Friday, July 31, 2009

We Need a New System of Economics

Riane Eisler in The Real Wealth of Nations perfectly captured why I am so disgusted with our current economic system and the priorities of our country in regards to how we spend our capital. Forgive me for the long quote, but it's just so immaculately articulated that I can't help myself:

Today, millions of people no longer accept suffering and injustice ad just God's will or the result of mysterious, unalterable, economic laws. All over the world, people are alarmed about the health and environmental effects of industrialization seemingly run amok. They're concerned about trade globalization rules that are lowering wages and worker protections earlier taken for granted in the West. They're aware that half the world still lives in poverty and hunger, and that even in the wealthy United States the gap between rich and poor is growing. They recognize that there's something very wrong with cutting funds for school lunches for millions of poor children while corporations get million-dollar subsidies and the super-rich get big tax refunds. They demand an end to accounting practices that enable corporate officers to enrich themselves at the expense of employee benefit plans and shareholder investments. In short, they decry uncaring economic policies and business practices, and want more caring ones.

The bad news is that efforts to move economic systems in a more caring direction have only succeeded in a few places and utterly failed in many others. Despite rhetoric about "compassionate conservatism," in the United States, economic policies have been moving backward rather than forward. Economic elites in both developed and developing nations still control the bulk of the world's resources, children still go hungry even in wealthy nations, and unprecedented threats to our natural habitat such as global warming are still often ignored.

The good news is that a multitude of nongovernmental organizations are somewhat softening the hardships caused by present policies, and there are some attempts to bring about structural change. A socially responsible business movement is working to institute new rule for corporations that require social and ecological accountability. There are attempts to replace economic indicators such as gross domestic product (GDP) with Quality of Life (QL) measurements that more accurately reflect what activities contribute to human wellbeing and environmental sustainability. There is movement to protect our natural environment, combat sweatshop labor, and develop standards for international treaties that protect workers worldwide.

All these are important efforts to remedy specific defects in present economic policies and practices. But we need more. We need a systemic approach that takes into account the larger system of which economics is a part. (from Chapter 2 "Economics through a Wider Lens")
Eisler outlines her new economic model as a "full spectrum of economic relations" in which the market economy, government economy and the illegal economy of our current economic policies are addressed from a stand point that also takes in the currently ignored household economy, unpaid community economy (volunteers and social justice groups) and natural economy.

She argues that an economic policy that devalues caring in a society only leads to the many problems we see in our culture today in which non-earners like children, the homeless and retired people are treated as worthless, when their contributions to society can be just as or more strengthening than monetary contributions.

Eisler notes and I strongly agree that "many of our economic habits were shaped by a warped story of human nature and an economic double standard that gives little or no value to the essential work of caring and caregiving."

Her challenge, and mine is to stop complaining about the practices that are laying the path to our own destruction, to stop accepting a system so obviously flawed and damaging, but instead to "join together to help construct a saner, sounder, more caring economics and culture."

Related posts:
Planet, Not Politics
My Trip Out of Republican Wonderland [Guest Post]
The Bush Legacy (of Failure)

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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

How I Fell In Love with Alternative Transportation

I can pinpoint the exact moment I fell in love with the idea of alternative transportation:

I was on my first adult-free road trip with my friend Sara and the guy she was dating at the time, whom she happened to meet through me. We drove all the way to New Orleans without more than stopping for snacks, pee breaks and gasoline with the Beatles' collected works providing our soundtrack.

This was back when I was an insomniac so I was riding my usual trippy buzz of freaky energy and soaking in the sights of New Orleans as we arrived in the city and made our way to the French Quarter to our hotel. I was struck by the differences between here and there: the diversity, the plethora of independently-owned stores, the vibrant street artists and musicians everywhere, and a significant number of pedestrians.

But what caught my eye next was a beautiful woman in a dress riding an antique street bike, blithely making her way through the traffic like a flower through a hurricane. And that is the moment I fell in love with alternative transportation.

I was fascinated with the calm look of joy and contentment she had on her face. Combined with my absolute love of riding bicycles, I was immediately captivated.

Not owning a car is such a natural part of life for me now, that I forget it can be surprising to people. But I've stubbornly clung to my love of alt trans ever since.

I'd like to thank this girl for changing my life, but we'll probably never cross paths again.

Life is funny like that.

See the awesome for yourself! Check out some pictures of chicks with bikes on Dorothy Surrdenders' Biker Babes post.

Related posts:
How To Live Car-Free in the Midwest
Light Rail Will Be Epic FAIL
"My Life Is More Precious than Your Car"

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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Jackie Ormes: The First African American Woman Cartoonist

Jackie (L) with Eartha Kitt and unidentified man

If you've been paying attention at all, you know I love comic books. So when I found Jackie Ormes: The First African American Woman Cartoonist by Nancy Goldstein, I squeed with delight! Finding out that she was smart, sexy, sassy and successful only made it better!

Jackie (born in 1911 in Pittsburgh, PA) had such talent when she was young that her parents thought it would be a waste of time and money for her to take art classes, though she eventually attended an art institute. She stole all the paper in the house for her creations and often other items like bars of Ivory soap which she would carve.

She also had a great interest in writing and while still in high school, Jackie pestered the publisher of the first African American weekly newspaper, Pittsburgh Courier, for a job, resulting in a few reporting opportunities.

In 1943, she approached the Chicago Defender for a job and was hired as a woman's column writer. Two years later, she was able to convince her bosses to let her work as a cartoonist and in 1945 Candy debuted. Candy was a single panel cartoon about a housemaid mocking her employer and occasionally stealing her clothing. The comic ran only 4 months and Jackie was never paid for it.
"I'm getting fed up with rolling her cigarettes.
It's enough to make me break down and share my tailor-mades!"

"Gee, I hope Mrs. Goldrocks doesn't gain any more weight. I can't possibly wear a size larger."

After leaving the Chicago Defender for the Pittsburgh Courier the same year, Jackie created her longest running comic: Patty-Jo 'n' Ginger, which premiered just days after the A-bombs were dropped on Japan. Patty-Jo 'n' Ginger made often shocking social and political statements through the mouth of a precocious little girl, Patty-Jo, while her older sister, Ginger, provided the silent sex-bomb reaction shots.

The cartoon ran in 14 different cities and was so popular that a line of Patty-Jo dolls and doll clothing was created, which was another outlet for Jackie's love of fashion design. The cartoon ran for 11 years!
"Now that the war is over, I guess we'll see what the men shortage
had to do with that no-nickel Jody we've been puttin' up with!"

"Shucks - Let's go price atom bombs - they haven't outlawed THEM yet!

"Ok - ok, you're making it... but I just know this 'new look' is
bound to catch up with me too, sooner or later!"

Note: "New look" was the name of the Dior spring fashion line that year.

"So it seems our A-bombs can make Americans outta ANYBODY,
no matter WHERE!"

"Get outa HERE with that boom-boom-boom... an' don't come back no more!"
Note: This mocks a popular song at the time, "The Thing" by Phil Harris,
which had a "punch line" of three bass drum beats instead of words.

"What'cha mean it's no game for girls? We got feet too, ain't we?"

In 1950, Jackie began a new series called "Torchy Brown Heartbeats" and later "Torchy in Heartbeats." This was an action-adventure/romance comic in which Torchy Brown, the heroine had many adventures in love, environmental justice, racial equality and more. With "Torchy in Heartbeats," Jackie was able to indulge her love of fashion even more by drawing paper dolls/pin-ups sections below the strip. (Click on them to see a readable version)

For much, much more information about Jackie Ormes' groundbreaking career, read Jackie Ormes: The First African American Woman Cartoonist by Nancy Goldstein. All information and images were taken from this book.

Read more:
Megan Rose Gedris: Lesbian Comic Artist Extraoirdinare
Frank: The Trippy Cartoon Whatsit
My Top 5 Web Comics

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Monday, July 20, 2009

Pikas on Pike's Peak

One of my few fun teen memories involves my "senior trip" to Colorado. Since I and all my siblings were home schooled by that time, our parents offered us one special big thing to celebrate our graduations from high school. I chose a family trip to Colorado so that I could hike up Pike's Peak.

When the day came, only my dad and my little brother Harry were going to hike with me. I wasn't jazzed about being with my dad since I've never felt comfortable around him, but eventually Harry and I hiked beyond him and then it was just us two.

Harry and I walking around Garden of the Gods that same week

Harry is the family member I'm closest to. I'm not ashamed to say that I adore him. Even though we're separated in age by four years and one month to the day, we act, think and behave like twins. We are so darn close we can even communicate telepathically - no joke.

Climbing the mountain with my favorite person in the world (at the time) was an incredible experience. I've always found the simple motions of walking physically comforting and mentally stimulating. This was my first real mountain hike and I loved walking from niche to niche, seeing the change in fauna and flora and enjoying the amazing new surprises that greeted my eyes and ears with each hill we topped.

One of the amazing animals I met on this hike was the ever adorable pika. These little guys 'n' gals first made themselves known to me by the high-pitched, guinea pig-like squeaking they do. Walking through several meadows, we heard their call and responses echo around us like a giggling audience. Finally, they felt comfortable enough to sit out in the sun with us around and I saw the cute little buggers and just melted. Cuteness is awesome!

This 3 minute video will show you their cuteness and let you hear them:

Like the video shows, you can get pretty darn close to them without them giving a darn.

Pikas helped make that hike and that day magical for me, and I've always felt a special endearment in my heart to them. So when I saw the Environmental Defense Fund's information about pikas being threatened by climate change I was a very sad panda:

Some may like it hot but not the pika. Even brief exposures (as little as a few hours) at temperatures above 78 degrees F can be fatal. Plus they rely on snowpack for insulation in the winter.

In the southern portions of its range, some populations already occupy the highest altitudes, with no place to move upward to escape the heat.

The US Fish and Wildlife Service is currently considering the pika for listing under the Endangered Species Act, which would make it the first mammal in the lower 48 [states] to be listed due to global warming.

Pikas have frequently been described as the ‘canaries in the coal mine’ of alpine and montane ecosystems in the western U.S. – their disappearance is an alarming signal of sweeping climate disruptions.

And, like prairie dogs, pikas are pruners and help maintain the diversity and abundance of alpine meadow plant species.

I'm saddened to think that someday a teenage girl like I was may wander through those same meadows and instead of being full of life and cuteness, there's nothing but patchy growth and little else.

Breaks my heart the things future generations will miss out on that should be part of the natural inheritance they are blessed with in a nation that encloses so many types of life.

Related posts:
Being Zen on the Mountain
Carbon's Gonna Kill Us
Biomimicry For Greener Buildings

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Friday, July 17, 2009

First Female-Designed Mosque in Instanbul

Zeynep Fadillioglu has become the first woman to design a mosque in Istanbul. It's freaking gorgeous!

This is an interview with her talking about her design:

And here are some images of the gorgeous mosque she created:

Related posts:
India's First Female President!
The Journals of Rachel Corrie: First Hand View of Gaza Violence
Goods 4 Girls

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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

How To Develop Your "Look"

Ever since I got out of grad school, I started trying to create a "look" for the hip new professional person I am trying to be and according to conversations I've had with some friends and coworkers recently, it's working! If you're interested in creating your own "look," here's my suggestions.

1. Be Particular
Having a look starts with laying out what you want to get out of and put into your clothing. For me, what I want to get out of it is comfort, prettiness and uniqueness. What I put into purchasing clothing includes looking for brightly colored items, preferring skirts and dresses to pants and shorts, collecting hats that will look good with a variety of outfits, preferring natural fabrics, preferring vintage or used clothing and wanting to pay as little as possible (except for an item that will enhance my wardrobe too much not to splurge).

Those are my guidelines for clothes shopping and they end up simplifying the process, since I'm only looking for exactly what I want. Another unwritten rule for myself I have is that I won't sift through tons of clothes, but will only pay attention to things that catch my eye even from the rack.

2. Pay Attention
Ignore this one if you don't care about fitting in with current fashions, otherwise, my tips for being in style without repurchasing your wardrobe every few months are to:

  • pay attention to current and emerging styles - but pay most attention to the cut and shape
  • use whatever fashion trends merge with your existing preferences and ignore the rest
It's really easy, but just doing this can make your wardrobe seem cutting edge quite easily. Two of the ways current fashions intersect with my style are all those ballet-inspired shoes and pairing footless tights with skirts. Those both totally fulfill my ballerina requirements (more about that next) so I absolutely love 'em and use them in my dress a lot.

3. Mimic Your Fashion Icons
One way that helped me to develop my "look" was to think of the women whose style inspires me and to ape it. This can be famous women or the chick down the street whose style you admire. It's all about your personal inspiration. Women who inspire me are old film actresses (especially Mia Farrow), artsy/indie/hipster chicks and ballerinas (that last one is my inner child's influence - she always wanted to be a ballerina). These inspirations feed into the style, cut and color of what I wear all the time.

4. Be Rational
No matter what - be sure you're shopping within your means and buying pieces that you will actually wear. For instance, if there's an awesome shirt that is dry clean only and you never use a dry cleaners, you probably shouldn't buy it. Look for low maintenance items and don't let your fantasy erase the day-to-day necessity.

For instance, I bought this awesome fucking hat from Urban Outfitters because it was so Golden Hollywood Era starlet that I was head-over-heels for it:

I thought the all sorts of floppy brim was super cool at first, but now I just don't wear the damn thing because of it. It doesn't work as a sunhat because at the first breeze the brim is blown completely away from my face. It doesn't work as a formal hat (thought I did wear it once to a wedding) because the brim flops down and its like wearing blinders, not suggested for an event you want to see! And it doesn't work as a daily wear hat for the same reason. So I totally got burned on that purchase. It sits in my closet and I sigh every time I see it, because it seemed so great at first!

Otherwise, rationality includes not buying fabrics that wrinkle easily if like me you dislike ironing and basically making sure your clothes fit easily into your lifestyle.

And that's all the advice I've got. What about you?

Related posts:
Now and Then
Sex and Fashion
Skirting the Issue: Fashion and Fetish

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Monday, July 13, 2009

Lion Guardians

It always makes me happy to hear about human and animal populations cooperating rather than competing. So when I heard about Lion Guardians, I was totally stoked.

Two lion guardians working together

Lion Guardians is a program to turn the enemy of lions (humans, esp. farmers) into their champions and protectors. According to their website:
The impetus to create this project was in response to the slaughtering of over 150 lions in the Amboseli-Tsavo ecosystem since 2001. Retaliatory and traditional spearing by Maasai warriors (murrans) is the greatest threat to the survival of lions in Kenyan Maasailand today. The Lion Guardians program attempts to reduce the pressure on lions by employing their greatest enemy to conserve them rather than kill them. Since the onset of this project there have been no lions speared on Mbirikani ranch.

The Guardians have two major duties:

1) to monitor lions and other carnivore movements, and so to protect them

2) to aid their communities in various ways.

Specifically by:

  • informing herders to avoid high-conflict grazing areas (where carnivores are present)
  • improving livestock kraals (bomas)
  • helping herders find lost livestock that are left out in the bush (and subsequently killed by predators)
  • educating communities about carnivore importance and conservation
  • and lastly, but most importantly, Lion Guardians work with other murrans in the community to prevent further lion killings (both tradition and retaliation killings).
Also, each Guardian has learned how to track collared lions using telemetry receivers. Each lion that has been collared since the start of the project has been given a Maasai name by the Guardian(s) who helped with the collaring.
I've been following their activities for a while now and the most exciting thing I've read about so far is the discovery of a pregnant lion, which was collared and named "Nosieki" after a bush with beautiful red berries.
The lion guardian who found and named Nosieki with her

She is the first lion to be collared in many months.

From tracking Nosieki (who now has had 3 cubs!), the Guardians then found three more lionesses, one of which they were able to collar.

They named her Selenkay, which means a girl who has reached maturity.

According to the Lion Guardian blog, "It is not often that a warrior gets to touch a ‘live’ lion and these murrans told us they will remember this moment for the rest of their lives."

Related posts:
Giving Nature a Helping Hand
Photographic Philanthropy: Blue Earth Alliance
For the Birds

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Friday, July 10, 2009


I like reading 'cause
it's the fastest way
to upload info into my brain.

What about you?

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Time Lines: Local Poetry Anthology

My friend Darcy sent me a local poetry anthology, Times Lines, published as a PDF by a local guy with poems by poets in the KC metro area. These were my favorites (the first one just happens to be by Darcy herself):

An Urban Fairytale
Ever wanted to be someone else?
Now you can.
Go ahead, be all that someone else can be,
one taste is all it takes.
Some people just don’t belong in the prison of their mind.
So buy yourself another
and explore the deliberations of others.
Consume yourself in the tender delight of thought
originated by a scoundrel or a saint.
Bamboozle, swindle and squeeze your way.
Divulge their insights.
Drink it down with gusto.
Then wipe your face on your sleeve,
shake your head rapidly,
and leave your money on the table.

Darcy Lin Bloss
Kansas City, Missouri

As When a Hero
as when a hero
pounds the nose of a villain
on a runway in St. Louis
and the wings of the planes
ruffle with excitement
yes, that is how I felt when I was younger
reading about Superman and Hawkman
and, like Spider-Man, we all
put our tights on one leg at a time
I still remember my Hulk pajamas
pea green and skin tight
but nothing beat watching SuperFriends
after school
colorful characters springing
from the television to my head
I still love their stories,
day-to-day struggles, and worries
I still understand
I worry that my powers
will consume me;
what are my powers?
that’s my secret
along with my real identity
that I conceal with a mask
do not try and understand
or look for me on the ground;
my head is in the clouds
look, Brainiac is stealing the United Nations!
time for my quick change
and a smile;
I keep my elbows off the table
and my fears to myself

Scott Faubion
Kansas City, Missouri

There is ‘REDRUM’ in the streets
There is “REDRUM” in the streets
and it is not some kind of metrosexual raspberry liquor,
but it is thick and it is red and it does run like the wind.
Look out the window and it will not be seen but it is there.
It will huff and puff and shoot your house down
with a rattle and a boom and a hiss under the little red
riding hood.
Big Bad Bill uses Sweet William as an alias and an alibi,
but he will leave you full of holes that the rural neighbors
will claim “can not happen here” because
“we live in such a nice neighborhood …”
There is a monster that lives under Everyone’s porch
and it is neither conservative nor liberal;
it knows not faith. It votes only for your demise.
Will you face it? Will you turn its cheek?
Only the polls will tell, and they are well-versed in slander.
Statistics show that suicide is more popular than murder.
Numbers prove that more people choose their time of dying
than have the choice made by someone else.
This does not leave much room for comfort.
Justice is not cheap, especially for the innocent and the honest.
Upon which bench will your vote rest?
Upon what court will the ball take its decisive bounce?
Judge not, lest you have walked a mile in someone else’s
and the blood has run between your toes
as you walked the Winner’s path
Will you empathize with Losers? Will you break bread
with sinners?
Will you celebrate with outstretched palms when the finish
line is broken?
… or calmly walk into the end zone and hand the ball to
the referee?
As for me, give me liberty, or at least a second opportunity
and do not look for treason … it will not make half-mast.
I plead the fifth and ask only for my public defender,
as my bail was paid by someone else.

Jerry Keuhn; Platte City, Missouri

I’ve been down and I’ve been out. I’ve been less and I’ve
been more. I’ve been hurt and I’ve been healed. If you
have been none of these things then you may be alive. . .
but you are not living. No one deserves to be hurt? How is
that true. . . being hurt is a part of the human experience.
It helps us to learn and be stronger, smarter and more
capable in love and life. It gives us the ability to appreci-
ate those who are blessings, and the defenses to identify
those who are threats. Saying no one deserves to be hurt is
like saying no one deserves to love, learn and feel. If there
is a decision in your life that you have not made in fear of
hurting someone, be courageous in knowing that pain is
life, and without we could not identify joy. . . .

April Ragland
Raytown, Missouri

Driving down a Midwest highway
green shines gold at sunset;
trees holding air crisp against the sky
and I am following my heart,
rooted in Wyoming.
Why do I keep bouncing back
like a rubber band pulled
by the hand of fate?
Each shot further,
crashing harder
into my lover’s arms
before snapping back again.

Karma Vowell
Kansas City, Missouri

You can read the entire collection here.

Related posts:
Poetry Exercise of Yester Year
My Top 10 Authors
Why I Blog

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Friday, July 3, 2009

About Face

I get annoyed/frustrated by my face because I feel it betrays me when I need it most.

Having slight autism has made it hard for me to use my face like normal human primates to express emotions. When I'm on the top of my game, feeling good, full of energy and spunk, I'm pretty good and my face is all glowy and adorably over-expressive and people like that.

But when I'm low on energy or just mulling over a problem in the back of my mind, my face can get "stuck" expressing an emotion that may have nothing to do with the conversation I'm having with someone and that gets a lot of people confused about how to take me. And it frustrates the crap out of me because I'm like: listen to what I'm saying! I can't say it clearer! And then they tell me my face looks like I'm feeling [insert inappropriate emotion here] and then I just feel totally incapable of functioning conversationally.

The worst part is that this happens with the people I'm most intimate with at delicate moments when all the sensitivity in the world that I can muster can't combat the stupid face I don't even know I have on.

I used to make my face a calm-looking mask that only emoted the strongest of emotional reactions, but once I stopped doing that comment after comment from friend, acquaintance & stranger alike reinforced to me how unhappily ill-suited I am to have chosen a communications job.

On the other hand, I probably choose it subconciously because I thought it would help me fix those problems. Too bad I decided that before I knew I had Asperger's and this isn't the kind of thing you can just fix, just negotiate around.

And that's my complaint about my face: It doesn't function properly! ARGH.

Related posts:
Asperger's and the Internet
Reaction Shots
Anxiety and my Genetic Inheritence

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Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Seen Around Midtown: Whimsical Neighborhood

As I said on Twitter: disappointed by the ink feature. I put too much heart into my blog to be happy being reduced to "shocking!"

If you walk away from Westport Road, behind Pryde's Old Westport, you'll find a complex of what appears to be a mixed commercial and residential area. Here all of the houses/businesses (in houses) are brightly colored and whimsical (though sadly hard to photograph). It delights the bejeezus out of me each time I walk past:

For more of my pictures and what-have-you, visit my DeviantArt page.

Previous "Seen Around Midtown" posts:
Norman School
Big Brothers, Big Sisters

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