Archive for July, 2009

>Beer choices reveal…not much

July 31, 2009

>I was going to write on race relations and beer summits and such, but since one meeting between a white cop and a black professor with a President thrown in (and a Vice-President in attendance in case there is a lull in the conversation) isn’t going to change the world, I will reserve the topic for my Western Tribune column (unless I come up with something else).

But the beer. What does that tell us?

Blue Moon, the choice of Sgt. Jim Crowley, is brewed by Molson Coors of Canada.

From the label: “Brewed with white wheat and oats, Blue Moon features a crisp wheat finish and the perfect combination of orange peel and coriander. Bring out Blue Moon’s natural spices by serving it in a Pilsner glass with an orange-slice garnish.”

Some say that coriander increases the level of intoxication.

I’ve had Blue Moon. I like it.

Samuel Adams Light, the choice of Prof. Henry Gates, is brewed by Boston Beer Company, a publicly traded American brewing company. It is the largest American owned brewing company, since Anheuser-Busch was taken over by Belgian-Brazilian giant Inbev in 2008.

Samuel Adams Boston Lager uses “two row barley, as well as German Noble aroma hops, and is brewed using a decoction mash, a time consuming, traditional four vessel brewing process discarded by many contemporary brewers.”

I’ve had Sam Adams. I like it.

Bud Light, the choice of President Obama, is an American style lager. Budweiser adds rice to the hops and barley, claiming it makes a lighter brew. Bud Light is the most popular beer in America. President Obama is the most popular politician in America. Yes he is.

I’ve had Bud Light, I like it.

Buckler, a low-alcoholic ( 0.5% abv) brew was preferred by Vice President Joe Biden, due to his designated driver status. Just kidding. It’s brewed by Heineken, a Dutch company.

I’ve never had Buckler.

This video is of the wedding scene in the movie “The Fall.” I will add this to my Netflix que. Anyone seen it?

>Norfolk Southern, bus transit and elections

July 30, 2009

>Be sure to read my Western Tribune column which follows this post.

The former president of the Metropolitan Development Board, Ted vonCannon, is now a paid consultant for Norfolk Southern. He spoke at the 2oth annual Bessemer Business Awards held at Lawson State Community College. story at

He told the group that he believes that the McCalla residents will eventually see he intermodal project as a positive development.

“It’s a project I believe has great merit,” vonCannon said. “Is everybody going to be happy? of course not. but I believe there can be a greater understanding.”

Monday the No Hub 4 McCalla folks had a meeting and one of their speakers told the group “Norfolk Southern doesn’t care about your kids. Norfolk Southern is looking out for Norfolk Southern. It’s up to us to look out for ourselves.”

Just for the record, Norfolk Southern does care about kids. In 1984 they established a foundation to direct their charitable giving.

From their web site:

The Foundation’s intent is to help ensure that:

  • Our region’s children are provided with first-class educational opportunities that make them productive and valued employees in the future;
  • Our communities can offer their citizens access to cultural opportunities that make life more enjoyable; and
  • Our communities can provide residential and work environments that are safe, attractive and desirable.

While most of their charitable giving (which is in the millions) toward education is for post secondary scholarships and such, young children benefit from their giving to United Way and other community and cultural recipients.

Larry Langford and upcoming elections

What can I say. I wrote about Al LaPierre’s plea agreement yesterday on Examiner. Langford’s spin is that this will help him, so it’s business as usual for him.

He says the city needs to fix the bus system, or start over.

Here is the future of the Birmingham bus system, as envisioned by the Metropolitan Planning Organization (h/t to Jay). No mention of this by Langford in the article, by the way. Of course, it wasn’t one of his grandiose ideas.

After watching that I wonder (?) why don’t we have people with an eye on the future in our city government? Why do we elect people who are tied to the past? I love what my friend said the other day, that the past should be a light post, not a hitching post.

I hate that Birmingham is about to get another black eye when the mayor goes on trial. I hate that this is tied to the troubles of Jefferson County, which is sinking faster than the Titanic. What business in their right mind would want to locate in the city or county with what is going on? What family would want to move here?

There is a great opportunity in Birmingham for a new kind of leadership, and city elections are coming up next month. Let’s hope that the voters of Birmingham look for young leaders or at least leaders with young ideas that can change the vision from looking backward to looking forward.

The same holds true for Bessemer. Next year we have city elections and will elect a council and mayor. We need new people on our council and a new mayor to project our city into the future. The people of Bessemer and surrounding communities are so disgruntled that only 8 percent voted in the recent special election. We need candidates that excite us.

Oh, and aren’t County Commission elections next year also. Please, please, voters, replace them all. I don’t care if your favorite commissioner has been on the right side of the bankruptcy argument or the McCalla controversy or what. They are all tainted.

>Western Tribune column July 29, 2009

July 30, 2009

>My column from the Western Tribune July 29, 2009.

In spite of the controversy last week following the arrest of Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates in his own home and the president’s misstatement afterwards, and in spite of the resurgence of the “birthers,” the radical right wingers who can’t believe that a “certificate of live birth” proves the same thing a “birth certificate” does, the week was refreshing.

Refreshing for at least two reasons. First, it was so nice to listen to a president explain his policies during a press conference and not be embarrassed that he is representing the nation. He spoke in clear, complete sentences, and if a listener did not understand the urgent need for health care reform as presented then the person just wasn’t listening.

Secondly, we now have a president who recognizes when he has made an error. Former president George W. Bush bristled when asked to name a mistake during a debate. President Obama called the man he offended and acknowledged that he could have chosen his words better.

As for the birth certificate issue. While I acknowledge that discussing this is a complete waste of my time for writing it, and yours for reading it, I offer this. At some time in the past, I had to order an Alabama birth certificate. It could have been when I was learning to fly, or when I got a passport, or when I applied for a driver’s license, I don’t remember. But what I do know is the folded pinkish piece of paper with the raised seal that I received is in a secure place, and on it is written “Certificate of Live Birth.”

That is what one receives from the state when one requests a birth certificate.

Likewise, in Hawaii, after such a request a “certificate of live birth” is sent. But the birthers will have none of that. They want the original. Sorry, guys, it just doesn’t work that way.

On Wednesday after the president’s press conference 8 year old Ciana Pelekai appeared on America’s Got Talent and stunned the judges with her rendition of “At Last.” Little Ciana is from Honolulu, Hawaii, or so she says. She could have been born in Kenya, and if so, should be performing on Kenya’s Got Talent. This could just be a conspiracy set in place 8 years ago to assure her the $1,000,000 top prize.

No, she’s like President Obama, born in the USA.

>A good story from McCalla and more COPS for Bessemer

July 29, 2009

>The truth about the “birther lady” is at the end of this post. Whacko.


Fred and Reneea Ross of McCalla are raising money for orphans who have outgrown their orphanages in Romania.

The fundraising is part of a larger, sustained effort by Fred and Reneea Ross to help orphans in Romania, where they say poverty, discrimination and national policies contribute the abandonment of many children in the east European nation.

The Bessemer Rotary Club, the Adamsville Lions Club and others are also working to raise $10,000 to help complete the House of Hope home in Campulung, Romania.

The Rosses and the civic clubs are selling $1 tickets for a chance to win a $500 gift card. They hope to find organizations willing to donate matching funds. The drawing will be Aug. 25.

The Rosses spent a month in Romania last year and worked at the House of Hope. They had also visited Romania in 2005 and were already working to raise awareness for the plight of abandoned babies in the country.


In Bessemer, a $705,250 federal grant will allow the city to hire 5 new police officers. Vice President Joe Biden and Attorney General Eric Holder announced the grants yesterday. The COPS (Community Oriented Policing Services) grants will fund the officers for three years and the city must fund the fourth year, under the terms set forth. Story at

This is stimulus money, so take notice all you anti-Obama readers. Mobile got $2.5 million and Huntsville 2.6 million. Tuscaloosa got 2 million. Across the state 114 new police officers can be hired because of this stimulus grant.

View the announcement and all of the Alabama cities here.

Birther Lady

And remember the birther lady who stood up and made a fool of herself. Well, here’s the truth about her. She’s known as “Crazy Eileen” in Delaware, and is a regular caller to talk radio. Unfortunately you have to endure the ranting again (or forward to the 1:39 mark on the video).

>Governor Riley supports railroad hub in McCalla

July 28, 2009

>Governor Bob Riley supports the $112 million project and says the concerns of residents can be addressed. Story at

“This could have huge economic consequences for this entire part of the state,” Riley said in an interview.

“I’ve met with the railroad and I’ve met with some of the people who live out there,” Riley said. ” I understand there is always going to be some things people are not going to support. To be honest with you, I’ve had more calls in support of it than I’ve had people against.”

Riley said he believes the railroad can take action to calm the fears of the community.

“I not only understand their concerns, I have told the railroad that most of the concerns they’ve articulated I think could be resolved,” Riley said.

Norfolk Southern has scheduled its own public meeting from 4 to 7 p.m. Aug. 18 at the Bessemer Civic Center.

On a related note, McCalla resident Carl had a letter in The Western Tribune last week in which he outlined reasons not to build the hub. In it, he addressed my column from the previous week, which supported the hub. In it, I wrote:

One hundred and fifty years ago, Tannehill Ironworks was an industrial site in the area. I assume that the ordinance and other products made for the Southern Army were distributed by trains. While not intermodal shipping in the current sense, it was early precedent for what is to come.”

In his letter, he wrote:

First, for Openshaw’s edification, Tannehill was truly an industrial site by 19th century standards. However, there was no railroad or large community surrounding the site. Material, namely pig iron, manufactured at Tannehill was transported by animal drawn conveyance to the rail head in Montevallo, thence to Selma.

My information came from the Encyclopedia of Alabama.

A foundry at Tannehill manufactured eating utensils, pots, and skillets for the Confederate Army, but most of the pig iron was sent by rail to the Selma Arsenal and Gun Works to be cast into munitions and iron plate for battle ships.

In addition the article explains that the first blast furnace at the site was built by ironmaster Moses Stroup, who built the first railroad iron in Georgia. And earlier than that, iron had begun to be manufactured at the Hillman Bloomery at the site. Daniel Hillman had been “enticed” to build at the site by Abner McGehee, a railroad investor from Montgomery. It seems that with that much railroad influence, a rail line might have been built to the site.

But whether the rail line came all the way to Tannehill or not, intermodal transport was occuring, and manufactured materials were transferred from wagon to train.

The article was written by James R. Bennett.

As for the concern about deisel fuel pollution from the trucks, if the people of Alabama, including the people of McCalla, had been concerned about air quality and how it affects their children, and shown some concern about the environment, they could have passed legislation similar to what California passed which will require old trucks to be replaced with cleaner trucks or to retrofit them with diesel exhaust traps and then everyone, not just the kids at McCalla, could have cleaner air.

And if they were really concerned about out state’s air they would have been voicing their complaints against Alabama Power, which ran the number 1 power plant mercury emmitter (in 2007) in the nation (plus numbers 8, 25, 28). Read more about Alabama Power’s dirty plants here.

Heck, the prevailing winds are going to blow all the pollution into Bessemer and Birmingham anyway. So for the kids at our Bessemer schools, as well as the ones at McAdory, lets clean up everyone’s air.

>Bountiful harvests

July 27, 2009

>Visit Birmingham Gay Community Examiner and read how Walter Cronkite came around on the gay rights movement.

Visit Bessemer Science and Nature and help me identify a plant from the farm. Help.

These grapes are plentiful on the arbor. By tomorrow there will be homemade grape jelly. Today I have peas to can.

Here is a view of part of the garden. In the bare part, if you look closely, you can see that peas are sprouting. That is the area where 50 pounds of seed potatoes were planted and around 200 pounds of potatoes were harvested. Crop rotation, good for the soil.

Behind the pea patch are speckled butterbeans. I brought back a mess of those. They will be producing for a while yet. Several rows of tomatoes and corn are behind that.

In the other part of the garden the cabbage is about done, but a few heads remain. Squash and cucumbers, more tomatoes, Fordhook beans, and green beans are all coming in. The green beans just keep on producing. You can see the edge of one of the grape arbors on the right margin of the picture.

When you have a garden like that, you get a cupboard like this. By the end of the week, there will be green beans, more pickles and okra, tomatoes and or salsa and more. By the end of the summer, they may have to build on another room.

This is a great example of a family working together. Three siblings, their spouses, an aunt, a grandmother. Everybody pitching in and doing what they can.

Communities can do this too, and should. We are seeing this come together in the form of community gardens in Bessemer. Stay tuned.

>Video contrasts

July 24, 2009

>Some things just make me want to pull my hair out. I keep it short, so it’s hard to grab.

Why does a country like the United States give any cred to G. Gordon Liddy. For those too young to remember, he was the mastermind behind the break in at the Democratic National Committee at the Watergate Hotel in 1972. Can you say “Nixon?” Can you say “prison – 4 1-2 years.” Now he has a talk show and is one of the leading birthers.

In this video, he shows just how out of touch he is, claiming that President Obama is an illegal alien and should be “picked up.” Maybe they can send a cop from Cambridge…no, I won’t even go there.

When I watch something as ridiculous as that I have to counter it with something calming. This video from Kuroshio Sea in Japan, the world’s second largest aquarium will do it, the music is “Please Don’t Go” by Barcelona. Aquatic zen. h/t Andy

Or, just watch 8 year old Ciana Pelekai on America’s Got Talent. Wow. Warning though, the last part of the video is a loser.

>Ron Sparks video from DFA

July 23, 2009

>Left in Alabama posted a video of Ron Spark’s remarks at the DFA Social last week. Keep in mind that we were in a noisy hotel lobby next to a bar, so the sound is not perfect. Transcript follows.

Here is a transcript of the video. Emphasis is mine.

I want to be your governor. I want to be your governor because I want to lead Alabama in the right direction. I’ve laid out a plan. You know, we’ve got some tough decisions to make in Alabama.

And I can tell you right now, when I become the governor of Alabama, the first day I’m in office we’re going to start appraising your property every four years instead of every year. We’re going to take the tax off of food. And those who are making their living in gambling in the state of Alabama, we’re going to tax it. We’re going to tax it, control it and we’re going to regulate it.

And I can tell you we’re going to use that money for Medicaid, the special Education Trust Fund — put some relief on the General Fund. We’ve got some tough decisions to make in Alabama.

And I’m also going to put forth a LifeStart Education Lottery. Folks, people all around us are educating their children. We need to be educating our children, in Alabama, with Alabama dollars. And with your help, we’re going to move Alabama to the highest level it’s ever been.

I’ve won two state races. 62 out of 67 counties I’ve won in Alabama, tied two and lost three.

It’s not about me. It’s about you. It’s about the courthouses. It’s about local races. It’s about winning.

Thank y’all very much.

This is not an endorsement of Ron Sparks, by the way. It’s way too early for that.

>The birthers are back

July 22, 2009

>Be sure to read my Western Tribume column which follows this. Bingo!

First this crazy lady who obviously is off her meds gets up. “I want to know. I have a birth certificate here from the United States of America”…rant, rave…”he is not an American citizen, he is a citizen of Kenya”…rant, rave…make yourself feel good by reciting the pledge of allegiance.

Then this enabler from California, Rep. John Campbell, makes a fool of himself.

Now I know none of my readers are this loco, but just in case…

These people make me want to pull my hair out. With the problems we have in this country, uninsured people, unemployment, wars, and these people spend their day, and can’t sleep at night, worrying about how to get the black man out of office.

A bunch of racist idiotic raving lunatics. And there may be one right beside you!

>Western Tribune column, July 22 2009, Bingo!

July 22, 2009

>It seems that some things are coming whether we like them or not. Some call it progress, some call it, well, other things.

Take bingo, for instance. Both Birmingham and Bessemer are on the path to allow electronic bingo in their cities (as if gambling is not already present).

Bessemer’s Mayor Ed May said, “I do believe that having such facilities will erode the morals of the people on the western side of Jefferson County…because they have to deal with this foolishness.”

Undoubtedly his views are based at least somewhat on his biblical interpretations and religious views.

And I think his denial of crime in our city is religion based also, or at least the solution is, as he once said we could just tell the bad folks about Jesus and the problem would be solved.

In Birmingham Mayor Larry Langford can’t wait to hear the bells ringing as he asked for larger bingo halls (rather than many small ones) and is hoping the city can sue itself to determine whether the machines are legal or not. Now that’s a novel idea.

But wait. Langford put his religious views on display when he appeared in sackcloth, ashes and Rolex to champion the plight of the poor. Or the watch-less, I can’t remember which.

And he used religion to deny Central Alabama Pride their rainbow flags before gay pride last year. When faced with a federal lawsuit over the matter he responded “If I had issued such a proclamation, I would in essence be saying that God’s position is wrong and I wouldn’t dare take a position against God. So as opposed to suing me, they need to be suing God, and the last time I checked, he can defend himself.”

“I wouldn’t dare take a position against God.” So which part of Jesus’ teachings does Langford take his position on gambling from?

Well, it doesn’t really matter. What’s going to happen is going to happen and the two mayors will just keep on entertaining us.

So I’ll just go collect my quarters and play some bingo while I wait for the bingo halls to open. Hey, something doesn’t sound right there. Oh well. In these two screwed up cities in this screwed up county, what does it matter?

You will either love or hate this video by MIA. Bingo