Ivan Koop Kuper :
Bidding a fond farewell to Bayou City troubadour Don Sanders

Influential singer-songwriter was also the ‘Mayor of Montrose.

Don Sanders, 1970s.

By Ivan Koop Kuper | The Rag Blog | August 15, 2018

HOUSTON — On the wall of the back room of Sand Mountain Coffee House, Houston’s one-time folk mecca located on Richmond Avenue in the Montrose neighborhood, patrons were greeted by a mural of several performers who, at one time, graced the stage of Mrs. Carrick’s songwriter proving ground. The mural was a collage of images that included Sand Mountain regulars: Guy Clark, Townes Van Zandt, Mickey Newbury, Jerry Jeff Walker — and the late Don Sanders.

After a heroic battle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as ALS, this past year, Don Sanders, singer, songwriter, storyteller, novelist, theatrical director, educator, husband, father, humorist, and humanitarian, succumbed to the physical effects of this motor neurone disease that affects speaking, swallowing, and eventually breathing; Sanders, age 75, slipped away peacefully on July 21, at hospice care.
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Alice Embree :
Fight Like a Girl

How women’s activism shapes history.

Life & Letters, Magazine for the College of Liberal Arts at the Univesity of Texas at Austin, Issue No. 31, Summer 2018.

By Alice Embree | The Rag Blog | August 4, 2018

“Fight Like a Girl: How Women’s Activism Shapes History” appears as a feature article in the Summer 2018 edition of Life & Letters, a publication of the Liberal Arts College at the University of Texas at Austin. The article, written by Rachel Griess, is accompanied by a video. Life & Letters and the Humanities Media Project at UT-Austin collaborated on the video.

The article grew out of a Fall 2017 History class taught by UT History Professor Laurie Green. Glenn Scott and I, both of whom worked with Austin’s underground newspaper, The Rag (1966-1977), identified a list of women to contact, some far flung, most still living in Austin.
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Mariann G. Wizard :
VERSE | Didn’t You Hear us?

Entering a testy twilight,
is my vision grown so dim?
Or has everyone gone deaf?
Didn’t you hear us the first time?

Nuclear power is an abomination.
War is harmful to children and other living things.
Mother Nature doesn’t make mistakes.
And please, keep your religion out of my free will!
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Roy Casagranda :
The U.S. is in trouble

We cannot even stand to live next to
each other.

The Ouroboros, the snake that eats its own tail, is a symbol of infinity or wholeness. Except, in the case of the United States, the snake may simply be eating itself.

By Roy Casagranda | The Rag Blog | July 26, 2015

I think the U.S. is in trouble. That is not necessarily a bad thing. It might give us an opportunity to remake ourselves. We have been an imperialist genocidal murder machine since the beginning. A new start is in order. My fear is that when a violent state starts to unravel instead of going down with grace they usually go down in a violent fit of refusing to see reality.

USers are terrible at reality. I think that the average Third World state’s population has as good of an understanding as the average USer. And by “in trouble,” I don’t just mean because of global warming or running out of oil, or even our debt crisis and failing infrastructure.
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Larry Piltz :
STORY | Following the creek

By Larry Piltz | The Rag Blog | July 25, 2018

When I was in Taylor early afternoon a few weeks ago, and turning south on 79 heading back toward Manor, a gorgeous adult bobcat, appearing especially dear and vulnerable and capable, crossed under the highway, her sensual muscularity and stretching sinews moving her stealthily and otherwise openly through a culvert passing under the pavement concrete bridge. Wanting to remain out of sight, she nevertheless had to expose herself to view to continue following the prolific and flood-prone Mustang Creek, which crosses under 79. And bobcat stopped on a big grassy spot in the sunlight in the median, open to anyone passing by with the eyes to see, between the heavily trafficked roaring north and south lanes with heavy vehicles vibrating the road itself, to catch her breath and assess her position and probably to calm herself amidst the awful stress oppression of her struggle for survival in such an environment. Her mouth was open and seemed to be panting, this healthy prime of life venturer.
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Henry Mecredy :
Engineering professors going to waste!

The misapplication of the concept of competition provides cover for all this waste.

Chevrolet four-door sedan.

Ford four-door sedan.

By Henry Mecredy | The Rag Blog | July 25, 2018

A large percentage of the average engineering professor’s time is wasted. This unhappy circumstance arises because so much of the average engineer’s efforts are duplicated in a process of reinvention of the wheel that is socially sanctioned, obvious, and generally invisible.

One does not pass through an engineering curriculum without being admonished to consider the designs and problems one confronts as parts of a system. Applying this caveat to the commercial and industrial world, it is a system that pits engineers performing identical tasks — creating nearly interchangeable but trivially different goods — against one another.
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Thorne Dreyer :
RAG RADIO PODCASTS | Philip Russell, Bruce Melton, Jay Wehnert, Glenn Smith, Pat Thomas & James Retherford, Bill Kirchen, Roy Casagranda, Patricia Vonne, Genevieve Van Cleve & Luis Guerra, Sydney Wright, Ty Richards & Andy Macintyre, Margo Sawyer

Our guests include activists & environmentalists & political analysts; musicians, a storyteller, a slam poet, an architectural sculptor & a Jerry Rubin biographer; plus we discuss Outsider Art & welcome AMLO to Mexico.

Guitar virtuoso Bill Kirchen performs on Rag Radio in the KOOP studios in Austin on June 1, 2018. Photo by Roger Baker / Rag Radio.

Interviews by Thorne Dreyer | The Rag Blog | July 24, 2018

The following podcasts are from recent Rag Radio shows with host and producer Thorne Dreyer. The syndicated Rag Radio program, produced in the studios of Austin’s cooperatively-run KOOP-FM, has an international audience and has become an influential platform for interviews with leading figures in politics, current events, literature, and cutting-edge culture.

The show first airs Fridays, 2-3 p.m. (CT) on KOOP, 91.7-FM in Austin, and streams live at KOOP.org and Radio Free America.
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Philip L. Russell :
The election of AMLO: Optimism and skepticism in Mexico

The election leaves in its wake a radically different political landscape.

Mexican President-elect López Obrador. Photo by Eneas De Troya, Mexico City, May 6, 2012 / Wikimedia Commons.

By Philip L. Russell | The Rag Blog | July 11, 2018

Philip Russell will join Thorne Dreyer on Rag Radio, Friday, July 13, 2018, to discuss this article and the ascendance of Andrés Manuel López Obrador in Mexico. Rag Radio is a syndicated radio program that first airs on KOOP 91.7-FM in Austin and is streamed live here.

Listen to the podcast of Thorne Dreyer’s interview with Philip Russell here.

Philip Russell writes about Mexico for The Rag Blog. Read his earlier series about the presidency of Enrique Peña Nieto.

“Mexico turned left. No one knows exactly what that means. However, the new Mexico will certainly be different from the one which has existed until now.” — Jorge Ramos Ávalos

By now the whole world knows that Andrés Manuel López Obrador, widely known by his initials, AMLO, won the July 1 presidential election in Mexico with 53 percent of the vote. It was his third time as a presidential candidate. In that aspect, he follows in the footsteps of two twentieth-century icons of the Latin American left — Salvador Allende of Chile and Lula of Brazil — who were both elected president after two failed presidential bids.
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Bruce Melton :
Alaskan permafrost now emitting more greenhouse gases than it is storing

Alaskan permafrost has flipped from carbon sink to carbon source.

This image is of a thermokarast melt pool, or permafrost melt in Central Alaska. To get there, follow the Denali Highway (all weather gravel) east from Cantwell about 60 miles. Cantwell is about 20 miles south of the entrance to Denali National Park. There’s no gas beyond Cantwell. There are bears though.

By Bruce Melton | The Rag Blog | July 5, 2018

Climate change researcher and Rag Radio environmental reporter Bruce Melton will be Thorne Dreyer‘s guest on Rag Radio, Friday, July 6, 2018, from 2-3 p.m. (CT) on KOOP 91.7-FM in Austin and streamed live here. Bruce will join us live from Yosemite National Park.

Listen to the podcast of Thorne Dreyer’s interview with Bruce Melton here.

Climate Change is here. Alaskan permafrost is now emitting more greenhouse gases than it is storing according to work from Harvard, the Dublin Institute of Technology, Universities of Alaska, Colorado at Boulder, California at Irvine, NOAA, and others in this powerhouse paper. This wasn’t supposed to happen before the end of the century.

It’s irreversible if we keep warming and even the best-case scenario of Paris emissions reductions allows up to triple the warming we have already seen by 2050 and quintuple by 2100. Literally, only technology can save us now — which is really good news because we have the technology. The first time it was industrialized was to keep our sailors safe from carbon dioxide poisoning in submarines during World War II. (see here)
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Lamar W. Hankins :
The patriotism platitude

This July 4th we should be conscious of the ‘patriotic’ words used to evoke cheap emotion.

Patriotism at Republic of Texas Biker Rally, June 1, 2006. Photo from Alex Thompson / Flickr / Wikimedia Commons.

By Lamar W. Hankins | The Rag Blog | July 3, 2018

If any word in the English language has ceased to serve a useful purpose, that word is patriotism. As we near the observance of the day we annually observe as Independence Day, the words “patriotism” and “patriotic” will be used to evoke emotion without rationality. It is cheap emotion, devoid of meaningful content and leading to false reality. Its moral base, if it ever had one, has long since vanished.

What I mean, when I use “patriot” words, relates to the best values on which this country was founded. Those values are embodied in the French notions of “Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité” — liberty, equality, and fraternity — ideas that arose out of the Enlightenment and were as important for our own break from British control as they were for the French Revolution.
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Alice Embree :
Activism in the Trump era

10,000 in Austin rally to ‘Keep Families Together’; Many Texas victories to celebrate.

Two babies without borders at the Keep Families Together rally, Texas State Capitol, Austin, June 30, 2018. Photo by
Carlos Lowry /The Rag Blog.

By Alice Embree | The Rag Blog | July 1, 2018

On Saturday, June 30, 2018, a Keep Families Together rally at the Texas State Capitol drew about 10,000 people. With heat reaching nearly triple digits, crowds gathered at noon on the Capitol steps to demand reunification of separated families and justice for asylum seekers.

Sulma Franco, a Guatemalan asylum seeker addressed the crowd in Spanish recounting her nine-year struggle for asylum. She was incarcerated at four detention centers and received sanctuary for several months in an Austin church before being granted a stay of removal. Two immigration attorneys spoke of the ordeals their clients faced. Some had their children separated “for photographs or baths” never to return.
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James Retherford :
BOOKS | Little big meshuganah

Jim Retherford does Pat Thomas
does Jerry Rubin.

Jerry Rubin’s Do iT! and Pat Thomas’ DiD iT!

By James Retherford | The Rag Blog | June 6, 2018

Pat Thomas, author of DiD iT! and The Rag Blog‘s James Retherford, who was the ghost writer for Jerry Rubin’s bestselling DO iT!, are Thorne Dreyer‘s guests on Rag Radio, Friday, June 8, 2018, from 2-3:30 p.m. (CT) on KOOP 91.7-FM in Austin. Stream it here.

Listen to the podcast of our interview with Pat Thomas and Jim Retherford here.


How can I say
“I love you”
after hearing

Do It! Scenarios of the Revolution

Socrates famously said, “An unexamined life is not worth living.” After reading Pat Thomas’ coffee table-sized tome about modern day gadfly Jerry Rubin, I wonder if the same might also be said about an over-examined life.

DiD iT! From Yippie to Yuppie: Jerry Rubin, An American Revolutionary is the first biography about the well-known Sixties media prankster, Youth International Party (Yippie!) co-founder, and (according to Thomas) prophet of 21st century i-Capitalism and social media.
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