The Year of Moving Forward

The Year of Moving Forward
At our 4 person wedding reception in DC

Wednesday, October 31, 2007


It's Halloween and what is more scary than listening to "Sean of the Dread" Hannity. On the radio yesterday he was being critical of Hillary Clinton's postions saying she was soft on our enemies...and that he want's our enemies to live in fear of us.

Well that is fine, except he is supporting an administration and a party that thrives on keeping the American people in fear of...everything.

Terrorism, for instance...are you really afraid that a terrorist is going to get you. Well neither are most Americans, as a story in the Birmingham News today reveals. Only 10.4 % rank a terrorist attack as their biggest fear. Losing their memory is first (21%), followed by being burned alive (19%), and snakes (11.5 %).

As for who is scary, Osama bin Laden (26.4%) barely beat out George W. Bush (24.s%). No surprise there. conducted the survey.

Notice that same sex marriage is not listed as something to be fearful of, but if you listen to republicans, it is the biggest threat to America since the witches in Salem way back when.

And Forbes has released the list of highest earning dead celebrities. Elvis is No. 1, after earning $49 million in the last 12 months. John Lennon is second with earnings of $44 million.

Oh, I am just glad that my daughter no longer attends Hoover High School (having graduated a few years ago) and that my son is a senior elsewhere. It's just a crazy place, I wish the football team success in the playoffs, and lets put Suzy Baker on the scary list. Seems like the crowd at the school board meeting did not like her either, and one Hoover parent suggested they park outside her house and see what goes on in her private life. The parents point was that we don't need to be prying in to any one's private life, coaches included.

And hey, Jess Lanier is still undefeated (9-0) but hardly a mention on TV sports last week. Possibly because their game was on Thursday rather than Friday, but still, no respect. Lanier plays Gadsden City (8-1) this week at home. Good luck Tigers.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Tough Questions for Republican Candidates

Someone at The Western Star is not happy. First they call this site a “pathetic blog” and later a “joke of a web site.” What a difference of opinion, when Bubba at The Western Tribune called me master of the blogosphere or some such title just a week or so ago.

Readers…time to vote! Joke or Master? Or somewhat in between.

Jester or master I will continue to write about progressive issues, using science and fact and truth to back me up, and will not be intimidated by threats from Fox hounds or any other right wingnuts that want to curtail scientific advancement and deny humankind’s responsibility in taking care of our enviroment. That includes the president (White House eviscerates Gerberding's testimony ) and it includes newspaper editors.

And when I read an opinion or a news story in that or any other newspaper that is obviously plagiarized I will report it as such. Acceptance of plagiarism in a local paper brings the image of Bessemer down and we don’t need any help. I would hope higher standards would be observed. For those who do not think plagiarism is serious, and you know I am talking about you, read this from 2003 .

Now on to the issue of the day.

The other night I was watching Real Time with Bill Maher and Andrew Sullivan was a guest. One of the things that I really liked was that Bill pointed out two questions on Andrew’s blog that Andrew would like to ask the republican presidential candidates. Now for those of you who don’t know, Andrew Sullivan in a conservative blogger who happens to be gay. He admits he voted for Bush…once. He is often on as a panelist on the Chris Matthews show. His blog site is Daily Dish .

I could not find the questions on the blog…they are in the archives somewhere, but they are worth repeating here.

Question number 1. "If you could go back in time, would you abort the fetus that would become Osama Bin Laden"?

He especially was interested in how flip flopping Mitt Romney would wrap himself around that one.

Question number 2. Remember how at one of the debates all the republican candidates were trying to out macho the other by saying how they would prevent terrorism and had that “torture first ask questions later” mentality. Well, Andrew wonders…"if you as president could prevent an act of terrorism by having sex with a man, would you do it"?

Great questions for the republican youtube debate coming up soon.

Meanwhile, the democrats debate tonight. I look for Hillary Clinton to again look strong against the other candidates. If you think I am leaning more toward Clinton, you are right. More on that later.

Monday, October 29, 2007

The Western Star and Global Warming

Certain topics will be addressed again and again, and global warming is one of them. When I read something that is absolutely in error, in fact, that makes the writer look foolish, I will comment.

So when I read in The Western Star on Wednesday the Dale Jones editorial slamming Al Gore and the Nobel Peace Prize process I felt obligated. Here is what he writes: "There is absolutely, positively no scientific evidence to support global warming."

I could argue against that statement, but I don't need to. Read on.

Here are some quotes from Dale's article:

"While ground-level temperature measurements suggest the earth has warmed between 0.3 and 0.6 degrees Celsius since 1850, global satellite data, the most reliable of climate measurements, show no evidence of warming during the past 18 years".

"A Gallup poll found that only 17 percent of the members of the Meteorological Society and the American Geophysical Society think that the warming of the 20th century has been a result of greenhouse gas emissions - principally CO2 from burning fossil fuels".

"While atmospheric carbon dioxide has increased by 28 percent over the past 150 years, human-generated carbon dioxide could have played only a small part in any warming, since most of the warming occurred prior to 1940 - before most human-caused carbon dioxide emissions". are some quotes from a brief analysis from the National Center for Policy analysis written by H. Sterling Burnett:

"While ground-level temperature measurements suggest the earth has warmed between 0.3 and 0.6 degrees Celsius since 1850, global satellite data, the most reliable of climate measurements, show no evidence of warming during the past 18 years".

"A Gallup poll found that only 17 percent of the members of the Meteorological Society and the American Geophysical Society think that the warming of the 20th century has been a result of greenhouse gas emissions - principally CO2 from burning fossil fuels".

"While atmospheric carbon dioxide has increased by 28 percent over the past 150 years, human-generated carbon dioxide could have played only a small part in any warming, since most of the warming occurred prior to 1940 - before most human-caused carbon dioxide emissions".

First, Dale, this information that you are basing your argument on is 10 years old. This was written in 1997. Ten year old data!!! Scientists and others...even Newt Gingrich (his new book A Contract with the Earth) are currently overwhelmingly supportive of climate change and man's role in it, along with mankind's responsibility for doing something against it. (I admit I have not read Gingrich's book, and wouldn't trust him as far as I could throw him, so I don't how supportive he is, but that is beside the point).

Second, Dale, and more importantly, this is plagiarism. You are writing for a newspaper, and should know better than to copy someone elses work without giving them credit. If I were to do this in school, I would be severely disciplined...we are warned about it all the time. You should know better Dale. People from newspapers more prestigious than yours have lost their jobs for plagiarism. You should lose yours too, if you can't even put the outdated material you report as fact in your own words. Have you taken any journalism courses Dale? What did they teach you?

Dale, you also plagiarized from this site , and probably others. Why should we believe anything written in your newspaper, when you take credit for the work of others as if it were your own?

Don't write about that which you do not know about, and when you do, give credit where credit is due. If you are allowed to keep your job.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Arizona Nature

There is more to nature in Arizona that geology: mountains, canyons and deserts. Flora and fauna is varied and interesting, and here is a little bit:

This prickly cactus is in the Red Rock region.

On the trail to Bell Rock there was a variety of plant life, including lots of these.

This butte is near Phoenix. Saguaro and other cacti populate the hillside. This property is part of the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix.

Saguaro cactuses do not begin to grow arms until they are 50 - 100 years old. Mature cacti can hold tons of water, and are host to a variety of bird and other life. Many of the cacti have holes in them where Gila woodpeckers have made homes, and later other animals and birds use the holes to live in. Cactus wrens also make nests on the "shoulders" of the arms.

Up north near the Grand Canyon elk are common. And large. There was a male with antlers nearby, but we couldn't get a good picture of him

These crows (I guess) were pursuing this hawk, and the hawk was not happy about it.

Butterflies are common even in the desert.

And my favorite was this little lizard. It was only about three inches long, but was not at all intimidated by me pointing my camera.

I think he was trying to sell me some insurance, but I wouldn't listen. Next week it's back to commentary.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

It is More than Grand

No picture that I have seen, or that I have taken, no video footage, even the IMAX movie about the subject, compares to seeing the Grand Canyon in person.

I can imagine the first Native American, or the first European settler, coming upon it, with no idea that it was there. Because it does sort of just sneak up on you. Regular flat mountain desert turns to woodsy and then this:

If one believes in the forces of nature, that this world is a natural world formed through processes that take millions of years, then the Grand Canyon should rank as the pinnacle of all the actions that formed the earth as we know it.

Geologists tell us that the Kaibab limestone that forms the rims of the canyon was formed 270 million years ago, and the older rocks at the bottom date to 1,840 million years ago. But the canyon itself was formed over the last 5-6 million years.

It was a cloudy, windy day when we were there.

Some believe that the Grand Canyon, and all the beauty of the earth, is part of the handiwork of God. If so, this is his finest work, the colors and the breadth and depth of the canyon are almost impossible to comprehend, even when standing right there looking in to it. The sun was trying to come out when I took this picture.

Most probably believe in both God and nature, and by this I do not mean "Intelligent Design," which to me is an attempt to take real science out of the picture.

From the South Rim you can hike down into the canyon to plateau can see the trail leading out to the point right in the middle of this photo... or even further down to the floor of the canyon where there is a lodge and campground.

We started down the trail, with no intention of going to the bottom. In fact there are signs advising not to try to hike to the bottom and back in one day, that people die trying. There are emergency phones along the trail, and water, and even rest rooms.

We would like to go to the bottom, but if we ever do, we will let the mules do the work. Here, looking like ants, is a convoy of mules with riders returning from the canyon.

The trail down leads through this opening.

One other way to explore the canyon is riding on the Grand Canyon Railway.

And we were pleased to see that there are progressives in the area. This sign is along Highway 64 as you approach (or leave) the canyon.

At any rate, be glad that in 1908 Teddy Roosevelt declared the Canyon a National Monument, and that in 1919 Congress declared the area a National Park. It deserves a visit by everyone.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Hoover High Football

This is a busy, busy day at school. Wednesdays are turnning out to be that way.

If I had time to post a good blog, it would probably be about Suzy Baker ( and her email to a Hoover student. She just sounds like a total whack to me. I think the students probably have more sense than her and a better understanding of their coach's role in their lives.

Not that I am taking up for Propst. It's a shame that Hoover High is going through all this, but I think the kids know the difference between right and wrong. They learn that from their parents, not their football coach. Heck, if every teacher and counselor's life were examined like his, there wouldn't be but a handful of teachers left in the system.

Anyway, who will be Hoover's next coach?

Let's just forget about Hoover and let's start giving more attention to Jess Lanier. Still with a perfect record.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Strange Forces in Sedona

There is something about Sedona, Arizona and the surrounding area.

You come away feeling different.

Part of the reason may be the absoute splendor of the region. We've all seen these red rocks and mountains in John Wayne movies and TV westerns, but seeing them up close produces a sense of awe. Not shock and awe, just awe, as the word was meant to be used. ("Awe" should be used to describe natural wonders, not acts of war).

Or maybe it is the Native American heritage, and the sense that is in the back of your mind the whole time you are there, of the spirtuality and mysticism that surrounds our limited knowledge of their cultures.

Here is Montezuma'a Castle, home of a cliff dwelling group (unrelated to the Montezuma of the Aztecs) of about 35 people who farmed and hunted on the land below, but returned to this mountainside to eat, cook, sleep and love. Then suddenly, a few hundred years ago, the whole group (and others as well) just disappeared, reasons unknown. Could have been disease, war, boredom, a decision to join another tribe...who knows? And this has remained intact for hundreds of years.

Spirituality extends to the present, and the Chapel of the Holy Cross built into this rock is impressive both from down below, where this picture was taken, to within the Chapel, where the view is mirrored by a sense of reverence that inspires all who enter.

It could be the vortexes (the plural of "vortex" is known as "vortices" in the rest of the English language.) There are four powerful vortexes around Sedona, but some say there are numerous other less powerful ones around, or that all of Sedona is a vortex. That may be true. The vortexes are areas where invisible forces, be they electric or magnetic or electromagnetic or psychic, are emitted from the earth to the benefit of those nearby. Different people report different effects, for many it is inexplicable, but you know you have been affected.

This is Cathedral Rock, as viewed from Red Rock Crossing. It's a vortex, but we didn't climb to the hot spot. Don't you think that power as strong as a vortex would spread to the area surrounding the release spot?

This popular spot is called Bell Rock, named for its shape. We did approach this vortex. Wow!

And here is one of the views from Airport Mesa where there is another vortex that we visited. The vortexes, while giving you a boost, also tug on you to make you want to remain close by. It is said that the forces of the spinning vortex twist nearby trees, while other trees just feet away may be straight and untwisted. This tree has seen many sunsets and moon rises. See the moon?

Of course, the sense of appreciation of all the beauty of the area is reflected in the strong art community, and this may spread to visitors as well, leaving them with feelings they don't understand. But be it physical, such as the electrical or magnetic forces mentioned above, spiritual, cultural or a combination of all three, Sedona affects you like no other place on earth.

Everyone should go.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

I'm away, but read this

Blogging will be light or absent until Tuesday. Unless something crazy happens. Thursday I am in a meeting at UAB all day...and Friday it's off to Arizona!!!

For your amusement until then, here is my Western Tribune column from Wednesday's paper:

Let’s see the U. S. Supreme Court try to take away Al Gore’s Nobel Peace Prize. You know, like they did his presidential win in 2000.

And still there are those who deny that climate change is occurring. However, a record drought and 14 days with temperatures over 100 degrees during the month of August might convince some.

In the state of Alabama during August there were 600 heat related illnesses reported, with 136 of those admitted to a hospital. Fourteen people in our state died as a result of the heat, according to the National Weather Service.

Gore shares the prize with the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change for spreading awareness of climate change and its causes and laying a foundation for counteracting it.

Gore also won an Academy Award this year for the movie, An Inconvenient Truth, which documents his arguments about global warming.

Supporters are calling for him to enter the presidential race, and a web site,, has appeared. But should he run?

Not in my opinion. Since Al Gore already won the presidency once he has nothing to prove. He is in a unique situation, especially after winning this award, to make a huge difference in the world. I just hope people will listen.

Some may question what climate change has to do with peace, but Jan Egeland, director of the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs recognized that “It is a question of war and peace. We’re already seeing the first climate wars.” He was referring to the Sahel belt of Africa where nomads are fighting with farmers because climate change has brought about a shortage of fertile lands.

In our country we should not have to resort to conflict, because we still have the will to share and have the infrastructure to move resources and produce around. But when people get hungry and their livelihoods are threatened, watch out.

Of interest is that former president Jimmy Carter, the last American to win the Nobel Prize, did so in 2002, also during George W. Bush’s presidency. Two highly respected democrats being awarded for peace when a war happy president is in office. The world is indeed an unusual place.

New Leaders in Bessemer, and the White Sheep in Barack's Family

The Bessemer City Council has a new president...Jesse Matthews, and a new pro-tem...Jimmy Stephens. Congratulations to these two, I hope that things will run more smoothly now, and maybe things can get accomplished.

For instance, yesterday Mr. Gargas from Alabama Adventure visited again, reminding the council that when he was there in September discussing the $84 million or so hotel/indoor water park that is planned, the council/mayor agreed to provide a letter or something that would show their intent to work with Alabama Adventure to make this happen. The end of September was the deadline. Well here it is approaching the end of October and still no letter.

Hearing the mayor and former council president Dorothy Davidson trying to, first..remember that the guy was even there in September and , second, remember what they said then, and third, try to convince Mr. Gargas that they were working on it was just another example of the dysfunction this council has operated under. Screw around just a little bit longer and this gem will slip away also.

And then Mayor May and Dorothy Davidson got into a childish game of he said, she said, I said, you said regarding the Water Warrants that still have not been passsed that makes us not want to believe what any of them say. Children...behave!!! Go to time out!!

And of course the smoking ban was put off till the next council meeting. While it would seem this was at the request of the Clean Air people who requested this move, the real reason is that the council did not provide them with copies of the amended resolution until just before the council meeting, so the group did not know whether to endorse the new legislation or not. A clever ploy by a council hell bent on doing nothing.

And while Davidson probably had nothing to do with it, what's with the shifting of $500,000 from TIF funds to make payroll? Let's call it half a million. Isn't that unlawful?

TIF is Bessemer's Tax Increment Financing district, where new property tax revenue goes into a fund to be used only for improvements in that district. I don't think payroll meets those qualifications. What will be interesting will be to see who transferred this money, why Bessemer does not have money to meet payroll, is this the first time? Look for answers to some of these questions within the next week in the print media.

And I can't let the day pass without commenting on Barack Obama's discovery of the white sheep in his family, Dick Cheney. Can you think of anybody that would be more unlikely?

Let's thank Lynne Cheney who so often injects a little levity into the national dialogue. I mean, her book "Sisters" with its steamy lesbian sex scene written years before their daughter Mary came out as a lesbian (and with her partner provided them with a grandchild that W congratulated them on) added a twist to Daddy Dick Cheney's homophobia.

Now her research into the family tree reveals "Oops" an unexpected finding, Dick and Barack are cousins. Not kissing cousins (like the Elvis movie) but distant relatives none the less. Shouldn't that help us all get along? Let's hope so.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Things to do Tonight

There is too much going on.

Over the Mountain Democrats are hosting a forum tonight to discuss our outdated state constitution and what to do about it. They have even invited republicans to join in the discussion.

Constitutional Reform: The Next Generation
A Forum to Evaluate the Best Methods for Reforming an Unjust & Outdated Document
Tuesday, October 16, 2007, 6:30pm
Linn-Henley Lecture Hall, Birmingham Botanical Gardens

Keynote Address by…Albert P. Brewer, Jr., Governor of the State of Alabama, 1968-70

Followed by a Panel Discussion including…Former Governor Brewer, Rep. Paul DeMarco, Lynn Douglas, Board President, Alabama ARISE, Gary Palmer, President, Alabama Policy Institute, Lenora Pate, Shareholder, Sirote & Permutt, Co-Chair, Alabama Citizens for Constitutional Reform, Inc.

I am pretty sure that everyone who reads this blog believes constitutional reform is crucial, and I don't need to convince you of that. But finding a solution has been difficult because there are powerful entities that want to hold on to the outdated racist and class based document. You know who they are.


The Bessemer Historical Homeowners Association is meeting tonight at 7:00 at The Bentley House, built in 1928, and home of Jason Kirby and Benjamin Faucher. This is an important meeting, at which the nominating committee will announce it's choices for next years officers, plus we will get to see the house which was added to the Jefferson County Historical register earlier this year. You can see the house at the above link. Blogger picture uploading is not working today.


Finally, the final meeting of Auburn students and those wishing to bring life back to downtown Bessemer is tonight, 6:30 to 8:00, at the Foundry sanctuary, formerly First Baptist Church of Bessemer. At the last meeting the students presented preliminary ideas, and received comments from citizens and business owners, and now they share their final ideas. Restoring downtown is important if Bessemer is to retain its identity and have a future as anything more than a place to get your car tag and pistol permit. Here is an example of the groups work, and how it is being used to improve the downtown area in Fairfield.


All three of these are important and interesting events. We all have different interests and priorities and committments, but we should all be involved and attend one of these.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Ethnic Cleansing in Oklahoma

Oklahoma has new immigration legislation that will take effect November 1, called the toughest in the land. "Anyone who provides a job, shelter or public benefits to illegal aliens after Nov. 1 does so at their own peril," said Randy Terrill, author of the bill.

There were concerns that just driving a neighbor to church or picking up a child after school could land citizens in jail, but Terrill says this is not so.

But the legislation is already having effects, as Oklahoma schools report drops in Hispanic enrollment, and CNN reported yesterday that thousands of Hispanics are leaving Tulsa, many going back to Mexico.

While I assure you that I do not support allowing non-citizens to come across our borders unimpeded, I do not believe that squeezing undocumented people out by force or threat is the answer either.

I assume Oklahoma is like the rest of the country, including Alabama, in that hispanics (both legal and illegal) make up a good portion of the work force. In Alabama, at least, unemployment is at low levels, and I assume the same for OK. So don't tell me there are Americans waiting and willing to take the jobs that the Hispanics hold now.

I really hope Oklahoma learns a lesson and can not find workers for their construction industry, and other service industries that Hispanics work in. It would serve them right for attempting to solve a problem by ethnic cleansing. This is the term used to describe the efforts of the Ku Klux Klan regarding Hispanic immigrants in an editorial by John Davis of Athens and pubished in yesterday's Birmingham News. He examines the irony of the situation summed up in this statement, "Racial persecution, lamented by tens of thousands of bikers riding the Trail of Tears some mile and a half away, was celebrated by the Ku Klux Klan members who called for another ethnic cleansing of Hispanic immigrants." It's worth reading. Here

Denying children education or health care or other public services is morally wrong, and that is one of the effects of the Oklahoma legislation.

Isn't it ironic that the historical ethnic cleansing of Cherokee Indians and others ended with their relocation to Oklahoma, the same state that now wants to cleanse itself of unpopular Hispanics.

Hey here's an idea. Look for workable solutions to the immigration dilemma that keeps human dignity and respect for all people in the forefront. Within those parameters, a solution can be found.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Let's Ask, and Tell; and The Race for the Cure

If I had known it just took a little publicity to run the litterbugs out, I would have done this long ago. But not one empty bottle or chicken box was tossed out here since my post yesterday. But the reality's cold and their windows were just rolled up. Auntie Litter, I've said it before, and I will say it again...we need you here.

From the "something's not right" category...from 2003 through 2006 the military allowed 4,230 convicted felons to enlist under the "moral waivers" program.

Total waivers, inlcuding serious misdemeanors along with felonies, for 2006 were 8,129, and for the three years over 125,000 such waivers were granted.

But be a law abiding gay or lesbian seeking to enroll, and you will be denied. The Human Rights Campaign Legacy of Service Tour is hoping to change that. Former marine staff sergeant Eric Alva (the first U. S. serviceman wounded in Iraq) and others are telling their stories. Just one more date is currently on the schedule, in Dallas, but I am sure others will be added. We need to drop "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and allow everyone who wants to put their life on the line in service to our country to do so.

That's what Canada, Israel, Britain, Australia and most other allies do.

Tomorrow is the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure in Birmingham, to raise money and awareness for breast cancer research. Not running? Already donated? Here is a way to help and it won't cost you a dime. Go to The Breast Cancer Site and click on the button to help provide free mammograms for women. You click, sponsors donate. And you can do it each day. So far over 2700 mammograms have been provided by clicking, and even more from store purchases from their site. And if you still have money to give, Carol could use a few more online donations before she runs tomorrow. And what a great day it will be for running.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

The Ecology of Bessemer Litterbugs

A long time ago I took an ecology course at Auburn, and part of the lab invloved studying a pond near the campus. We collected insects and frogs and toads and snakes and snails and more, and catalogued the various plants growing in around the water.

To better understand how the various species were linked together, we sacrificed some of the amphibians and insects, and dissected out their stomachs to discover what their diet consisted of.

That was interesting...but now I am intersted in the ecology of Bessemer, and while I can't dissect out the stomachs of residents to determine their diets, I have come up with another way...analyze the litter that I pick up on the street on our corner.

I admit this is not a scientific study, and the evidence is only anecdotal. Also, this is not representative of the entire population, but rather just the ones who throw litter out of their cars.

The mainstay of the diet is Church's Chicken, followed closely by Krystal Hamburgers. Honey Buns, Now and Later, Fritos, Lays Classic Chips and Lays Sour Cream and Onion (one package inside the other, indicating they were consumed together, probably by two individuals), O-Ke-Doke cheese flavored popcorn, one Nature Valley Sweet and Salty Nut Granola Bar, Mike and Ike, and David Sunflower seeds make up the bulk of the diet. In addition a Burger King bag, with no indication of the original contents, was found.

Liquid intake, while in the past often indicated a preference for Church's and Burger King fountain drinks and cheap wines, now seems to be leaning more toward beer, as Bud, Bud Light and Bud Ice was represented. One generic lemon lime drink and a Dasani water were also consumed.

Marlboro, Newport and Black & Mild Cigars seem to be the tobacco of choice.

Now it gets interesting. At least one Bessemer driver feels inadequate, and is taking VIM-25 Herbal Supplement for Male Enhancement. I hope it worked for him, but there is no way to know if he was the same individual that left evidence of safer sex practices, as a wrapper for a "wrapper" was found as well.

Now why this was thrown out of a moving vehicle I can't understand. Hopefully the driver was not the one putting on protection while travelling down the street, but maybe that would explain the people who run the red light or those who can not drive in a straight line down a straight street, and it gives a whole new meaning to the term "car-jacking."

At least one person did not use protection, however, as a Huggies package was also found. Thankfully the dirty diaper related to that package was not in sight.

My conclusions from this study are that Bessemer litterbugs do not consume a particularly healthy diet (one granola bar and one water bottle is hardly evidence of healthy living) and that they drive while drinking (and possibly while mating). Were the cigarettes smoked afterward?
One can only guess.

I can also report that there is no evidence to support placing the Bessemer litterbug on the protected species list. On the contrary, this species has been determined to a pest, and efforts to eradicate it should be undertaken. However they seem to be prolific (as evidenced by the Huggies package) so eradication will be a difficult undertaking.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Abby Good for Gays, and Judge to Visit Love Stuff

It looks like Larry Langford will be mayor of Birmingham. Patrick, I heard many times during my campaign how difficult it is for someone to win their first race, and I found it to be true. But don't tell Howard Bayless, who swamped the competition with 78% of the vote.

As one television pundit said yesterday, Larry has a new idea every day. Let's hope that at least a few of them become reality, better mass transit being one of them.

Congratulations to Larry and Howard.

And congratulations to Jeanne Phillips.

Phillips, aka Dear Abby, is being honored by PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) for her support of gays and PFLAG will give her their first "Straight for Equality" award. Story
Pauline Phillips, the original Dear Abby, began referring readers to PFLAG in 1984.

Abby says "I'm trying to tell kids if they are gay it's OK to be gay. I've tried to tell families if they have a gay family member to accept them and love them as they always have."


Jefferson County circuit Judge Robert Vance, Jr, will visit Love Stuff in Hoover tomorrow as part of the non-jury trial which will determine the fate of the store. Story

Hoover asserts the store is an adult only store, and by state law can not be located within 1000 feet of churches, day cares and houses.

Store manager Ross Winner says the store is not "adult only" and that only 25 to 30 % of the store area (and 36 % of inventory) is devoted to the restricted area where sex toys (for medical and educational purposes only) are displayed.

Hoover attorney Mark Boardman says this is purely a zoning issue, not about whether the store can sell the devices.

Winner says he hopes to gross $1.6 million in sales this year. That's a heck of a lot of sales tax that Hoover might run off, but I guess they don't need it.

Oh, and today, two witnesses will testify about the history and medical uses of the vibrator.

The drought has taken a toll, and fall flowers are sparse here anyway, but there are some things blooming. I've put new pictures to the left, but here is one of my favorites. When I first saw this vine about 25 years ago in Tennessee, I was told it was called the "Little Red Flower that Grows on Mary's Mailbox". OK . But they end up everywhere, on feathery vines up to 12 feet long or more, because the seeds spread all over the place.

And the pomegranate trees are loaded this year.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Hillary News, and a Little Bessemer History

Has your attitude about Hillary Clinton changed? The Boston Globe has a story titled Many Warming Unexpectedly to Clinton . You might have to register with the Boston Globe site to read this.

The story is about voters in New Hampshire, but the theme holds true in Alabama as well, as polls show she is increasing her lead among democratic voters here as well. A poll in September showed that 45% of primary voters in Alabama would choose Hillary up quite a bit from previous polls.

I am sure that there are some moderate republican voters whose attitude toward Mrs. Clinton have changed as well, and while they will not be voting in democatic primaries, some will vote for her if she is the candidate, in November 08.

I love it when republicans get what they wish for. For years they have been dreaming for a Hillary Clinton candidacy, thinking she would be a cinch to beat. Now she is growing stronger and it looks like their wish will be granted.

I want to hear from people who have changed their views on Hillary. If you previously said you would never vote for her, but now think you will, let me know. You can be anonymous, just click the anonymous button on the comments page.

In other election news, VOTE today in Birmingham. You know my recommendations, if not scroll down.

Our house was recently added to the Jefferson County Historical register, as the Lewis - Huey - McElroy House.

Do not confuse this with Huey Lewis and the News, still making music.

Colonel Thomas T. Huey, a Spanish-American War veteran, was mayor of Bessemer when he moved into the house built by George Lewis in 1895. Here he is with zinnias near the pergola in the back that still has antique roses from his era growing on it.

About 70 years later, Dr. T. R. McElroy bought the house, where he lived until 2000. He continued the gardening, hybridizing and displaying daylilies, and adding roses and camellias and azaleas.

The Lewis - Huey - McElroy House, ca. 1895.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Birmingham, Bessemer and Republicans

Taking the lead from Bessemer Opinions, the Birmingham News yesterday endorsed Patrick Cooper for mayor of Birmigham, and Howard Bayless for School Board. Vote tomorrow.

I'm not advocating people sleeping in on Sundays, but here is another reason to skip church . But when the pastors bring guns, and maybe you aren't putting enough in the plate...

And the latest shooting in Bessemer was about a half a block away, on 19th Street yesterday afternoon. Not many details, but Fox 6 was there and reported victims being hospitalized. No word this morning. But you can be sure this will be brought up at tonight's Bessemer Neighborhood Association. Live in Bessemer? Come to the meeting. 7:00 Broken Vessel Church.

It was pretty much glossed over when Republican lawmaker Tom Davis mentioned the GOP going the way of the Whigs, and he quickly added it isn't going to happen. But it's something to think about when the Birmingham News has side by side editorials today titled Christians Bent on Self Defeat by Kathleen Parker and Collapse of the GOP by David Brooks.

The links are from the Orlando Sentinal and NY Times, because you just can't find things on the Birmingham News web site (

But let's just sit back and watch. It should be fun.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Birmingham (and South Alabama) Elections

I don’t vote in Birmingham, but what happens in Birmingham certainly affects us all, and I want progress in that city just as I want it in Bessemer.

Birmingham is mired in the same vestigial racial quagmire left over from the 60’s that Bessemer is. Real or imagined race baiting takes place during every election cycle, and the current race for mayor is no different.

Bishop Calvin Woods, a familiar face in Bessemer, was all over the news yesterday and today criticizing an editorial cartoon by Scott Stantis that originally (online) showed Patrick Cooper with a “honky” sign on his back, later changed to signs with “white” and “republican.”

Tom Scarritt, editor of The Birmingham News, said “Our only agenda is to report the news. We strive to do that fairly.”

But while the leaders and wanna be leaders of the city throw racial insults around, the voters have already shown us that they are above this. Patricia Todd, a white woman in a predominately black district, received the most votes in an election for state house representative last year in both the election and a hotly contested runoff, where both race and sexuality were used in an attempt to sway voters.

As younger people become voters, and see how the attitudes of the past impede progress, more people are focusing on issues and solutions rather than listening to name calling and fear tactics.

Patrick Cooper is the only serious candidate who stands a chance of making a change in Birmingham. The other front runners have been around too long, and could be thought of as part of the problem (so how can they be part of the solution?).

I like Cooper’s thoughts on blighted houses. Because of a 2002 law the city can buy them for less than the tax lien owed, and then give them to residents (not developers) who agree to restore them or build a new home and live on the land for at least three years.

Kincaid and Langford want to bring “developers” into the equation, meaning someone is making a profit, and the restored or new homes would have to be sold, so may sit vacant for months. Criminals would love a new fresh vacant house in which to stage dog fights and make and sell crack, wouldn’t they?

It is better to give the property to someone who would live there from day one after completion (or sometimes, while restoration is ongoing).

For reasons not to consider voting for Langford see Langford's Greatest Hits .

The other race on the ballot is Birmingham Board of Education District 3, in which Mike Higginbotham resigned in August leaving the seat open.

Political newbies Howard Bayless and Earnest Lumpkin are competing for the position.

Lumpkin’s major issues seem to be parental involvement, having more qualified teachers and more trade schools.

Bayless seems concerned with public trust and transparency, and the lack of a vision or strategic plan for the system. He also wants the school system to stop playing the blame game with the city, and realizes that a poor school system will not attract businesses or people. “When we have schools that create hope and inspire kids, we will see the tables turn.”

Education is very important, for obvious reasons, but these races rarely bring excitement to the election process. I say vote for Howard Bayless for District 3 BOE.

One other election that is generating a lot of buzz is the upcoming race for House District 2 in Alabama where Republican Terry Everett is retiring. This district is in south Alabama, from Montgomery down through the Wiregrass and Dothan.

For the buzz, check out the Daily Dixie and scroll up or down to read the post and comments that follow it. While many of these names are unfamiliar to those of us in North Alabama, it looks to be a crowded field, and will make elections in Alabama even more interesting in 2008.

Vote in Birmingham Tuesday October 9.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

FBI Should Spend More Time In Bessemer

This is not a gossip blog, and I am not here to bring anyone down, but this is news and it is in the public domain, so I am sharing it.

Remember this , in April of this year, when I reported the South Highland Baptist Church had been sold, and how good it was for the city that the historic church was being restored and used.

Then remember this, when I reported that the Western Tribune was reporting that pastor Donald Moulton had a suit filed against him by a Homewood man over a breach of contract.

Now the FBI is involved, and he has been indicted over identity theft, mail fraud and other charges in U. S. District Court in Birmingham. U.S. Attorney Alice H. Martin, Martin Phanco, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Special Agent in Charge and Carmen S. Adams, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Special Agent in Charge announced the indictment in this FBI Press Release .

You never really know about anybody, but remember this, from the press release:

"Members of the public are reminded that an indictment contains only charges. A defendant is presumed innocent of the charges and it will be the government’s burden to prove a defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt at trial."

While I hate to imagine someone violating the trust of others, my main concern still is the church itself. As someone reminded me yesterday, the building is positioned overlooking the city, and has been prominent throughout most of the 20th century. Because of it's history and stature, it deserves to be used only for the most worthy causes.

There are so many questions regarding the church and what might happen to it, that will be answered over the next few (or many) weeks and months. My understanding is that for now, church activities will continue as before and the Bessemer Neighborhood Association will continue to meet there as well (next meeting is Monday, October 8).

I think the FBI could have a field day in Bessemer, as could the DEA, the EPA and theDOJ.

Here is where I was going to insert a video of Danny Bonaduce throwing Fairplay over his shoulder but who cares? I mean ...well, I mean, I really mean, who cares? Z-list.

But there is more to report from Bessemer. Council person Jimmy Stephens, as alluded to two council meetings ago, has filed suit against the City Council on which he sits to try to stop payment of $2 million in "incentives" to Jordan Frazier Chrysler Jeep Dodge. The council voted to give the money to Frazier to expand the dealership. The dealership produces more than $21 million in sales tax revenue according to Frazier's attorney, Laveeda Battle. Can that be right? That's what the Birmingham News says.

Anyway, the money is sitting in an interest bearing account until Judge Eugene Verin makes a ruling as to the legality of the deal. That will be within 30 days

The Western Tribune reported this story first, but The Birmingham News has it online.

Sunday the Bessemer Historical Homeowners Association will have Potluck in the Park Sunday at 5:00 at Jonesboro Community Garden. All you need to bring is a chair and a dish and an appetite. Come see our new gazebo and how the plants have fared through the drought.

Got a couple of extra minutes? Look at what people with too much time to spare can do with their time. Here . Thanks Drew.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007


At Bessemer's city council meeting last night Mayor Ed May vetoed the water bond deal passed last week by the council. No surprise there, but it takes us back a step, or ahead a step, depending from where you are looking.

At any rate, the mayor will bring his proposal up at the next council meeting, for the umpteenth time, and see if at least one council person will move to his side to pass the bond deal.

Are you listening Albert Soles? Jesse Matthews? The others are hopeless, but at least these two have a chance of doing what is right.

In other council news, nothing new on the anti-smoking ordinance or the noise ordinance, other than that they will be considered at the next meeting, according to Councilman Earl Cochran.

Same old song and dance, council.

Clinton Rising, Bessemer's News and Local Marine Killed

After the last Democratic presidential candidate debate I predicted Hillary Clinton would rise in the polls, even though most new people said she did poorly. A USA Today/Gallup poll taken over the weekend shows just that, with Clinton increasing her lead from three weeks ago by 8 points to 48%.

"People are seeing her as the one ready to be president," says Mark Penn, Clinton's chief strategist. Well of course he would say that. I really think it is that, but also people realizing that they want to support a winner, so they are moving into the camp of the most likely victor. Better get used to it.

Let's hope the killing has stopped in Bessemer, but one more and 2007 will have seen as many murders as we saw during the previous two years combined. There have been 14 this year, 10 last year and 5 the year before. This is reported in the Birmingham News West News, but again, trying to find a link to it (or the following stories) is near impossible. Just take my word...or buy a paper.

Detective Perry Hurst said there is very little police can do to prevent homicides. Sounds like an excuse, but the sad fact is, it's the truth. While I still say better police protection is needed, what we need are broader changes in attitudes and to develop a respect for ourselves and others and their property. Those are things that will not happen overnight, but improvements in neighborhoods, and possible changes coming up in downtown, are the types of things that will increase pride and consequently respect in our communities.

Something must be right, because while everyone says Bessemer is being held back by their school system, those who pay close attention say that improvements are taking place. Enrollment is up, with 166 more students in school this year over last year. That is a 4 % increase. More parents would not be enrolling their kids if they didn't think the schools were getting better. Most of the increase is among the elementary schools, with Abrams showing an increase from around 450 to 499, and Jonesboro increasing from 750 to 830.

When is the last time you heard of an urban school system increasing enrollement?

And local school are doing great in football, with Jess Lanier, MacAdory, Bessemer Academy and Hueytown boasting undefeated records.

Stephen is 15, Daniel is 12 and Kristina is 8 years old. They will live the rest of their lives with only memories of their father, Marine Corps gunnery sergeant Herman Murkerson, killed yesterday in Iraq. He was from Adger, and that counts as a local guy. He also leaves behind his wife Wendy.

He is the 90th service member from Alabama to die in the "war on terror," which I assume refers to the former war on terror in Afghanistan combined with the war for oil in Iraq. Regardless of the mismanagement of the wars and the validity of the one in Iraq, men like sergeant Murkerson who serve our country are to be respected and are the heroes. But his death is one more indication that we need to get out of Iraq, and soon.

I think after that we need something just for entertainment. If you like Hollywood Movie Stars of old, watch this. 80 Years of Women in Film . Thanks Robert for sending this.

Last, The New Yorker arrived yesterday, and the cover was great.

The cover is titled "Narrow Stance" and is by Barry Blitt. Ahmadinejad discovering the existance of homosexuals.

Here is their site: The New Yorker

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

This Can Only Help...

...the Democrats.

Conservative Christians are considering supporting a third party candidate. Surprise, surprise. When the front runners in the Republican presidential race are either not "real" Christians (Romney, according to some "real" Christians), or support a woman's right to choose (Giuliani) or have already been demonized (McCain in 2000) or are not "Christian enough " (Fred Thompson) then what choice do they have?

There is a problem when you think your party should be led by a theocrat. Really, maybe the majority of Americans believe in God, but they don't believe that is the primary reason to support a candidate.

Richard Viguerie and Tony Perkins and James Dobson are among those participating in meetings to decide how to move forward.

Viguerie said "There is such a jaundiced feeling about any promises or commitments from any Republican leaders." So what else is new.

They will not give specifics of the meeting, but Dobson spoke out against the idea.

Help the Democrats? If they choose to support a third party candidate, this will be good not just for the democrats, but will be good for the whole country.

...same sex couples with children.

Stephen Holowczenko and Don Hooper are young straight (supposedly) friends who both had children by a woman who was later murdered. Now the two men are living together, in an effort to give the young children the best environment.

Social agencies and conservative Newshouse News Service, who published this article, are treating this as the right thing to do. The picture in the Birmingham News is of the two men, shirtless, in their kitchen. If these were "openly gay" men, the picture would not have been published, or there would be outrage. I know, I heard things just as ridiculous in court. The picture in this Newshouse article is of just one of the men, playing with the kids.

While the situation is tragic, the children are handling their mother's death better than the adults, one of the men says.

If this were two gay men wanting to raise children, or adopt children people in many states would be up in arms. Children should have a mother and a father, we would hear.

Don't tell me that a "mother and father are best, but in this situation this is the best", because many children in various states in foster care and needing adoption are in just as bad or worse situations with gay couples wanting to adopt them, only to be turned down.

The real truth is that children need love and support regardless of genders and sexual orientations of their caregivers, and that study after study show that children raised by gay parents turn out no different from children raised by straight parents.

Ok enough seriousness.

The other day James Blunt was on Ellen, and revealed something we never knew. This is just funny. James on Ellen . Thanks Jay for sending this.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Near Death Experiences

On Sunday The Rev. John McKee Sloan was elected the new bishop suffragan of the Episcopal Diocese of Alabama. Here is the news from The Episcopal Church online . Good fortune to "Kee" as he is known, and to the Church in general.

I read something about a person's "near death experience" recently and it got me to thinking. You always hear about such experiences from a Christian perspective, but what about those of other religions or no religion who almost die. What do they see. CECW (conventional evangelical Christian wisdom) would tell us that they would not see the same bright light of God and feel welcomed and at peace and all the different things you hear about.

Since the Muslim religion is the "suspect religion" de jour, I thought I would start there. Seems when they have a near death experience, it is much the same as Christians.

Here is the experience of a Muslim woman and also the story of "Muhammad's Journey to Heaven."

Let's see, now who else do the evangelicals say is condemned...oh yeah, gay and lesbian folk, even if they profess to be Christian. So here are some gay and lesbian near death experiences to ponder.

Both of these links come from one source,, where you can find a wealth of information about near death experiences of Hindus, Buddhists, Native Americans, Jews, athiests, celebrities, children and more.

My conclusion is that we all experience nearly the same thing when we die or almost die, part of which is based on memory and the experiences we have had, part of which is based on physiology and what is going on in the body with neurotransmitters and other chemicals responding to changes in oxygen levels and temperature and such, and part of which is coming from the not fully understood realm of our common source, which, if you really think about it, would have no reason to treat any of us any differently, or put one group above any other group, and would "welcome each person back" whether it is through a spiritual embracing of a "spirit" or/and a physical re-joining with the chemicals that make up the earth.

In other words, we all return to that from which we come. And that should be enough to make anyone look at death, not with fear, but with a yawn, realizing that it's just another step in the journey.