All the news, views, and filtered excellence fit to consume during your morning grumpy.
1. Yesterday in The Buffalo News, Jane Kwiatkowski offered some guidance on how to “handle” panhandlers as you go about your business in downtown Buffalo.
All it takes is one bad panhandler to ruin your day.
Maybe he got too close when he asked for your spare change, or pestered you after you said no.
On any given day downtown, panhandlers walk the Theater District, Elmwood Avenue, West Chippewa Street or Main Street.
Getting a handle on panhandling is a rite of spring for city merchants, visitors and police, who view it as a quality-of-life issue. Many municipalities including Buffalo have enacted ordinances that prohibit aggressive panhandling, although enforcing the law is discretionary, police said.
The article makes a lot of assumptions and paints with a pretty broad brush in the most generic way possible. In fact, I found it to be pretty offensive. These types of articles paint a picture of urban life in the city that appeals to the sheltered, fearful, and prejudiced.
“There are some gentlemen who are very respectful and honest with you, and yeah I’ll throw them some change in my pocket.
“But most of them I don’t, because I know they’re going right to the store to buy beer. Sometimes I’ll actually take the guy to the store and buy him something to eat instead of giving him money, but some guys just walk up to you and they’re rude, saying they need a beer. I’m recovering myself, I’m not going to feed anybody else’s habit.”
I’m not so naive to think that there aren’t a few people walking the street who are trying to “get one over on me” for the benefit of the few cents I might be able to spare. I also have empathy and think this isn’t a problem to be “handled” as if it were some personal inconvenience to me. Give the person a dollar if you are so inclined or perhaps give a little thought to why people find themselves on the street in the first place. Perhaps contemplate how your consumption patterns, life choices, voting choices, and overall attitude fits into the puzzle of broad-based poverty and homelessness. Most of all, remember that people on the streets are, first and foremost, human beings and deserve to be treated as such. They aren’t “problems” to be “handled”. Here’s an interview with a homeless man in Chicago, whose story is familiar to anyone with any sense of empathy.
2. Here’s an awesome Q&A with Buffalo-area graphic designer Julian Montague that was recently featured on Dwell.com. The best part? The lack of incredulity by the author about why Julian chooses ot live in Buffalo, which is standard fare in stories like this one. “You’re talented and live in Buffalo?! My heavens, Why?!” Probably because it was written by a person with Buffalo roots, but refreshing nonetheless.
3. Remember Jimmy “The Rent Is Too Damn High” McMillan? You know, the be-gloved karate expert who ran for Governor and seemed like a serious candidate when put on the stage next to horse porn enthusiast Carl Paladino?
Well, he’s back and running for Mayor of New York City. And, yes. The rent is evidently still too damn high.
4. Dottie Gallagher-Cohen was hired to replace Andrew Rudnick as the head of the Buffalo Niagara Partnership. I was going to write some thoughtful analysis of the hire, but I decided to leave that low-hanging fruit for Geoff Kelly to cover in the print edition. Instead, I photoshopped Dottie’s head on to Andrew’s bow-tied torso.
Because that’s what I do.
5. Today, in America, nearly 500,000 children as young as six years old harvest 25 percent of our crops.
Child migrant labor has been documented in the 48 contiguous states. Seasonal work originates in the southernmost states in late winter where it is warm and migrates north as the weather changes. Every few weeks as families move, children leave school and friends behind. If you’ve had onions (Texas), cucumbers (Ohio or Michigan), peppers (Tennessee), grapes (California), mushrooms (Pennsylvania), beets (Minnesota), or cherries (Washington), you’ve probably eaten food harvested by children.
This isn’t a slavery issue, or an immigration issue per se. What’s remarkable is that most of the migrant child farmworkers are American citizens trying to help their families. This is a poverty issue and it gets to the heart of what we, as consumers, see as the “right price” to pay for food.
No minimum wage, long hours, and brutal working conditions. But, hey, we need cheap cucumbers, right?
6. Chart of the day which might cause you to think about the money we spend on the “war on drugs“. Perhaps the real enemy in the war isn’t the illegal drugs.
We’ll see if the substantial shift in national drug policy just announced by the Obama Administration will mean a real change.
“Drug policy should be rooted in neuroscience, not political science,” said Gil Kerikowske, director of the White House Office on National Drug Control Policy.
“Too many people are cycling through the (criminal justice) system,” Kerikowske said. “We cannot arrest our way out of the drug problem.”
Treating our national drug problem as a public health crisis that can be solved with prevention, treatment, and science? It’s about time.
Fact Of The Day: Scientists have created a computer program that can detect good “that’s what she said” sentences.
Quote Of The Day: “The meek shall inherit the Earth, but not its mineral rights.” – J. Paul Getty
Song Of The Day: “19-2000 (Soulchild Remix)” – Gorillaz
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