Sep 052012

On ambassadorship

By Dave Cooper

NoC ambassador to Cycling

In July of 1989, my friend Carol and I decided to follow a dream and ride our bicycles across America.  We took leaves of absence from work, packed our bikes and gear into boxes, and flew to Seattle to start our trip.  Carol brought her brown 18-speed Fuji from Massachusetts.  My bike was an orange 15-speed 1970’s model Schwinn LeTour III, with fully-loaded front and rear Cannondale panniers, leather grips and a handlebar pack.  It weighed a freakin’ ton.

After reassembling our bikes in the baggage claim area, we rode out of the airport and wobbled towards downtown Seattle to try and find an REI camping store. Pedaling around an unfamiliar downtown, we got turned around and ended up riding the wrong way against traffic on a one-way street before cutting across the street to the store, blocking traffic in the process.

A pedestrian looked at us and said, scornfully, “It’s people like you that give bicyclists a bad name.” Continue reading »

Sep 052012

179-53 victory impresses Reese the Beast

By Sunny Montgomery

This past Saturday I attended the Rollergirls of Central Kentucky (ROCK) home bout against the Greenbrier Roller Vixens (GRV) from West Virginia with my best friend, Teresa, who was a roller derby virgin.  I love introducing my friends to the sport.  Being able to answer their questions makes me feel important.

We chose front-row seats so close to the track they were practically in suicide-seating, the area around the track where, due to the very real possibility a skater could skid out of control and into the crowd, fans are permitted to sit so long as they are over the age of eighteen.  As announcer Bill Widener began introductions, I surveyed ROCK’s competition.  Based on stature alone, it was going to be a fair fight. Continue reading »

Sep 052012

David Cobb informs, inspires crowd at UK

By Joy Arnold

If money can buy a political system, should it be called a “democracy”?  That was one question a crowd of nearly 100 people wrestled with last Thursday night at the University of Kentucky’s Center Theater. The crowd was there to hear attorney-activist David Cobb explain the role of corporations in American history. Cobb, spokesperson for the national organization, Move to Amend (MTA), was invited to Lexington to speak by the Central Kentucky chapter of Move to Amend (CKYMTA).

Born in San Leon, Texas, Cobb worked in construction and as a commercial shrimper before going to college.  Despite growing up in what he calls “rural poverty” in a home that didn’t have a flush toilet, he graduated from the University of Houston Law School in 1993, maintained a successful private law practice in Houston for several years and ran for president on the Green Party ticket. These days, Cobb works on the law and research committee of Move to Amend.  He likes it best when people refer to him as an “engaged citizen.” Continue reading »

Sep 052012

Resources go downtown while northside residents struggle

NoC News

Out of growing concern about crime and violence, Castlewood neighborhood residents have started organizing. They’ve had meetings; they’ve got plans. At the center of those plans are two things: build strong relationships among neighbors and prod the city into finishing the renovation of E. Loudon Avenue.

As it stands right now, the condition of E. Loudon from Shropshire to Bryan is deplorable, making the area look like it has been abandoned by the city. The road surface is compromised, the curbs destroyed, the median in shambles. Along this stretch have also been the most dangerous incidents of crime, including the fatal shooting of 19-year-old Christopher Thongs in May.

Putting two and two together, Castlewood residents have begun to wonder just how much the infrastructure neglect in their area has contributed to the crime. Because they know that street design and general upkeep of an area can discourage destructive activity, Castlewood residents want that last stretch of E. Loudon renovated. But if you know the history of the work already done on E. Loudon, you have to wonder just how much work they’ll have to do themselves to get a decent street. The type of street that many neighorhoods take for granted: one with curbs and without sinkholes and buckling pavement. Continue reading »

Sep 052012

Myths, Moms, and Power

By Joseph Anthony

With so many Republican targets to aim at, it might seem churlish to attack Ann Romney. She is probably a nice woman. And I’m sure she’s a great mom. But her speech at the Republican convention, while primarily intended to re-introduce Mitt to the country as loving husband and all-around nice guy, is also a broadside in the cultural wars. It needs to be answered. I don’t mean the parts where she assumes we’re idiots—the early struggles she reports of she and the boy she loved making the ironing board in their basement apartment do double duty as dining room table. That’s just old-fashioned political mythmaking: Abe the rail splitter. Or worse, William Henry Harrison the plantation slave –owner turned poor boy in a cabin. Nobody believes those stories except the terminally smug. No, it’s her comments about women, power and love that need to be answered.

Tonight I want to talk to you about love.

Ann Romney is an expert on love.  She knows more about love than I do.  Why? Well, the answer is simple. She’s a woman. She’s not just a woman; she’s a mother.

I want to talk to you about that love so deep only a mother can fathom it

Mrs. Romney is making an ancient claim here—that women, mothers, know more about certain profound feelings than men do.  This praise of motherhood, as American as Apple-pie, is praise that separates. She devotes the center of her speech to this mother-praise.

It’s the moms who always have to work a little harder, to make everything right.

It’s the moms of this nation — single, married, widowed — who really hold this country together. We’re the mothers, we’re the wives, we’re the grandmothers, we’re the big sisters, we’re the little sisters, we’re the daughters.

You know it’s true, don’t you?

You’re the ones who always have to do a little more.

I’m not sure if men really understand this, but I don’t think there’s a woman in America who really expects her life to be easy. In our own ways, we all know better!

Well, who could argue with a lot of this? I might agree that women’s lives are generally harder than men’s. I might argue that our political, economic, and social structure make it so, but the conclusion would still be there. And leaving room for huge numbers of exceptions, I’d even agree that women work harder to keep a family emotionally together than do many men.  Think indifferent fathers and until a few years ago, almost nobody would be too shocked. They might disapprove but they saved their true opprobrium for that monster, the indifferent mother.

But Ann Romney’s motives in this speech aren’t meant to get us into a dinner-time debate over which parent cares more, which parent learns better the minutiae of raising children from knowing which cereal each child will tolerate to where the nearest emergency room is.

Ann Romney says she is praising women. But don’t be fooled.  There’s an ancient history of misogyny hiding under praise of women—from Chaucer’s clerk to Popes slobbering over the Virgin Mary. Ann Romney has been accused of pandering to women in her speech, but she was really doing the old job of separating them from men.  And while segregating women from men might seem like chivalry at times, common courtesy or even common sense at other times, it always works against women in the end.

She starts simply.

We’re the mothers, we’re the wives, we’re the grandmothers, we’re the big sisters, we’re the little sisters, we’re the daughters.

Yes, women are that. But as Emerson, not a great feminist but a great man, said: You are yourself, too. You are yourself first. It is the core feminist message. A woman does not define herself by her relationship to others, especially not to a man. Central to all, we are ourselves.

But that’s not Ann Romney’s main message. Her main message has to do with women and power, specifically power in the public arena.

 It’s the moms of this nation — single, married, widowed — who really hold this country together.

A mom has this power, Ann Romney implies, inside the home. This is where her true woman holds power. Romney tries to be realistic. She knows that sometimes a woman has to leave the home: not everyone has millionaire husbands. But she insists that they always leave with regret: they are the working moms who love their jobs but would like to work just a little less to spend more time with the kids.

With all this power inside the home, why would a true woman leave it if she could possibly avoid doing so? The corporate power and the political arena’s rewards are nothing compared to the power of love.

A true woman understands this. She does not try to be a priest: 19 year old Mormon boys in good-standing are automatically priests—elders almost before their beards are fully in. But not women who’ve might have raised five of this future hierarchy. And of course, that’s not just a Mormon phenonemon. Nuns with doctorates and fifty years in the field are not suitable for the priesthood.

The true woman doesn’t question this. She knows her place. It’s a wonderful place really. It’s all about love.

And love makes the world go round. (Or is that Bain Capital?)

Hillary Clinton got such a bashing twenty years ago when she let out that she wasn’t one to stay home and bake cookies. Perhaps she should have worded that better. If the proof is in the pudding, she was a pretty good mom, cookies or not. But a large part of the nation felt scorned. Hillary had to backtrack.

But I doubt if Ann Romney will be compelled to backtrack though she scorns, in her sweet tomes, most American women. She reduces them to their roles to men and to family; she tells them their true vocation is not in the world but in the home. It’s an old message. It’s a damning, damaging message trotted out by every misogynistic politician and clergyman since time began.

I do not like joining another tradition—that of taking shots at the wives of political candidates, whether it be Kitty Dukakis, Hillary Clinton, or even Nancy Reagan. Most of the time, the shots are cheap and meant for their husbands. But it would also be insulting to Ann Romney not to answer her speech, as if as a nice woman she shouldn’t be taken that seriously. I take her very seriously.

Ann Romney’s hymn of praise of women, of mothers especially, is not what it seems. It seeks to limit women’s identity to their roles in family, it seeks to segregate them from the public world feminism has opened for them. Her speech was a shot in the cultural war: we need to shoot back.

Sep 052012

Zirui had arrived at the Lexington airport from China (via Detroit) three hours before we stopped him by the orange chair. He was already enrolled in a graduate program at UK. He had walked to the Kroger store on Euclid Ave from the Commonwealth Village Apartments on Nicholasville Rd (where a friend of his lived and where he was going to spend his first American night) to look for a pre-paid phone card to call his parents. Zirui was asking a passer-by how to find his way back to his friend’s apartment complex when we asked him to sit for a photograph. After taking his picture, we gave him a lift. We were assisted in finding the Commonwealth Village Apartments by two graduate students from Italy. One of them, a woman on a bike, led us all the way to the apartment complex.

Image and text by Kurt Gohde and Kremena Todorova, Discarded project. Continue reading »

Sep 052012

By Michael Dean Benton

September 17 will mark the first anniversary of the Occupy Movement, the first day of the Occupy Wall Street takeover of Zucotti Park in order to protest social and economic inequality, the abuses of the financial sector that led to the 2008 Global Economic Crisis, the undue influence of corporate money in the US government, and the way these problems undermine democracy.

Although the Occupy Movement looks to Occupy Wall Street as its first day of action, the movement was inspired from resistance movements around the world that were challenging similar injustices by their economic and political elites. These included the Arab Spring in Egypt, the encampments of the Spanish Indignants, and the 2011 Wisconsin protests. Canadian activists working with the magazine Adbusters led the original call to gather at Wall Street during the summer of 2011, circulating a communiqué featuring a graceful ballerina balanced on the head of the iconic Wall Street bull and calling on protesters to gather and occupy Wall Street on 9/17. Continue reading »