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Southern Dragon Memorial – One Year

8:00 am in Uncategorized by tejanarusa

Well, folks, it turns out it’s a lot harder than I expected to write a memorial to our late larger-than-life friend, Southern Dragon, also known IRL as Richard. I’ve been trying for awhile, and nothing seems quite right. I hope you will all help with your contributions.

To start at the beginning, I don’t actually remember when I first “met” Southern Dragon. It was here at FDL, of course, but long, long ago. He must have been an early lake denizen, as was I, though I was not here at the very very beginning, but had been here awhile by the time of the Libby trial.

Do you all remember when he started Caturday? He figured so many of us were taking over other threads telling stories about all our kittehs, that there was enough interest to keep a “cat post” going, without boring all the non-cat posts. Boy, was he right about that! They were popular as long as he was able to do it. I’ve been reviewing some of those Caturdays, with the variety of cute and interesting pictures he always included. Funny pictures, pictures of his own house tigers, videos from Big Cat Rescue (one of his favorite organizations), and sometimes pix we readers sent him.Plus a wide-open discussion of any stories we wanted to tell about kittehs, big and small. I loved his regular epigraph for Caturday; “Saving One animal won’t change the world, but it will change the world for that animal.” A motto to live by, when we think that nothing we can do will matter much.

Personally, I’ll never forget the kind emails he exchanged with me when my beloved Charlie died, and that he turned over Caturday to me the following Sunday, posting a picture of Charlie at the top, and letting me talk all about him. It helped me deal with losing my favorite fur boy so much. Many of us experienced something similar at Caturday. And the fact that he, the big ex-Navy man-old hippie, with strong principles and such a macho look, talked about the Rainbow Bridge where we would meet our lost kittehs eventually, just as if it were as real as, say, Niagara Falls, helped me to believe in it, too. It’s my only religious belief today; my kittehs are waiting for me there, and Richard himself is there, playing with and loving on all his long line of passed-on kittehs, who must have been so happy when he showed up there a year ago today.

I won’t forget the shock when he left us so quickly. That was a tough time, shocking and hard to accept. Southern Dragon was a teacher here, leading so many of us not just with words of wisdom at Caturday and the Lakeside Diner, but with the organized lessons of Marx in the Morning. He was never needlessly rude with people who honestly failed to understand something, but neither did he suffer fools gladly. I loved that about him.

Politically, he reminded us that “[t]here are no overnight or one or two election cycle solutions to our problems.” Marx in the Morning, a regular study of lectures by Professor Richard Wolffe, was one of his ways of teaching those who wanted to learn how to analyze those problems, and hopefully, discover some of those long-term solutions. He walked the walk, too: he showed up regularly at demonstrations in the St. Pete area; his avatar was a cropped photo of himself holding a poster (I couldn’t find the full photo)at one of those demonstrations.

Om Ali should be around sometime today with some interesting observations. She was a rock in the aftermath of Richard’s passing, organizing the rescue and re-homing, plus collecting funds to cover the costs, of Richard’s beloved cats, all of them rescued already by him. I think we all felt that taking care of his cats was the least we could do for him. And “namaste” to yellowsnapdragon, who traveled cross-country to adopt her favorite kitteh, Nagi, who lives with her still.

Such a man of contrasts: he always bade us farewell with a “Namaste,” coupled with “Never.Give.Up.” We try to carry on his passion for fairness, justice, policies and politics that favor the regular guy, the member of the 99%, and his memory gives us courage.

Please, everyone, share your own favorite stories about the big guy who left such a lasting mark on all of us who met him through Firedoglake.

As usual, I’ll be in and out.

Over Easy Thursday: Free Speech

6:00 am in Uncategorized by tejanarusa

Good morning firepups! There’s a good chance that I am still asleep as you read this, due to the magic of the fdl pre-scheduling a myFDL diary. I am still being a night owl, natural tendency aggravated by the continuing blockage of one ear or another, making me deaf to an alarm clock, even one placed inches from my pillow. Just not hearing the ring. Anyway, here is my substitute post while Ruth Calvo, your usual Thursday host, deals with death in the family, and all its attendant complications.

Over Easy eggs

Speech should be free and eggs Over Easy.

Free speech is an issue I care a lot about, along with most of us here, I’m sure. We have a local case that appears on its way to court. The city has banned two former city employees from coming to council meetings at all or even from entering on city property. The justification made to the local public radio reporter is that these guys need to be banned for the safety of city employees and other members of the public. They have been warned they will be charged with criminal trespass if they show up at a council meeting.

When I first heard this, my reaction was, natch, WTF? The only “danger” cited appears to be supposedly excessive emails, letters, and calls on issues about city spending. Well, that sounds pretty annoying, but dangerous? Worthy of depriving someone of their first amendment right to petition their government, right to peaceable assembly? Hmmm. Is there more to this story? Without so much as asking a judge to issue an order? And with no time limit on the ban?

TPR implied that the Texas Civil Liberties Project was taking the case; the Current (alternative weekly) says TCLP declined to represent these guys. They seem to be the poster children for obnoxious, annoying, pain-in-the-butt citizens whose rights must be protected, no matter how annoying and obnoxious they are. This is one more way cities seem to be figuring they can unilaterally decide that your free speech isn’t allowed. Did the Occupy movement push cities down the repression highway? What the heck are they thinking?

Next, we have the Northside Independent School District here with a pilot project to track all students with a badge with an RFID chip. The girl who sued on religious grounds (the chip is the Biblical “mark of the beast.” Hoo boy) lost because the school was willing to let her wear a chip-less badge, an accommodation the Court said was sufficient. Today’s ACLU newsletter says there are bills in the new legislative session to prohibit this sort of tracking of students. The ACLU supports it and urges recipients of the newsletter to write our legislators. If the so-called conservatives in the Texas lege have any consistency on their love of “liberty,” it’ll pass. But, then consistency is not one of their virtues, is it?

There are plenty of such issues all over the country. While they might seem smaller than the pre-trial detention of Bradley Manning, for instance, or the expanding use of drones by executive whim, each one is important to preserving our rights and freedoms. And dare I say it, they are more important in the long run than any part of the Second Amendment.

We know KrisAinTX is working to keep his local school board honest. Anybody else have local outrages to free speech or other constitutional protections they’re following?

In other news, I took down my copy of Rick Perlstein’s Nixonland yesterday and started reading it. I bought it awhile ago, but decided reading it would be too depressing. It seems marginally less so now that the election is at least over. Already I must say it’s interesting seeing how events I personally lived through are seen by someone who wasn’t yet born at the time.
To balance that all-politics sensation, I picked up a volume of New European Poets tonight; all poets who began publishing after 1970. Again, a generation with a viewpoint different from mine. I need something fresh.

So, what are you reading to escape from the harsh reality we usually discuss here?

That should keep y’all busy while I work on waking up enough to play host.

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Over Easy – Family Matters

7:00 am in Uncategorized by tejanarusa

Good morning, on this second day of 2013! Have you noticed what word 2013 spells backwards? Lisa Derrick brought this to our attention New Year’s Night
Scroll down to the third picture.
Okay,so maybe that isn’t exactly a family story…but it was irresistible.

Over Easy, family style

This one certainly is a family topic. Hispanic women of all ethnicities (Puerto Rican, Mexican, Dominican) are choosing to have smaller families. This is good news for us all, and especially for the women themselves. To no one’s surprise, educated women have fewer children, and children from smaller families are more likely to get an education.
I love the fact that the first woman quoted in that piece is a vice-president of a non-profit founded by her own mother. Not so long ago young Hispanic women didn’t show up much in that demographic.
Let’s see, there’s the “fiscal cliff” bill that finally passed tonight (as I write); I guess that’s mostly good news for families, at least for truly middle class families. It’s good news for our “old old” relatives that Social Security was left out of the bill, including “chained CPI” which would have hurt the oldest of the old, especially women, the most.
And here’s an article on the latest “shockingly” frank author of popular teen-age fiction.

Admittedly, I’m not a parent, but I like her attitude on giving teens a safe place to discover and think about such major issues as sex and social relations. And I love that she teaches her kids they must “be the one” to speak up if someone is bullying another kid, or telling a racist joke. The best comment is the one that says her books have to better than the Ayn Rand books that perpetually adolescent Republicans love so much.
What do you parents think? Have your kids read Lauren Myracle’s books?
Opening up the floor: Any interesting family issues arise over the holidays? My mother and I didn’t get along well for years. This holiday was pretty good; kind of boring for me because of very little activity, but good for our relationship. Anyone mend a broken, cracked, or strained family relation this holiday? Tell us how it went.

Photo by Ricky Montalvo released under a Creative Commons Share-Alike license.