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11. January—Gray Whales of Point Reyes

Gary W. Vequist Texas A&M University Press ePub

11. January

Gray Whales of Point Reyes

Think a person needs a large boat and/or lots of money to see whales? Not at all. Whale watching can be done from shore—if one knows where to go. One of the best places to see whales from shore is Point Reyes National Seashore, an hour’s drive north of San Francisco, California. In fact, studies have shown that 94 percent of the migrating gray whales along the Pacific Coast swim within a mile of the park. So not only can one see whales, one can do so without getting seasick. Southbound gray whales begin to show up off Point Reyes in late November, with their numbers peaking around mid-January. The northbound migration peaks in mid-March, with the cows and their calves passing through as late as April and early May.

What’s Remarkable about Gray Whales?

The gray whale is one of the nine “great whales,” a group that includes the largest animals ever to grace the planet (the blue whale is usually given the title of largest). The gray whale, although about one-third the size of the blue whale, still weighs an astonishing 70,000 pounds and can reach 45 feet in length (longer than a city bus). How do whales get so large? The answer is genetics, long lives, and lots and lots of food. To acquire that food, gray whales gulp in enormous quantities of water and bottom sediment and then filter out small crustaceans with their specialized comb-like filters called baleen. Compared to other baleen whales that feed in the water column, the gray whale has specialized shorter baleen that is better suited for straining out the bottom-dwelling marine invertebrates it prefers. Another unique characteristic of gray whales is their peculiar way of swimming sideways while stirring up sediments on the muddy sea floor. It’s possible that this strange behavior, combined with the whale’s sensory organs, helps them better find and consume food buried in the muck.

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Introduction

Jeffrey P. Mehltretter Drury Texas A&M University Press ePub

Introduction

On February 15, 2003, more than eight million people across the globe protested imminent US-led military action in Iraq. Involving more than sixty nations, the protests constituted the largest antiwar demonstration since the 1960s. In London, two million demonstrators set a city record for size of protest, and in Rome, three million protesters earned an entry in Guinness World Records as the largest documented antiwar rally to date.1 Across the United States, thousands of citizens staged demonstrations in more than one hundred cities, with approximately 150,000 people in San Francisco, 100,000 in New York, 30,000 in Los Angeles, 10,000 in Philadelphia, and 8,000 in Minneapolis.2 This global event led Republican pollster Frank Luntz to comment: “You can’t ignore it. You don’t have to accept it. You don’t have to follow it. But you can’t ignore it.”3

But what, exactly, is “it”? Before considering how people should respond to the protests opposing war, a more fundamental question is how pollsters, citizens, congressional representatives, and even the president of the United States should interpret them. Luntz answered this question, perhaps reflexively, when he said, “The fact that these were the biggest demonstrations in three decades does say something about underlying public opinion around the world.”4 Similarly, President George W. Bush interpreted the protests as proof that “democracy is a beautiful thing” because “people are allowed to express their opinion. I welcome people’s right to say what they believe.”5

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22. The Courthouse Square and Depot

Margaret Lewis Furse Texas A&M University Press ePub

Chapter 22

THE COURTHOUSE SQUARE AND DEPOT

When James B. Hawkins said he was going “to town,” he meant the town of Matagorda. In his earliest days in Texas, Bay City did not exist. When the five children of Frank Hawkins were brought “to town,” after the death of their mother in 1896, they came to Bay City. It was then a very new town, barely established. The Rugeley grandparents of the Hawkins children, with whom they were taken to live, were one of the first families to build a house in the new town of Bay City. In the thirties, when as a child I went “to town,” I meant to the square, which consisted of the courthouse in the town’s center with store fronts surrounding it on all sides. It seemed to me that everything one could ever need was located on the square. There were two barbershops, two confectionaries, two grocery stores, two pharmacies, two dime stores, two jewelry stores, two “picture shows,” two banks, one cleaner, and, prominently on the corner, the United States Post Office.

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Medium 9781603447621

1. Early Memories and Influences

George Lambert Bristol Texas A&M University Press ePub

CHAPTER 1

Early Memories and Influences

I became aware of politics during the latter years of World War II to the chorusing of cicadas and by the light of fireflies at the Texas State College for Women (TSCW) camp on Lake Dallas in Texas. That’s not to say that I had heard nothing of politics before then. Politics had always been there. My family, on both sides, was into politics, taking every side of every issue although they were all for Franklin D. Roosevelt, except for one or two errant Presbyterians on my daddy’s side.

But on those days and nights in the heat of summer, while fish fried and ice cream handles cranked, I listened to people’s chatter—much of it about politics—and it started to sink in. My Granddaddy Donoho’s family went to the college lake camp near Denton to beat the heat, staying close to home because gasoline and tires were rationed. In the surrounding woods I had my first experience with the wonders of the natural world, and in the camp I heard talk of elections. Little did I know that family, politics, and conservation would become the chief paths of my life.

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1. The Symbolic Sovereignty of the People

Jeffrey P. Mehltretter Drury Texas A&M University Press ePub

CHAPTER 1

The Symbolic Sovereignty of the People

You weigh opinions, you do not count them, and the beauty of all democracies is that every voice can be heard, every voice can have its effect, every voice can contribute to the general judgment that is finally arrived at. That is the object of democracy.

—Woodrow Wilson, Final Address on the League of Nations

“The will of the people,” vox populi, “conventional wisdom,” doxa, “consensus”—public opinion has found expression in numerous forms with varied meanings, but has always been a fundamental tenet of democratic governance. From the ancient Greek polis through fledgling democracies in places such as Iraq, the voice of the people has been, as Woodrow Wilson observed, the lifeblood of democracy. In the United States, public opinion is foundational, encapsulated in the Constitution: “We the people . . .” The meaning of citizenship in the United States is tied to freedom of opinion expression and the belief that through such expression individuals exert power over political affairs.

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