Monday, November 30, 2009

Kudos to our Fire Department

This long view gives a good idea of the area of the accident. You are looking north; the truck is on its side on the northbound side. Front street is below. You can see the dark area where 400 or so gallons of liquld HCl was released. Not a bad view of the new bridge coming up, just to the east of the Paseo Bridge. Photo from the Kansas City Star.
Still from KSHB video shows the rescue of the driver. Per the scanner traffic I heard, the driver was calm and able to give info to rescuers by cell phone about his load and other important details. His rescue occurred at 0730 or so, about 20 minutes after the accident was located.

Photo from KSHB shows hydrochloric acid vapor cloud coming up from overturned truck before the leaks were plugged. At the time of the crash there was a very light east wind. Fortunately, there were very few reported injuries from the fumes.

The Kansas City Fire Department did an outstanding job today keeping a potentially very serious situation from getting out of hand. An 18 wheeler carrying hydrochloric acid rolled on its side, and started leaking. Quickly the fire department got resources to the site, dammed the acid and plugged the leak in the truck. By 1030, the plume of acid vapor had dissipated and it was safe. Isle of Capri casino just to the east, "sheltered in place" with their HVAC off, until the threat passed. I thought this was a wise move, because the area was riddled with traffic problems. All the rush hour south bound traffic had to be stopped and those still on the bridge had to turn around and exit back at Armour 210. All the north bound traffic either had to come forward to Front Street or turn around and exit somewhere south of there. Lord knows where since the Paseo exit is closed. Keep all those cars at the casino I thought which is what they did. An outstanding job. As I write, southbound is open and northbound still closed.

One thing I thought was really cool as I listened in to the radio traffic: the cooperation between the agencies. Even though the capacity for MAST, the fire department and the police department to actually talk to each other on the radio is very small, they were able to communicate through the communications centers and dispatchers very well. When the fire department wanted to get police officers who had no Air Pacs on out of the area of the fumes, the word was quickly given to the PD to evacuate and let protected FD and Haz Mat people take over the last of traffic directing. MAST made sure that hospitals were ready if there were many casualties and Truman Medical Center was the designated first choice hospital for patients from the incident. Well done all around.
This is what all that practice is for, all those drills. For this. A great job.
Here's one of many good news reports; this one from KSHB, has the best video of the plume and also the rescue of the driver.

More on Washington Cops

Firefighters salute as vehicles bearing the bodies of four police officers killed at a coffee shop pass by. (Seattle Times photo)
From the Seattle Times:
Slain officers respected for careers, family life
By Jack Broom, Lynda V. Mapes, Bob Young and Susan Kelleher
Seattle Times staff reporters
The four victims of Sunday morning's shooting were veteran officers who brought a range of talents to the fledgling Lakewood Police Department when it was created in 2004, according to Lakewood Police Chief Bret Farrar.
"This is a very difficult time for our families and our officers," he said. "Please keep our families and Lakewood Police in your prayers."
The slain officers "all have been outstanding professionals," he added.
Officer Tina Griswold
Tina Griswold, 40, joined the Lakewood Police Department in 2004 and earlier this year won its Lifesaving Award.
"She was likable and enjoyed life," said her former father-in-law, Carroll Kelley of Shelton, Mason County.
She and Kelley's son met when both were students at Shelton High School, Kelley said. Griswold became a police officer after they divorced, he said.
She is survived by her husband, a daughter, 21, and a son, 8, police and relatives said.
She previously worked as a police officer in Shelton for three years, public records show. She was an officer and SWAT team member for the Lacey Police Department from 1998 to 2004, according to Sgt. Scott Eastman, her former supervisor. The group was responsible for serving high-risk warrants and conducting high-risk entries, he said.
"Tina was an outstanding officer," Eastman said. "She was very assertive, and had no fear in dealing with high-risk situations and suspects that were larger than her. She had this presence about her that was in charge and you were going to do what she said. She had the verbal skills and the confidence to pull it off."
Griwold was avid about physical fitness, and lifted weights and ran regularly, Eastman said. She stood about 5 feet and weighed less than 100 pounds.
"She could do 30 to 40 pull-ups," Eastman said. "A lot of the guys were talking about that this morning. We'd always joke that she didn't have much to lift."
Griswold was one of the first members of Lacey's tactical team, and the first woman to hold the job, Eastman said.
"She was a very hard worker and just a fun person to work with," he said. "She spent most of her free time with family. ... That was her priority."
Although she left Shelton to join the Lacey department, she still lived in town and would run into her former colleagues.
"The young officers looked up to her," Eastman said. "And she was a great partner for the experienced officers. She knew what she was doing."
Lacey officers are still in shock over the news, he said, adding, "We're looking for an opportunity to honor her and her family."
Officer Gregory Richards
He was known as one of the sweet guys, the one everyone liked to work with.
Gregory Richards, 42, of Graham had eight years of law-enforcement experience, starting with work as a patrol officer in Kent.
He worked there from September 2001 until October 2004, before hiring on with the Lakewood Police Department.
The Kent department was going through layoffs because of budget cuts, and Richards sought a more secure situation for his family, said Lt. Lisa Price, public-information officer for the Kent department.
"He was a very well-respected and well-liked co-worker, and when he left we were sad to see him go," Price said. "People loved working alongside him. I firmly believe Greg would still be with Kent if we hadn't been going through layoffs.
"He was just a nice, cute, angelic guy."
He had a lighter side too. Richards was the drummer in an all-police officer rock band called Locked Down. The band played at social gatherings, including a recent police officers' motorcycle rally in Ocean Shores.
The killing was devastating news. "It was a complete shock to my system, it's a horrific crime and it hits close to home," Price said.
Richards is survived by his wife, Kelly, a daughter and two sons.
"Everyone is just here," said Melanie Burwell, a sister-in-law answering the door at Richards' home. "We are staying together."
Burwell said she last saw Richards at Thanksgiving. "It was wonderful," she said, fighting tears. "All he ever wanted was his family. He didn't want to do anything but be with them.
"If there were more people in this world like Greg, nothing like this would ever happen."
Sgt. Mark Renninger
A decorated veteran officer and popular law-enforcement instructor, Sgt. Mark Renninger, 39, is survived by his wife and three children.
"Mark was a professional, dedicated police officer who made the ultimate sacrifice. More importantly, he was a loving and devoted father, husband and family member who will be missed by many," said Renninger's brother, Matt, on a statement published on the Web site of WFMZ-TV in Pennsylvania's Lehigh Valley, where Renninger grew up.
He joined the Tukwila Police Department shortly after leaving military service in 1996. He was a patrol officer, a SWAT team member and was, for a time, president of the Tukwila police officers' guild.
"Mark was an outstanding police officer and a well-liked member of the department during his time with us," said a statement issued by the Tukwila Police Department.
He moved to the Lakewood department in 2004. According to the program for a state 2008 law-enforcement conference, Renninger was an instructor in SWAT courses and served as an instructor for courses in firearms, chemical munitions and patrol responsibilities.
On a Facebook tribute page set up by his relatives Sunday, more than 1,000 message of tribute were posted by early evening.
Among the postings was one from Rick Fisher, who said he coached Renninger's daughter in fastpitch softball two seasons ago. "Mark was a fun and compassionate man," Fisher wrote. "He was always willing to help me and the girls out when he could. He was a tremendous help."
Officer Ronald Owens
Friends describe Ronald Owens, 37, as a dedicated officer and devoted father. He was also an "ideal tenant," said Toni Strehlow, who managed a property Owens rented, a house with a white-picket fence near downtown Puyallup.
"When he rented from us, the first thing he did was replace walls and a patio door and he never charged us, never wanted a rent deduction. He just wanted to do for people," said Strehlow.
He was a good neighbor, too, said Charley Stokes who lived next door to him in Puyallup. "We'd talk over the back fence, have a beer once in a while."
Owens, who was divorced, was very proud of his daughter, he said.
Strehlow and Stokes said Owens was excited about going from his job as a State Patrol trooper to the Lakewood Police Department in 2004, saying Owens looked forward to more regular hours and better advancement opportunities.
Strehlow said she was speechless when she heard the news. "It's just wrong. He was truly an unforgettable man and a kind, kind person."
Owens went into police work because his father, who died in 2006, was a detective, according to a neighbor, Edie Wintermute.
Owens checked in on her husband after surgery, she said. "He was a good father and very caring guy."
Copyright © The Seattle Times Company

Four Cops Shot, Killed, in Washington State

Clockwise, from the upper left, Greg Richards, 42; Mark Renninger, 39; Tina Griswold, 40; and Ronald Owens, 37.

Four police officers in Lakewood, Washington were killed Sunday as they sat in a coffee shop just before the beginning of their shifts. Per witnesses, it was totally an ambush, as the killer first approached the counter as if to order, then turned away, produced the gun and shot methodically. The last officer struggled with the criminal and probably injured him before dying. The suspect, identified as Maurice Clemmons, 37, has an extensive criminal history.

That's the bare bones of the story.

First, look at the photos of the officers. They are not just blue uniforms, but real people, with lives like you and I. Take a moment to put real skin on these men and women. They were all married. They all had children. They probably had pets. They had friends, neighbors, church pals, sports buds, were customers and clients of services in the community. Perhaps they had hobbies like old cars, scrap booking, model trains, sports cards, boating, hunting, fishing. They probably loved their jobs as police officers. Each had over 10 years experience as officers. They all started out together at the Lakewood department when it was founded in 2004.

Now, I am going to take you from sad to seriously pissed off.

The suspect, Clemmons, apparently has roots in the Seattle area, but was living in Arkansas in the late 1980s when he committed a variety of crimes. He received a long sentence in Arkansas and had served 11 years when in May of 2000, his sentence was commuted and he was released from prison. He committed more crimes after release and somehow was not put back in prison immediately. During the early 2000s, he married, moved to Tacoma, WA and started a business. He apparently had been generally staying out of serious trouble, but he began to commit crimes again over the past year or so. He was on bond from charges in Washington of child rape, assault against a police officer and at least five other felonies and some domestic violence related charges as well. His family and witnesses relate episodes of manic, paranoid psychotic behavior over the past year. Now, Clemmons did receive a very long sentence for his crimes in Arkansas. He was convicted of several crimes with 10 year sentences and the judge ordered these sentences to be served consecutively. This meant he'd serve one sentence, then the next, then the next. He would not have gotten out of prison in Arkansas until 2042 or so. I can see why then Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee wanted to do something for the man. But releasing him at that point was too soon. And supervision of him was way too lax. As soon as he committed another crime, his butt needed to be returned to prison, and the full sentence put back on. Nor is there any record of him receiving any sort of help with any mental health issues he may have had. He was allowed to move to Washington in 2004 or 2005. By some miracle, at least as far as is known, he stayed out of trouble until this past year, when he started committing crimes again.

It makes me mad that Huckabee went against the prosecutor's office concerning the commutation he did. The prosecutor did not want Clemmons out at all. They were willing to reconsider some issues surrounding his sentence, but they were not in favor of his release. Huckabee ignored their objections. Further angering is that Clemmons returned to crime after his release in Arkansas, and through some technicality was not properly prosecuted. His butt should have gone back to jail! If his butt had been in jail where it was supposed to be, this horrible shooting may not have happened. Also, let's talk to the judge who gave bond in Washington--didn't he know Clemmon's history of violent crime in the past?

Our system is generally a terrific system. But every so often someone gets dumped out of jail who should have stayed there. First, let's catch Maurice Clemmons. Then, let's look at his case closely and make sure that nothing like this ever happens again.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Friday Funny

Have to watch out for turkey overdose...

The Role of the Church in Community

I have been chewing on thoughts about the church's role in the neighborhoods and communities of our city since this post and the subsequent comments by blogger Midtown Miscreant. The post centers around the actions of Black clergy in Kansas City and the news events that got them on the streets and or/in the press over the past two weeks or so. In a nutshell, members of a group of Black clergy marched in protest over the dress code issue in the Power and Light district. They then followed this action with statements to the press concerning the suspension(firing) of City Manager Wayne Cauthen, a Black man. MM is not the only one to take on this question of the motives of the Black ministers; Alonzo Washington has also blogged about it.

You can see some of my very baby thoughts on the matter in my comments on the entry from MM. I really started thinking about it after the comment that accused all the commenters of being racist and having expectations about what Black leaders were supposed to do about all the murders, and asked how White people would feel if someone went up to them and asked them what they would do about all the White child molesters. It got my dander up a little.

You see, not once in my comment did I mention race. Not once. I talked about the church. Here's part of what I said: " use..[a] biblical metaphor, the church has gotten lukewarm. And afraid of offending. And dependent on victimhood. And charmed by numbers, money, influence and "success." The church is the healing place. And the victory place. And the proclaiming place. And the offending place. The not-of-this-world place. I pray that these church leaders are doing everything they can in their community to help the needy, model the right way to live, show what good values and ethics are and what it means to live with good values and ethics, and speak the truth in love to their flock. Of course all of the proceeding done in the name and power of Jesus Christ."

You see, the Church's mission is the same whether it is at 137th Street and Roe in Leawood, KS or 55th Street and the Paseo in Kansas City, two very racially and economically different addresses. (These are the locations of two United Methodist churches, but I could have picked on any denomination.) The church's mission is to preach the gospel of Christ. The saving, life changing, powerful story of God sending his Son to earth, to be a man, to die a gruesome death He did not deserve, and to be resurrected showing God's power over sin and death. There are a lot of secondary missions that grow out of the Church's first mission: being an example of Christ for others, being a community and a family, being a place of love where people can heal and grow, being a place of mercy helping people with material needs, being a voice for what is right. This mission is the mission across the board for the church, regardless of race, culture or geographic location.

The Church certainly has not always carried out its mission at all times. It has compromised the Gospel, been fearful of what others say, quarreled with itself, and wished for earthly power and significance. Both White churches and Black churches have failed in any or all these ways. Sometimes I think God was a little nuts here. He left the spreading of His Gospel and the living out of the Godly life to finite, fallible, temptable and sinful humans. The result is that the Church often does not look or act the way it ought. The Church frequently has had to repent, be revived, remember its first love, and do its first works over.

So, here's the bottom line--and it should send a serious Christian to the prayer bench: The church has a responsibility for the murders of Black people on the East Side of Kansas City, and for the White rapists and child molesters of Johnson County, Kansas and rural Missouri. The Church must speak out about the hate and injustice in these crimes. The Church must model how relationships are to be done--with love and respect for each other. The Church must without ceasing pray for its community. And finally, but certainly not least, the Church must preach without compromise the life-changing love-giving Gospel of Jesus Christ. The fact that we have all these murders, rapes and crimes against children should tell us that we are falling down on the job. Our saltiness has left us. Our light is under a bushel. Our city is down in the valley.

That means the first thing the Church should do is fall down before God and confess that we have compromised with the world and we have not done as we have been commanded. Both Black churches and White churches need to do this. In fact, let's start by repenting of the sin of the extensive segregation of our churches. Then, together, we can repent of being lukewarm, compromised and unloving. Then we will make an impact in and on the world.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving is a time to remember our blessings...get together with family and friends...enjoy good food...and watch football. Have a great day!

Oh, and cheezypoofs go great with football...

Wayside Waifs Wednesday

Just a few notes concerning Wayside Waifs this fine Wednesday. Wayside will be having their Holiday Open House Saturday, December 5. See the picture of the poster above. It'll be a lot of fun!

I am so happy to note that a good number of the cats and dogs I have featured here have found homes. Of the dogs, it appears that only Demi and Salvador have not yet found homes. The record is not quite as good for cats: Captain and Tenille, Riley,Tatiana and Sophie are still looking for their forever home. This link here will take you to all the old Wayside Waifs posts about adoptable animals.

Wayside Waifs is at 3901 Martha Truman Road in Kansas City. On the web at Phone 816-761-8151. Closed on Thanksgiving Day, but open regular hours on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Can I Start Hating the Ramp Meters Now?

Ramp meter diagram from
OK, they turned them on this morning and Johnny Rowlands reported that they caused backups! Today! Two days before Thanksgiving! Just for grins and giggles, I googled "freeway ramp meters" and discovered that they are all over the place. Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Georgia. Out in California too. I was driving the night they tested them. Basically, in my view, they cut the length of the entrance ramp in half. Now, instead of calculated acceleration up the ramp to be ready to enter the highway at the correct speed, I'm going to motor down the ramp to the light which if it's red, I'll stop at, and then when it turns green, I'll have to floor it to get anywhere near highway speed to merge. Oh, that's going to be fun with my four cylinder non-turbo car, especially at the ramps that go up hills on their way to the freeway.
They are supposed to be a good thing. I'll believe it when I see it. Or, I can just start loathing them now, and avoid the rush.
Some links about the ramps and this morning's traffic fun:

Peering Across the State Line: Dennis Moore Hangs It Up

An interesting bit of political news from across the state line. Dennis Moore who had served as the Kansas third district US rep decided that he would not run for reelection in 2010. I say good riddance to Mr. Moore; may he have a nice retirement. He was elected by this generally republican district to be a moderate alternative to a very conservative incumbent (a gentleman by the name of Vince Snowbarger) and has withstood both conservative and moderate republican challengers since (some of which were pretty good like Chris Kobach). He has become less and less moderate and more and more leftist, voting with Barack Obama just about 100% of the time. He also has lost touch with the people. He was the only area pol to not have any forums or meetings on health care. Even Emanuel Cleaver waded into the health care hot mess, but not Dennis Moore. He would only have carefully choreographed and accessed- controlled events. It is as if he was afraid of the difficult question or the passionate constituent. For me the breaking point was his yes vote on Crap and Tax--oops I mean Cap and Trade. Nobody in the third district was in favor of this pile of legislative manure but there's Dennis Moore, voting yes on it.

Now the number of republicans stampeding to get into the race is positively unnerving. The numbers will guarantee a primary before the November vote. Democrats at this point have only offered two names, both are of the "Who dat" quality. Meantime, the district may have gone a little more to the left since the last time there was an open race in 1996 when Snowbarger was elected. So it will be interesting to watch. Except for all the commercials on TV. They will be a pain to watch.

Monday, November 23, 2009

A Reminder...

The world has problems, but the world also has a savior. Christmas, the celebration of Jesus Christ's birth, is coming. Christmas is proceeded on the church calender by the season of Advent. Four Sundays of the celebration of the anticipation of the Savior's birth. This coming Sunday, November 29th, is the first Sunday of Advent.

Now, for many of us, when we go to church to worship, learn and fellowship with other believers this coming Sunday, we will notice that our church's sanctuaries have been decorated with lights and greenery for the season. Also, churches that do shows for Christmas have probably had extensions built onto their platforms. These photos, snapped with a cellphone camera, will serve as a reminder that Christmas decorations didn't hang themselves and stage extensions didn't build themselves. So, thank the volunteers that decorated your church when you see them this Sunday.

Is it even? I think it's even...

A view of the platform area. Stage crew working to the left. Light and tree crew working to the right.

Our Crime Problem

CQ Press does crime rankings every year for cities in the United States. They work with the numbers for murder, rape, aggravated assault, burglary and auto theft and create a picture of rankings of cities and metropolitan areas. Here is a link to the home page for this ranking--please look at it if you want to see method and analysis. This year, Kansas City ranks 15th from the top in crime. Check out this slide show for the full dirty 15--hat tip to Alonzo Washington for this link. At this time, over 100 murders have been committed in Kansas City.

The murder rate is particularly worrisome. Kansas City is one of the few cities to have an increase in the murder rate. (Murder rate is described as the number of murders per number of people.) What can be done to reduce the number of murders in our fair city? I am not a miracle worker, full of fantastic ideas, but here are a few thoughts.

Teach our children the value of life. Teach children alternatives to resolve conflict besides violence. This is hard, because the culture has become numb to death. Wars, abortion, the death penalty, and violent media have all contributed to making an environment where it seems like violence can be a solution to a problem or conflict. We have also become a people (all of us Americans) that feels entitled and when we don't get what we want, sometimes we react violently. So this is a tough road to climb, because we will be working against the sinful part of humanity. But it must be done.

Encourage witnesses to come forward and tell the police about crime. And we must use any means necessary to succeed at this. Crime stoppers tips, tweets, and emails. Rewards. Real protection for them when needed. Crusaders like Alonzo Washington. The faith community must stand up, particularly in the most affected areas. The time to sit by and watch is passing. The time to act is here.

Enforce the law when it comes to smaller crimes. Put career criminals in jail and keep them there. Treat drug addicts for their addictions, confine them if they won't take treatment. Take the political correctness handcuffs off police and let them do their jobs in all areas of the city, regardless of the officer's race and/or the miscreant's race.

There are subcultures to our majority cultures that glorify crime and violence. They must be shunned. I think there will always be a very few sociopaths--people without conscience--among us who will commit crime. They are people who love themselves, and things and use other people to their ends. Shun them, don't glorify them. And when they get caught committing a crime, confine them. Reinforce the greater culture against such people. People who are raised with a mom and a dad, people who are educated, people who are valued for who they are by the culture around them, are people who will not yield to the temptations of the sociopath. They will not become tools of evil. We are falling down as a society in this area. More and more young people think it's cool to be criminal. The family, the church, the school, must present an alternative to criminal thinking. Again, a tough road, but evil must be challenged.

Anytime a life is taken by another it is a sin. I always think of the scene between the Lord and Cain as recorded in Genesis 4. Cain had taken his brother Abel to a field and killed him. When the Lord asked Cain where Abel was, Cain snippily replied, "I don't know. Am I my brother's keeper?" The Lord responded with sorrow and anger, "What have you done? Listen! Your brother's blood cries out to me from the ground." (NIV)

The blood of over 100 people cries from the ground in Kansas City. And we are our brothers' keepers. Don't get numb. Feel the hurt. And then, let's get busy.

A Subscript to a Sad Double Murder

On Friday, November 20th, a 25 year old pregnant lady and her 19 year old boyfriend were sitting in the lady's car parked on Armour Boulevard, visiting together when they were both shot in the head by unknown assailants. The women died on the scene but her baby, just a few weeks from her due date, was rushed to the hospital. Unfortunately, the baby did not survive. Her boyfriend is still hospitalized with a serious head wound. In one of TKC's articles, buried in the comments section, was this comment. This comment makes it all too real:

Anonymous said...
Ok. First let me correct the simple mistake... Ashley was 25 not 19. Her boyfriend was 19. Secondly... it was a baby. Everyone here saw that baby moving like crazy fighting for oxygen in her stomach. Next, fetus vs baby shouldn't be the question. The question is why it took so damn long for police to arrive when we are only 3 blocks away? The ambulance lost precious time cuz KC's finest took forever to clear the scene. That baby could have made it. It was the procedure of our police department that cost that child's life. And to be a witness to such pisses me off!
11/21/2009 08:27:00 PM

This commenter is a direct witness. He/she may be a MAST medic/EMT or a firefighter. I couldn't be sure. Before I go further, let me explain the remark about the delay of the ambulance. If a call comes into 911, and there is uncertainty about the safety of the scene due to the nature of the call (i.e. the call is a reported shooting, assault, or drug/alcohol related), the fire department and MAST will "stage"; that is, they will park some distance away after arriving in the general neighborhood of the call, and wait for the police department to "clear the scene"; that is, to make sure that any shooting, assaulting etc has stopped. For Kansas City, this became a very real issue after the incident on Grandview Road in 2004, in which a paramedic was shot. Because both our fire department and our ambulance service take pride in and pains to have excellent response times, usually they have to wait on the police department to get there first. It is well known that the police department is often "blacked out"; that is, there are no police cars immediately available to respond to an emergency call (or there is one available, but it's a long way away, common in North, Shoal Creek and South zones.) This leaves KCFD and MAST waiting for a bit before they can enter the scene. From the comment, it's hard to tell if the police were delayed to the scene, or once there, took too much time before they allowed the medical help in to see the patients. Procedure can be influenced by staffing levels. It's hard to tell. I hope the PD takes the time to look at what happened and see if they can do it better next time.

For another first person account of the first responder's view, read this post by our friend Capt. Schmoe.

The shooting victims are killed 25 year old Ashley Thomas and her unborn child who was to be named Amya. Her boyfriend Darrel Pickens is still in critical condition at a local hospital with a gunshot wound to the head. Good news is that today a man was arrested and charged in connection with this crime. So here are some news links:

The Kansas City Star: Pregnant woman and fetus killed... (No, I am not commenting on the headline beyond saying that "unborn child" would have been a much less politically volatile way of phrasing it.)

KCTV5: Mother reeling after daughter, unborn child shot

KMBC: Man Charged in Slaying... Good on the witness for coming forward.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Friday Funny One Day Late

Unavoidable technical difficulties prevented the presentation of Friday Funny yesterday. So herewith is a funny, courtesy of failblog. It's in the "don't know whether to laugh or cry" category.

And it leads to a story. Actually, a phone call I heard on Darla Jay's talk program. The topic was exactly this: texting while driving. A man came on and told of his fiance's texting while driving habit. He beseeched her to stop this stupid behavior, but she told him "No, I'm going to keep doing it." He was afraid she would hurt herself or their future 83 children. Darla had only sympathy for him. As for me, I am yelling at the radio: "Break it off, break it off. That's a deal breaker! She's not smart enough for you! And she's selfish and narcissistic to boot! Dump her, stat!"

Folks, you are not that important, and there is nothing in your life that important that you have to text while driving. Put it down and give your full attention to the road.

So, the funny has a message...

Friday, November 20, 2009

Welcome to the Zoo, Troy Schulte

I wanted to include this in the previous post, but I couldn't hack the Html to put it where I wanted it!

Ah, no more innocent jaunts out to lunch for Troy Schulte, acting City Manager for Kansas City. Chris Hernandez and his pals are waiting for you! (Kansas City Star photo)

After the Fire

As far as I know, it's still standing. KC City Hall in one of my photos.
Well, I've been wandering around the internets, reading entries and comments on the events of yesterday afternoon concerning the government of this fair city. I would come to the conclusion that the community--at least the parts of it that read blogs and make comments--are glad to see Wayne Cauthen out the door. Some think that it was good for Mayor Funkhouser, and some think it was a "palace coup" to borrow the phase from John Sharp. (Mr. Sharp looked so relaxed at the Southern Communities Coalition meeting on Wednesday night. Little did we all know...) It will be interesting to see how Troy Schulte does in the post, since this is the man who helped financially justify the MAST merger with KCFD with some sort of bunch of numbers. Will he be a "yes man" for the Mayor and a way for him to add power to his weak (per the city charter) office, or someone who will take leadership in these difficult times?

The other thing that will be interesting is to see where the political fall out falls. Does it fall on the council members whose votes enabled Funky to show Cauthen the door (for the record, Hermann, Skaggs, Johnson, Circo, Gottstein, and Marcason voted in the way to help Funky suspend Cauthen) or does the people's election day wrath fall on those who voted in such a way as to continue to retain Cauthen in his post (again for the record Riley, Sharp, Jolly, Curls, Sanders-Brooks and Ford were against suspending Cauthen.).

Either way you shake it, the government of this city is a mess, the post with the most power is now manned by a neophyte, and the Mayor and City Council are not well regarded by most of the population. I am still both amazed and amused by the riffs the little old Black ladies at the very first meeting about MAST did on how much they DO NOT expect from city government. Their expectation was that the government will find a way to mess something up. I sometimes think that the only reason things just don't fall apart completely is because the people doing the actual work of making the city go and serving the people are very dedicated, generally love their jobs and helping people and ignore the machinations at the really tall building downtown. If they ever stop working as hard as they do, we'll all be in the soup big time. In the future, I am afraid that when the budget needs balancing (which it will), it will be on the backs of these good folks, and both they and the city's services will suffer.

New Blog Roll Enrollee

Apparently this newsy blog was quite the rage for a while, and then they shut it down. They've been back for about a month and they are terrific. Please check out State of the Line now on the blog roll. Right now, they have one of the best analysis of the doings at City Hall I have read thus far. Here's a link: Funkhouser, the Nuclear Option and the Future of KC.

Oh, all that stuff about Nick Sloan quiting his sports blog? Well just call him Brett, cause he's back. Link to him via

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Big Doings Down at City Hall

There's a lot stirring at City Hall these days. Probably the most spectacular event was today when the mayor, with sufficient backing from the City Council suspended City Manager Wayne Cauthen. Apparently it all started coming down early this afternoon, when Cauthen was asked to resign. He did not, and so Mayor Mark Funkhouser "suspended" him and had him escorted off City Hall property. Funky had six votes to do this on the City Council which apparently is enough. From Tony of TKC on Darla Jaye's show this p.m. that this was a move from the Northland council members as far as the support for Funky. Probably the council member most left holding the bag in support of Cauthen was South KC's own John Sharp. The Black council members Riley, Curls and Sanders-Brooks apparently squawked a little about race, but I don't think this is going to get any traction. This move is a combo of dissatisfaction with Cauthen's performance and the simple fact that Funky does not like Wayne Cauthen and has tried to remove Cauthen twice before and been stiffed by the City Council. City Council is the one who signed Cauthen to the multiyear contract deal that he has been working under. If the suspension turns into a firing/resignation, the buyout of Cauthen's contract may be in the $200,000 to maybe even $500,00 range. That's a lot of potholes, police officers and salaries for important city workers.

Interesting also that this event happens one day before an important ethics committee meeting concerning the mayor. The scuttlebutt here is that Funky had an employee do campaigning type work on a city salary--a big no-no per both city and state law.

Caller Susan to Darla's show described KCMO's government as unstable and untrusted by state and federal concerns. That's not a comfy place to be if this is so.

I'll link you to Tony's Kansas City. He has multiple newsy links on his sight as well as his own unique insight and 78 COMMENTS as of 10:35 PM. (His post has probably been up for about 8 hours)

The most recent from the Kansas City Star and KMBC.

And an editorial comment from Yours Truly. This city has not been competently run in many ways these past couple of years. Mayor Funkhouser has been a disappointment; I was hoping for a straight forward bean counter kind of guy and he has been all show and no go. However, it must be noted that in KC's City Manager form of government, the most power sits in the CM's office with the City Council second banana. The failure of the City Council and the Mayor to evaluate Wayne Cauthen and hold him accountable is a great failure. If a corrupt and incompetent person is in the CM's office he can do great damage. He has the most power, especially concerning the budget and day-to-day affairs, but he serves at the pleasure of the Mayor and the City Council. The Mayor and City Council got in two fights over Cauthen. Was he worth it? Considering his performance, I would say no.

I do wish we didn't have to pay him all that money to go away.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Terrorist Trial in Criminal Court in New York

As you have no doubt heard the trial for one Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the self confessed mastermind of the attacks of September 11, 2001 has been moved to a federal criminal court in New York City. The court house, in Foley Square, is just a short distance from Ground Zero. A sizable controversy has come up around this decision, and US AG Eric Holder spent several uncomfortable hours in the Senate this morning discussing it with the senators.

Here's a problem: They are being put on trial as if criminals for an act of war. To Mohammed and his cohorts, this was not just a bomb-and-arson. This was an act designed to cripple the United States with fear. It was a strike at financial, defense and (probably flight 93's destination) political centers. We are not involved in a police action with these Islamic extremist terrorists. We are involved in war. And that creates different parameters.

Here's another problem: This will be profoundly disruptive to the City of New York. Security will have to be ridiculously tight. It will cost money to guard these guys, and prevent attempts to kill them by both their colleagues and angry Americans. And for those directly affected by 9/11: I don't think having these guys around, and hearing all the details of the trial will exactly help everyone's psychological health.

A third problem: Appeals and technicalities. We all know about trials where the perp's guilt was obvious and proven, but the bad guy was released due to some "technicality" like a problem with evidence or interview. Did these guys get read their Miranda rights? No, I believe they were abused some, and their families threatened. Hmmm, that sounds like it could be a problem.

The current administration is so busy apologizing for America and trying to appear non-threatening to the world that we are endangering ourselves by underselling the determination of Islam extremists to wage war against us. This is war, not a police action. Thus, those who violate the rules of war should be tried in the military milieu, not civilian court. This is a bad idea.

Cat vs. Cop

Well here I am doing a little research and getting warmed up to do some blogging on this gloomy Wednesday. Oh, maybe about mammograms or the absurdity of having a terrorist trial in a civilian court or the flu epidemic in the Ukraine. Then I see this, and I laugh and my eyes water and shoot, I just have to share it with anyone who might not have seen it. Courtesy of Fox News.

Monday, November 16, 2009

All Sarah, All the Time

Newsweek got the Sarah Palin ball rolling with its cover in October.
Honestly, I do have an opinion about Sarah Palin. It may get me run out of the conservative union, but I do have an opinion.

My opinion is that she does not seem to have a teachable spirit. This troubles me.

There is a difference between glorying in being an outsider, who has a different point of view by dint of being an outsider, and being so caught up in your uniqueness that you refuse to listen to those who have gone before. Before her various media appearances during the 2008 campaign, some of which were less than stellar, how well did she prepare? How well did she listen? Did she really listen or did she just think to herself, "Yeah, yeah, whatever."

Being the President of the United States is such a complex and stressful thing that presidents would do well to be excellent listeners and learners. There are going to be times that the president must listen to and accept advice and teaching, and not go off on their own untested ideas of what to do. "Yeah, yeah, whatev." is not an acceptable response.

Sarah Palin has many good talents that help her be qualified to be a candidate for president. To complete the package, she needs to show some humbleness about herself and her abilities and opinions.

Reportedly, she admits she did poorly in the interview with Katie Couric in 2008. That humility is a good start.

Meantime, we will all get a full dose of Sarah Palin as it will be all Sarah, all the time, especially on conservative media.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Fire Photos

I meant to do this earlier--KSHB got these amazing photos from the Independence Fire Department of the apartment complex fire November 11th at 0445 (that is 4:45 a.m.). It is amazing that nobody was even injured in this massive blaze that put 42 people out of their homes. There were even cats saved out of this. A lot of credit goes to the residents themselves who knocked on doors and got everybody out as well as a swift response by the Independence Fire Department.

Link: KSHB: Exclusive Up Close Photos of Apartment Fire

Link: KSHB: Electrical Problem Caused Fire

Link: One of Happy Medic's friends, Firegeezer, has news coverage all linked up on his blog.

Link: KMBC: Slide show of fire photos/stills including one lucky kitty.

Friday Funny

Dedicated to anyone working their way throught an Advanced Cardiac Life Support class--here's a link to ACLS algorithms in a flow chart form so the rest of you can get a sample of what I'm talking about:

Evil, Evil, Evil

The awful news of the arrest of six men--a father, his four sons and an associate of the father--for assorted crimes against girls has been all over Kansas City news and blog circles as well as some national exposure on Fox and CNN. What Alonzo Washington has called "The Freak Factory" of suburban, exurban and rural areas has produced this family with a bounty of awful freakishness. The story is still developing, but there have been allegations of rape, "weddings", bestiality and murder. Worse, three of the men are "lay ministers" in the Community of Christ Church, an off shoot organization of the Mormons.

I'm not sugar coating this sucker: This is evil. This is the evil outcome of evil human will on the part of six human beings to pleasure themselves with those who cannot defend or speak for themselves. If the charges are proven true beyond a doubt, these men need to be taken away, and kept away from the community at large for the course of their natural lives.

No one is beyond God's forgiveness, but society cannot give any mercy here. They must rot in jail for the rest of their lives. Period.

Some Random Thoughts on the Fort Hood Tragedy

Some things that have been bumping around my head during the week that followed the shooting at Fort Hood in Texas:

Who cares? There is a mild controversy around what exactly happened when the two civilian police officers confronted Nidal Hasan just outside the Readiness Building at Fort Hood. Accounts have changed from the initial account, now with Officer Kim Munley not actually shooting the gunman when she confronted him. Mark Todd, another officer on the scene, from accounts appears to have been the one that actually hit Hasad with his shots. You know what, I don't care. They both performed with amazing bravery, running towards a situation that normal people would be running from. They didn't exactly know what was going on when they arrived. They assessed the situation on the run, and found the gunman. Officer Munley may or may not have shot Hasan, but she drew his fire, keeping him from killing another man. Officer Todd saw the situation and shot Hasad, ending his shooting and saving the life of Officer Munley. I guess some feel that Officer Munley got kudos because she was a woman. I would say she may have had some extra kudos due to that, and her diminutive stature. It captured the imagination, a small female person with the guts to stand in against a big man with a big gun. It doesn't really bother me that she got this extra praise. Let's now get busy praising Officer Todd, because they are both heroes in my book. Link: New York Times: "Second Officer Gives an Account..."

How would you do that? As the news would come out about how Hasad was doing in the hospital--first that he would live--second he was off the ventilator--now, news is coming out that he may be paralyzed from the waist down--I have been considering how in the world would you care for him as a doctor, nurse or patient care tech? How could you bring yourself to do the hundred and one things that need to be done for a critically ill patient, from suctioning his endotracheal tube, to giving pain medication to giving him a sip of water? There is a saying in the Christian faith: "Love the sinner, hate the sin." It would have to be a variation of this split, to not remember, or at least not have it in the front of your mind what he has done. Address only the now and immediate; what is before your eyes and mind right now, not what has happened. It is not easy. I had a small dose of this when, while working at the VA, a patient came in after doing time in prison. He had served his time, and was free and clear. I don't know why my work colleague looked him up on the sexual offender list, but they did and there he was. It did not change care for him, not obviously anyway, but you could tell everyone thought differently of him when the nature of his crime was revealed. My guess is that Hasad has received and is receiving competent and appropriate care, but that bond and closeness that develops between caregiver and patient will be distinctly lacking.

Let's just say it: we missed it. As the authorities have jumped into Hasad's life before the shooting, it is obvious that many signs of his radical Muslim faith were missed. Some were appreciated, but were still stranded in bureaucracy. Others were noted, then suppressed due to PC fears. I'm afraid that our Muslim friends may have to get used to a little more scrutiny in the future. It may not be PC to say this, but all Muslims will end up paying the price for the actions of the radicals of their faith. We cannot allow a fear of being condemned as prejudiced to prevent us from taking action against those who wish to destroy our country by violence.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A Few Veteran's Day Photos

This is a famous photo from the Iraq war. The soldier in his skivvies was taking a nap when fighting broke out near his post. He grabbed his armor, his Kevlar helmet and his gun and helped his buddies repel the attack.

D-Day--6 June 1944.
The caption, translated from the French, about sums it up. "Thank you very much."

This is just too cute. A peaceful moment for this soldier with tiny pups.

Veteran's Day

Today, November 11th, is a day our nation sets aside to honor its veterans. It is a day when people are given the opportunity to honor the dead and the living former soldiers among us who served and sometimes, had to fight, on our behalf.

I have never thought of it as a "patriotic" holiday. I think of it as a time to place emphasis on the individual men and women who served in the armed forces. Not every veteran is a combat veteran, but all vets deserve kudos. For those who served after 1973, when the draft ended, it was a choice to serve. For those who were conscripted to serve, it was a choice not to run. Everyone who served was making a sacrifice. The military life is not an easy life, even if you are never sent to a war zone. Even those who served "in the rear with the gear" deserve honor.

Of course, veterans deserve our attention all year long. Post traumatic stress disorder didn't just start up with the Vietnam war. If you go to a PTSD group at your local VA hospital, you'll find vets from WWII to the current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan present. Vietnam vets still struggle with their homecoming, still feeling shunned by most of America. While most veterans picked up their civilian lives without much difficulty, some never do get the hang of "regular life" again. Some of those live desperate lives, often homeless, bouncing from one crisis to another.

I have been honored to care for veterans at the VA hospital. Yes, there are the chronic drunks, the manipulators, the malingerers. Every hospital has them! The majority of vets however, became regular citizens and have lead pretty healthy lives. Many Vietnam era vets became the core of the skilled working class; mechanics, truck drivers, auto workers, repairmen, bus drivers, construction workers. Generally they are in their 50s and 60s now, nearing retirement. Some vets moved onto very special things: I have met rocket scientists and pioneers in flight at the VA. Veterans have used their experiences in the services as a jumping off point for their lives.

Dennis Smith, the FDNY firefighter turned author noted in his bestselling autobiography "Report from Engine Company 82" that the safest community is one whose fire trucks are still in the station. An empty firehouse means someone has called needing help and the firefighters have responded. It's an irony I have reflected upon many times when I drive past the firehouses in my neighborhood and see the pumpers parked within--or not. The military is the same way. We are safest when our soldiers are all home, practicing war, not doing war. As a nation we should leave warfare as a last resort. When we chose war, as sometimes we have to, we must go at it with all our heart. I know that his name makes some people foam at the mouth, but I'll take that risk and say that the best definition of what an army does is from Rush Limbaugh. Armies are tasked to kill people and break things. If we remember this, that sending in the armed forces results in death and destruction, perhaps we'll not be so quick to use violence to solve problems.

So this is my thanks to all veterans, thank you for your service. Thank you for saying yes when your country called. Thank you for being brave when that was the last way you felt. Thank your for enduring the drudgery and monotony that is sometimes army life. Thank you for doing the impossible at times. Thank you for the sacrifice of time, and sometimes, of blood. Thank you for preserving freedom (including the freedom to write this blog) in this country. Thank you for being a part of bringing opportunities for freedom to other countries and peoples.

Thank you...

Monday, November 9, 2009

Does Believing in God Make You Violent?

The shooting in Fort Hood has produced more discussion about religion in general in recent days. Bloggers I have read have used violence in religion's name as a reason to dismiss belief in God as something that could be a part of their lives. As a Christian, I feel that they are missing out. Life with God as a part of it is a richer life, and really, a more peaceful life as it is a life oriented around learning about and practicing the love of Jesus Christ in and on the world around you.

The thing is that Christianity properly done is hard. It's not hard in the sense of making you work, it's hard in the sense of its opposite nature from a human's sinful fallen nature. Let me try that again. Christianity, properly practiced, does not come naturally to sinful man. We want power and position. Christianity asks that we rejoice in our weakness. We want to be in control. Christianity asks that we take our hands off and let God do the saving, the sanctifying, the guiding. We want to love whomever we want to love. Christianity asks that we love everybody.

I think that any religious practice that puts salvation completely in the human's hands is mistaken. We cannot save ourselves no how. I was reading a discussion of the issue of predestination, a theological question that has been debated by Christians since the time of Christ. Here's one picture the author used to help the discussion: God is always reaching his hand down to us to save us. (The debate comes in at the point of whether or not we can/do reach a hand up towards God's reaching hand, or does God pluck us into salvation whether or not we reach back to him. That is some deep theological talk and not the topic here!) The thing is we do not rescue ourselves. If that hand from God does not initiate that reaching for our sorry sin-soaked drowning souls, we are indeed going to drown. And that bugs humanity no end. We can't save ourselves--we can't fill the God shaped hole through our own efforts--how dare He. We have our pride, and we want our control.

So we set up systems--sometimes full blown religious systems, like Islam and Mormonism--that demand that we follow this or that set of rules and things to do in order to achieve salvation. We want control! I'll control myself, do this list, and God-as-I-understand-him will love me and save me. It can be less god centered--if I am a good person, do good, act good...then I am good and I'm in. Oh, and you can make Christianity a salvation by works religion too. It's not biblical but it's been done--oh several times over the past 2000 years. Works religion in the Christian context is called Legalism.

Trouble comes when someone else has a list of things to do and it's not the same as your list. Perhaps their god goes by a different name. There are different rules. You don't follow those rules, therefore you are an infidel. Taken to an extreme, you must convert and follow their rules, or you must be killed. I'm right, you're wrong, period. I think that religious systems that preach salvation by works, by doing things, are much more vulnerable to this distortion than proper salvation-by-grace Christianity. And that includes legalistic Christianity.

Christians should never resort to force to create repentance and faith. For one, there is no need. God is perfectly capable of convicting and convincing on His own through the ministry of the Holy Spirit. Secondly, it is God's love that is the mark of true Christianity, that love that Christ showed us on the Cross, and an angry vindictive approach is not a way to show God's love to others. Christians are called to be witnesses to God's faithfulness, showing and telling about His love (more showing, less telling is best), and showing the reason for the hope that lies within them. In addition, God loves and values each person. So should Christian believers. Threatening and physically harming people to "make them believe" is against God and His love for humanity and His respect for human dignity. Making war against non-Christians because they do not believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior is not Christian. It does not reflect the love of God towards man, that God expressed when He sent His Son to earth to first, live among us, and second, to die for our sins. It more likely reflects, as the Crusades did, a lust to conquer, a lust to acquire and a lust for power. In other words, sin. And it is wrong whenever you see it, in whatever "god's" name it is done in. When you confront people committing violence in the name of "god", you are looking at evil. It is wrong, and not God's will.

And, oh, by the by, it will not get you 72 virgins.

Whadaya Think?

A lot of the bloggers I read have tweeked their blogs of late. Bikehiker has change the name of his blog, and the quote under his title, among other things. Capt. Shmoe over at Report on Conditions has added to (thank you!) and updated his blog roll. Happy Medic is positively a EMS/fire conglomerate over there now at Wordpress--he is knee deep right now in his cultural exchange project with Medic999 from Great Britian. TKC added a twitter feed awhile back.

Me? Well, a couple weeks ago, I decided that my sports opinions needed their own blog--thus was born You're Looking Live, and Saturday I decided to change the font on the blog posts. This is a font called Georgia. It appears larger on the screen and I think it's easier to read. What say you?

Saturday, November 7, 2009

The Tragedy at Fort Hood

I wanted to let this story sit, sit and simmer a bit before I considered it. I was working Thursday and only even knew about it through the news alert The New York Times sent to my email, which I saw when I checked my Blackberry late in the day. Speculation was running rampant--only the general's news conference Thursday night began to put the rumors to rest.

As the story has continued to mature, we have heard some heroic stories. Police now do not wait to challenge a gunman in a public place now, but confront him as soon as possible. KCPD did that in the Ward Parkway shooting a number of years ago, and the police at Fort Hood followed the same tactic. Within minutes, Sargent Kimberly Munley was on the scene, and engaged the shooter, Nidal Hasan in a gun battle almost immediately upon her arrival. In 10 minutes it was over. Hasan was wounded and unable to continue his shooting. God only knows how many more lives would have been lost and how many more wounded there would have been without the courage and ability of Sargent Munley.

Other tales have emerged of soldiers able to escape, then returning, even while bullets were still flying, to tend to the wounded. The hospitals treating the wounded put out word they needed blood and potential donors flocked in. Soldiers ripped their own uniforms to bandage and care for the wounded.

The question has come to motive for this gunman. He is American born of Jordanian heritage, 39 years old and single. He has been in the Army since graduating from High School. He is a Muslim and active in his faith. He was posted at Walter Reed prior to moving to Fort Hood, where he has been working as a psychiatrist. He has never been to a combat zone, but was being assigned to Afghanistan and was to serve there shortly.

(OK, I am having a computer moment. My WiFi source decided to make me re-sign in. The last autosave did not get the complete entry. When I went to publish, it published the last time the autosave had gone all the way through. Two paragraphs that had taken a long time to write were gone. And I don't think I can reproduce them...ARGH!)

Maybe that's because I was trying to be too PC and not direct enough. One, we may never know the motives of Hasad. His imminent deployment? PTSD from hearing about other people's PTSD? He is a Muslim terrorist wanting to kill the Infidels and go be with the 72 virgins? Only God and Dr. Hasad know. Do we need to worry about the Muslims among us becoming terrorists? I don't think we can know who might go this way. We end up having to watch everybody. After all, did we see Tim McVay coming? And, yes, we need to lighten the load on our military. Too many tours for soldiers are creating very real mental health issues.

Now, one last thing. The bravery, the selflessness, the skill. Good human traits brought to a situation that highlighted the most evil deeds that a person can do. God's grace is at it again. His Common restraining grace. The grace He has allowed us to have, even though we are fallen. It, along with the story of God's Son coming to live among us, and a part of God, His Holy Spirit dwelling with us even now, makes this kind of event something, not something understandable, or tolerable, but something that can be taken on, something that can be dealt with, without robbing God of his main and overwhelming characteristic. His love and care for us.

The theology of suffering is not easy theology to do. There is a risk of sounding cheesey and unrealistic. But it must be said: God is with us, even when the forces of nature and the wills of men show their fallen and sinful side. Count on it.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Friday Funny

Tonight's Friday Funny is also Friday Cute and Friday AAwwww... Thought we needed that extra after this week's events.

The Dress Code at the Power and Light District

The family involved in the lawsuit against Cordish and the P&L District. They look pretty good to me. Maybe the lady in white needs to don a cover for her shoulders.

The dress code at the Power and Light District has been a controversy and a pain since the District opened. There are two recent events fueling more controversy lately. There has been a lawsuit filed claiming discrimination based on race. In addition, there is a report from city dispatched "secret shoppers" that Black folks were denied entry to the P&L District more often than White folks. In other words, the city sent out White people and Black people dressed identically to the P&L District to see what the response would be, and more of the Black people found themselves denied entry due to the way they were dressed, even when identically attired White people were admitted. The Secret Shopper type survey, if done correctly, and done enough times to get a good sized sample, impresses me more than the law suit. The law suit reflects one single event, at one time, involving a certain group of people. It has to be proved in a court of law. But the event, even when proved to have happened, may be an outlier. That's why the "shopper test" is more impressive.

I see the need for a dress code. There are two categories of clothing the District really wants to keep out: One, the just plain inappropriate. The slob stuff--torn and dirty clothing. The overly revealing stuff--underwear worn as shirts--wife beaters and camisoles. Too open and sexual, leaving nothing to the imagination. Clothing that is not dressy enough for a night on the town. Two, the clothing that has gained significance beyond its surface meaning. Athletic wear and "colors" that send gang messages are the main culprits here. Baggin' saggin' trousers are both slob clothes and message clothes. The crotch of the pants should be up near the crotch of the wearer. It's one thing if the trousers are cut big (like with wide legs); another to deliberately wear them big.

epic fail pictures
see more Epic Fails These two will definitely not get into the P&L District.

The problem is that many aspects of any dress code can be applied subjectively . Some dress codes are clear. No jacket, no service is a rule in many high end restaurants, especially in the east. They simply will not let you in without one. You could be rich, poor, Black or White, you are not getting in without that jacket. But when you start talking about the degree of bagginess of someone's pants, or the length of shorts or what is an acceptable t-shirt and what is not, then it can get a bit dicey. Anything that can be up to a person's judgment is a problem. That area of judgement is where lawsuits are born.

The folks at Power and Light may need to go the "all or nothing" route. Rule: NO white t-shirts, period. Rule: No sleeveless garments, period. Rule: NO athletic wear of any kind. Rule: No blue jeans. Rule: You must wear a belt (males). Rule: NO collarless shirts. You get the idea. Or they have to go the other way--no restriction at all for the district as a whole. (I would certainly allow a specific establishment to have its own rules. Word gets out on how you have to dress to go to certain places, and if a place is nice enough, and good enough at their business, they will flourish, even with a strict dress code.) The fear is that without a dress code, certain "elements" will go to the P&L District and cause problems. I don't know about "elements", but I do know that if I am nicely dressed, I am not going to go out of my way to cause trouble. The way people are dressed influences the overall tone and atmosphere of a place. I would say that people who are dressed up are less likely to steal, start fights and shoot each other.

Some see strict dress codes as racist, pointing at Black people in particular. However, Black people are not the only ones that dress "hip hop" or "gangster". And there is a way of dressing I would describe as "White Trash", and both Blacks and Whites can be seen dressing that way. If you make a cold rule that none of that will be allowed by anyone, that is not racist. The P&L District needs to say, "Yes, we do discriminate. We discriminate against slobs. Of any race. Go home and dress nicer, then come back, and we will welcome you here."

I just don't know if in the racially charged environment of early 21st century America, that this can be done without offending someone.

Feeling Slapped Around by the News

It really started earlier this week, but it has continued. The feeling of way too much bad news. Let's see now...let's just list the unpleasant stories of the week. No links. No particular order, just as they come to mind: Shooting at Fort Hood, 13 dead...shooting in Orlando, 1 dead...a murder just yards from where The Observer washes clothes...3 missing softball players turn up dead in a Jeep in a videotapes his hanging of a 3 month old kitten (kitten survived)--tried to hang kitten because he was mad at his girlfriend...80+year old man beaten up by a woman in Prairie Village..10 bodies and a skull in the serial killer's house in Cleveland...unemployment highest since 1983...Excelsior Springs woman abducted, killed...stoned and texting JoCo teen driver charged with the death of the lady gardening in her yard...Mayor misusing money at City Hall...Power and Light District buried in controversy over dress code...I just checked in at and there was a story about a lady being killed by an SUV at the car wash in Grandview--the vehicle was being driven by its owner...damn Yankees won the World Series.

OK, that last item was a joke. Sort of.

It's hard to imagine life without information. Back in time, such as the 1400s and early 1500s, information travelled at the speed of foot and horse. Very rare was the person that ventured beyond their village. News traveled very slowly, if at all. Then, starting with the movable type printing press, inventions that helped transmit information began to come about. The press enabled people to preserve information and pass it on; pamphlets and newspapers were an indispensable part of the American Revolution. News started moving faster. The Bible was opened up by both Martin Luther and the press to the people in their native tongue. Then next the telegraph; info over distance, very fast. Then the locomotive and rail travel. Then photography. Then the telephone. Then radio. Then motorized transportation--cars. Then television. Then the computer. Then satellite transmission. Then the Internet. Then cellular communication. Each invention coming quicker on the heels of the last, giving easy access to richer, fuller and faster transmission of news and information. Now, with your Blackberry or iPhone, you can be in full contact with many sources of information all the time.

Sometimes, you just have to take a timeout. Stories of bad stuff tend to make the news, not the good things that happen every day. You can get a warped view of life if all you see is the bad stuff. I am not advocating taking a head-in-the-sand approach. There is evil in the world. The news is the superconcentrated recitation of evil deeds. It has to be taken with caution like any strong medicine. When it seems that the news is just pouring it on, take a breath and remember that life, while not perfect and sometimes quite painful, has many wonderful joys and good things. And maybe, unplug for a little while.