• Old Photos: Vintage Kansas City

    On my rare visit to Barnes and Noble, a store that encourages consumer to buy books online, I discovered a new batch of books containing vintage photos of Kansas City and other nearby places of interest. While I admire the effort to collect and annotate enough historic photos for a book, I don’t see myself paying over $20 for one of them. I am afraid many of these will be read at the coffee shop upstairs.

    Luckily there are plenty of old photos online to entertain a cheap person like myself and even some books that can be read and downloaded for free. For example, check out A Birthday Book Of Kansas City 1821-1921 by Charles Phelps Cushing (obviously you should do it at work). The following photos and captions are taken from this book.

    Kansas City

    The Past and Present, on this block there is one of the newest and one of the oldest buildings in Kansas City. At Tenth Street and Grand Ave. arises the frame of the new Federal Bank Building. The oldest church building still in church use in Kansas City is the Catholic Church of St.Peter and St.Paul. southwest corner of Ninth and McGee streets. Sarvent

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  • Speaking about ugly cars with high gas-mileage…

    Some old Soviet car commercial.

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  • Healthcare Reform-skiy

    Government healthcare is like wiping your ass with a newspaper: it’s not pleasant, but it gets the job done. Contrary to what some people might think I am actually for the healthcare reform, even though I have excellent benefits at work and don’t spend even close to the mythical $2,500 that the President keeps talking about. Since I used to live in the country with free universal government-provided healthcare and my Father was a doctor I do know a little bit about it. I realize that this is not the model being proposed here but if you believe that this government will pamper its citizens any more than absolutely necessary, you first government-paid appointment should be with a psychiatrist. I don’t know if this government will go as extreme as paying for a root canal but not for anesthesia, or for childbirth but not for epidural, but you can certainly look forward to the bureaucrats eliminating unnecessary luxuries and finding money-saving efficiencies. Despite what the President says, this bill is not paid for and there is no money to pay for it, so borrowing more or raising taxes in the near future seems unavoidable.

    Still I think that the healthcare should be reformed. My reasons are as always selfish: health benefits at work are the number one reason I stuck around there for nearly 10 years and did not try to do something on my own. All my far-fetched plans involve me keeping my full-time job just so I can afford the doctor visits and medication. In other words, the healthcare concerns control my life and limit my choices, and I would be happy if this was not on the list of things that hold me back, somewhere between laziness, procrastination and pessimism.

    Speaking about pessimism, I truly believe that the President and the Congress are set on pushing through the legislation that will create, for the lack of a better word, even bigger clusterfuck than we already have. The main reason is that at some point it stopped being about the reform and became about the legislation itself. Because if it was about the reform, there wouldn’t be a deadline of yesterday, or next Friday, or before or after the recess. The healthcare today is not dramatically worse than it was on January 18th or a year ago and it’s not about to disintegrate tomorrow. Maybe a bill that affects 15-20% of the GDP and everyone in this country should get a little more consideration than a typical daily piece of legislation. The current hysterical approach reminds me a lot of the run-up to the war in Iraq: Iraq was a stable, albeit a shitty country, until its threat level was artificially and deceitfully escalated, raising the perceived urgency and leading to an idiotic decision to invade. How many congress-people would like to take back their vote, how many now are saying they were under the influence didn’t have enough information to make an educated choice. There are plenty of mistakes to learn from, but why do it if the same jackasses who voted for the war in Iraq, or mortgage deregulation or whatever else are still being reelected and bragging about not reading the bill or caring about the “irrelevant” details. Kind of like the old Jewish joke:
    -Hey Isaac, do you like Pavarotti?
    -No he has a whiny voice, lisps and can’t pronounce half the letters.
    -But have you ever heard him?
    -No but Shmuel sung it for me.

    Jokes don’t translate well but the point is: if a congress-person is not capable of reading and comprehending the bill, who then actually wrote it and summarized it for the said person in order for them to make an informed vote? The aid who did it doesn’t have much to lose; their name will not appear on the legislation.

    What surprises me in the current state of discussion is not the loud-mouth morons screaming at town-halls or their idiot counterparts boycotting Whole Foods (a company that pays for 100% of their employees’ health coverage and supports their beloved organic farms) because their CEO wrote an article in the paper that they disagree with. I am always surprised by the people who are willing to trust anything coming down from the government just because it sounds progressive. You don’t have to believe in outlandish death panels or 10-year treatment waiting lists, but a little healthy doubt never hurt anyone. The government doesn’t have a great track record of doing things right, the usual examples of successes like the military (who literally loses truckloads of cash), VA, Medicare, Social Security, etc. are not known for being efficient, frugal or particularly user-friendly. Even the President stumbled trying to offer the Post Office as an example of the Government option, noting that it has all the problems unlike UPS and FedEx. Another reason to doubt the sincerity of your legislators’ intentions is their acceptance of political contributions. While people like C.J.Janovy self-induce vomiting going through every line of Senator Roberts’ donor list, even she has to acknowledge that most of the democrats have similar or even bigger lists of healthcare industry contributions including the President with his $19,462,986 take. It’s possible to take the money and then show your donor a finger, but is it likely? By the way, I recently met CJ and she looks nothing like I imagined. Here is a portrait of her editing a fresh copy of the Pitch.

    It’s unfortunate that every discussion of important subjects in this country now comes down to catchphrases and labels. Socialism is mostly about the ownership of the means of production as well as income distribution. If the government owned the entire healthcare industry and employed all medical workers, and people like my Father had their paycheck signed by Barack Obama that would’ve been socialism. Otherwise it’s really not. Death panels? Little harsh, but decisions like that are made every day. Even now they will tell you that you may be too old for a new knee, a heart transplant or a cataract surgery and even if you have all the money in the world the doctor might still advise you not to do it. We are all mortals after all, I for one believe that artificially extending pain and suffering is not humane.

    Lastly, for a look at what the government healthcare in this country might look like:

    Not pleasant, but it gets the job done, just like I said.

    Since I’ve thought about the subject a lot, I might have another installment in a day or two with the things that I think need to be included in the legislation.

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  • Old Photos: A School For Waitresses

    Recently legendary Charles Ferruzza wrote in his article about the annoying habits of the restaurant servers:

    ​There’s no boot camp for waiters and waitresses, but there should be.

    Apparently such a place existed in Wichita, KS in the late 1940’s according to this article in the Life Magazine.

    The undeclared but stubborn warfare which exists between waitresses and the eating public has long been despair of restaurant keepers. Too often the comforting cling of an owner’s cash register dwindles rapidly because his employees hook an occasional thumb in the beef stew..  Other arguments for home cooking usually involve waitresses who assume that too-short skirts, bright ail lacquer and plunging necklines are superior to deft hands and tidy uniforms as serving assets. This keeps wives (and their husbands) away in droves. Such practices are dismaying to a 52-year r-old ex-bellboy named John O’Meara who has been touring the U.S. since 1931, spreading the gospel of good waitership.

    And now for some vintage photos (original captions preserved):

    Efficient waitress should have a crisp uniform, pleasant disposition and an uncrowded tray. © Time Inc., George Skadding

    Waitress don'ts include long red fingernails like these. For handling food, nails should be short, clean and unpainted.© Time Inc., George Skadding

    "Plate clutcher" illustrates messy serving styles by covering rim of glass and hooking a thumb into customer's fried egg.© Time Inc., George Skadding

    "Table leaner" here shown taking an order, displays awkward stance which may not offend the male diners, but is sure to irritate their women companions.© Time Inc., George Skadding

    "Garter fixer" draws admiring glances from male customers. But this practice is discouraged because it aggravates the wives.© Time Inc., George Skadding

    "Tumbler juggler" trying to carry too many glasses often spills the whole load. The proper method is to use a large tray.© Time Inc., George Skadding

    Loose hairdo falling over shoulders may straggle in to plates carried on a tray at ear level. This waitress should put her hair up or keep it bound in a net.© Time Inc., George Skadding

    Licking a knife after it's been used to cut a piece of pie is an easy way to determine its flavor, but is hardly appealing to the customer.© Time Inc., George Skadding

    Before taking the course waitress Marguerite Fisher displays an unappetizing appearance with her rumpled stockings, untidy dress and heavy smirk.© Time Inc., George Skadding

    After the course Miss Fisher is set to attract new customers as she sports starched uniform, neat stockings, modern make-up and a warm smile. © Time Inc., George Skadding

    © Time Inc., George Skadding

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  • Johnson County Improves Bus Service To Spite Itself

    Every child in Johnson County, KS knows that bus is bad. Our relationship with the bus service ends on the first day we are able to get a driver’s license and our fine-leather-clad feet never step through a bus door again. From there on, our asses are firmly planted in the leather seats of overpriced imported cars which are mandatory in Johnson County. Once in a while we see a bus on a street or a highway and we give its invisible passengers the same look a person gives to a plumber who is about to go elbow-deep into a full toilet bowl. We distrust party buses, avoid shuttles, shun trolleys and only begrudgingly use charter buses but only when no one we know can see us.

    All that said, why are we investing over $50 million into improving the bus service?

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