Houston’s HERO Ordinance: Wishing To Make Things So

Gender Identity means an individual’s innate identification, appearance, expression or behavior as either male or female, although the same may not correspond to the individual’s body or gender as assigned at birth.”Houston Equal Rights Ordinance

Houston’s Equal Rights Ordinance (“HERO”) will be on the local ballot this November. As I have noted elsewhere, the ordinance is a real mess of a measure. Of particular concern is the way the ordinance defines gender identity, one of the categories protected from “discrimination.” The origin of the ordinance’s definition of gender identity remains obscure. An internet search yields no clues. I emailed my city council member, Ellen Cohen, but she has not replied. We can only examine the definition on its face to expose its apparent meaning. Continue reading

Back to Kansas from the Land of Oz

OK ya’ll. I’m going to travel back in time and to another culture.

The place is Kansas where Dorothy and Toto originally made their way to the magical Land of Oz via a tornado. Imagine that I am Dorothy, but I don’t have Toto the dog (I do have a cat, however, as my colleagues and students know). I clicked my heels and went back home for a high school class reunion and the annual Labor Day Celebration in Hoisington, Kansas.

Certainly a different cultural scene than Houston, Texas.

This, my friends, is a big deal. Hoisington, Kansas has had a Labor Day Celebration and parade for 119 years.

Yes, 119 years! Continue reading

HERO – The Houston Equal Rights Ordinance

Don't need another one of these.

Don’t need another one of these.

Today the Houston Chronicle urged us to read the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO), which will be on the ballot in Houston this November. I have done so and find the ordinance to be an embarrassment. HERO takes a contentious social issue and does nothing but immerse it in an absurd brew of unintelligent definitions and unresolved tensions. HERO is a hot mess of a measure that should be roundly voted down and sent back to the drawing board. Continue reading

Top Ten Books that Aren’t on Most “Great Books” Lists


The philosopher and educator Mortimer Adler was perhaps the first to recognize the importance of preserving the integrity of what he called the “Great Books” of the Western tradition. Since then lists of great books from Harold Bloom’s “The Western Canon” to The Greatest Books.org have attempted to capture the best and most significant works in Western culture. Like all efforts at preservation and codification, these lists (along with “classics” books series by Penguin, Oxford Classics, etc.) tend to emphasize certain topics, works, and genres, and inadvertently diminish attention to others.

With this in mind, and because I have an affinity for the obscure, I try, when I have the time, to read a stack of books that do not usually find their way to any of the lists. Continue reading


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