Saturday, November 29, 2008

Tony's Take on Racism in the Kansas City Area [Guest Post]

Holy cripes, people! I was so busy laying around reading and eating leftover pumpkin cheesecake yesterday that I totally forgot it was Friday and I was supposed to post my guest blog from Tony. Whoops! Here it is...



Let's start with a definition of terms.

I'm a Chicano.

I'm also a blogger and the combination of these two conditions is probably why May has asked me to write a guest post on her blog . . . (Even though I'd like to believe that she is secretly in love lust with my sexy online persona. Natch.)

The term Chicano doesn't have much significance anymore because it's more political than anything else. The world fell out of favor because of more genteel government language was used in its place. Chicanos are known as Hispanics or the more politically correct "Latino" nowadays despite the fact that the word Chicano once elicited a sense of solidarity among U.S. citizens of Mexican descent. The idea behind the word "Chicano" has almost been effectively driven out of existence. However, Cheech & Chong are back on tour now so "the movement" epitomized by a single word has not yet perished from the face of the earth.

But let's not get hung up on definitions when the most important aspect of any discussion on the topic of racism starts with people and perceptions.

Here are some of the most common misconceptions regarding Hispanics, Latinos, Chicanos and/or Mexicans in Kansas City (I'm fairly certain the names keep switching simply to confuse white people):

  • We just got here i.e. we're all illegal immigrants.

  • We're all only qualified to do lawn work or merrily perform some task related to harvesting produce.

  • Creating problems for this nation's largest minority group is an essential part of the "War on Terror" not only because it involves securing the borders but also because it resists the inevitable change that's taking place in American culture.

  • There are logical, data-driven and historical arguements to all of these ill-informed perceptions that are usually ignored. For anyone who wants a greater understanding of Latino history and culture in the Midwest, a great place to start is "Mexicans in the Midwest (1900 - 1932)" by Juan R. Garcia.



    But so little of any real debate regarding racism is about facts or hard data (no homo) . . . It's about hysteria and fear and who can move the crowd the most by using it in their argument.

    So, for a second, let's pretend that all of the chicken little fear tactics of anti-Latino reactionaries and racists are true. Let's ignore the fact that the legacy of Mexican immigration is deeply interwoven and an integral part of Kansas City's history.



    For a second, simply consider that IF all of the scare tactics related to an increasing number of Latinos in this nation (illegal or otherwise) are true THEN we're still left with the annoying problem that . . . THE SKY HAS YET TO FALL!!!

    Ironically, at their very essence - racism and fear regarding growing Latino numbers and influence represents an inherent distrust in the very ideals that have defined the progress of the United States thus far. Even worse, my little hypothetical scenario ignores the long history of racism and bigotry that the people of Kansas City have committed against Latinos.

    Let's not dwell on it but the following facts are the first to come to mind when we talk about racism against Latinos in Kansas City:

  • My parents (baby boomers) were both forced to eat at segregated restaurants and were educated at segregated schools during their formative years . . . That is when they weren't swimming on "Colored Days" at the old Fairyland Park.

  • The neighborhoods that Latinos now occupy were basically devised in the era of racially restrictive covenants championed by the people who built this town like J.C. Nichols and almost singularly responsible for the current segregated state of modern day Kansas City.

  • My Grandma tells me this story: Post-WWII Kansas City hosted a policy of reporting suspected illegal immigrants of Mexican decent at a reward of $30 a head. These people were often rounded up and shipped off on trains without a trial . . . And whenever I lament the current anti-immigrant climate I always try to remember that things have been far worse and yet the only real result has been even more people who look like my Grandma in Kansas City. A close study of history will show that anything short of direct violence has been unable to stop a mass migration of people . . . Getting angry at the weather would prove more productive.


  • And I'm not listing these facts because they have impacted me personally . . . I've always tried to avoid "Transgenerational transmission" which is kind of a funny phenomenon and allows the ethnic (but still white) friends of TKC to claim persecution . . . I'm simply offering a bit of historical perspective regarding Kansas City's troubled relationship with the Latino Community. On a personal level, I've always thought that invoking racism, discrimination or bigotry was only really effective in either winning barroom arguements or in hitting on liberal white chicks. In his writings on guerrilla warfare, Che Guevara noted that (when outmatched) a principle for success in a conflict is to turn every liability into an asset and leverage the opposition into a confused state in which all of their power is turned against themselves . . . I've only tried this out on really hot chicks but it's surprising how often it works.

    Anyhoo . . . The point here is that (IMHO) racism, discrimination and bigotry are political constructs most often used to attain or reinforce power and they rarely serve to define the people they are used against or the folks who benefit from their employment. Still, the fact remains that we live in a city that has been realized and built on racism and the story of Latinos in this town is merely one part of the intricate tapestry which has created a metropolis with an inordinately high murder rate, crumbling infrastructure and an unpopular mayor whose wife used racial slurs like "Mammy" at City Hall. Things haven't changed as much as people would like to believe but the debate regarding racism has not only become so much more nuanced but also proven to be an "entry way" into starting conversations with hot white chicks which elicit mutual understanding and provocative talk much more so than buzzkill chats related to feminism.

    Related posts:
    Racism in the Kansas City Area, 1900 - Present
    Racism in the Kansas City Area, Western Expansion - 1800s
    Racism in the Kansas City Area (My POV)


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    Wednesday, November 26, 2008

    Racism in the Kansas City Area: 1900s - Present

    Continuing from yesterday's post, today I will be talking about racial relations in KC from the 1900s, bringing it up to pretty much were we are today.

    55% of the black population of Missouri had migrated to the cities by 1900. Just ten years later, 67% of blacks lived in cities, confined to ghettos with crowded, unsanitary conditions where crime flourished. Bad housing led to more health problems which low incomes made hard to purchase medical care, especially as white doctors and hospitals frequently denied care to African-Americans.


    Jim Crow laws were in effect, barring blacks from trying on clothes at stores, using public transit, and continuing segregation of schools and unions. Additionally, attempts to move into white neighborhoods were often met with violence and police brutality was common.

    According to the 1930 census, blacks were usually laborers with 30.8% working in manufacturing/mechanical industries and 34.3% working as domestic/personal service or janitors. 80% of black women over 10 years old were servants, hair dressers, boarding house operators, laundresses, laundry workers or waitresses. Discrimination blocked most other opportunities and education for blacks often stopped in their teens when they would join the workforce.


    A chapter of the NAACP and the Urban League of Kansas City were created in the early 1900s in an attempt to bring equality, employment assistance and recreational activities to the black population of Kansas City. These efforts were met with limited success, but did lead to the creation of a YMCA on 19th and Paseo, which provided the black community with a recreational facility to call their own.


    During WW1 blacks were encouraged to enlist and 9,200 from Missouri did although they were not allowed to fight usually and were instead forced to load and unload ships and drive trucks. During this time, many moved from Missouri to the north to fill labor needs in shipyards, railroads, car factories and meat and flour packing houses. After the war, blacks expected to share equally in the benefits of victory but instead found the 20's and 30's extremely hostile.

    Post-war job and housing shortages caused many blacks to be homeless and others to move into white neighborhoods, which scared and angered all the whiteys, some of whom moved away and others threatened to cause personal or property damage. This kind of hatred was also extended to Jews, "Communists" and any other faction whites considered to be less than 100% American. The Ku Klux Klan enjoyed a burst of membership growth during this period. While mostly centered in rural Missouri, there was also a strong faction in St. Joseph where a pro-Klan paper was published.


    After the stock market crash of the 30's, even more hostility was directed towards minorities and segregation continued to rule. New Deal policies eventually helped the economic situation, and the Civilian Conservation Corps (office pictured above) especially was a boon to the black community as thousands of young people were hired to reforest areas of stripped land. The National Youth Administration also empowered black students to earn a college degree or to learn a trade.


    WW2 also gave blacks new opportunities for employment in both jobs at home and in the military. 1 million black soldiers served in WW2, but after the war things were still no better for them. And once again a post-war job crunch caused minorities to be slighted. In the 1950s there were 109,024 blacks in the Missouri labor force; 59,081 were in service employment; 18,000 were laborers and 23,305 were connected with industry. Promotions were rare and white collar jobs even more rare. Blacks were the first to be fired during layoffs.

    In 1954, the Supreme court declared racial segregation in schools to be unconstitutional and in 1955 caused public swimming pools to desegregate. Theaters, libraries and parks also desegregated at this time. Desegregation caused massive job loss for black teachers but achieved little else in terms of equal treatment for blacks and other minorities.


    Public protest and organized demonstrations on both a local and national level helped to bring about more legislation changes, but blacks were still largely denied acceptance at white colleges and universities, unemployment rates remained high as did poor housing and a generally low quality of life.

    In 1968, Kansas City refused to close its schools in honor of Martin Luther King's Death. In response, 300 black students marched to city hall in protest. They were met by police with tear gas who dispursed the crowd. Cops then went to Lincoln High School - an all black school - and used tear gas on students standing outside of it, driving them inside and then back out again with tear gas. At dusk, fighting broke out between police and black protestors, who used molotov cocktails against them. The National Guard was called out and 2 people were killed, 44 hurt and 175 arrested. Fighting broke out again the next day and 5 blacks were killed, 10 wounded by sniper fire and 275 arrested. Public officials later stated that law enforcement had overreacted.


    Violence of this type drew attention to the horrible conditions of ghettos, but since violence also often took place in those areas, it made homelessness and job losses that much worse. But any strides towards social justice that took place in the 60s were once again halted by economic problems in the 70s. A revival of racism and anti-black violence marked this decade as the KKK once again rose to prominence. A mid-70s recession caused many in the US to struggle for their survival, especially blacks who lost twice as many jobs as white workers.

    Additionally, a 1975 Missouri Human Rights Commission study showed that schools were still largely segregated and Urban Renewal programs displaced blacks while poverty and racial discrimination kept them from finding affordable housing. Black owned businesses were still laregely service oriented, two major exceptions being Ollie Gates & Sons and Arthur Bryant's. The most successful arena for blacks in the 70s was politics with Missouri ranking second in the nation for blacks serving in state or legislative bodies.

    In the 80s, Regan stopped the national enforcement of civil rights. Ghettos remained poor places to live, experiencing the highest murder and premature death rates from rampant cancer and AIDs. But politically, blacks still had power and many were elected despite continuing racial hatred in Missouri where in 1988 the most incidents of racial harassment in the nation were reported.

    To this day I think it's safe to say that politically blacks win the most compared to economic and social arenas where the overwhelmingly white population still is terrified of difference. By and large white people still avoid the inner city and the schools there, deeming them "not good enough" or "not safe enough" for them and caring little about the communities that do live there.

    Overall I still think that we are stuck in the past with this stupid mentality that skin color somehow really does make a difference in how someone is judged. Whites seem to keep making excuses for racism that I just find more and more outmoded and ridiculous as those crazy people who think abstince-only sex education makes sense.

    What has really changed? Cops still use more brutal force on minorities than on whites. Blacks are still segregated largely into "their" neighborhoods and "our" neighborhoods. Racism is rampant throughout our society and hate crimes still happen all the damn time. We even have the stupid assholes from the KKK back in prominence because of all the white folk up in arms about Obama's election. All in all, I feel this little video still sums up the whole problem: white people are freaked out for no reason and refuse to move past their social conditioning in order to create change and accept others.



    Sources:
    Take Up the Black Man's Burden: Kansas Cities African-American Communities, 1865-1939
    Runaway and Freed Missouri Slaves and Those Who Helped Them, 1763-1865
    Missouri's Black Heritage


    Related posts:

    Racism in the Kansas City Area: Western Expansion - 1800s
    Racism in the Kansas City Area
    How Obama Gave Me My Pride Back

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    Tuesday, November 25, 2008

    Racism in the Kansas City Area: Western Expansion - 1800s

    Wow! Yesterday's post prompted some very interesting responses. I hope you'll take a moment to read them over.

    Today I'm going to be talking about historical racial relations in the Kansas City area (mostly centered on the Missouri side) from the period of Western Expansion when settlers started living in this area up through the 1800s after the Civil War and the official end of slavery in the US. Just as a warning: You may find some of the images below disturbing. I know I do.

    When white settlers began moving into the area, the only other people around were the native tribes and then eventually many migrating tribes as well. Many settlers set up a brisk trade with these Native Americans and this is what first established Kansas City as a trading center. However as more settlers from the east coast and from European countries continued to flood into the area, the Native Americans, as we all know, were forced westward by a combination of coercion and brute force.

    After that is was just whitey until the first African-Americans came to the Kansas City area, brought along from the east coast by their owners. Later some freedmen moved to the area, but their opportunities were very limited and they weren't allowed to testify in court or strike a white person - most of whom found these freed slaves "uppity" because of their desire for equality. In fact, Missourians were so against free blacks that they passed legislation in 1820 barring any more of them from coming into the state. This law included as black anyone who was 1/8 black (i.e. had one black grandparent in a family of whites).


    Slaves meanwhile were treated as personal property to be bought, taxed or sold the same as any other property. Providing food, clothing, shelter and medical care for slaves was up to the owner and was completely unregulated, often leading to inadequate care (to say the least). Slaves were worked sunrise to sunset, usually with Sunday afternoons off. Slaves were forced to attend the same church as their masters and were sequestered up in the balcony. Slaves were not allowed to marry or be educated and their punishments could include anything up to whipping, mutilation, castration or death.


    In 1860, there were 3,944 slaves in Johnson County, mostly living in Westport and Independence. Slave owners lived in constant fear of rebellion and runaway and acted accordingly.


    During the Civil War, the Union army allowed black men ages 25-45 to enlist in exchange for their freedom, though they were still payed only $10 a month and received only 1 ration. There were 7 black regiments from Missouri and several other black men and women were also hired by the army as auxillary support staff in the roles of spies, cooks, teamsters, nurses and laundresses. Many black soldiers saw the Civil War as their American Revolution. As the war began to draw to a close, efforts were made to set up education for blacks since slavery was foreseen to be dying out, but met with only limited successes.

    Slaves in Missouri were freed on January 11, 1865 and were thrust into the world without money, property or education to try and survive on a system based on competition, literacy and capitalism. Many slaves took this opportunity to search for their lost family members, although some were never reunited. Some fled the state to escape the racial hostility, but others chose to stay and find work wherever they could, often paid no more than room and board. In 1870, over 2/3 of black males were still working as farm hands and most black women worked as domestic help. Some black families chose to live in communities, sharing resources and responsibilities.

    Informal codes of behavior now kept black people at the bottom of the social totem pole. They weren't allowed to use street cars and many black schools were constant targets of arson and black teachers were often threatened with bodily harm. They were still not allowed to vote or hold office, though they could now give testimony in court. They were allowed to be educated as long as it was by a black teacher in a black school.


    In 1879, a new migration from the southern states brought hundreds of black families to both St. Louis and Kansas City, following a burst of advocacy by the Missouri Equal Rights League, Missouri's first black political movement, worked to gain more rights and supply children with proper education. The tendency of black people to live together in the same areas gave them voting blocs and subsequently influence in city elections. By 1880 there were 8,000 African Americans in Kansas City, mostly living downtown in Church Hill near Charlotte and 10th Street.



    The 1890s were frustrating for blacks as they saw the press for equal rights be drown out by economic difficulties. Even worse, this period led to a horrifying number of lynchings, mostly of blacks, in reaction to the overall labor unrest and financial panics. Between 1889 and 1918, 51 blacks were lynched in Missouri out of 2,522 nationally.

    And that's where we'll end today, boys and girls. Come back tomorrow for more.

    Sources:
    Take Up the Black Man's Burden: Kansas Cities African-American Communities, 1865-1939
    Runaway and Freed Missouri Slaves and Those Who Helped Them, 1763-1865
    Missouri's Black Heritage

    Related posts:
    Racism in the Kansas City Area
    Kansas City's REAL First Ladies
    How Kansas City is Like Gotham City

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    Monday, November 24, 2008

    Racism in the Kansas City Area

    With the recent election everyone has racism on the brain, much like I do since racism is one of my top 3 things about the world I dislike. I simply can't understand treating someone poorly based on skin tone anymore than I can understand treating someone poorly for having a vagina, like how I was raised. So this week (excepting Thursday when I'll take a break for Thanksgiving) I'm dedicating my posts to racism and specifically how it has and does affect the KC area. I'm going to start out by telling you my personal experience with it and go on to cover historical aspects. Then on Friday, I'll end out with a guest post by none other than Tony of Tony's Kansas City to give his unique perspective on the issue.

    So... racism, you ready?

    In my experience living in KC, there are some things I just know I can get away with as a white person that I wouldn't be able to if I weren't. While part of me feels relief about this, the other part is pissed off and irritated that not even our cops treat all people the same - which doesn't surprise me overall because most criminally convicted persons are not white.

    But this isn't an overt thing. No one except for a few close friends have ever discussed it with me and to me it's just one more sign of the blatant yet ignored racism that flows through Kansas City. For instance, I didn't even realize just how racism my father was for YEARS because he can talk such a good game about equality and whatever, but when it comes right down to it, he is honestly terrified of black people and looks down on them.

    I only realized this after something that happened to me when I was just about 12 years old or so. My little sister and I were playing out in the neighborhood as were a couple of boys slightly older than us, one white and one black. For some reason I can't remember, we got into a shouting match with them and they drove us off by throwing rocks at us.

    We got home and my little sister must've told my parents about it, because I don't remember doing so. But after they found out my dad made me go with him to the only black family in the neighborhood and stand there as he reamed out this kid's mom. Nothing was done about the white kid who was also there and nothing was ever done about other neighborhood jerks so it was obvious to me that this reaction was clearly to the skin color and nothing else.

    The next time racism really touched me was when I was attending Maple Woods Community College. I had a few black friends up there, one of whom invited several of us to a birthday party at her house. There was a dance floor set up in the basement and being a great lover of dancing, I immediately got out there and started shaking my booty with several of my friends. A black guy I didn't know started dancing with me and it had to be only a minute or so into dancing with me before he tried to stick both his hands down my pants and under my panties. I pushed him off immediately and had to deal with him and his friends calling me a racist all night and spreading shit about me around the room.

    After that, racism hasn't really affected me too much here in KC, except as a continuing undercurrent of reactions I observe from people. Interactions on the street will show that tons of white people here are literally terrified to encounter a non-white in the downtown and midtown area. I am shocked and incredulous that to this day so many people react so strongly to a tiny freaking difference in genetic makeup. It boggles my mind and that's one reason I wanted to write this series.

    I'd love to hear your experiences and thoughts on this topic, so DON'T HOLD BACK! Unless you're a racist bastard and then I don't care what you think because you're wrong.

    Related posts:
    How Obama Gave Me My Pride Back
    The Unapologetic Mexican
    Babes in History and Fiction: part 3

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    Friday, November 21, 2008

    My Liquid Breakfast

    While I know that breakfast is the most important meal of the day and that it's best for your body functions if you eat it... I've never been a fan. Despite being a morning person, my stomach apparently is not, so I always feel a bit queasy in the mornings. Not a good way to face trying to cram something into my gullet every day. So for the longest time I just skipped it. Until I found a way to hack it by drinking my breakfast!


    I consider my "liquid breakfast" to be meal-worthy mostly because of the ridiculously large amount of nutrients I am taking in. This way, no matter how I eat the rest of the day, I know I at least got in most of the vitamins as well as fruits and veggies that my body needs, so anything else healthful I eat for the rest of the day is just gravy.

    As I tried to show in the picture, my breakfast is a combination of two packets of Emergen-C, a "vitamin energy drink" that I like because it's chock-full of vitamins C, B6, B12 and loads more. Plus, it helps to mitigate the weird grassy taste of the Amazing Grass GREEN SuperFood. This stuff is awesome because it includes several servings of fruits & veggies, probiotics and enzymes that help with digestion, raw food antioxidants and alkaline green plant foods. It includes stuff like wheat and barley grass, spirulina, spinach and broccoli, carrot, beat, raspberry, rose hips, pineapple, green tea, flax seed powder, apple pectin and tons more. You can purchase both of these products at Whole Foods or online.

    Now I feel much better about my diet in general and also my overall health. I can feel a significant difference between my energy level and well-being after I've had my morning dose of goodness. And although I can't say diffinitively because my eating schedule is kinda whacky, but I think it has diminished my appetite later in the day the way eating breakfast is supposed to. All in all, I'd recommend it. Which is why I wrote this blog. The end.

    Related posts:
    Detox Your Life (How To)
    Eat and Be Satisfied
    What I Wish I Knew When I Became a Vegetarian

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    Thursday, November 20, 2008

    Margaret and Helen

    Margaret and Helen are two 80+ bloggers who have been BFFs for over 60 years. I found their blog during election season because of their awesome posts about Palin. Personally, I love older people (except the old guys who hit one me) because so many of them have got totally brass balls. They've lived long enough to know it doesn't do any good to beat yourself up about mistakes and they don't feel the need to censor themselves because of what people might think. Of course, this doesn't include all older people, but it certainly includes the ones I love and it certainly includes Margaret and Helen.

    Their continuing social commentary not only cracks me up with the lovely way it's dispensed, but it gets to the heart of matters without any pussy-footing around. For instance, read this excerpt from today's post about universal healthcare:

    Has it occurred to anyone else that the Republican party has become the party of money, guns and sex? It seems to be the only things they think about. Who is having sex with who? How much are my taxes? Keep your hands off my guns. I really think they would explode if a gay couple used their tax refund to purchase an AKA assault rifle. They wouldn’t know whether to hate the sinner or compliment the sin. All the problems we have in the world and this is what we are wasting our time worrying about. Squeaky wheel folks… squeaky wheel gets the oil.

    Imagine what the Religious Right Wing of the Republican party could have done if they had used their supposed Christian morality to squeak about helping the poor. They could have swept the election if someone had said something like: As Christians we think Christ would want us to tend to the suffering of the poor so universal health care is important to us. And money is no object. We will gladly share some of our riches to help the least among us.

    My God but what a unified electorate that would have been.

    But no. Instead they hitched their star to Joe the Plumber who was worried not about sharing the money he had, but rather about sharing the money that he might one day have. I mean those Republicans are so greedy they are hoarding the wealth they haven’t even amassed yet. Twins I tell you. There is no telling them apart from Jesus. It’s like looking in a mirror. Of course the mirror is at a carnival fun house but mirror none the less.

    It is just so interesting to me that the voters who most value religious freedom seem to be the most willing to embrace religious values, while the voters who claim to be the most religious are clearly the least. Don’t get me wrong. There are lots well-intentioned, good hearted Christians out there. We just don’t seem to be squeaking loud enough. We’ve known for years that we have a health care problem. Bill used Hilary Clinton to try and address it back in 1992. Do you realize that was 16 years ago? Republicans squeaked that it was Government-run healthcare and it would bankrupt our county. So millions of families continued to live without adequate healthcare while the government swept the whole mess under the rug. Suddenly banks and auto industries are having trouble and money seems to be growing on trees. Says a great deal about our priorities.

    An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Waiting until a child is so sick that the emergency room is the only option or worse yet, using the emergency room because you can’t get in to see a doctor is a recipe for disaster. I know many of you will say it is not that easy. It is more complicated than that. Well crap on that. I say it is that easy. Years ago we decided to go to the moon. We made it a priority and to the moon we went. Around that same time I remember my children watching a space show on TV.. Star Wars or Star Trek or something like that. I remember the characters held little boxes in their hand and talked to one another from wherever they happened to be. Recently I have noticed a lot of people walking around with little boxes in their hand talking to everyone everywhere. My son tells me those little boxes are called I Phones. My point is that if we dream it we can do it. If we make it a priority smart people can work out all the problems and come up with a solution. So why wouldn’t we want to make sure that no one in this great country of ours ever has to choose between food on the table or medicine for a child?

    Priorities people. Priorities.

    God, I love honesty and perspective. You should check these ladies out. They rock.

    Related posts:
    Ladies I Subscribe To
    Transman Diaries: Transitioning from Female to Male
    Women's Magazines Suck

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    Wednesday, November 19, 2008

    The Problem with the Green Movement

    There's no question that the green movement has been a boon to environmentalists everywhere. Finally real attention is being paid to issues that will effect everyone's health, lifestyle and even social and economic patterns and all of that is just great. But the problem with the green movement is that it promotes "feel good" solutions that often take attention away from vertically-integrated changes that would bring about self-sufficiency for communities, which is what we really need in order to combat climate change and all the other crap we've been doing to our societies and nature for the past hundred years.

    In many ways, the green movement is like winning the battle but still losing the war for environmentalists. For instance, people and companies can be cajoled now into making little changes in their lives and business plans, but few seem to realize that for bigger problems we need bigger solutions. Recycling is great and all, but it's not going to make a huge difference in our society as it is, especially as the price for new plastics and other materials continue to drop.

    Here's an example of one company's attempt to be greener that is just totally missing the larger environmental picture. An anonymous Commerce Bank employee sent me something the bank sent out to all employees via inter-office mail. It is a "table tent" for employee work desks showing them how to set up their computers to print on both sides of their office paper, which is of course a positive shift in business practices:
    The envelope containing this message reads: "Help us save paper. Please display the enclosed table tent in your work area." Now I don't know about you, but I and the employee who tipped me off about this just can't understand why Commerce would choose to give a green message about using less paper via a mailing that has to use an incredible of paper since every single employee received one of these. Plus, it's heavily printed which uses a lot of ink and printing in general is just not a very environmentally-friendly industry. Why, why, why would they send this on paper and not in an inter-office email? It just makes no sense to me, especially since duplex printer settings can be saved. It's not like you'd need to look at your table tent every time you need to print.

    Little things like that drive me nuts because it shows just how far we STILL have to get to get people's heads around what we really need to do as a total society to keep ourselves from dying off and/or what I'm sure many people would find much worse: having to give up almost all of our luxury toys because we can't sustain them any longer.

    But, it does give me hope to look at companies that really GET IT. Like the Q Hotel or Captitol Federal Park at Sandstone. Both of these businesses have vertically integrated the idea of being "green" so that they're much closer to being sustainable than most, since they are conserving and reusing resources so well.

    I truly belive that eventually everyone will understand how important this stuff is, but I'm chafing at the bit because I really want it to be sooner rather than later. Every day we wait it feels like more of the natural world and our public health is just disappearing.

    Related posts:
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    Test Your Home's Toxicity
    Giving Nature a Helping Hand

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    Tuesday, November 18, 2008

    Yoga for the Ass and Thighs

    I feel like I talk about yoga all the freaking time, which is possible, because, as I keep telling my friends, it's the best thing I've ever done for myself. Not only do I feel fantastic, I've got a hard little body and an ass that rivals the one I had when I was 16. And that is just too damn awesome not to talk about.

    Recently my favorite poses have been the Warrior poses because they work the ass and thighs like you wouldn't believe. My cellulite has practically disappeared in the month or so since I added these poses to my routine. Plus, as someone who prefers to be on top, it's made sex even more fun that it already was.

    There are 3 variations of the warrior poses, but I only do two. Here's how to do it, with a mixture of my instructions and some from Yoga Journal:

    1. With an exhale, step or lightly jump your feet 31/2 to 4 feet apart.
    2. Turn your left foot in 45 to 60 degrees to the right and your right foot out 90 degrees to the right. Align the right heel with the left heel.
    3. With your left heel firmly anchored to the floor, exhale and bend your right knee over the right ankle so the shin is perpendicular to the floor. More flexible students should align their right thigh parallel to the floor.
    4. Reach strongly through your arms, extending them to either side with your face forward, lifting the ribcage away from the pelvis. As you ground down through the back foot, feel a lift that runs up the back leg, across the belly and chest, and up into the arms.
    5. Hold for 10 breaths, then lift your arms above your head and hold for 10 more breaths.
    6. Repeat on other side.
    Related posts:
    Yoga is Miraculous
    The Best & Worst Stretch in the World
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    Monday, November 17, 2008

    Create Your Own Reality

    My friend Darcy started a program called Create Your Own Reality that recently went from being in people's homes to public forums like the Kemper Art Museum and Plaza Wellspring. I keep telling people it's like arts & crafts for grown-ups, but it's basically just a place for people to come together and make stuff. The idea behind it being that everyone creates their own reality and if you're not making something then all you're doing is responding to everyone else. Or something. That's my interpretation of it anyway.

    But I found a new significance in the phrase when on Sunday night my man and I were walking to Half-Price Books as the sun was setting. The sky was banded with two large masses of purple clouds, one darker, one lighter. I was amazed not only because it's the most beautiful sunset I've seen in a while, but also because those clouds looked exactly like how I have drawn the sky (above) in my own special impressionistic-y way! It gave a whole new meaning to the idea of creating my own reality because it felt like I had created everyone else's too.

    And even if I didn't, I'm still taking credit for that sunset. You can't stop me. Ha!

    Anyway, if you like making stuff - knitting or drawing or whatever it is you do - you should come by Create Your Own Reality sometime. It's held monthly and next month's will be December 20 at the Kemper, if I remember correctly. Contact Darcy for more info.

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    Friday, November 14, 2008

    Pigeons: An Origin Story

    There's a flock of pigeons hanging out in front of AKKA Karate today, reminding me of when I used to be obsessed with where the hell pigeons came from. It was one of my two great scientific mysteries, the other one being how ants can be upside down for so long if they have a nonvascular blood system where the blood is pumped from the bottom of the body to the top and drips over the organs. They don't write about that shit in science books so I had no idea (still don't about that ant thing).

    When I was living in Seattle, I got totally obsessed with pigeon origins because there were just so damn many of them there. On the bus stop to West Seattle (where I first lived when I moved there) from downtown there were always 5 or more pigeons hanging around, begging for scraps and eating trash. The worst one was the guy I called Ole Gimpy because he had one missing foot. He stumped around very resiliently, but his tattered feathers showed an obvious inability to care for himself. Gimpy was the worst, but he certainly wasn't all that different from the others. All had patchy, askew feathers and usually some other obvious deformity or injury. Watching them peck out their miserable existence, besides being remarkably like reading a Dickens novel, made me wonder why pigeons only live in cities if it's so crappy for them.

    Like the ant thing, I couldn't find anything that talked about it so I wallowed in my burning curiosity for a while, which really amused the guy I was dating at the time. But eventually I wrote a blog on MySpace about it (subsequently deleted however) and one of my friends in response was finally able to tell me the history of pigeons.

    Apparently, they used to live in enormous flocks of hundreds but during the Western Expansion, they were hunted heavily for game and eventually their birdy society suffered a melt down, leaving them the poor beggars they are now. Which pretty much sounds like the story of most societies upon meeting advancing Western forces.

    Anyway, pigeons! Now you know.

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    Thursday, November 13, 2008

    Personality Analysis for Bloggers

    Michelle Martin of The Bamboo Project Blog has found yet another neat bloggy toy: typealyzer. Typealyzer analyzes a bloggers personality and brain parts used based on their blog posts and even give you a nifty badge to display if you want. Here's my results:

    ESFP: The Performers

    The entertaining and friendly type. They are especially attuned to pleasure and beauty and like to fill their surroundings with soft fabrics, bright colors and sweet smells. They live in the present moment and don´t like to plan ahead - they are always in risk of exhausting themselves.

    They enjoy work that makes them able to help other people in a concrete and visible way. They tend to avoid conflicts and rarely initiate confrontation - qualities that can make it hard for them in management positions.

    What type of blogger are you?

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    Tuesday, November 4, 2008

    Margaret Cho is a Goddess


    I absolutely adore Margaret Cho. She is one of my only real-life idols/role models (most are fictional) that express the kind of fierce and silly femininity I want to have in my own life. I admire so greatly how she has remained true to her crazy self despite not fitting in with her Asian-American community, not to mention the straight community. She's bi and not afraid to talk about it - or anything else really - and she just is so alive and vibrant living happily on her terms. Not a lot of women in this world are like that and it is incredibly encouraging to me to see her example.

    So of course I was totally jazzed that she got her own show! The Cho Show is one of those shows that I have to see, despite the fact that I don't technically own a TV. I watch it in parts online and revel in the crazy awesomeness that is the life of Margaret Cho. Here are a couple clips to show you what it's like:


    Margaret deals with her haunted vagina!



    Margaret and her assistant film a "fake sex tape"

    I really wanted to end this blog with the video where Margaret wins the Korean of the Year Award, but since I can't embed it, you should just go and watch it. The way that teary-eyed girl who reads her note to Margaret is totally how I feel about her too. She's an incredible inspiration to crazy-awesome women everywhere.

    Also, she's super hot!
    Hooray for tattoos!

    On a completely unrelated note: I'll be on vacation from tomorrow through the 11th, so I won't be posting again til the 12th. See you then!

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    Monday, November 3, 2008

    Light Rail Will Be an Epic Fail

    I was going to use today's post to talk about seeing Cinematic Titanic. But it's not a good story and I was overall disappointed in the experience so instead I decided to talk about this stupid light rail initiative in KC that just won't die.

    I've always been against the light rail because even as a kid it has always been obvious that the planners just aren't thinking logically. The plans for light rail have never been presented in any workable fashion for this city. I'm all for alternative transportation as you should know by now, but I want alternative transportation that works and not some stupid experiment that can't even get the buy-in of the neighborhoods where it's supposed to be.

    What pisses me off the most about it is proponents using the argument that KC is supposedly behind the times because "every other city this size has one." I'm not in the habit of keeping up with the Joneses and my city doesn't need to either. It needs solutions that will work for the people who live HERE not the people who live in other cities.

    There's a ton of money behind getting this through and there will be a ton more thrown at it if it passes, but I think we could be much smarter about our spending. Here's what I'd rather see us spend money on instead:

    • Fixing the city streets and bridges, especially the pot holes
    • Creating more pedestrian and bicycle-friendly bridges and streets
    • Improving the current transit system with more fuel efficient buses and adding bus routes
    What do you think?

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