Campaign underwater? (and classroom DVD offer)

June 19, 2008

Who are these guys?

Who are these guys in the pool? Can you identify them?

Can they swim?

(Answers below the fold.)

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Open thread, open comments

June 19, 2008

Several readers have dropped notes saying they couldn’t find a place to comment on something here, and they didn’t want to mess up a thread.  So, here’s a thread to put those comments in.  (Now watch:  Cat will get the typing fingers of everybody . . .)

And for those of you from the Christian blogs where comments are censored, other than editing out profanity and links to pornography, we generally don’t censor here.

Comments are open – discuss away!


June 19, 2008

The Texas State Archives offers a succinct history:

Juneteenth, celebrated on June 19, is the name given to emancipation day by African-Americans in Texas. On that day in 1865 Union Major General Gordon Granger read General Order #3 to the people of Galveston. General Order #3 stated “The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired labor. The freedmen are advised to remain quietly at their present homes and work for wages. They are informed that they will not be allowed to collect at military posts and that they will not be supported in idleness either there or elsewhere.”

Large celebrations on June 19 began in 1866 and continued regularly into the early 20th century. The African-Americans treated this day like the Fourth of July and the celebrations contained similar events. In the early days, the celebration included a prayer service, speakers with inspirational messages, reading of the emancipation proclamation, stories from former slaves, food, red soda water, games, rodeos and dances.

The celebration of June 19 as emancipation day spread from Texas to the neighboring states of Louisiana, Arkansas and Oklahoma. It has also appeared in Alabama, Florida, and California as African-American Texans migrated.

In many parts of Texas, ex-slaves purchased land, or “emancipation grounds,” for the Juneteenth gathering. Examples include: Emancipation Park in Houston, purchased in 1872; what is now Booker T. Washington Park in Mexia; and Emancipation park in East Austin.

Celebration of Juneteenth declined during World War II but revived in 1950 at the Texas State Fair Grounds in Dallas. Interest and participation fell away during the late 1950’s and 1960’s as attention focused on expansion of freedom for African-Americans. In the 1970’s Juneteenth revived in some communities. For example, in Austin the Juneteenth celebration returned in 1976 after a 25 year hiatus. House Bill no.1016 passed in the 66th legislature, regular session, declared June 19, “Emancipation Day in Texas,” a legal state holiday effective January 1, 1980. Since that time, the celebration of Juneteenth continues across the state of Texas with parades, picnics and dancing.

Texas State Library Reference Services 3/95

Celebrations across Texas started last Saturday, and will continue for another three or four days, I gather. Thought it’s an official State of Texas holiday, few people take it off. So celebrations are scheduled when they can be.

The great mystery to me is why the holiday seems to have spread so far outside Texas. Juneteenth is based on a uniquely Texas event — it involved notifying only the slaves in Texas that they had been freed. Celebrations go much farther today, even to places the Civil War didn’t touch.


Louisiana lashes out at science

June 19, 2008

“Stop the World! I Want to Get Off!” won a Tony Award on Broadway in 1963. It was a musical play about a fellow who overreached. With book and lyrics by Leslie Bricuse and Anthony Newly, it spawned a string of hit popular songs: “What Kind of Fool Am I?” “Gonna Climb a Mountain,” “Once in a Lifetime,” and “Mumbo Jumbo” among them.

Oh, why not: Update, here’s Sammy Davis, Jr., singing “What Kind of Fool Am I?”:

How can one know that history and not think of it, when looking at the current Louisiana legislature? What kind of fools are they, indeed? Louisiana would like the world to stop, so they can get off.

Progress and science so much offend the Louisiana legislature that they have carved out what they hope is an exception so teachers can avoid hard science on issues like reproduction (cloning), evolution, and that pesky weather stuff that ransacked New Orleans, global warming. Sitting on Gov. Bobby Jindal’s desk right now is the enrolled version of S. B. 733, the misnamed “Science Education Act,” which gives teachers and local school districts the right to deviate from state curriculum and science texts in those three areas.

Why not the Big Bang and other cosmology? Why not gravity? Why not algebra? It may be that Louisiana’s preachers don’t know about those areas of science. Shhhhh! Don’t tell them!

A few observations.

First, having been slapped down by federal courts repeatedly when they’ve tried to introduce religion into science classes before, the legislature seems to have learned not to say much, in hopes that federal courts will have difficulty determining the religious intentions behind the bill. In 1987, in the case of Edwards v. Aguillard, federal courts didn’t even get to trial. They simply took the statements of the legislators as to their religious intentions.

This time around, the bill is being passed without debate at all. Legislators obviously hope that if they say nothing, they can’t be held responsible for anything. Better to keep your mouth closed and be thought a fool than to open it and remove all doubts — and obviously, there is hope among Louisiana creationists that federal courts won’t be able to use their closed-mouthedness as to evidence their foolishness. Well, they may want to consider that intelligent design has been ruled religious dogma by a federal court, already.

Second, the legislature’s learnings seem limited to bellicose speeches. The courts have repeatedly struck down Louisiana’s yearnings to teach creationism, both statewide, and repeatedly in the Tangipahoa Parish schools, which tried warning labels on textbooks and a variety of other methods, losing in court each time. It’s not just the ravings of the legislators that get up the dander of the courts. When the laws that come out of the ravings offend the Constitution, especially the First Amendment, the courts have struck them down. It’s not enough to just play at being non-offensive: The actions of the legislature must also not violate the Constitution. They appear not to have figured that one out. (More remedial con law courses coming up? Perhaps.)

The state should just let science be taught. Sneaking religion in does no good for the students, and it’s no secret that’s what they’re doing.

Third, the bill wasn’t drafted by people with much experience drafting legislation, running schools, or defending the Constitution. The bill could be used in some districts to teach nothing but evolution. It opens the door for anything a local school board decides might be science in three specific areas, cloning, evolution and global warming. Fruitcake groups like Ken Ham’s “Answers in Genesis” will rush to produce materials noting the accuracy of Hanna-Barbera’s “Flintstones.” Kids could be allowed to watch cartoons and call it science. In contrast, teachers who don’t understand the science in the first place will probably have few sources to turn to for good science information. Maybe one way to kill the law would be to point out that this thing opens the door wide for the theology of the Flying Spaghetti Monster (may his noodly appendage . . . well, you know).

What you should do: The Louisiana Coalition for Science urges Gov. Jindal to veto the bill; you should call Jindal’s office and urge a veto, too.

You can send e-mail here.

You can mail, or telephone, here:

Mailing Address:

Governor Bobby Jindal
PO Box 94004
Baton Rouge, LA 70804-9004

Phone: 225-342-7015 or 866-366-1121 (Toll Free)
Fax: 225-342-7099

Other sources:

Text of the bill below the fold.

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Historic images: Quanah Parker, Last Chief of the Comanches

June 19, 2008

Quanah Parker, photo by Lanney

Quanah Parker, a Kwahadi Comanche chief; full-length, standing in front of tent.
Photographed by Lanney. Public Domain photo.
National Archives, “Pictures of Indians in the United States”

Photographs of Native Americans reside among the publicly and internet available materials of the National Archives. Images can be ordered in sets of slides, or as individual prints, though many are available in quality high enough for PowerPoint works and use on classroom materials. Many of the photos are 19th century.

Quanah Parker stands as one of the larger Native Americans in Texas history. This photo puts a face to a reputation in Texas history textbooks. Texas teachers may want to be certain to get a copy of the photo. His life story includes so many episodes that seem to come out of a Native American version of Idylls of the King that a fiction writer could not include them all, were they not real.

  • Quanah’s mother was part of the famous Parker family that helped settle West Texas in the 1830s. Cynthia Ann Parker was captured in 1836 when Comanches attacked Fort Parker, near present-day Groesbeck, Texas, in Limestone County. (See Fort Parker State Park.) Given a new name, Nadua (found one), she assimilated completely with the Nocona band of Comanches, and eventually married the Comanche warrior Noconie (also known as Peta Nocona). Quanah was their first child, born in 1852.
  • Nadua was captured by a Texas party led by Lawrence Sullivan “Sul” Ross in 1860, in the Battle of Pease River. Noconie, Quanah, and most of the Nocona men were off hunting at the time, and the fact of Nadua’s capture was not realized for some time. Nadua asked to return to the Comanches and her husband, but she was not allowed to do so. When her youngest daughter, who had been captured with her, died of an infection, Nadua stopped eating, and died a few weeks later.
  • Sul Ross was a character in his own right. At the time he participated in the raid that recaptured Cynthia Parker, he was a student at Baylor University (“What do I do on summer breaks? I fight Indians.”) At the outbreak of the Civil War, Ross enlisted in the Confederate Army as a private. Over 135 battles and skirmishes he rose to the rank of Brigadier General, the ninth youngest in the Confederate Army. A successful rancher and businessman back in Texas after the war, he won election as governor in 1887, served two very successful terms (he resolved the Jaybird-Woodpecker War in Fort Bend County, and had to call a special session of the legislature to deal with a budget surplus), refused to run for a third term, and was named president of Texas Agricultural and Mechanical College (Texas A&M) within a few days of stepping down as governor. Ross’s leadership of the college is legendary — students put pennies near a statue of Ross in a traditional plea to pass final exams, among many other traditions. After his death, Texas created Sul Ross State University, in Alpine, Texas, in his honor.
  • Quanah Parker’s father, Noconie, died a short time after his mother’s capture. He left the Nocona band, joined the Destanyuka band under Chief Wild Horse, but eventually founded his own band with warriors from other groups, the Quahadi (“antelope eaters”) (also known as Kwahadi). The Quahadi band grew to be one of the largest and most notorious, always with Quanah leading them. The Quahadis refused to sign the 1867 Medicine Lodge Treaties, and so avoided immediate internment to a reservation. However, dwindling food supplies and increasing opposition forced Quanah to retire to a reservation in 1875, in what is now southwestern Oklahoma. This was the last Comanche band to come to the reservation.
  • Quanah was appointed Chief of all the Comanches.
  • Through investments, Quanah became rich — probably the richest Native American of his time.
  • Quanah hunted with President Theodore Roosevelt.

    Quanah Parker in later life, as a successful businessman. Wikipedia image, public domain

    Quanah Parker in later life, as a successful businessman. Wikipedia image, public domain

  • Rejecting monogamy and Christianity, Quanah founded the Native American Church movement, which regards the use of peyote as a sacrament. Quanah had been given peyote by a Ute medicine man while recovering from wounds he’d suffered in battle with U.S. troops. Among his famous teachings: The White Man goes into his church and talks about Jesus. The Indian goes into his Tipi and talks with Jesus.
  • Photo at right: Quanah Parker in his later life, in his business attire. Photo thought to be in public domain.
  • Bill Neeley wrote of Quanah Parker: “Not only did Quanah pass within the span of a single lifetime from a Stone Age warrior to a statesman in the age of the Industrial Revolution, but he never lost a battle to the white man and he also accepted the challenge and responsibility of leading the whole Comanche tribe on the difficult road toward their new existence.”
  • Quanah Parker died on February 23, 1911. He is buried at Fort Sill Cemetery, Oklahoma, next to his mother and sister.

Quanah Parker’s epitaph reads:

Resting Here Until Day Breaks
And Shadows Fall and Darkness Disappears is
Quanah Parker Last Chief of the Comanches
Born 1852
Died Feb. 23, 1911

Other Resources:

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