The Year of Moving Forward

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

Friday, January 29, 2010

Election news and McCalla news

Election News

Hueytown council person Carole Marks has announced she will seek the seat currently held by Merika Coleman, District 57 in the state house of representatives.
The primary for this election will be held June1.

Marks heads donor relations at Children's Hospital and serves on the board of the Boys and Girls Club of Central Alabama.

She is also a member and past president of the Bessemer Historical Homeowners Association.


446 acres of farmland near the planned Norfolk Southern intermodal facility are up for sale. The property borders the JeffMet McCalla industrial park and is right there by the hub site, spanning the area from the railroad tracks to Old Tuscaloosa Highway and from Old Tuscaloosa Highway to Interstate 20/59.

Does this indicate that more spin-off development from the hub could be in the future?
Well, only if someone buys it, I guess. The asking price is $20 million, or $45,000 an acre.

Already, nine projects are underway in JeffMet, creating 1,556 jobs, including Posco, a Korean steelmaker. Posco broke ground Thursday on a $19 million facility.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Analysis of SOTU

President Obama delivered his State of the Union Address (text) to a crowd that was, for the most part, well behaved. A Republican pow-wow prior to the address led to a decision not to cry out tacky pitch-lines for partisan gain.

On the overall event I give the president an A- (those who are friends on Facebook already know this, but I didn't give the reasons last night).

The president gets extra points for showing some backbone. 15 points

He smacked the Supreme Court, and they deserved it. 10 points. They don't look too happy, and Justice Samuel Alito seems to be channeling Joe Wilson (from Daily Kos)

Be sure and notice the nervous clerk (or whatever) to the justices left (toward the end). She looks a little concerned, like she knows the next day won't be a good one.

He smacked the legislators in congress. 10 points. (Congress get a D from me for their performance in 2009, by the way).

But what frustrates the American people is a Washington where every day is election day. We cannot wage a perpetual campaign where the only goal is to see who can get the most embarrassing headlines about their opponent — a belief that if you lose, I win. Neither party should delay or obstruct every single bill just because they can. The confirmation of well-qualified public servants should not be held hostage to the pet projects or grudges of a few individual senators. Washington may think that saying anything about the other side, no matter how false, is just part of the game. But it is precisely such politics that has stopped either party from helping the American people. Worse yet, it is sowing further division among our citizens and further distrust in our government.


To Democrats, I would remind you that we still have the largest majority in decades, and the people expect us to solve some problems, not run for the hills. And if the Republican leadership is going to insist that 60 votes in the Senate are required to do any business at all in this town, then the responsibility to govern is now yours as well. Just saying no to everything may be good short-term politics, but it's not leadership.

On policy

Iraq - We will have all of our combat troops out of Iraq by the end of this August. 10 points

Afghanistan - In Afghanistan, we are increasing our troops and training Afghan Security Forces so they can begin to take the lead in July of 2011 and our troops can begin to come home. 5 points

Taxes - ... passed 25 different tax cuts.Let me repeat: we cut taxes. We cut taxes for 95 percent of working families. We cut taxes for small businesses. We cut taxes for first-time homebuyers. We cut taxes for parents trying to care for their children. We cut taxes for 8 million Americans paying for college. As a result, millions of Americans had more to spend on gas, and food and other necessities, all of which helped businesses keep more workers. And we haven't raised income taxes by a single dime on a single person. Not a single dime. 15 points

Energy - loses a point for "offshore" development, but overall clean energy speak was a plus. 5 points

Jobs - The major portion of the speech was about jobs, and he gets high marks for this. 15 points

DADT - the president gets a couple of points for mentioning Don't Ask Don't Tell, and another couple for saying this: 10 points

...the promise enshrined in our Constitution: the notion that we are all created equal, that no matter who you are or what you look like, if you abide by the law you should be protected by it, that if you adhere to our common values you should be treated no different than anyone else.

But he failed to mention that LGBT Americans are not treated the same as everyone else and he could have mentioned the Prop 8 lawsuit going on in California as an example of the inequality in today's society. -5 points

Total score - 90.

Now, what I'm hoping is that the members of congress will realize that they do have an obligation to work together, regardless of what us screaming bloggers and flailing teabaggers are doing. Maybe congress should sequester themselves and not be allowed to watch any TV news or read any blogs, then they might could work together.


Dave Matthews and Neil Young performed together during the Hope for Haiti NowHope for Haiti now concert. Nice. "Alone and Forsaken"

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

A Bessemer welcome and upcoming elections

A big Bessemer welcome to Matt Moore, who along with his sister Kim Vann and father Bud Moore, purchased the former Dixie Nissan, now named Moore Nissan.

He is optimistic that 2010 will be a good year for the auto industry and for his dealership.

Here is what their web site says about the community.

From the employment opportunities that we provide for individuals to the tax revenues we generate for our City; from giving to local organizations and schools to participating in and promoting local events, you will find that Moore Nissan is a positive force in the Bessemer community and the surrounding vicinity.

In Bessemer and around we have a boatload of elections coming up. Who's getting election fatigue?

Several candidates for these various offices have contacted me. I'm not naming any yet, some have announced and some have not.

On June 1, the state primaries will take place. There are a lot of state offices on the ballot, but I am more interested right now in those candidates who will actually represent and be in touch with the people. You know, representatives and commissioners and such.

So, here in Bessemer and near, we will elect new county commissioners. Bobby Humphryes indicates he will run again, but none of the other commissioners are. Celebrate.

If you live in William Bell's former district, you will vote twice, once for a replacement to finish his term, and again for someone to represent the district beginning in November when the other commissioners begin their terms.

Recently elected state legislators will have to run again.

Lawrence McAdory will have to run again for the seat that he just won in the special election for Alabama House -56. People are lining up to challenge him.

Merika Coleman in nearby district 57 will have competition from at least one strong contender.

State Senator (District 19) Priscilla Dunn will be up for re-election. Remember, she just won the seat in another special election, and formerly held the seat the McAdory now holds.

By the time that election and the runoffs, if needed (on June 22), are over, the Bessemer city elections will be well underway.

The mayor and council elections will take place in the late summer/early fall, assuming Bessemer can legally hold an election.

Several announced and unannounced candidates want to replace Ed May, who despite telling supporters in my living room in 2006 that he would only serve one term, would be seeking his third.

And there will be at least one open council seat, as one current council member is running for mayor. Another incumbent, who I am not sure if is running (but really I am), told me the people of Bessemer should elect a whole new council. We should be so lucky.

After all, it is a bad year to be an incumbent, and this holds true from the U.S. Senate down to dogcatcher, so watch out.

In the meantime, we have the President's State of the Union Address to look forward to, James OKeefe's arrest to gloat over, and the knowledge that Riley Anti-Gambling Task Force head John Tyson got $100,000 of his 2006 campaign funds from gambling interest PACS to stew over.

Justin Timberlake and Matt Morris performed this song during the Hope for Haiti Now Telethon. Not the best version ever, but nice, still. Hallelujah.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

More on the teabaggers and racism

This video shows the link between the current tea parties and the racist white supremacy.

It's 24 minutes long, but worth it.

The teabaggers say "Take back America."

The white supremacists say "Take back America."

And this is why anyone associated with Tea Parties is suspicious.

Glenn Beck is identified, along with a certain "News" network.

Yes, I know the video was aired on AlJazeera English. So?

Monday, January 25, 2010

Bits and pieces (no pun intended, John)

Just a few items that might interest you.

*Fox News has pretty much ignored the earthquake in Haiti, devoting about 5-7 minutes per hour to the tragedy when it first happened. Story. They also did not participate in the Hope for Haiti Now telethon.

No surprise, as we already know they don't care about the underprivileged here in the United States, as they support denying health care to the uninsured.

*The IPhone will be available through Verizon (probably)in the near future.

*John Edwards has a sex tape. No one wants to see it, but there is some curiosity because he is said to be "physically very striking" and people say, "Whoa," when they see his...well, when they see the tape. (the tape is not at the link, just the story)

*New Orleans is headed to the Super Bowl!!!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Give up the fight?

I am this close (thumb and forefinger are about 4 mm apart) to abandoning the fight for gay equality.


Corporations are now afforded the rights of individuals.

SCOTUS yesterday ruled that corporations can pretty much buy elections, and since the big money corporations are the oil and insurance and financial companies, they will support Republicans that will vote to prevent progressive energy and health policy and to overturn Obama's restrictions on banks. These same Republican legislators will vote against any equality legislation, so the LGBT community is screwed.

President Obama turned his back on us during the first year of his presidency, and now that Scott Brown has been elected the Republicans can really be the party of "No." "No" to equality (along with any other progressive legislation).

Corporations are not individuals, they do not vote, why, pray tell, are they now treated as individuals with the same right to free speech that a person has?

Heck, they have more rights than I do! They can already marry (they call it merger) and I can't even do that!

Why waste my time fighting for that which is unattainable?

It looks like we will just have to wait until all the old bigots die before we begin to see change, and that may take a decade or two.

The worst Supreme Court decision since the Dred-Scott decision, this has been called. Alan Grayson is fighting back. But even if his legislation is passed, the corporations can buy votes to overturn the laws. This screws everybody. While Republican legislators seem pleased for the most part, and conservative pundits seem to like it, some day this will come back to bite them.

In the meantime, damn. Good-bye, democracy.

But, in reality, I wonder what the effect will be. Unions and such progressive corporations as Microsoft and Google might buy Democrat wins, so it might balance out. Time will tell.

Update: Sign Alan Grayson's petition to Save Democracy, click here.

To visit Alan Grayson's web site, click here.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

What do the teabaggers believe in?

The teabaggers may feel energized, but why? I mean, I understand that their centerfold candidate won in Massachusetts and all.

But Americans with brains want to to know: what do you stand for?

Reduced spending? Give specifics. What would you cut? Give me specifics, and I will address them in future postings.

Reduced government regulation? Then why do you keep trying to prevent loving couples from getting married?

When I try to find out what specifically the Teabagger party folks believe in, I either come up with web sites that you can't enter without registration (scary) or videos like this (I think I posted this one before, but let's watch again).

Dang, they are as uneducated as local letter writer Snuffy Garrett, (who made a fool of himself in this week's Western Tribune by not researching before he wrote).
We watched a story on BBC in America where Tea Party members in Washington, Missouri, were interviewed. They couldn't say what they believed in, but they did claim not to be the fringe that we see on TV. Then the fangs came out and they said they would sabotage Republicans that did not agree with their beliefs.

But the Tea Party movement is not all roses either. This video calling on grassroots protesters to avoid the upcoming national teabag convention, and unite, not letting the GOP hijack their efforts.

Notice that while a black person or two is shown in the video, that when they speak of uniting, it is all white hands that come together. A fist bump between a white fist and a black fist seems to represent conflict, not approval, because it immediately follows the words "Don't fall for it again. Not now!"

As best as I can tell, the Tea party movement is a white supremacist, anti-choice, dominionist, homophobic, uneducated (obvious from the first video) group of noisemakers.

I'm not saying they shouldn't be taken seriously. But realize this, as well. Part of the anger in the country is coming from the left. After all, we helped elect the congress and president, and they haven't come through like we expected. So don't think that all the anger reflected in polls and election results comes from the right.

Western Tribune column January 20, 2010 - Haiti

My column from the Western Tribune on January 20, 2009, regarding the earthquake in Haiti.

The 7.0 earthquake that occurred in Haiti last week is not the first major seismologic event to occur in that country. Recorded history tells us that in 1842 a major quake struck in north Haiti, destroying the city of Cap-Haitien and killing thousands. Geologists are able to document many quakes prior to that which affected Haiti as well as other Caribbean islands.

Televangelist Pat Robertson, quick to assign blame whenever a natural disaster occurs (and sometimes before they occur), said that a long time ago the enslaved Haitians made a deal with the devil in order to gain freedom from the French. He said that ever since, they have been cursed by one thing after the other.

Robertson is referring to the Bois Caiman ceremony, a poorly documented event that some scholars doubt is accurately remembered, in part because the earliest account was written by a white man who may have had an ulterior motive in denigrating the slaves.

If Haiti is cursed, it is not because of the sacrifice of a pig centuries ago, rather it is because it lies above the boundary between the Caribbean and the North American Plates, and these geologic plates are always moving.

Nature does not take sides and certainly natural events do not occur in response to ritual religious practices that may or may not have occurred centuries ago.

But as certain as we can be that devastating events will occur, we can also assure ourselves that Americans will respond generously. The rebuilding of Haiti will take years, but right now the major need is for medical relief and money for supplies. The best thing we can do is offer our prayers and donate money to The Red Cross or another reputable service organization. In addition, President Obama has called on former presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton to head our country’s effort and you can support them online at ClintonBushHaitifund.

President Clinton, who honeymooned with his wife in Haiti in 1975, stated that hopefully as the city of Port au Prince is rebuilt, it can be done using better materials and with better construction techniques that will reduce the loss of life and injury should future earthquakes occur. But that type of construction will cost more money, so our assistance will be needed for years.

Let’s be there for Haiti. Let’s stand behind Presidents Obama, Bush and Clinton in this huge humanitarian effort.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Election hash

What do yesterday's election results tell us?

Let's start with Birmingham. Congratulations, first, to William Bell. While I supported his opponent (even though I don't vote in that city), Bell will be the new mayor, and it is up to him to lead us out of the funk we are in. Almost as bad an assignment as the one Barack Obama was handed when he assumed the presidency.

Bell can do this, I am confident. It just won't be in the same manner that Patrick Cooper would have.

As for the gay community, we should support Bell. William Bell has been our friend in the past. He is not responsible for the homophobia that disgraced his campaign. Frank Matthews is. Bell can show us how he feels by ignoring Matthews as he builds his team. Time will tell.

As for Scott Brown's win in Massachusetts, I could write about the failure of the democrats to select a decent candidate, or about the candidate herself and her gaffes, but let's be honest and look at the big picture.

In 2008 America made a statement when it elected Barack Obama. He campaigned on health care reform among other things, and most who voted for him supported it too.

So what happened? Did Americans since then decide they like having 40 million uninsured countrymen? Do they appreciate that people die every day because they lack health insurance?

I find that hard to believe. But I'm not going to answer the questions here. I don't have those answers.

Besides, here are my concerns. The teabaggers have the momentum now. Democrats in congress may be afraid to pass anything, health care related or other. Teabaggers will be giddy.

Teabaggers in this state will be energized. Sorry, Artur. Sorry, Ron.

If it were just Republicans I wouldn't worry. But the teabaggers are a different story. They are the modern KKK. White separatists. Seriously, listen to the radio. Read their blogs. Within the last week I have seen that they have selected a (battle) flag, heard them talk about secession, heard about commandeering the southern auto plants for munitions and weapons manufacture, speak of getting the guillotine ready, and more. Idle talk? Hardly, one of the people being interviewed was an elected official in our state. Sorry I don't know who, I was in the shower listening to the radio on Sunday when I heard it on 101.1 FM.

That is the concern I was alluding to the past few days on this blog. God help us.

But there are progressive people in this county, and this country, and we will continue to search for and support progressive candidates and promote progressive policies. Gays are already abandoning the Democratic Party (shutting down the GayTM).

The Democratic Party and the president and the state parties really need to pow-wow and get their act together. November comes quickly.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Drive-by Truckers explore the past, Birmingham votes on the future

This day is very important for the future of Birmingham and the future of our nation.

In Birmingham the voters have the choice of electing Patrick Cooper who has a fresh vision for the city, or William Bell, part of the establishment of the last 30 years.

The difference also is in the attitudes of the supporters of the candidates. Sure, Cooper has the support of many in the LGBT community and progressive whites, and these are some of the people he has surrounded himself with.

Bell, on the other hand, has the support of Frank Matthews, who has put out divisive and homophobic campaign materials in an attempt to promote hatred and fear and divide the people of Birmingham.

The future of the nation may depend on the results of the special election in Massachusetts, where Martha Coakley and Scott Brown are fighting for the senate seat formerly held by Teddy Kennedy. Brown's campaign is being promoted by teabaggers and it looks like he has a chance to win.

If he should win, teabaggers from the across the nation will feel emboldened and no telling what will happen. But whatever, we will have to deal with it.

That being said, I think Patrick Cooper will be the next mayor of Birmingham, and Martha Coakley will be the new senator from Massachusetts. But the elections will be close.

Check out this video featuring Drive-by Truckers.

It tells of story of the racist past in Alabama from the viewpoint of Patterson Hood, one of the band members. "The Three Great Alabama Icons" and "George Wallace" are from their album, "Southern Rock Opera." h/t to mooncat. And, h/t to Matt Osborne.

It's interesting how some people who grew up here had to leave the state to see what was really going on. Read a writeup about the album from Patterson Hood.

"We began writing the Southern Rock Opera some years ago. We wanted to examine people's misconceptions of the South, and study some modern-day southern mythology."

Monday, January 18, 2010

MLK Day, the most shocking injustice

It is difficult to stay focused on the positive when so many lies are being spread, and so much truth being bent. Maybe I can put some of that together in the next few days, I really sense a danger to our country from the new KKK, the Teabaggers.

But today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and I was fortunate enough to attend the Unity Breakfast in Birmingham. The theme of the breakfast was "Health Care: A Personal Responsibility and a Human Right."

My first observation was about the diversity there. Color, sexual orientation, religion, even political party - not!

I did not see one person that I could identify or suspect was a republican. That is not surprising, as they seek to divide, rather than unite. But I digress - that goes more with my future topic.

I could write much about the event, but I want to focus on the 2nd place Essay winner, Trenton Z. Hearns, a senior at Jess Lanier High School in Bessemer. Twenty-two essays were submitted, and the top three received recognition along with a monetary award. Congratulations to Trenton. Here is his essay.

Health Care: A Personal Responsibility and a Human Right

The year is 2009, and The House of Representatives recently passed the most inclusive health care bill in our nation’s history. Yet, it took the nation, whose Declaration of Independence suggests life as a divine right to every human, two hundred forty-five years to pass a bill that would enhance the quality of any of its citizen’s lives. An even more astounding reality, finance is a component of the reason many of these soon-to-be health care newcomers have been denied this lifeline for so long. So health care, once an intangible amenity to minorities, has become scarcely available to Americans despite ethnicity. Also, in a millennium where the economy of the world’s wealthiest nation is gasping for breath, some citizens are left without jobs. In most cases, employers supplement the individual’s health care costs. Now, what is to come of the unemployed aside from a new burden, which was once a beneficial service?

The United States of America’s Declaration of Independence clearly lists life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness as man’s unalienable rights from God. One’s right to optimal physical and mental health affects the quality and longevity of this right to live, especially when accessibility is the limiting factor. While in Chicago at the 1966 National Convention of the Medical committee of Human Rights, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said that “Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane.” Furthermore, any factors negatively affecting the God-given right of life can, by common knowledge of good and evil, be deemed wicked by all men. This nation under God has gone nearly three centuries depriving many citizens of health care, a necessity. This deprivation has made health care so limited that it has been considered a luxury by many of those who could not afford it and an amenity to those who could afford it.

“A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death,” is what Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. told other concerned religious leaders in a meeting at Riverside Church in New York City in his speech “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence” (April 4, 1967). Fortunately, this health care plan is a newly implemented program of upward mobility. Unfortunately, this country waited forty-two years after hearing this statement to take action. Finance should not be one of the reasons forty million adult citizens did not receive health care in 2005, while the government splurged on an eighty-five billion dollar shopping spree in Iraq that same year. Since when has the preservation of life in America become a stepchild to the government? Evidently, this nation under God was indeed facing Dr. King’s predicted spiritual demise.

As well as those in poverty, the rest of the country recently found itself in a deficit that persists today. In 2008, the United States suffered its worst economic decline since the Great Depression of the 1930’s. As the economy declined in the United States, the number of unemployed citizens soared. In that same year, one hundred fifty-eight million non-elderly Americans were covered by employer-sponsored insurance and two million, six hundred thousand Americans were unemployed. The newly unemployed citizens, who relied on their employers to supplement health care costs, were now either totally uninsured because of unemployment and prior inability to afford health care, or struggling to keep the services they had become accustomed to. Thus making health care, a right, their personal responsibility. Who values working Americans more, employers who provide health benefits or a government that has not matched those benefits?

Thankfully, those Americans along with many more will not be missing these essential services any longer. The new health care legislation will cover ninety-six percent of Americans. Injustice-free, this grants health care to Americans despite health condition or income. Finally, this nation under god has extended an offer to its citizens that will prolong the quality of their life, liberty and pursuits of happiness.

I have written about health care being a right in several Western Tribune columns, here a re a couple of recent ones.

Here, from Sept. 30, 2009, and here, Sept. 23, 2009. Also, here is last year's MLK post about King's support of health care.

We can only hope that similar sentiments are being expressed across the country today, but nowhere is the urgency greater than in Massachusetts, where Republican candidate Scott Brown has announced his intention to deny health care to the uninsured in Alabama and across the country, and to allow health care costs to continue to skyrocket, (those were not his words, but that is what he will do) should he win. Let's hope the fair minded people of that state come out in support of Martha Coakley and elect her to the U. S. Senate.

And while we are talking progress, let's hope Birmingham voters can look beyond the outright lies by the Bell campaign about Patrick Cooper and elect Cooper as the new mayor of Birmingham

Sunday, January 17, 2010

James Evans on Pat Robertson

But first:

Last night the Ting Tings were the musical guest on SNL. I "tink" this live performance is better than their video. I hope they don't take this video down before you get to see it, I got it from Hulu. The Ting Tings are Jules De Martino and Katie White.

Friday The Decatur Daily ran this column by James Evans, my favorite Baptist preacher. This one is classic, and I think he wrote it before Pat Robertson made his hateful statement about Haiti.

Pat Robertson dressed as wolf in sheep's clothing?

At the end of every year, Pat Robertson, television evangelist and founder of the 700 Club, holds a prayer retreat. During these annual prayer meetings, Robertson meets with God, and God tells Pat what is going to happen in the coming year. Of course, someone does not have a very good batting average on these predictions.

For instance, in 2007 Pat told us that God told him that terrorists would launch a nuclear attack against the United States. Because that clearly did not happen, either Pat misheard God, God was wrong, or the terrorists did not get the message. For Pat’s part, he said the only thing he could figure was that people prayed “and God in his mercy spared us.”

This year more gloom and doom looms on the horizon. According to Pat, God is not happy with America. Because we have a propensity to allow abortions, gay marriage and secularism, Pat says, “There’s a cloud of God’s wrath over America.”

Whatever is really going on with Pat’s audiences with the divine — if we want to take the idea of God’s wrath seriously, and we also want to take the Bible seriously — there are plenty of transgressions other than abortions, gay marriage and secularism for Americans to be concerned about.

For instance, let’s think about God’s concern for the weak and the powerless in our world. This is the theological heart of conservative opposition to abortion. But why does their concern always stop with the unborn. How about the already born?

Where is the passionate concern for children who live in poverty and die of starvation in huge numbers every day? And how about the innocent children of Iraq and Afghanistan killed and maimed by weapons of war? If God’s wrath hangs like a cloud over those who inflict pain or allow suffering of the weak and powerless, then there is much for us as a nation to be concerned about.
And why do conservatives twist themselves into knots over gay marriage when traditional marriage is in serious decline? Many heterosexual couples are bypassing marriage altogether.

And don’t blame this on gay people — many of them want to get married! Why aren’t conservative Christians trying to find out why young people have turned their backs on marriage?

And don’t get me started on secularism. When you can’t tell the difference between a rock concert and a worship service, the secular has won — and on sacred turf. Designing worship space that is void of sacred art, music, liturgy or even meaningful biblical content, all for the sake of marketing, is an out-and-out surrender to the forces secularism.

But back to Pat Robertson. Most likely Pat is not listening to God but rather listening to the GOP. He has made himself a mouthpiece for a partisan political group in this country whose only real interest is winning elections. As such, he is willing to distort biblical truth so it supports his political ideology.

And don’t you know God is irked when the profound truths of faith are distorted and diminished for something as paltry as political gain. Talk about provoking the wrath of God.

Jesus knew something about this. He knew about people who wrapped themselves in the mantle of piety but with a far more pedestrian agenda. He knew about those who used the authentic faith of others for personal or political gain.

Wolves, Jesus called them, dressed like sheep.

Contact James L. Evans, pastor of Auburn First Baptist Church, at

Friday, January 15, 2010

Bits and Pieces for $1000, Alex


Yesterday, NBC 13 could not receive the satellite feed for The 700 Club and had to air an older program. A blessing for Birmingham. No Pat Robertson. Well, no current Pat Robertson, anyway.


On Monday Bobby and I will be attending the 24th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Unity Breakfast, where the overall theme is "Health Care: A Personal Responsibility and A Human Right." That is right up my alley. Dr. Ed LaMonte will be the keynote speaker.

Thanks to a generous donation we will be sitting at the Equality Alabama table.


Yesterday I thought I might be going to Haiti to help in the relief effort, but the opportunity didn't come through. But I am prepared to go. I have all the necessary vaccinations and passport and Caribbean disaster experience (here, here, here and here and ICS and NIMS training.

So if you know of an organization that needs me let me know. I've contacted several to let them know I am available.

Birmingham mayor's race.

Will Birmingham elect a mayor who is having his wages garnished (William Bell) or one who says he will forgo his mayor's salary (or donate it or whatever) in order to save the city money (Patrick Cooper)?

Here are several videos where Cooper outlines his vision and plan for the city.


You've heard this song as background music during a commercial for a new lawyer TV show The Deep End. Brandi Carlile and Dreams. Watch the official video, where she is singing from an Avatar-like tree (well the best we can do on planet earth) and in front of Mardi Gras like props and with great outfits and instruments for the band. Thanks Brandi for allowing us to embed this.

or a live version from Studio Q.

Carlile is a lesbian, by the way.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Haiti suffers, Limbaugh heartless and Pat Robertson unspeakably stupid

Nature has just plunked a great big exclamation mark on my Western Tribune column, which I posted yesterday, and appears here if you direct linked this, or just below this post if you are on the blog. The column focused on the movie Avatar and nature, and included this:

Nature is a powerful force, and we witness this every year with hurricanes and tsunamis and mudslides and such. Nature affects us in other ways as well, from the microbes that help us digest our food to the diseases that we seek to conquer.

and this:

But as in the movie, nature “does not take sides.”

The earthquake in Haiti really has a lot of people down. Already the poorest nation in the area, and constantly suffering from hurricanes and mudslides and floods and such, yet there is so little that we can do (other than give money) but sit and watch. (Texting "Haiti" to 90999 to donate $10 to the Red Cross, added to your phone bill, is one way).

But we certainly don't need an oaf like Rush Limbaugh telling his uneducated listeners that President Obama would "use Haiti to burnish their, shall we say, credibility within the black community in the both light-skinned and dark-skinned black community in this country."

Every ounce of feeling I have goes out to the people of Haiti. Our country has close ties to Haiti, more on that in a minute, and it is only right for our president to make a statement offering our assistance.

I can not improve on Keith Olbermann's criticism of Limbaugh (and Pat Robertson, who said the earthquake was a result of a "pact with the devil" that the nation made in the 19th century to gain freedom from France).

"Mr. Robertson, Mr. Limbaugh. Your lives are not worth those of the lowest, meanest, poorest of those victims still lying under that rubble in Haiti tonight. You serve no good, you serve no god. You inspire only stupidity and hatred, and I would wish you to hell, but knowing how empty your souls must be for you to be able to say such things, in a time of such pain, I suspect the vacant purposelessness of the lives you both live now are hell enough already."

About our historical relationship with Haiti, Rachel Maddow describes it best.

Visit for Breaking News, World News, and News about the Economy

Ambassador Raymond Joseph says any deal that Haiti made with the devil certainly benefited the United States as well.

We can only offer our prayers and thoughts and support and money right now, but at least regarding this situation, please Rush Limbaugh, and Pat Robertson, just STFU!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Western Tribune column January 13, 2010: Avatar

This is my Western Tribune column for January 13, 2010. I have seen Avatar twice, and probably will see it one more time. There are so many lessons to be learned from this film, it's hard to explain in 400 words. Here goes:

Picture credit: James Cameron's Avatar Wiki page

I will assume that most readers have seen the movie Avatar, but just in case someone reading this has missed the record breaking sensory feast, there will be no spoiler here. The details that I reveal have already been mentioned in news stories.

On Pandora, the planet like moon where the story takes place, a world is seen where the creatures and plant life – nature – are in tune and exist in a sort of harmony that still allows an acceptance of death and sorrow.

But in the year 2154 our planet has become “brown” and humans have found a new source for resources that are much needed on earth.

With that set up in mind, some conservative and religious leaders are claiming that there is a hidden message promoting a liberal tree-hugging, anti-Christian agenda.

Hardly. I mean, the message is not hidden; it’s the theme of the movie, with a love story entwined.

Nature is a powerful force, and we witness this every year with hurricanes and tsunamis and mudslides and such. Nature affects us in other ways as well, from the microbes that help us digest our food to the diseases that we seek to conquer.

On Pandora, rather than battling nature, the Na’Vi (the indigenous blue-skinned stars of the film) enjoy a spiritual connection to the other species with a simple understanding of the circle of energy and life.

We have tried to separate ourselves from the rest of nature, in part due to religious beliefs that promote us to a status above the animals over which we have dominion and just below the God we worship, but also because of what we have accomplished with the larger brains and opposable thumbs we developed.

In doing so, we link God and nature together in much the same way the Na’Vi link their natural life with their spiritual force, Eywa. We, or most of us, just don’t admit it.

Oddly enough, we have chosen to abuse our planet and ignore the signs of peril and the results are becoming evident, through climate change, and epidemics and such.

Nature versus God, or nature equals god, are arguments as old as humanity itself.

But as in the movie, nature “does not take sides.” Yet we will continue our attempts to shift the balance of life in our favor.

We may have to wait on the promised Avatar sequels to learn how that works out.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

When I get married, I'm gonna wear shoes

These sentences got me thinking.

***Note: I just wanted to clarify that I don’t hate homosexuals. I actually know a couple gay and lesbian people and they’re great folks. This, however, does not mean that I agree with their lifestyle choices.

This is part of a post from The Barefoot Bride, a blog about weddings, where the writer is being critical of this article from the Winter issue of Martha Stewart Weddings magazine. In the article, Jeremy and Andrew's wedding is featured, quite nicely I might add.

Joe.My.God created a post about it and then Homer did as well, so I might as well add my 2 cents worth.

So, back to the quote.

I just wanted to clarify that I don’t hate homosexuals. I actually know a couple gay and lesbian people and they’re great folks. This, however, does not mean that I agree with their lifestyle choices.

I am so tired of people claiming to like gays as they think its OK to treat us as second class citizens.

I agree with Homer's response:

My response: "Back in the 1960s a lot of Ku Klux Klan folks knew great Negroes too, as long as they kept in their place and didn't clamor for the same rights that the Bible granted White folks."

She also said this:

I may not always agree with the lifestyles and life choices made by all the people featured in every publication I read, but I do not appreciate picking up my favorite magazine to see photographs of homosexual couples being affectionate.

I grew up in the 60's, and while I may not specifically remember this, I bet there was a time when The Birmingham News did not feature photos of black weddings. And I bet when the first photos appeared, that similar comments were made and letters written to the paper by white Alabamians who were offended by seeing black people being "affectionate."

Homer said that he was taught that whenever he learned of someone's plans to marry that he should offer "congratulations" regardless of his personal feelings.

"The more I think about your blog post, the more I keep coming back to the very basic thing I was taught about weddings. When someone tells you that will be or have been recently married, the only proper response is "Congratulations." Anything else, no matter what you think of the situation, is just bad manners."

As for people that may know my partner and me but share the view that the barefoot bride holds, that we are "great folks" yet think it's OK that we be treated as second class citizens, I don't need you. I have enough friends that support equality that I don't need to waste time associating with those who look at me as less than equal.

And I will continue to confront you and your pre-historic views. If I choose to show affection to my partner in your presence and you are offended, that is your problem, not mine.

And if you (or others like you) are showing affection in public, or discussing your dinner plans with your spouse in front of me and my kids, then I have the right to discuss our plans in front of you and your kids. Like the other day when we were getting haircuts. My partner finished first, while I was still waiting among kids and adults. He told the person at the counter that he wanted to pay for mine as well, and she said to just wait until after my cut.

When I finished, he was in conversation with some people sitting around him, so I pulled out my card to pay. "You wanted to pay both of yall's, right," the cashier asked, motioning toward my partner. "Right," I replied, "but that means he has to pay for dinner," which started a whole conversation about how we do this each time and where to go eat and such.

Everyone who works there knows we are a couple, so the conversation was just chatter to them. The adults sitting there had to realize that we are a gay couple, and maybe the kids figured it out, or asked questions later.

My point is, people need to see gay and lesbian couples in public, not ashamed of who they are, acting naturally.

If we feel the urge to kiss in IHOP or snuggle for warmth while standing in line in sub-freezing temperatures, and you are offended, then that is your problem, not mine. If your kids don't understand then you are at fault for not explaining to them about the diverse world they live in, and you can let it be a teaching moment.

OK, I'll climb down off the soapbox and work on our own wedding plans. And when it happens, I will be sure and let the barefoot bride know. Oh, and we will both be wearing shoes when we marry.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Jobs, jobs jobs

Jobs are coming to Bessemer.

The Birmingham News is reporting that a Pennsylvania company will create 80 new jobs with a new plant in Bessemer near the CSX railroad hub in Interstate Industrial park. This is at the former site of the Pullman-Standard rail car manufacturing plant.

Update: By the way, the Bham News claims "News Exclusive," when in reality this was reported and printed in the Western Tribune on December 2, 2009. Looks like the News snoozed when the story broke.

Also, J C Penney at Colonial Tannehill has a "now hiring" sign up. The planned opening of the store is in March of this year. I don't know how many people they will be hiring, but now is the time to apply.

I took this picture near the JC Penney yesterday. Think this driver is interested in a job?

Today is a good day to spend watching video.

At Bessemer Science and Nature, the Symphony of Science videos are entertaining and educational.

At The Examiner, there is a video that can convince anyone to stop the hate and that equality for gays and lesbians is the right thing. Also, there is a link to the video of the Prop 8 trail which begins today in California.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Bama - National Champs, Ron Sparks moving up

My friend Neal made an interesting observation.

The Crimson Tide is the National Champion-but keep in mind that the Tide defeated Texas by 16 points and Florida by 19 but Auburn by a mere 5! War Damn Eagle!

Congratulations to Alabama. Many of us Auburn fans pulled for Alabama in last night's BCS championship. Let's see how many Alabama fans will pull for Auburn next year when we are in that game.

So Tuscaloosa developer and Bessemer developer Stan Pate paid for the banner that flew around the Rose Bowl urging impeachment of Governor Bob Riley.

Picture credit Mark Almond

While Pate's explanation certainly holds water, his action shows a complete lack of class.

"Look, this guy is trying to shut down businesses that employ thousands of hard-working Alabamians while he's out there for a football game on the taxpayer dollar. I think what this guy tried to do in Dothan Wednesday was an act aimed at putting Alabamians out of work, and somebody has to hold him accountable and that's what the banner is doing."

"Impeach corrupt Alabama Governor Bob Riley," the banner read.

Regardless of who the governor is, when they are trying to promote our state, we should not detract from that. This was a celebratory event, even before the kickoff, and flying a banner around just seemed childish.

Oh, yeah. It was Stan Pate.

Riley will be gone soon enough. There's not a snowball's chance in hell that he will be removed from office before the regularly scheduled departure following the election this year.

The only question is, which democrat candidate will be replacing him?

Artur Davis' popularity is falling, and Ron Sparks' is rising. That's not based on polling, it's just based on listening.

Ron Sparks had the following to say about Governor Riley's failed plan to raid Country Crossings in Dothan.

“Governor Riley’s latest attempt to shut down gaming operations at Country Crossings in Dothan, Alabama is just one more example of why the State of Alabama needs to once and for all address gaming in Alabama and pass comprehensive legislation that regulates it, controls it and taxes it.

“Bob Riley’s campaign against an industry that employs thousand of working people across the State, has already cost the Alabama taxpayers in the millions.

“Country Crossings, in the short time that it has been open, has already generated over a million dollars in revenue for Houston County as well as employing some 2,000 workers.

“Regulated and taxed gaming will create jobs and jobs will create economic prosperity in our State. This is the right path for Alabama on the gaming issue and one that I will take as Governor.”

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Western Tribune column January 6, 2010 Testosterone

Waiting on snow and Alabama football (that's hard for an Auburn fan to say) and wondering why homophobic hatred is replacing racial hatred in Birmingham.

I had so much fun writing this column and love sharing the information.

Western Tribune column

Now we understand anti-Obama frenzy

After Barack Obama took the oath of office it didn’t take long before those who voted against him to ramp up the rhetoric in opposition. Led by their leaders Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin, they reached a frenzy during the summer with wild accusations hyped at “tea party” rallies.

Now we know why, extrapolating from a report in the January, 2010 issue of Scientific American.

Biologists from Duke University and the University of Michigan have determined that male voters who back a losing candidate experience a rapid drop in the hormone testosterone following a loss. Specifically, levels of testosterone remained stable for males who voted for Obama, while those who voted for John McCain and Robert Barr had a decline.

One of the effects of testosterone is increased libido, and when levels decrease, well, a man might get frustrated and angry as a result.

The study also showed that women’s levels of testosterone levels did not change significantly after a win or a loss by their candidate. But I suppose they might react to a decrease in affection by their mate.

The research team admits that there are many factors that influence testosterone levels and they controlled for many of these during their election night sampling. They do not know how long the effects due to the election loss will last, but they conjecture that since the dominance held by a winning presidential candidate lasts at least four years, it’s plausible that testosterone levels could remain suppressed in males for that long.

That’s a long time to do without, so don’t expect any taming of the rhetoric anytime soon.
And while my conclusion about libido and anger was not among the conclusions expressed by the researchers; they did state that the McCain voters reported feeling significantly more unhappy and unpleasant after the loss.

The researchers now want to focus on spectator sports to see if fans, lacking a direct influence on an outcome like voters do, exhibit similar changes in testosterone after a loss.

That makes me wonder if outcomes of policy battles (health care) might lead to fluctuating testosterone levels among members of congress that will be voting but also among the supporters and detractors of reform.

And I wonder as well just how much of how we act and what we do is controlled by hormones and chemicals in our body and not by our minds as we would like to believe.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Global cooling - not the way to go

Every year on a cold morning I take a picture of the fountain in its frozen state and post it on this site. As far as I can tell, the goldfish and their brown progeny are still alive, but I won't know for sure until the thaw takes place. They have survived previous freezes.

But its cold for us southerners. Of course, my brother in Minnesota would laugh at us for being such weenies when it comes to cold weather.

Speaking of weenies, and the cold, I wonder if David, standing near the fountain, experiences "shrinkage" related to the cold weather.

But what if the cold weather became permanent. While our immediate and more pressing concern is climate change in the other direction, there is a theory about global cooling that could occur if a local nuclear skirmish between India and Pakistan occurred.

Scientific American has an article where Alan Robock and Owen Brian Toon explore that possibility. (The entire article is only available online if you are a subscriber. I have the magazine if you want to borrow it).

Here are the key concepts from the article.

Nuclear bombs dropped on cities and industrial areas in a fight between India and Pakistan would start firestorms that would put massive amounts of smoke into the upper atmosphere.

The particles would remain there for years, blocking the sun, making the earth's surface cold, dark and dry. Agricultural collapse and mass starvation could follow.

Cooling scenarios are based on computer models. but observations of volcanic eruptions, forest fire smoke and other phenomena provide confidence that the models are correct.

Here is why the smoke particles from the fires would not just be brought down to the earth by rain and gravity.

"Fires ignited by bombs would send smoke up through the troposphere within two days." (That's up about 12 kilometers). "The sun would then heat the tiny particles and loft them into the stratosphere," by day 49. (That is up to 50 kilometers). "Precipitation never occurs there, so particles would take about 10 years to fully settle to earth's surface. Smoke in the troposphere washes out within a week or so."

The sky would look overcast everywhere.

Less sunlight and cooler temperature would shorten the growing season everywhere.

The authors report on the effects of volcanoes and forest fires. the most remarkable was the 1815 Tambora eruption in Indonesia which darkened the skies and produced a global temperature decline of about 0.5 degrees C for a year. "1816 became known as 'The Year without a Summer' or 'Eighteen Hundred and Froze to Death.'"

"In New England, although the average summer temperature was lowered only a few degrees, crop-killing frosts occurred in every month."

There are more examples of past effects and future possibilities in the article.

A solution is offered as well: Abolition of nuclear weapons.

"...on September 24 (2009), the president led the United nations Security Council to approve a draft resolution that would step up efforts to rid the world of nuclear weapons. Our modeling results only strengthen the reasons to support further progress on such policy."

Here, Molly discusses the effect on our world from a nuclear war. While her scenario is a bit more explosive, the results are the same.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Don't be stupid

On a cold morning this was the view as I emerged from the Kirklin Clinic. Maybe not too noticeable in the photo, but jumped out at me, was this woman sitting on the edge of one of the planters.

Cut to the chase. Smoke exiting her lungs. Oxygen tank by her side (to her right, it is almost blocked by her purse in the photo).

See the little sign among the plants? See that there are three visible in this photo. Here is what they say.

In each of the planters are signs like this facing in all directions.

Now, I will be the first to admit that quitting cigarettes is difficult. I began smoking in the 8th grade, quit when I went to college, started again after college, quit again when fatherhood neared.

But worse, I watched my father suffer and die because of cigarettes. He tried to quit numerous times, and even tried acupuncture to help. He had heart disease, emphysema and COPD. He died.

Have you ever watched someone who couldn't breathe? I mean, really couldn't breathe?

The best way to quit smoking is to not start in the first place. If you are a young person reading this, don't be a fool. You can be cool without smoking. And you won't smell like a smokestack, your teeth won't be yellow and kissing you won't be like licking an ashtray.

If you already smoke...quit! Here are resources.

This is a kind of funny anti-smoking ad.