Monday, June 28, 2004

Good News
Obviously, I was born with a dominant bitch-and-moan gene (although "nurture" played a role as well). And blogging is basically a license to whine, which, let's admit, is not really much of a challenge. But why focus on the negative, when good news is all around us? For instance, when President Reagan died, I learned that the 80s weren't dominated by a mentally ill president looking the other way while his team led the nation into despair and unemployment and rampant militarism and covert operations and hundreds of thousands of people suffering and dying from HIV/AIDS (now tens of millions worldwide and, gee, what if we'd gotten a jump on it back in the early days?) and trickle-down fuckonomics and an explosion of homelessness and an outbreak of the "moral majority" and really, really bad music and fashion. I had no idea.

But that's just the tip of the iceberg. Here's some more good news:

A McNugget of wisdom. The kids and I went to see "Super Size Me," the hilarious documentary in which filmmaker Morgan Spurlock gives the McToxic's restaurant chain the ass-kicking it so richly deserves. OK, OK, there's not much news in this movie (fast food is unhealthy; there's an obesity epidemic; that clown is seriously disturbing; blah, blah, blah) and I never go to McDonald's unless it's for an emergency pee, but one part of the movie really did surprise me: Spurlock took his cameras to Appleton Central Alternative School in Wisconsin, a school for troubled kids. Many schools (including some in Kentucky) have recently outlawed unhealthy snacks and soft drinks but this school yanked ALL its unhealthy food. Gone are the French fries and sloppy Joes and Pepsi and tater tots and Twinkies and pizza and mystery meat. In their place are whole grains, fresh vegetables and baked entrees. Overnight, there was a noticeable change in behavior. The kids became less aggressive, less hyper, and less likely to jam a fork in a classmate's eyeball. The school's administrators believe the change in diet had a profound impact on the children's behavior. So the benefits of healthy eating can be as significant to human behavior as to human health. What does this say about our culture of war and imprisonment and detention and road rage and workplace violence and highway snipers and "compassionate conservatives" and professional wrestling and Fox and the National Hockey League and Grand Theft Auto and reality television and paintball and Jerry Springer and e-mail viruses and that guy in the next cubicle with that look in his eye that says "If I don't get a McGriddle in the next five minutes, I'm going to come over there and staple your ass cheeks together?" So good news: all we have to do is get six billion people to overcome their addiction to unhealthy food. No problem. (Besides, Super Size Me is really funny and charming and worth seeing. I just really dug that Morgan Spurlock dude and wanted to hang out with him.)

The Immoral Minority. Here's more good news: By 2050, whites are going to be in the minority in this country. That's gonna require some serious changes in the vocabulary, eh?

Brotherly love. The city of Philadelphia joins Bravo and Massachusetts in recognizing
that not only are gay people perfectly fine human beings but they also have money to spend. Good news.

White bread under attack. Just when you thought white bread couldn't possibly wreak more havoc on the universe, comes news that it can. Not only does eating it make you whiter and more boring and more likely to shop at Wal-Mart and drive a Ford Explorer and visit Hooters and decorate your house with Dale Earnhardt paraphernalia and smoke Winston Lights and interpret the bible literally, but it also apparently turns people into itself. Researchers at Tufts University claim that the calories from refined grains tend to gather at the waist, which eventually turns people into loaves of bread: flat on one side, round and soft and fluffy and spongy and buttery and flaky on the other. The good news is you can avoid this problem by eating whole grains, fruits and vegetables (although the Tufts research was mum on what those foods might turn you into).

Are you ready for some eco-football? The New York Jets recently announced plans to build an environmentally-friendly stadium in Manhattan. Taking advantage of the massive amount of hot air in the surrounding area, the stadium will sport 40-foot-tall wind turbines and 25,000 solar collector tubes, which will generate most of the electricity and hot water the stadium will need for football games. The Jets did not announce the equally promising outlook that if Americans keep evolving, we just might eventually get to the point where we don't feel the need to watch oversized, overpaid men put on pads and knock the living shit out of each other on Sundays.

We're Number One! Lost in the din of election-year education blather – No Child Left Behind, Read to Achieve, blah, blah, blah – was some really incredible news about Kentucky's schools: According to a study by the Civil Rights Project at Harvard University, Kentucky ranks FIRST in the nation in school integration for African American students. The study credited Jefferson County's decades-long desegregation policy, which has stayed in place while other school districts around the country have abandoned theirs. But behind that desegregation policy stand some pretty incredible people right here in our home town. Think about the brave African American students and parents suffering three decades of slings and arrows from redneck cracker racist muscle-necked jackoffs. Think of the brave white parents standing up to their cracker-ass neighbors and saying, "This is the right thing to do, so no, I'm not moving to Bullitt County or Shelby County and training my kids to be racist by avoiding Jefferson County's rules." Think of the brave students of both races reaching into their hearts and saying, "Yo, maybe you CAN be my friend even though your skin's not the same color as mine." Think of the teachers and administrators and PTA members and librarians and janitors and lunch ladies who have all helped make this happen, even if maybe they weren't in the mood to make the world a better place on that particular day. Think of the civil rights leaders who got the ball rolling and kept it rolling. Think of the politicians and principals and school board members who didn't back down when the going got tough. I wish I could buy 'em all a piece of pie and shake their hands and say, "Way to go!" Sure, there are still a lot of problems. There's still an achievement gap and there's still tension in some places and schools are still plagued by wannabe gangsta rappers with bad manners and violent streaks and foul mouths, but that's just the way some white adolescents behave, so whatcha gonna do? And we've got a long way to go before we can get our cops as morally up to speed as our schoolkids, but isn't school EXACTLY where to start? Kentucky, take a bow. What education statistic could it possibly be better to be number one in?

And the good news just keeps coming. Michael Moore, a true American hero, is back. Oh, and my tomatoes are almost ripe!

Next week: The Bitch is Back

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