Places Political

Poor, Black, and Ugly

Missouri’s Governor Nixon asked the Missouri Attorney General to file suit in court to block the Army Corps of Engineers from blowing up the Birds Point Levee.

Blowing the levee will flood farmland and about 100 homes in Missouri, but not blowing the levee could very well endanger the entire town of Cairo, Illinois. A few years back, I wrote about Cairo, Illinois the town that pulls you in, as it pushes you away.

When Time covered Cairo, Illinois last year it described the town as poor, black, and ugly. It is, indeed, very poor and predominately black, but I cannot find it ugly. Or if I do, it’s an ugliness that reflects the south and our history and the civil rights fight and all that is both good and bad about this part of the country.

I guess the best description I have of Cairo is that it is a very real town.

Of course, none of this matters to the Missouri governor who wants to protect the farmland of Missourians. Missourians who happened to know they were building farms on lands designated as spillway, and that there was a potential for the Corps to breach the levee if flood proportions matched that of the 1937 floods. Well, we’re about to pass the levels of the 1937 floods.

But then again, who wants to save a town that’s poor, black, and ugly?

Critters Places

Pride of Place and puppy mills

Time is running out to prepare for arguments to save Proposition B, the Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act. This afternoon, the Missouri Senate will debate SB 113, and most likely vote whether to support it or not. I expect the House to follow quickly if SB 113 happens to pass.

I’ve appealed to Missouri representatives’ compassion, by showing them USDA inspection reports that outline how cruelly the dogs are treated in puppy mills. Legally treated, which is morally reprehensible.

I’ve also appealed to the Missouri representatives’ civic responsibility to support the voter’s wishes. We just voted on this act, and it hasn’t even gone into effect, yet. The majority of this state supports this act, while special interests, and too much agribusiness money, are behind the effort to repeal our vote.

The only thing I have to left, is an appeal to pride. Pride in Missouri. Pride in what Missourians accomplish, what we do, the industries we have.

Fact: we have the largest number of large scale commercial dog breeding operations in the country. This isn’t hearsay, the USDA confirms this. More breeders are licensed here than any two or three other states, combined.

Yet, no one brags about the number of large scale commercial dog breeders we have. You won’t find Governor Nixon boasting of this number in any of his speeches. I’m sure he doesn’t bring up the fact when he meets with his peers.

You won’t find any of the representatives, even those who want to gut Proposition B, bragging about our number one position for dog breeders. Other than their work to repeal Proposition B, you won’t find these representatives talking about commercial dog breeding, at all.

I looked through the literature for the State and the Department of Agriculture—you know, the brag sheets. We export this much corn and soybeans, and we’re number seven for hogs, and so on. But you won’t find puppies among the listed exports, nor will you find any boasting on being the number one large scale commercial dog breeding state in the country.

Why don’t we brag about the number of breeders we have? Because deep down inside, none of us is happy at the numbers of breeders we have. None of us is proud of our position, or even of the industry. Those who fought in defense of the breeders have done so more to defeat HSUS—because of their concern about other forms of livestock—rather than because they really approve of the large scale commercial dog breeders. They just don’t care enough about the dogs, but they sure as heck care about HSUS.

The breeders, themselves? You can look at their web sites and all you’ll see is cute little pictures of puppies, usually playing with children. But don’t attempt to visit the breeder to pick up your puppy. No, they’ll be glad to mail the puppy or meet you at some neutral spot. If you do meet with them, they’ll surreptitiously hand the puppy over, like it’s made of crack cocaine.

In the days before we voted on Proposition B, if the operations were as good as the breeders said they are, all they would have had to do is show us. Invite some of the more interested folks to visit—have journalists tour their operations.

Yet I know of only three commercial breeders who were willing to meet with the public. Three out of 1,390. One breeder actually tried to run over a Fox news crew camera when they tried to visit the place.

What does this say about this industry, as a whole? An industry that keeps to the shadows, and hides from both scrutiny and public view? One that, in effect, lies to the public by pretending to be a little Mom and Pop breeder with a few dogs, when they have hundreds?

And what does it say about how we feel about this industry, when we never brag about it, never even talk about it—except when another mill is closed down because of horrid conditions. Or because of Proposition B.

If we choose to fight for industries in our state, shouldn’t we fight for ones we’re proud of?

Photography Places

July 19 at Shaw Nature Center

Sunday, lured by cooler temperatures, I ventured out of the city to the Shaw Nature Center. Typically I don’t walk on anything but paved paths in the summer because of allergic reactions I’ve had to bug bites. The weather was just too good to resist, though.

You can see from the photos where I got the idea for the name of this site, MissouriGreen.

path through butterfly meadow


Apollo 11 and the dish

Do you remember the Apollo 11 landing? Where you were, what you thought?

I don’t remember the landing that clearly, because so much was happening at that time. I was 14 1/2, recently moved to Seattle, feeling lost in the city but connected to the times—getting caught up in both the anti-war and flower power movements. The moon landing was part of the blur that seemed to be around all of us, made up of equal parts scientific miracle, and hits of acid.

It’s only been in these later, quieter years that I’ve come to appreciate the Apollo program, in general, and the Apollo 11 moon landing, specifically. When you consider that computers were primitive, room size, and prone to failure, I’m still amazed we made it to the moon. The effort was as much an act of human perseverance, as an act of technology. Perhaps that’s why the Apollo 11 mission still fascinates, all these years later.

If you’re looking for something Apollo 11 related to watch this weekend, I recommend the movie “The Dish”. Read more about the movie, and access a clutch of links about Apollo 11 that I’ve been collecting at Secret of Signals.

Photography Places

Day lilies and lotus blossoms

I spent several happy and restful hours at the Missouri Botanical Gardens yesterday. We’re in a period of cool weather, and the day was overcast up until getting ready to leave.

Overcast skies make prettier flower photos, especially when the sprinklers are still going, dusting the petals with plenteous fairy tears.

Rose Courtyard

day lilies being watered by sprinklers

Yesterday, the day lilies and gladiolas were in peak bloom, and I managed to catch the tail end of the Lotus blossoms in the Japanese Garden.

star day lily

purple gladiola

Lotus blossom in bloom

fully bloomed lotus blossom

I call this one, “Eat, and be Eaten”. Poor little bee didn’t have a chance.

Bird pulling bee from lotus blossom flower, holding it in its beak