Friday, September 28, 2007

The weekend Star

Stories coming this weekend in The Anniston Star:

On Saturday:
Anniston High School got a truckload of books Friday, finally filling the shelves a year and a half after a fire ruined the library's holdings. By Steve Ivey.

Matt Kasper attended a court hearing held to discuss opposition to Alabama Power's planned tree cutting in Jacksonville.

A 17-year-old pedestrian struck by a hit-and-run driver on Airport Road last night. Residents tell Todd South that there are too many speeders on the road - a thickly populated area.

On Sunday:
Laura Tutor examines the physical dangers of football and how seriously players, coaches and parents take them in light ot two recent high-profile adn wince-inducing neck injuries in the NFL.

Nick Cenegy has a story on the new surveillance camera the Oxford Police Department has in its budget. The high-tech cameras are designed to automatically read license tags of cars and check them against a database of stolen or otherwise sought-after vehicles.

Brett Buckner has a profile of an Alexandria couple who enjoy rodeos, and bull riding.

And on Monday:
Mary Jo Shafer talks with some local World War II veterans. The Ken Burns documentary "The War," is currently airing on Alabama public television so we take this opportunity to talk with others who lived through the big war.

Markeshia Ricks examines "diploma mills."

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Thursday in The Star

Check out Thursday's Star for the following stories:

Todd South writes about a JSU sponsored class at the Anniston meeting center about Hispanic culture.

Dan Whisenhunt has an update on the JPA's executive director search. Ten months into the search and there hasn't been much movement on finding a new director.

Steve Ivey writes about the Imagination Library from the Dollywood Foundation which supplies children with a book a month until he or she turns 5.

Matt Kasper visited an educational session that more than 300 nurses attended in Anniston. He talked to attendees about what they learned and the nursing shortage.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Wednesday in The Anniston Star

Coming tomorrow in The Anniston Star:

Alabama fourth graders were the most-improved readers in the county, according to results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress. Steve Ivey looks at the results.

Matt Kasper writes about the dreaded "freshman 15." Is there truth to the saying? What causes it and what affect could it have on young adults health?

Sales of cigarettes to minors are down but teen smoking is up. Markeshia Ricks explores this story.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Tuesday's Star

Coming Tuesday in The Anniston Star:

Thousands of schoolchildren are expected to visit the T. Rex named Sue at the Anniston Musuem of Natural History. Andy Johns looks at who plans on visiting the dinosaur and where they are coming from.

Todd South talks with Honda workers in Lincoln about the UAW strike. Workers at the Honda plant have been exploring organizing a union there. What do they think about the GM strike?

South also will have a story on the potentially billions in funding for MRAP vehicle construction headed to Calhoun County.

Wrapups of council meetings in Piedmont, Lincoln and Hobson City.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

In Thursday's Star

Coming tomorrow in The Anniston Star:

Surprise! A soldier arriving home from Iraq surprised his son at his classroom at Oxford Elementary School. Nick Cenegy writes about the surprise visit.

Matt Kaspar explores seasonal allergies. The approaching fall season means allergy season for many people. Experts and allergists alike will weigh in on the season and explain their problems and preventative measures.

Steve Ivey covers a meeting of business and industry leaders who gathered at the Calhoun County Career Tech Center to talk about vocational training.

Coming Friday on the editorial/op-ed pages

The Star's editorial board is examining the correctness of the Senate's voting this week that denied House representation for U.S. residents in Washington, D.C.:
The 600,000 residents of the district have long had a non-voting House member, but this bipartisan bill was the best chance ever to give them full representation. Yet the White House and the Senate’s GOP leadership were against it from the start.
The Star also is taking a look at the scuffle between ALFA and the AEA over how property tax assessments should be conducted:
For years, Alabama did it the way ALFA perfers — every four years. Then Gov. Bob Riley took a look at the law and concluded that assessments should be every year, but he added that he did not like the law and told the Legislature to change it. That’s when the elephants began fighting. Only now it seems that a third elephant, the federal government, is about to enter the fray.
As a bonus, we're opining about the state's bond issue for school construction passed earlier this year:
This is a wise move; we hope it can be done. The need is great. The economy is good. Revenue is sufficient to support the obligation we will incur. If the experts give their OK, then let’s do it.
The sooner the better.
On the op-ed page, yours truly is talking about Sue -- yes, the dinosaur -- and the state of tourism in Calhoun County:
Nothing’s free, money’s tight, and no one’s beating down our doors willing to pay for another museum or a historic district. It’s easier to reassemble a fossilized T. rex skeleton than to develop tourism in a county sans a beach or major urban center. And we have no beach or major urban center.
What we do have is a dinosaur named Sue.
Might as well enjoy her while we can.

Going to Jena?

Watching CNN this morning got me to wondering if there was anyone from Calhoun County attending the Jena 6 activities today in Louisiana?

We'd love to know. Give us a call or an e-mail.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Alabama, Siegelman and The Miami Herald

Always curious what other newspapers are saying about Alabama and our lives here, I found a Miami Herald editorial from Tuesday on Michael Mukasey, President Bush's choice for attorney general.

In the editorial, The Herald's editorial board mentioned an issue The Star's editorial board has been very active with -- the conviction of former Gov. Don Siegelman.

Here's what The Herald says about Mukasey and the Siegelman case:
He (Mukasey) should also be open to reviewing the dubious prosecutions of high-profile Democrats, including former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman and Georgia Thompson, a Wisconsin civil servant.

Coming Thursday on the editorial/op-ed pages

The Star's editorial board is examining an interesting new initiative to help heal wounds created by the long-running issues of environmental racism in Anniston:
Environmental racism’s harm in Anniston is not easily traced to a date on the calendar. PCB and other toxic contamination seeped into West Anniston’s water, earth and eventually its people over decades. Its dangers and toll slowly dawned on an unsuspecting public. Justice has been slow. Some are left unsatisfied. To this day, bitterness over who knew the dangers and when echoes through the victims’ minds. To this day, mistrust in the legal system exists. To this day, rumor has tremendous currency among some victims.
The Star also is weighing in on Wednesday's vote in D.C. that allowed the suspension of habeas corpus to continue:
It’s true that Guantanamo Bay houses many bad people who want all of us dead. There are perhaps hundreds more, however, who are there for unknown reasons. Will they remain there forever without knowing why they were imprisoned in the first place?
And on the op-ed page, contributor Stephen Black of the Alabama Poverty Project is offering an essay on poverty in our state:
This new era will be stamped in history as the point at which our institutions of higher education reasserted their commitment to assist students in developing a distinctive definition of moral and civic maturity, making the values and skills of citizenship a hallmark of a college education received in Alabama — and in the process, helping to create a better world for our children.

In Thursday's Star

Pick up The Anniston Star to read these stories tomorrow:

Steve Ivey profiles Anniston's interim superintendent. Is she a candidate for the permanent job?

Calhoun County's infant mortality rate has held steady at the national average of around six deaths per 1,000 births, while the statewide rate remains above the national average. How is Calhoun County managing that? Markeshia Ricks explores this story.

Dan Whisenhunt writes about four homes on Carter Street in Anniston that were moved because, in addition to PCBs and lead contamination, the property was on top of an unknown older landfill.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Wednesday's Star

Coming up in Wednesday's Anniston Star:

Matt Kaspar profiles a Jacksonville man and his unique hobby: pigeon racing.

Markeshia Ricks checks in with the state DOT on the status of a number of road projects, including the widening of Bynum-Leatherwood Road.

As employees at Honda's Lincoln plant explore the possibility of unionizing, the company sent out a letter saying it'll hurt the company if they do. Todd South has the reaction from some employees and an update on the organizing efforts.

Dan Whisenhunt writes about a tax credit program, pushed by The Spirit of Anniston, that makes it cheaper for building owners to renovate their historic properties. There are a few success stories that have dressed up Noble Street. Spirit would like to see more.

Coming Wednesday on the editorial/op-ed pages

The Star's editorial board is taking a good, hard look at the tiff between Attorney General Troy King and the state's district attorneys:
In the first place, the whole thing smells of political retribution. Though Shelby County DA Robby Owens and King both are Republicans, Owens supported King’s opponent in the last election largely on the grounds that the opponent was more experienced and better qualified. To publicly remove the Shelby County district attorney when the case was in appeal, and therefore in the hands of the attorney general anyway, appears to be little more than another of King’s clumsy attempts to use his office for political ends.
The Star also is reviewing the controversy that brewed last week with the advertisement in the New York Times:
The group pulled a stunt that gives the anti-war movement and liberalism a bad name. With all the quality of a PETA commercial putting the value of a bunny’s life over that of a human’s, MoveOn took out a full-page advertisement in The New York Times titled “General Petraeus or General Betray Us?”
What a stupid thing to do.
And on the op-ed page, columnist Hardy Jackson is using the history of a fight on the Senate floor in Washington to put perspective on Goat Hill's dust-up earlier this year:
On the other hand, some of you probably think that if the Preston Brooks Society would get off this “mourning and self-examination” kick it could probably organize a chapter in the Alabama Senate with Sen. Charles “One-Punch” Bishop as its president. Think of the knot Bishop would have raised on Sen. Lowell Barron’s head if brass-tipped-and-knobbed Gutta-percha canes were the fashion today.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Coming Tuesday on the editorial page

With Monday's announcement from Washington concerning the possible replacement for former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, The Star's editorial board is weighing in on the possibilities for Michael Mukasey:
Perhaps the best Americans can hope for with the nomination of Mukasey is the Robert Gates model. Gates, who replaced Donald Rumsfeld as defense secretary, is (a.) a straight-shooter, (b.) a foreign-policy realist and (c.) not a Bush crony.
The Star also is suggesting that Jacksonville State University ought to consider promoting its best features more frequently:
Somewhere within the master plan of JSU’s Board of Trustees should be this: Put the Marching Southerners on display. Give them a stage larger than Paul Snow Stadium. They represented Saturday night in Memphis. They could be the best recruiters currently wearing JSU red.

Tomorrow in the Star

Pick up The Anniston Star tomorrow and you can read more about:

Hobson City holds a town hall meeting to get input from citizens. Leaders are looking for ideas to help the town get through tough financial times. Todd South will be at the meeting and will report on what is said.

Rep. Mike Rogers comes to JSU to kick off a speakers bureau for Career Placement Services.

Dan Whisenhunt explores Anniston's Community Development Block Grant program which is starting a rental rehab program. The Rental Rehabilitation Loan Program will loan money for up to 50 percent of repairs to rental structures.

Juice-free, please

Across cable TV, O.J. is the buzzword today.

My reaction is more like: Oh no!

Beside The Star: Our neighbors have company

I walked up to the Anniston Museum of Natural History today, as I often do at lunch to munch my sandwich and chips in their garden (just one of the many reasons it's cool to have a nature museum for a next-door neighbor). As I rounded one corner of their concrete building I encountered something that's not normally there: a six-foot-high wooden crate, bearing a sign that read "Pelvic bone." That was my first clue that, at long last, Sue's here.

If you've read The Star at all for the last couple of weeks, you know our neighbors at the museum are playing host to a fascinating traveling exhibit, "A T. Rex Named Sue." Its highlight is a cast of the most complete Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton ever found. The museum closed on Saturday for a week to prepare the new exhibit.

This is a pretty big deal, not just as in the importance of the exhibit, but in size, too. As I rounded another corner of the building on my way back to The Star after lunch, I found about a half-dozen more crates, emptied of their contents. Just about then a tractor-trailer pulled into the parking lot, carrying what I assume was even more of Sue's luggage.

The exhibit opens to the public Saturday, and runs through Jan. 6. We've got a whole section of our Web site devoted to Sue. You can find it at

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Vivid portraits in literature

Coming tomorrow, we have three novels whose prose is sharp and vivid and highly deserving of a look. One novel, The Great Man by Kate Christensen, is about the loves of a recently deceased painter. Another, To My Dearest Friends, is about two women who rediscover a recently deceased friend through letters she leaves for them. The last, On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan, is another richly painted novel by one of the most talented writers around. Bookshelf tries to recommend some of the better books out there, and this week's set of novels come particularly highly recommended by our reviewers.
On a different but related note, Madeleine L'Engle has died. She passed away at the age of 88 last week. This news item strikes at my heart. I grew up reading her books -- all that I could get my hands on, which was quite a few -- and own many of them. In fact, my daughter and I discovered a couple I didn't have and hadn't read a few months ago at Barnes and Noble and picked them right up. Ms. L'Engle wrote with heart, with true hope for the world and for families.
I consider myself blessed to have been able to meet her about 12 years ago in Birmingham. She spoke at a small set of lectures given at a Christian church in downtown Birmingham. I saw an advertisement for the lecture somewhere and immediately knew I couldn't miss it. I felt like a rock star groupie as I excitedly and eagerly sat in the chapel where she spoke, clutching a notebook and some hope to speak to her in person. When she opened up the address for questions, I knew I must speak, if just to say something to this wonderful woman. I think I asked if she had advice for aspiring writers, or some similar query. She was very kind and personal. She responded to just write. Write in a journal. Write, read. I have since heard that advice repeated over and over by other writers. But she seemed to say it from her very heart, as personal advice to me, to a reader who was touched by what she put on paper. I'll never forget it.
Madeleine L'Engle was not only an award-winning author who wrote novels that have sold millions and have inspired millions of children, but she was a truly good -- great -- woman who is and was one who can stand as a real role model. The literary world has lost a remarkable woman.

Friday, September 14, 2007

This weekend in The Star

Check out this weekend's Anniston Star for the following stories:

On Saturday: Matt Kaspar talks with some farmers in Alexandria who have or are contemplating putting thier land up for sale. As fewer and fewer people make their living on family farms, are people giving up a way of life?

Andy Johns writes an advance on preparations for the arrival of Sue the T-Rex at the Musuem of Natural History in Anniston

On Sunday: The Band and Cheerleading special section comes out!

Steve Ivey examines JSU's quest to meet several benchmarks and milestones. The university wants to enroll 10,000 students for the first time, to raise $25 million for campus construction and academic programs, to add its first doctoral degree and is even thinking of moving its football program to the big time. That's not all for the campus as it approaches its 125th anniversary. What will JSU need to achieve these goals?

PetFest at Animal Medical Center promises fun for furry friends with tricks, contests and health-care tips. Andy Johns documents the day.

Suicide rates are up nationwide, particularly among teen girls. Matt Kaspar gets the perspective of local folks on the reasons, warning signs and help that is out there, in advance of Suicide Prevention Week.

And coming Monday: Matt Kaspar profiles Anniston resident Debbie Nail who spent a year working for a contractor in Iraq.

Making the primary earlier could have ramifications on those who need absentee ballots. Markeshia Ricks looks into this and whether or not any other elections will be moved from June to February for the change.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

In tomorow's Anniston Star

Check out tomorrow's Anniston Star for these stories:

Todd South writes about how Munford's citizens are taking the initiative to organize a citizens crime watch.

Expect a soggy Friday: Andy Johns writes about the remnants of Hurricane Humberto, which will bring much-needed rain to the area, up to three inches, the National Weather Service says.

Five local elementary schools will bring home $40,000 in recognition of their students’ achievements on standardized tests last year. Markeshia Ricks breaks down the numbers.

Coming Friday on the editorial/op-ed pages

The Star's editorial board on Friday is continuing its series on the GAO Iraq progress report, especially in light of President Bush's televised speech Thursday night:
Many likely will awake this morning to the feeling that the past 10 months have been nothing but a political trick — from the November midterm election that rejected the White House’s overly rosy assessment of conditions in Iraq to the firing of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to the announcement of an escalation strategy to this week’s misleading assessment of its progress and, most recently, to Thursday night’s shell game about how many troops will be in Iraq.
Americans wish to be leveled with.
The Star's board also is proclaiming its happiness over the state's "Take Back the Highways" program -- especially the manner in which it was conducted:
We are pleased with the fairness of Murphy, pleased with the fairness of Holmes, and pleased with the fairness of Alabama’s state troopers.
You can’t get more pleased than that.
And, lastly, we're writing about new U.S. Census figures that address our state's political leanings:
Voters are tiring of candidates who make church membership a mark of party affiliation. They are repelled by those who demonize dissent and make opposition un-American. These political tactics are being rejected by more and more citizens. The moderate core of our voting population is being revealed again. Good news, indeed.
On the op-ed page there's this column on Calhoun County's and Alabama's future, by yours truly:
The last 10 years tell me we should demand such progress for the 10 years to come. Look at what we’ve accomplished. Consider where we once were. If we can get this far, if we can rid ourselves of chemical weapons, weather the closing of a nearly 100-year-old military base and emerge standing from horrible examples of industrial pollution, why can’t we take the next step and shoot for what we all want?

Sandwich Day in the newsroom

(Or as the poster, written in Alabama-ese, called it "Sammich Day.")

Staffers brought the bread, meat and fixings. We fired up the grill and it was a feast.

Coming attractions

A dinosaur exhibit - a T. Rex Named Sue - is coming to the Anniston Museum of Natural History. The exhibit opens on Sept. 22.
According to the museum's promotional literature:
"This exhibition demonstrates how T. rex was monstrous yet mortal and connects with visitors of all ages and abilities. Interactives, touchable replicas, videos, and colorful graphics set the stage for a visceral experience using a combination of visual, tactile, audible, and aromatic activities."

Learn more by clicking here.

Ahead of the exhibit The Star is planning a special section. You can see our promitional videos by clicking below:

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Coming Thursday on the editorial/op-ed pages

The Star's editorial board is taking a look at a new initative that may bring more ecotourism publicity to Northeast Alabama:
Northeast Alabama, close to major metropolitan areas yet with so many resources unspoiled by urban sprawl, should become a major tourist attraction.
The Longleaf Initiative will move us in that direction.
We're also checking in again on the water wars between Alabama and Georgia:
Gov. Bob Riley made the case that if the Corps of Engineers would follow its own guidelines and remain true to the 1993 draft manual which applies to Lake Allatoona, then more water would be sent our way. By agreeing earlier to release more water, the Corps seemed to accept the governor’s argument.
And, to round off Thurday's offerings, we're giving the next installment of the GAO report on the progress in Iraq:
Thus far, according to the GAO, Iraq’s security forces are (1.) replete with “sectarian-based abuses,” (2.) partly under the control of lawless militias, (3.) unable to perform independent of U.S. forces and (4.) distrusted by Iraqis. By that standard, Iraq security forces would not be able to stop a civil war, and might be participants in it.
We'll also have our normal fare of letters to the editor and syndicated columnists, led by Thomas Friedman of The New York Times.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Coming Wednesday on the editorial/op-ed pages

The Star's editorial board on Wednesday is opining on the on-going issue of what may be the politically motivated prosecution of former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman:
It smells even worse when one considers that a man may sit in prison today because his political enemies may have arranged his prosecution for political reasons.
It is a sobering thought to consider, the kind of thing often associated with third-world dictatorial regimes and not with a free, democratic nation.
The Star also is examining another portion of the GAO's assessment of the progress in Iraq:
If proponents of partitioning Iraq into three independent states covered by an extremely loose federal government were looking for a leading indicator, they may have found it in this deal. The partition-Iraq crowd rightly points that Iraq is a creation of British mapmakers in 1921. They see three regions, each with tight border security, as a method to tamp down the bloody violence that has raged since the U.S. invasion in 2003.
And, for added measure, our opinion on the lack of state money remaining for critical state road projects, including several in Calhoun County:
Is there hope? Of course, but it’s like building a beach home without proper support; it may fail. Two of our projects, the parkway and a wider access road for Anniston Army Depot, reside comfortably in the Alabama Department of Transportation’s five-year plan. At least we’re on the list.
As we blogged about earlier, columnist Hardy Jackson is writing about Brunswick stew, his mother's recipe, and why it is so good:
While everything is simmering, Mama adds her special touch. Deviating from the recipe, she slices a lemon thin and puts it in the pot. Sometimes two.
And so it will come to pass that later, when hungry folks are spooning through a steaming bowl of stew that tastes like it was made from a magazine recipe, all of a sudden a shot of sour will assault their taste buds and they will know that they are into something special.
It’s the “whang.”
That makes the difference.

Conservatives on the op-ed pages

This isn't a shock, or isn't to me, at least. A new study says conservative columnists dominate newspapers' editorial pages in the U.S. Here's the story from the Web site, fresh off the AP satellite:
NEW YORK — George Will’s column runs in more newspapers than any writer in the nation, according to a new study by a liberal media watchdog group that concludes conservative voices such as his dominate editorial pages.
Will’s syndicated column runs at least once a month in 368 newspapers with more than 26 million in total circulation, said the Media Matters for America. The organization surveyed 96 percent of the nation’s 1,430 English-language daily newspapers.
“He reaches half of the newspaper readers in America,” said Paul Waldman, the study’s author. “He has a huge megaphone, probably bigger than anybody else in America.”
His group found that 60 percent of the daily newspapers print more conservative syndicated columnists each week than liberals. Twenty percent of the papers are dominated by liberals and 20 percent are balanced. Media Matters had no information on local columnists.
It’s similar to how conservative talk radio voices dominate, although to a much more limited extent.
Waldman called it “one more nail in the coffin of the myth of liberal media bias.” Better balance should be the goal, he said.
Will, 66, distributes two columns each week to newspapers through the Washington Post Writers Group and writes every other week for Newsweek. He’s been a columnist since 1974, when newspapers began searching for conservative voices after the Nixon administration complained about a liberal bias.
“It’s pleasing news, because one never knows,” Will told The Associated Press. “You send these things out and you can’t possibly keep track of how the newspapers are using them.”
Alan Shearer, editorial director and general manager of the group that syndicates Will, said he thinks the column is popular because it contains original reporting and is not just opinion. Will can also be unpredictable, and predictability is the death of columnists, he said.
Some well-known TV personalities can’t approach Will for reach in their written work. Bill O’Reilly, for example, reaches 4 million readers and Ann Coulter 1.1 million, the survey said.
The five most popular columnists include another conservative, Kathleen Parker, and two liberals, Ellen Goodman and Leonard Pitts Jr. David Broder of the Washington Post, who is third, isn’t assigned an ideology by Media Matters.
The top 10 is rounded out by Cal Thomas, Charles Krauthammer and three from The New York Times: Thomas L. Friedman, Maureen Dowd and David Brooks.
Both Will and Shearer said they believe that Media Matters is right, that conservative columnists have a wider reach than liberals. It may partly be because publishers lean conservative, and editorial page editors often report to them, Shearer said.
Will said he hoped to write “`til I drop,” pointing to his 50th anniversary as a columnist as a goal. That’s in 2024.
“I love to write,” he said. “I think that’s unusual among journalists. A lot of journalists like the reporting and hanging around the journalistic subculture and seeing their names in the paper, it’s the middle part they don’t like. I like the middle part.”

The Star has a semi-firm schedule of syndicated columnists; barring developments -- such as the day cartoonist Doug Marlette died a few months ago -- we try to stick to that schedule as much as we can. We also try to have a diverse collection of columnists -- some white, some black, some men, some women, some conservative and some liberal.

Here's our usual schedule:
Monday - George Will, Washington Post
Tuesday - Eugene Robinson, Washington Post
Wednesday - Leonard Pitts, Miami Herald; Cal Thomas, Creators Syndicate; Hardy Jackson, local.
Thursday - Thomas Friedman, New York Times and several others to choose from, including Trudy Rubin, Philly Inquirer; Maureen Dowd, New York Times; and Andres Oppenheimer, Miami Herald.
Friday - Thomas Herbert, New York Times; and James Evans and yours truly, local.
Saturday - Joseph Galloway, McClatchy's senior military columnist.
Sunday - Nicholas Kristof, New York Times, and Paul Krugman, New York Times.

There are a few others, including Froma Harrop of Creators Syndicate, Tom Teepen of Cox News, Rhonda Lokeman of the Kansas City Star, and David Brooks of the New York Times who often appear on our pages as space and topics allow.

Cookin' stew in the editorial department (which is kinda hard because I'm the only one back here on Tuesdays)

Columnist Hardy Jackson's cooking Brunswick stew on Wednesday's op-ed pages.

His recipe:

Get yourself a 4- to 5-pound Boston butt. Put it on to boil and cook it 2 hours. (Now, if you already have one of those that is smoked and sold for high-school fund-raisers, or have some pork left over from the last time you cooked out, that’s OK.)
While it is cooking, if it is cooking, put the following into another pot:
- 4 cups of cubed hash-brown potatoes (why spend all that time cubing when you don’t have to?)
- 3 14-ounce cans of diced tomatoes with garlic and onion (all cans are about this size)
- 1 can whole-kernel corn, drained
- 1 can cream-style corn
- 1 can sweet green peas, drained
- 1 bottle barbecue sauce
- A little hot sauce, a little salt, a little pepper
When the meat is cooked and it is cool, shred it.
Put the shredded meat into the pot with the rest, boil and stir and (if you are Daddy) sip.

More on this later. Including the part about his daddy and the sipping.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Coming Tuesday on the editorial page

With the release Monday of Gen. David Petraeus' report on the progress in Iraq, The Star's editorial board has decided it's time to weigh in again on the war and our success:
What we’ve learned during the first eight months of this year is what presidents from Truman to Clinton fully knew. While the United States has the world’s best military, our guns, bullets and soldiers alone cannot create political stability in any country.
The Star also is opining again on the GAO report on the success in Iraq -- a report that differs from the Petraeus findings:
It must be noted that part of the so-called surge strategy came when U.S. forces allied themselves with former enemies, Sunni militias. We made allies with enemies in the 1980s with Saddam Hussein and radical Islamists in Afghanistan. It’s a move we came to regret. The potential blowback of arming former (and possibly future) enemies is a prospect that ought to chill Americans regardless of the short term.
And, this being the sixth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, The Star's editorial page is reminding us why remembering the event is so important:
However, on this solemn date let the focus pause on the deaths of the 3,000 victims, including Maj. Dwayne Williams, a native of Jacksonville. Then, tomorrow and in the following days let’s resolve to work out the best ways to strengthen the nation and prevent another terrorist attack on these shores.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Capital reading

We've got a couple of Washington-based books this week on Bookshelf. They may both be based in D.C., but aside from that, they are worlds apart! One is a novel called Trudy Hopedale, a sly satire on the politicking and social lives of the strange beings who inhabit our nation's capital. The second book is a very serious expose on the history of the CIA, Legacy of Ashes. Trudy Hopedale doesn't paint a pretty picture of its characters, and Legacy of Ashes doesn't paint a terribly hopeful picture of our nation's 60-year-old top-secret agency. Unfortunately, one can't laugh at the latter.
Meanwhile, I have stacks of new books arriving in my office every week. Some I toss on sight. I'm guessing we don't need reviews of any bodice-rippers, right? I also generally don't review books that are reprints or not pretty much published in the past 4 to 6 months. We do aim to be a NEWSpaper here, so I'd like to tell our discerning readers about the new books that are noteworthy. But any gleaning aside, that still leaves me so many books, so little time and space. I could lament this every week. But those we can't review, we donate. Some end up at the library so its patrons can read them, even if we couldn't.
Please don't hesitate to contact me and let us know how we're doing. Have you read a book we've reviewed and completely agreed with our reviewer -- or completely disagreed? Has a review led you to a fine read you never would have picked up otherwise? I hope so.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Coming Thursday on the editorial/op-ed pages

The Star's editorial board is tackling two intensely local subjects on Thursday. One involves the promise of the ACCESS distance-learning program Gov. Bob Riley began in 2005:
But this program will allow connected schools, whether they’re surrounded by the poverty of Greene or Wilcox counties or the high-income areas of Madison, Baldwin or Shelby counties, to offer advanced courses to Alabama students. The program can pay obvious dividends. One only has to listen to Riley speak of the program’s possibilities to understand his excitement. It’s an infectious joy.
The other involves the problem of a lack of regulation of faith-based programs:
But a deeper problem remains. Without tougher laws, a new clinic could open at One Day at a Time’s former site or anywhere else with virtually zero oversight. No inspections for quality of treatment. No safety inspections. Nothing but a “faith-based” label that freezes state regulators in their tracks.
On the op-ed page, columnist Jonathan Last of the Philadelphia Inquirer is putting an interesting spin on a famous World War I battle and its relation to the Iraq War:
Every drop of American blood is a precious treasure; our 3,732 dead (since March 20, 2003) should be revered. But that number is small by historical standards. People are generally familiar with the big wars: 405,399 American dead in World War II; 116,516 dead in World War I; 58,209 dead in Vietnam. But 36,574 of our soldiers died in Korea, and 13,283 died in the Mexican War. Two other wars, the War of 1812 and the Spanish-American War accumulated significant casualties (2,260 and 2,446 dead, respectively) despite involving military forces less than a tenth of the size of our current one. Between 1899 and 1902, 4,324 American soldiers died in the Philippine-American War. Perhaps they no longer teach these things in school.
We'll also have our letters to the editor and our popular Views of the World collection of international editorial cartoons.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Coming Wednesday on the editorial/op-ed pages

With the 150-year anniversary of the Civil War only a few years away -- it's in 2011, if you didn't know -- The Star's editorial board is considering what should be done, if anything, to commemorate the event:
How does a nation note the anniversary of a war against itself without celebrating the victors or demonizing the defeated? What should be done to recognize the sacrifices on both sides? And how are we, as a nation, to acknowledge the good the war accomplished without opening old wounds which, in some quarters, still fester?
The Star also is taking another glance at the huge contract given to University of Alabama football coach Nick Saban -- a contract that's still garnering national attention:
So on a weekend when we were giddy over the season’s kickoff, newspapers across the land wrote tomes about one of our state’s most-famous teams. But there was little talk about football, and lots of discussion about our state’s priorities.
On the op-ed page, columnist Hardy Jackson is having fun with the memory of the Allman Brothers and all things Southern:
The Allman Brothers. “The principal architects of Southern rock.” Led by Duane Allman — the second-best guitarist of all time, according to Rolling Stone, who after the five-hour jam session that pulled them together told the group that “anybody who doesn’t want to be in my band is gonna have to fight his way out the door.”
Is that Southern or what?
But it almost didn’t happen.
We'll also have our normal dose of letters to the editor and syndicated columnists.

Top weekend reads online

Former Weaver pastor pleads guilty to sex abuse by Nick Cenegy

A witness to the past 156 years, the Davis Farm is now up for sale for $20 million by Todd South

Despite a gutsy win, the only thing Auburn has is a sinking feeling by Joe Medley