Archive: » 2019 » January

Why Transparency in Government Matters

The Texas Legislature is back in session. For those of us who think transparency in government is critical to a functioning democracy, that means trying to block attempts to create even more loopholes in the freedom of information laws. Every session, a bevy of bills are filed to make it more difficult for the public to obtain information kept by the folks whose paychecks we fund. FOI advocates work tirelessly throughout the session to improve bad ol’ bills or block them altogether. They also work with legislators who understand the importance of government transparency. Fortunately, there are several...

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A Single Bloom in a Monochrome Month

A scraggly camellia bush is planted in a cracked pot on our back deck. It has not fared well since making the voyage from our front yard, where it joined three others in an unsuccessful attempt to add some color to a small patch of grass. Too shady. So it was placed in the pot and transported to the back deck. Its counterparts did not survive the transplants, but this camellia has hung in there for a few years now. Its leaves are mottled with yellow splotches, no doubt infested with some plant disease of which I am woefully ignorant. About a week ago, this camellia burst forth with a fat red blossom,...

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Mutilated Myrtle Still Abound

A harbinger of the New Year has unhappily but inevitably arrived. I was running errands. There is a church on the corner where I turn onto Fourth Street to head to the Big Box Stores to which I trek several times a week. This church has rows of crape myrtles on the south and west side of its parking lot. At some point in the past week, landscapers had performed their annual Crape Murder, as some call it. I prefer Crape Myrtle Mutilation. Two rows of those lovely trees, prevalent throughout the South, had been whacked back nearly to the trunk in a ritual that is as ugly as it is unnecessary. It...

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‘The Library Is A Listening Post’

One of the most valuable tools for a research nerd is the interlibrary loan service provided by both academic and public libraries. Through ILL, one can request books, articles, microfilm and even DVDs. One fills out an online form provided by the library one patronizes. I have availed myself of this service uncounted times over the decades. It never fails to provide a small thrill when I’m notified that an item has arrived through ILL. For example, through LeTourneau University’s Margaret Estes Library (where I have worked part-time for a year as a reference assistant) I obtained three...

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