Archive for the ‘Birmingham News’ Category

>Newspapers…who needs ’em?

November 20, 2009

>Last night I attended the monthly meeting of the Alabama Stonewall Democrats and heard Kyle Whitmire speak. Kyle writes for Birmingham Weekly but is a former reporter for The Western Star, and said his first interview there was with the mayor of Fairfield about a proposed theme park. Larry Langford.

He has covered Langford ever since, even providing moment to moment updates during the trial.

Kyle covered many subjects last night; Artur Davis and his dance around health care, Larry Langford,the Birmingham mayor’s race, Larry Langford, the ever shrinking Birmingham News, Larry Langford…

No he really didn’t spend that much time on Langford, but after years of focusing on the former mayor of two cities he couldn’t stray too far.

The Birmingham News was discussed and the changes occuring there in the next few months were considered. The consensus was that all newspapers are suffering and that most people get their news from other sources. So who needs newspapers? Some of us still like to hold the paper in the morning and read it, but really most of my news still comes from internet sources.

But another interesting issue was brought up. The Birmingham News has never adequately acknowledged the role they played during the Civil Rights movement during the 1960’s and the type of reporting they did. In that conversation ( the event was a discussion more than a lecture) he said he wondered why the Birmingham News (and I guess other newspapers as well) allow gays to be spoken of as less than human and in such derogatory terms (mainly in letters and opinions) when of course they would never allow race to be used in that way with the opinions that promoted slavery or such.

And it’s true. It is a fact that one’s sexuality is inherent, yet people are still allowed to proclaim that it is a choice. It is fact that everyone in our country is guaranteed equal rights by our Constitution, yet letter after letter say that we are less than equal. There are people out there who believe blacks are less than equal, and of course they don’t print those letters and opinions. Why do they allow gays to be tossed around like they do?

(Those who read this blog know that I do not allow senseless comments about sexuality or any other subject to be published.)

And let’s bring it closer to home. I feel fortunate to write for a paper that allows me to voice my opinions, and there is an agreement that allows me to submit my column on a weekly basis. I have a place in that newspaper.

For the past two months a reader has been submitting letters, long letters, some of which attacked me personally, some of which attacked the LGBT community, and some of which attacked our president. Then a letter appeared that was different. It thanked the paper for allowing him to express his views. In the weeks following that, long letters have been printed describing the founding of our nation, and the writing of the Constitution. We know where this is heading. This writer has accused me and other democrats and the president of being communists, and has stated that we are working to destroy the constitution and the country, and has done so in an almost prophesy like manner.

His latest history lessons are just a prelude to how Obama is destroying the country and a rant about healthcare. We know what is coming. The letter writer’s views are McCarthiest, and he is a radical. He is known in the community and is not respected.

Why would the newspaper allow itself to be used by such a person? Even though the issues are different, it is almost like allowing a known KKK leader to publish week after week his radical and hateful views. But the letters keep appearing.

The funny thing is that when a letter does appear in support of me, the letter has been edited, shortened, and the full message is not allowed in print. That letter was just one paragraph long, yet the McCarthiest’s letters are 10 or so paragraphs every week. Plenty of room for McCarthyism, little room for me.

Each week when I see his letter opposite my column I wonder whether I want my work that close to such senseless and radical drivel. Seriously. The man used personal slurs against my name and character yet the paper just continues to support him and refuses to print the letters in my support in their entirety.

Well, keep reading, my latest column follows this post. Meanwhile, I have to come up with something to submit for next week.

>Stories that caught my eye

August 14, 2009

>To see Bill Clinton get heckled (sort of) and his response (and explanation of DADT and DOMA) visit Bham Gay community Examiner.

Major press problems delay B’ham News But our paper arrived around 8:00. At least they were up front this time about the delay, unlike the numerous problems we had a few months ago.

Chris Todd named starting QB Kodi Burns supports. War Eagle.

Michael Vick named back up for Eagles Now, you all know that I am all about people getting their chance after they have paid their dues. But…

Pitino story gets weirder every day Why can’t guys keep their pants zipped up? Really. Anyone?

Bessemer council approves withdrawal from Colonial Bank You mean Bessemer has $144,000???

Rickwood plan for museum honoring Birmingham’s baseball heritage This is my favorite story of the day. I love Rickwood field, used to go there as a kid. Haven’t been back in decades, but this is big.

Some Negro league baseball players were in the front row at a symbolic groundbreaking that was held outside of historic Rickwood Field in Birmingham, Ala., Thurs., Aug. 13, 2009 for a baseball museum dedicated to the city’s baseball heritage. The museum will feature the history of the former Negro League as well as that of the Southern League. Both the Birmingham Barons and the Black Barons played at Rickwood. The City Council in May approved spending $7.5 million to restore the century-old ballpark and build the museum. The Birmingham News/Bernard Troncale).

>Republican Catfight and A Lesson to be Learned

March 3, 2009

>The Birmingham News arrived today but only after I called.

It could be that we have a new carrier, and she or he is not accustomed to the route yet, because it seems to be coming earlier and earlier. They say, however, that the paper is supposed to be delivered before 5:30, so if we get up at 6:00 and the paper is not on the sidewalk at that time, they are getting a call.

My column this week in The Western Tribune is about Bobby Jindal and the Republican Party in disarray. I realize now it is not that the Republicans are looking to people like Jindal for leadership. No, their main problem is Rush Limbaugh.

Rick says it’s like a catfight? Oh goody. Like Alexis and Krystle? How fun!

“What are your plans? Then again, who gives a damn.” That’s Krystle’s attitude, seems to be Rush’s too.

I Would Be Livid

When the kids were young, back in the 90’s, we debated about investing in Alabama’s Prepaid College Tuition Program, but we didn’t.

Now program managers are “scrambling to find ways to keep paying student’s tuition.” Story here

Asked whether the program might simply fail, Fitch (Gregory Fitch, Chairman of
the Alabama commission on Higher Education) on Monday said: “That’s a difficult
question.”

The funds are not insured, or guaranteed by the FDIC, the state, the Program or any state or federal agency.

I wonder, if Alabama had a lottery funded tuition program like certain other states around us, if the higher education of thousands of kids would not be in jeopardy now. I spent a few minutes looking for some info about the status of the programs in Tennessee and Georgia, but could find nothing negative. Not a complete search, but nothing popped up.

There is a lesson to be learned here

Republicans, listen. don’t mess with Social Security by suggesting a plan where individuals invest their money. Can you imagine, I mean seriously, if such a plan had been in place during the recent downturn, the trouble that seniors would be in now?

If ever, in the next 50 years, someone suggests privatizing Social Security, please respond with “2009, 2009, 2009.”

Entertainment Corner

Last night Jimmy Fallon took over as host of Late Night. Was he funny? Need more time to develop to the concept of late night host?

>Snow in Bessemer!!!

March 1, 2009

>This morning as I came down the stairs I looked out and to my surprise…the Birmingham News was laying on the sidewalk! Maybe all the problems are solved. If not, this may be the only view of the paper that some see. On CNN’s “State of the Union” with John King he had several newspapers on the screen behind him, and today’s Birmingham News was one of them.

I was also surprised by:

Snow!!! in Historic Bessemer!!!


The former South Highland Baptist Church, referred to in my most recent Western Tribune column, has seen countless snows, including the blizzard of ’93. Will it see the snowfall’s of the future?


The Giant Rocker that we found on the side of the road during the summer, now experiencing its first snowfall.


This crepe myrtle looked pretty with its twisted branches.


The branches of the crepe myrtles in the back also created interesting patterns with their snow covered branches.

>Words in Other Languages

February 28, 2009

>If you live around Birmingham and subscribe to the B’ham News and wonder WTF is going on then read the comments at the end of yesterday’s post. A small amount of light was shed.

If you listened to the song I posted yesterday you might have noticed some French words spoken at the end.

Ce soir, disons chez moi
Enfin je compte de toi
Je te drague la rose mystique
Tu l’arrose mystique?
Ha, vas-y
C’est mon monde de soleil…

Loosely translated, by Google translator, it says:

Tonight, let me in
Finally I count on you
I’ll drag the mystic rose
You water the mystique?
Ha, go ahead
This is my world of sun …

However, Yahoo’s Babel Fish translator comes up with this:

This evening, let us say at home
Finally I count of you
I pick you up the mystical pink
You l’ sprinkles mystical?
Ha, go ahead
C’ is my sun world…

The point is, not all translations are equal, but isn’t it handy to have a free online service like that.

Anyone who speaks French can translate the lyrics and tell us what it really says.

>Ramblings and Peter Doherty

February 27, 2009

>“You should feel lucky to have gotten Wednesday’s paper.”

That’s what the woman at the Birmingham News told me when I called for the second time today and told her, like I told the other woman at 6:30, that the paper I pulled out of the plastic sleeve this morning was Wednesday’s paper. (Today being Friday).

Then she said they have had “thousands and thousands” of calls and it seems “most of our calls are from the Bessemer area.

But the entire week has been screwy. Tuesday, we received two papers, about an hour apart, both current for that day.

Wednesday we received no paper, and I could not get through to complain (maybe they had “thousands and thousands” of calls that day too).

Yesterday we got the right paper.

Today we didn’t get a paper. Oh, wait, I mean we got Wednesday’s paper. Surely they aren’t trying to make up for me not getting a paper on Wednesday by delivering it today. Old news is not good news.

So, I am about to go out and get a paper, somewhere, if I can find one.

Anyway, yesterday I was in Baldwin county touring the new DHR building with other members of the Public Building Authority and the Director of our DHR here in Bessemer. It’s a wonderful facility, and important to us because we have hired the same architect to build our facility.

Other Stuff

With his new exit strategy for Iraq President Obama has painted himself out of a corner. Sure, there’s some grumbling from Democrats who want a quick end to the war, but most Democrats realize we can’t just pick up and leave. Now he’s got support from Republicans too, so there aren’t likely to be complaints on down the road. The plan gives commanders flexibility and three more months to draw down, and leaves more troops than many hoped for, but hey, at least it’s a plan, and least it has a goal, and at least it will get our troops out of there.

I just heard a thud out front. 9:05 and the paper has arrived. Let’s see. Yes, it’s today’s! I’m going to go enjoy the pitter patter of rain and a late cup of coffee and the paper.

While I’m doing that, here’s the new video from Peter Doherty.

“Last of the English Roses” features guys playing football (soccer, really) on a playground, and a (gasp) guy on guy kiss at the end.

Not surprising from Peter, who’s pretty gay if past interviews mean anything. Gee, he seems like a character from my book…45 years ago. Well, the songs kind of catchy, anyway.

>Birmingham News Christmas Pictures

December 26, 2008

>Here’s a link to the pictures of our Christmas decor to go along with the story below:

Christmas Trees and more.

Education Should Be A Hot Topic

November 12, 2007

The Birmingham News will win a Pulitzer Prize for its series “At A Crossroads” which continued in Sunday’s paper (A Learning Divide). This was the 7th in a series exploring the challenges facing our metropolitan area. Sunday’s installment looked at education.

Saturday evening after those awful football games four of us had a conversation about education, and came up with parental involvement (or lack thereof) and disparities in funding as the major contributors to differences in education around here. Seems we were right.

Things like expectations and goals relate to those two factors. It’s easy to see how funding plays a role, as the figures are out there for all to see. So when a school can not afford computers, the kids learn (or assume) that computers must not be important in their education. You have kids like Elicia Person, a 4th grader at Gate City, who said about computers “It’s not a subject, so it’s not important.” Compare this with Will Royer, a 4th grader at Crestline, where each child uses their own laptop, who says “Everyone needs to learn how to use a computer in order to get a good job.”

Which attitude will land the child a better job, with insurance and information about health care and a healthier life?

The more one examines education and the effects it has on society, the more challenging it seems to be. The problems seem insurmountable, given the partisanship and cronyism and unethical practices and racism that we see everyday in local and state government (and boards of education).

I think the Birmingham News article did not focus on parental involvement enough. One short article that did not really examine why parents might not be involved or why their involvement is important. Many children in poorer school systems, including Bessemer, are being raised by their grandmother, or people other than their parents. These substitute parents may not have the emotional involvement to be as involved, and in the case of grandparents, may not have the energy…or may not be educated themselves, so they might not sit with the children to do math problems or read to them from the time they are born. In additon, those who are being raised by a single parent may have a parent who is working two jobs, or works an evening shift, so is not there to participate in their child’s education on a regular basis. Difficult situtations to address, and I do not have the answers.

This is shameful, but I have heard from teachers that they are teaching African American kids whose parents actually discourage them from learning, telling the children it’s white people’s education and they don’t need to learn things that will only help them work in the white world for white people. In my opinion, those parents have no business raising kids and it is just as shameful as seeing white kids at Klan rallies in little white sheets with pointed hats on their heads.

So…Max Micheal, the Dean of the UAB School of Public Health, and Huw F. Thomas, Dean of the UAB School of Dentistry, wrote a paper titled “The Roots of Health” in which they explored health behaviors and health outcomes and causes. They make a statement, “If at the dawn of the next century the health gains of the twenty-first century are to be comparable to those of the twentieth century, we as a nation need to undertake a more aggressively active role in addressing the health of all the different communities and neighborhoods that make up our larger community.”

Education is one of the keys to addressing the health of communities, along with income inequality (directly tied to education) and social capital (which declines as income declines and can be tied to social mistrust)…See the Birmingham News installment in this series called Can We Trust One Another published on April 29, and mentioned in Bessemer Opinions Archive from April in part because the article included comments from Bessemer resident and Hoover teacher Erica Young.

“Every year of education children receive reduces by eight percent their eventual mortality.” A person who is educated competes for higher paying jobs, with more access to health information and most likely, insurance.

“It is hard to imagine what seeds for morbidity and mortality we are planting by allowing an environment where our urban schools are graduating less than forty percent of the students.”
Dr. Michael, at a forum on campus on the subject, led a discussion on healthcare focusing on the current political debate about national health care programs and insurance. He surmissed that putting the amount of money being talked about for a national health plan ($75 to $100 billion) toward education would have a greater impact on the health of America than would insuring everyone. He may be right, as insuring everyone gets them (in theory) treated when they are sick, while educating everyone (in theory) teaches them life skills and allows them to earn an income that will help keep them from getting sick.

I say “in theory” because there is little evidence to me that those of us who are educated are using that education to keep us from getting sick (or obese, for example, one huge contributor to illness). Education does not make us exercise or for the most part, eat less red meat and more brocolli. At least not yet. Seeing our reflection in the mirror or huffing and puffing when we walk up the stairs are the greater motivators to getting in shape.

But these issues, and the links between education and social capital and health are complex, and one quick fix attempt like national health care or reforms in education will not solve the problems. Multi faceted problems require multi faceted solutions.

Solution starter? Let’s find $200 billion, so we can institute national health care and at the same time reform education so that all our kids recieve education that will change their lives.

(Oh, and…do away with racism… corruption …racism… cronyism… racism… partisanship … etc.)

>Education Should Be A Hot Topic

November 12, 2007

>The Birmingham News will win a Pulitzer Prize for its series “At A Crossroads” which continued in Sunday’s paper (A Learning Divide). This was the 7th in a series exploring the challenges facing our metropolitan area. Sunday’s installment looked at education.

Saturday evening after those awful football games four of us had a conversation about education, and came up with parental involvement (or lack thereof) and disparities in funding as the major contributors to differences in education around here. Seems we were right.

Things like expectations and goals relate to those two factors. It’s easy to see how funding plays a role, as the figures are out there for all to see. So when a school can not afford computers, the kids learn (or assume) that computers must not be important in their education. You have kids like Elicia Person, a 4th grader at Gate City, who said about computers “It’s not a subject, so it’s not important.” Compare this with Will Royer, a 4th grader at Crestline, where each child uses their own laptop, who says “Everyone needs to learn how to use a computer in order to get a good job.”

Which attitude will land the child a better job, with insurance and information about health care and a healthier life?

The more one examines education and the effects it has on society, the more challenging it seems to be. The problems seem insurmountable, given the partisanship and cronyism and unethical practices and racism that we see everyday in local and state government (and boards of education).

I think the Birmingham News article did not focus on parental involvement enough. One short article that did not really examine why parents might not be involved or why their involvement is important. Many children in poorer school systems, including Bessemer, are being raised by their grandmother, or people other than their parents. These substitute parents may not have the emotional involvement to be as involved, and in the case of grandparents, may not have the energy…or may not be educated themselves, so they might not sit with the children to do math problems or read to them from the time they are born. In additon, those who are being raised by a single parent may have a parent who is working two jobs, or works an evening shift, so is not there to participate in their child’s education on a regular basis. Difficult situtations to address, and I do not have the answers.

This is shameful, but I have heard from teachers that they are teaching African American kids whose parents actually discourage them from learning, telling the children it’s white people’s education and they don’t need to learn things that will only help them work in the white world for white people. In my opinion, those parents have no business raising kids and it is just as shameful as seeing white kids at Klan rallies in little white sheets with pointed hats on their heads.

So…Max Micheal, the Dean of the UAB School of Public Health, and Huw F. Thomas, Dean of the UAB School of Dentistry, wrote a paper titled “The Roots of Health” in which they explored health behaviors and health outcomes and causes. They make a statement, “If at the dawn of the next century the health gains of the twenty-first century are to be comparable to those of the twentieth century, we as a nation need to undertake a more aggressively active role in addressing the health of all the different communities and neighborhoods that make up our larger community.”

Education is one of the keys to addressing the health of communities, along with income inequality (directly tied to education) and social capital (which declines as income declines and can be tied to social mistrust)…See the Birmingham News installment in this series called Can We Trust One Another published on April 29, and mentioned in Bessemer Opinions Archive from April in part because the article included comments from Bessemer resident and Hoover teacher Erica Young.

“Every year of education children receive reduces by eight percent their eventual mortality.” A person who is educated competes for higher paying jobs, with more access to health information and most likely, insurance.

“It is hard to imagine what seeds for morbidity and mortality we are planting by allowing an environment where our urban schools are graduating less than forty percent of the students.”
Dr. Michael, at a forum on campus on the subject, led a discussion on healthcare focusing on the current political debate about national health care programs and insurance. He surmissed that putting the amount of money being talked about for a national health plan ($75 to $100 billion) toward education would have a greater impact on the health of America than would insuring everyone. He may be right, as insuring everyone gets them (in theory) treated when they are sick, while educating everyone (in theory) teaches them life skills and allows them to earn an income that will help keep them from getting sick.

I say “in theory” because there is little evidence to me that those of us who are educated are using that education to keep us from getting sick (or obese, for example, one huge contributor to illness). Education does not make us exercise or for the most part, eat less red meat and more brocolli. At least not yet. Seeing our reflection in the mirror or huffing and puffing when we walk up the stairs are the greater motivators to getting in shape.

But these issues, and the links between education and social capital and health are complex, and one quick fix attempt like national health care or reforms in education will not solve the problems. Multi faceted problems require multi faceted solutions.

Solution starter? Let’s find $200 billion, so we can institute national health care and at the same time reform education so that all our kids recieve education that will change their lives.

(Oh, and…do away with racism… corruption …racism… cronyism… racism… partisanship … etc.)