring, Allergies, and the Church of Baseball.

I went to see our San Antonio Missions play ball yesterday evening. For me it is the start of my home team's season home opener that is truly the beginning of Spring. That and the first really bad onslaught with allergies. While I was at the game: 

I took lots and lots of photographs.

Picked up a book on the history of the Texas League and got it signed by the writers. Who also encouraged me to write about my experiences as a little league coach while I was a teenager in Korea.

Won small keychains on a spinning wheel, which I gave to two kids sitting next to me during the game.

Later I won a pair of tickets to a future game on the same spinning wheel. I blamed a kid standing next to him for my good fortune and bought him a spin. He won a pair of tickets too.

Bought a fitted Missions on the road ball cap.

Talked about the great Philadelphia Phillies from the early 80s with a teen who's family is from Philly.

And watched a baseball game.

If you were to ask me what religion I practice... it's the Church of Baseball.

"I believe in the Church of Baseball. I've tried all the major religions and most of the minor ones. I've worshipped Buddha, Allah, Brahma, Vishnu, Siva, trees, mushrooms, and Isadora Duncan. I know things. For instance, there are 108 beads in a Catholic rosary and there are 108 stitches in a baseball. When I learned that, I gave Jesus a chance. But it just didn't work out between us. The Lord laid too much guilt on me. I prefer metaphysics to theology. You see, there's no guilt in baseball...

Sometimes it seems like a bad trade, but bad trades are part of baseball. Now who can forget Frank Robinson for Milt Pappas, for God's sake! It's a long season, and you gotta trust it. I've tried them all, I really have. And the only church that truly feeds the soul day in, day out, is the Church of Baseball." - Annie Davoy from Bull Durham

Oh, I'll post a few of those photographs later today too.


National Poetry Month visits Gallista Gallery

Assuming I can forge a temporary peace with my allergies today, I'm planning on going to event later tonight at Galista Gallery. These events for Galista happen on the second Saturday of every month and usually offers an ecclectic collection of art, music, poetry, and others multi-media goings on.

Gallista, which is at 1913 South Flores Street, will be celebrating National Poetry Month with Decline of the Bougeois, presenting artist Moe Profane. There will be an Open Mic with the Jazz Poets and the event will be hosted by Anthony and Amanda Flores.

It'll be this Saturday from 6pm to 9:30pm. I hope you can make it, I'm going to try and possibly perform a couple of my own quirky stories from a series I've been meaning to get back into telling.

On debate challenges and having a big pair of...

Democratic candidate for Texas Comptroller, Mike Collier, has previosly challenged Republican candidate Glenn Hegar to a debate, and never got a response.

Knowing that Glenn Hegar likes to speak at more supportive Tea Party meetings, Mike Collier did what any Texan would do in his situation and again challenged his Republican counterpart to another debate while upping the ante. Collier said that debate can be at the Tea Party meeting of Hegar's choosing.

A friend of mine would likely quip that Mike Collier has the biggest pair of ovaries this side of the Red River.

Both the Green Party and Libertarian Party will be choosing their candidates for Comptroller and other elected iffices at their respective state conventions this coming Saturday 12 April.

http://www.collierfortexas.com/

http://www.glennhegar.com/

http://web.txgreens.org/

https://www.lptexas.org/




An observation on how we spin information around and around.

I rarely comment on the goings on of Westboro Baptist Church. They have a right to protest and others have a right to counter-protest and I'll leave it at that. However I'm sharing these two videos more because of the difference between how the church tried to spin their protest through Vine (you know, 6 seconds in a loop) compared to a video from a counter-protester on YouTube that showed more of what occurred at the end of the protest.

You can find the church's Vine here.

The counter-protester's YouTube video is here.

As is usually the case with political spin like the Vine, so much is used in order to be taken and out of context by selectively leaving a lot of information out. As this article from the Huffington Post notes, the church abandoned their protest 8 minutes into their planned 30 minute protest, and that the local police made no arrests and stated, "that the crowd remained 'relatively respectful.'"

The point I am trying to make is this, as a consumer of information and as a citizen, it is very important make an effort to understand both sides of the issues that are important to you and at the center of your life. It will certainly allow you to take a more complete look at the world all around you and communities and neighborhoods that we live in and are engaged with in our lives.

Maybe you noticed that I like to talk about politics...

Some of you who follow me on Facebook, Twitter, or read this blog may have noticed I was commenting on both the President's State of the Union Address and the Republican Party's response on my Facebook Page. There's a reason why I do this to some degree every year and it's not to change minds in regards to politics but rather to engage in conversation.

I've learned this in debating politics in coffee shops and pubs around town; you don't debate politics to win or to change opinions, rather you debate politics to seek knowledge and (at least for me) to encourage political action through conversation. We can vote and donate our time and money to a candidate or a cause we support, but one vote doesn't make a difference. However when your one vote is canvassed with other like minded votes that makes a difference. 

But even canvassing with other voters will not work, unless you're unafraid to join the discussion at the coffeeshop, the pub, or the water cooler at work.

What is my Vision of America?

The President's State of the Union address to Congress is more than a president's opportunity to lay out his agenda for the coming two years that Congress is in session. It is also an address that lays out a president's vision of America. I will admit that I have purposely kept myself, somewhat, in the dark about the address itself this time. Instead, I am looking at what I want our president and Congress to accomplish through the lens of my vision of America. That vision, by the way, I am not sharing at the moment.

However, for me the biggest issue our nation faces is income inequality. I recently read a discussion on a friend's Facebook page asking the question, "What is American Exceptionalism?" American Exceptionalism is rooted in the basis that the United States is the first modern democratic republic, centered around liberty and equality. What makes the United States exceptional is not the power we project throughout the world, but rather that our nation's beginnings are different than other nations around during our founding and that despite that challenges and shortcoming our nation has faced and continues to face both at home and abroad, we are still here as a nation and exist as one of the oldest democratic republican nations today.

Why mention American Exceptionalism? Because is centered around liberty and equality. I would expect that President Obama will address income inequality at the heart of his State of the Union. This is an issue he has often addressed as President and has just as frequently come up short in finding solutions. It is in his first inaugural address as President that he makes mention as a key to reducing income inequality, it is rooted alongside liberty and equality and is often forgotten. That is community, as a nation we must work collectively as a nation of individuals to reduce income inequality. It is through our government that this can happen. We often talk about big government and limited government and I believe we miss the point of government when we do that. Government, whether it is based in Washington, Austin, San Antonio, or a school district, is a tool for the people. We should talk of a responsible government and that take collective and vigilant action to achieve.

I hope that President Obama talks about a responsive government that works for the people, regardless of is big or limited size. I hope he talks about issue of partisanship in Washington. I hope he talks about the Affordable Care Act, immigration, security, and other issues that are at the center of our lives. I hope he will talk about these in his State of the Union Address to Congress and reminds all of us, that despite our differences, we are in this together, we should not feel the need to go it alone, and that the world is watching America. The world is watching us because of what is suppose to make us exceptional to the rest of the world. That despite our differences, despite our shortcomings, as a nation we will come together to move our nation forward and with it move the world forward as a leader among nations.

Change candidate, establishment candidate, I'm the one with tea leaves.

Back in 2006 I was a candidate for a seat on the Alamo Colleges Board of Trustees. One of the people who supported and made a donation to my campaign asked me if I was running as the change or the establishment candidate. It was a rhetorical question, that he wanted me to answer later. 

My opponent, who was the incumbent, was that establishment candidate. The problem was, he and I agreed on virtually every issue. The difference was our priorities and approach to working on those issues. I believe this was one of the reasons I didn't win the election. Since I was not a change candidate that offered a different vision of the Alamo Colleges, my own ability to stay passionate and committed to running often wavered. After the election my opponent would introduce me to other board members and encourage me to attend and speak up at meetings as a citizen to be heard.

This story about myself leads me to this; in the fall of 2003, a friend asked me to pick who'd be the next president. Early opinion and polls showed a toss up between Senators John McCain and Hillary Clinton. Realizing that voters would be inclined to support a change candidate after 8 years of Bush (and 8 years of Clinton) and that the nation was in an economic recession, I said Sen. Barack Obama would become president if he decided to run.

I would also note that I believed that Governor Tim Pawlenty would offer the best choice for the GOP in 2012 as a change candidate against President Obama, by now the establishment candidate. Pawlenty dropped out early after a miserably showing at the Iowa GOP straw polls. A move he later regretted. I would argue that this played the largest part in Gov. Mitt Romney becoming the nominee and Pres. Obama being able to shed the establishment label and run again as a change candidate. Romney essentially serving as a continued surrogate, like McCain, as part of the establishment of Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld. I believe if he stayed in the race Pawlenty would have been a stronger opponent that Romney. Even in defeat Pawlenty, more than Sen. Rick Santorum, would have pushed Romney to establish his identity early as a change candidate.

It is too early to pick nominees for 2016, however, at this point it's Secretary Clinton's election to lose. She is in a unique position being part of the old guard establishment in Washington on one hand, but being a change candidate in contrast to both Obama and Speaker John Boehner the leader of the Republican Party. However, especially if Clinton runs, the story to pay attention to will be this one... 

Sen. Bernie Sanders, as an independent running for President. Sanders has said he would put serious thought in running for president if there is no strong run by a liberal Democrat in the primaries. So far, aside from Sen. Elizabeth Warren, I don't see any Paul Wellstone-esque Democrats considering a serious run for president. Warren supporters have suggested she may run, but I doubt she will because of the success she's had as a senator. She may find that she will, and has, done more good in Congress.

If this happens and Clinton runs and is essentially anointed as the Democrats nominee, I expect Sanders to run for president. As and independent and the only elected Socialist in Washington, he is not only a change candidate to the establishment of Obama/Bush/Clinton, but represents a unique contrast from the possibility of Tea Party candidate coming from the GOP. Any Tea Party candidate would try to run as a change candidate. A Sanders campaign as a Socialist and an independent would make both Clinton and whoever is the GOP nominee, establishment candidates. Sen. Bernie Sanders would also be a positively contrast to the change offered by GOP should they nominate a Tea Party supported candidate. That could very well marginalize the GOP and turn it into a race between Sanders and Clinton.

I'm certain many of you will disagree with this early assessment but, looking back at 2008 and 2012 I think I have a better than average track record on this one. Also if you're wondering who I think the Republican frontrunner is for the nomination in 2016, it's not going to be Gov. Chris Christie or any other governor or former governor. As with 2012, the GOP primaries will be large, brutal, and trend further to the right than it normally would. Right now, look for a senator, most likely Rand Paul.