Since I am at home folding clothes and cleaning house on a Saturday night ("We have to work on that" someone said.) and have no news of my own to share, I'll share other people's news:
Fin, our resident non-communicative Houdini, has rediscovered his Email skills and written three times this week.

Brandy had a scrumptious lunch at Backyard Burger. Blackened chicken and chili cheese fries were on the menu.

Wendy passed her stats class. Not only did she hate that class, but she got an A in it just for spite. (She was a little excited.)

My cousin Casey and his bride, Bridgett, have set August 14th as the date for their family wedding reception. Dress is semi-formal.

Brooke and Stephen are counting down the days until they return to their home state for a brief -- and long overdue -- respite from Pennsylvania.
And that's all my news so far today.


My family recently took a vacation. Without me. (And thanks guys.) Anyway, my family recently took a vacation and all I got was this picture.

Its funny. I know its funny. I just don't know why. Though I am pretty sure if you need a sign to explain this to you, you can't read the sign.
Slow week around here. The only big thing happening in my little world has been the Democratic National Convention. People that don't care for politics but still accidentally stumble on this site are relieved to know that all that stuff is now peing posted over on Fear, Folly, Politics.

But with the convention over, maybe more interesting things will happen. It seems like everybody said, "Well, the Democrats are meeting in Boston, the football coaches are meeting in Hoover, may as well just kick back and relax." Those two things have been enough to keep our attention at work at least.

The best part of the week (non-politics division) is that Brandy and I went for our regular trip to Carino's. If you have one near you, go. Just don't go between meals. Apparently just before 5 p.m. you're going to find a slightly off dish brought to your table. However, we've eaten at Carino's in two states over the course of three years and that is the first time we've ever had anything that wasn't just right.

But the Italian Chocolate Cake makes up for any mistakes. Oh yum.


If you like that picture below ... cruise on over to Stephen Green's excellent Vodkapundit for a picture of The Salute, soon-to-be overexposed.
John Kerry, making his acceptance speech.


Busy day over on Fear, Folly, Politics. Did a couple of entries this morning and afternoon on the DNC, floated my plan about "Amendment One Parolees" and then put some more about Barack Obama on there as well.

I checked the stats on that blog today for the first time. Already it is generating more hits than this one does. And it should, the host site only gets something like 2.5 million hits a month. Still, I thought it would take more than two weeks to pass this humble blog.

(You're still my favorite though. There's just more interesting political topics than Kenny topics right now, that's all.)

The amazing thing is that FFP has enjoyed a modest early success with very little notice in the blogosphere. Blogs are the ultimate word of mouth (word of keyboard?) product, so it of course takes time. The places that I'm linking to over there have a lot of visitors and when they start driving people back my way the traffic should jump nicely.

Everything should jump nicely. Like me, off this seat and into bed.

Before I go, it has been pointed out that I had broken image links in my post office entry from several days ago. My apologies, they are now fixed.
I may have a new favorite liberal politician. Now understand, I vote on the issues and -- if you charted it out -- I'm more conservative than liberal, but you should always listen to the other side. So on the basis of politician, Bill Clinton had been the best. Remember, this is about political ability, not personal proclivities. As Stephen has often said, Clinton had perhaps the greatest political potential of our time and he (insert-verb-here) it away. For the record: Zell Miller of Georgia is second on my little list.

On the heels of one of Clinton's best performances Monday night at the DNC comes Barack Obama. The state Senator from Illinois is running on the Democratic ticket for the U.S. Senate. He pretty much sealed that up tonight.

After hearing his address to the DNC, I'm looking over his position papers, and it seems pretty standard. But if you are judging a politician by how he works a crowd, this is your guy. Read his keynote address. Oh it is good, but you're just reading it. Imagine hearing it in a measured, self-assured voice that comes off rational, reasonable and right. Imagine the crowd working themselves into a frenzy to really appreciate what this relative unknown was able to do.

The civil rights attorney is only in his early 40s and looks to have a long future ahead of him. It may be the type that serves to inspire others. That's the mark of a successful politician.
Often I have chicken noodle soup for lunch. Sometimes I have a vegetable beef soup for lunch. Today I totally switched things up: chicken vegetable soup.

I'm a wild man.


So John Kerry goes to talk to middle America, commiserating with blue collar workers. The campaign's press pass for one leg of the trip: a logo of a Rolls Royce. In Detroit.
"That's an insult to the auto worker, it's an insult to the American worker, it's an insult to mainstream America," said Sam Burwell from Corunna, Mich., a third-generation auto worker for General Motors. "It also shows who he's really in touch with: his European, elitist French friends and not Americans like me. A Rolls-Royce, for cryin' out loud."
The Kerry campaign, clearly with their finger on the pulse of the nation.

The Washington Times goes on to say that the Rolls-Royce 100EX — not yet in full production — comes with "cashmere lining under the hood and dark Curzon leather upholstery, mahogany and teak wood inside the passenger cabin."

I'm looking forward to mine being delivered any day now. Oh yeah, I've made arrangements for a near even swap on my car with a 178,000 miles for the 100EX.
Things I've wondered this weekend

•Why does the Weather Channel have a "Coming up tonight" promo?
•Why does my house sometimes feels cool at 77, but hot on 81?
•Doesn't this seem odd, "The next Star Wars movie has a name and a small plane crashes into a neighborhood, tonight at 10"?
•When did we stop talking? A cashier just spared two words on me.
•Why am I sick in July?


A full disclosure on vanity ... Do you know what is cool? On the strength of this blog my website has now moved up to fourth on Google. That is astounding to me considering there is a popular football player, retired basketball player turned TV analyst and a popular bluegrass artist with the same name.

I have you to thank!


As answer to the previously asked question ...

You get medicine-head. Sinuses stay messed up. Time passes at a slightly different pace. You are irritable in traffic. Creative writing goes right out the window. And you ask more rhetorical questions than normal.
What happens when you take Sudafed that has a February 2002 expiration date?


So Brooke writes in to tell of her day and, while a short note, she took an odd turn before redeeming herself at the last:
Baby-sitting today, looking forward to it. I'm taking Caira her new outfit that Stephen and I bought her. It will be so cute on her. It is Winnie the Pooh with a yellow and blue color scheme (bc I love yellow and blue, also yellow is a good color on Caira). Is it funny that I am now a critic of baby fashion? Caira looks best in red, but also yellow, orange, and purple are good colors on her. All I can say is, I hope my child will look good in orange and blue!
Yes Brooke, your child will know no other colors.

Rumor has it that their first firstborn will be named "War," their second "Eagle." If they decide to have three, I believe they should think of using "Hey!"
Wads brings us Olympics news from Athens:
The country who felt slighted that Atlanta got to host the centennial Olympics in 1996, is frantically attempting to finish preparations for the games this summer. In the headlines today: security. The bulk of security for the games will be provided by the manly Greek Army. That will make our athletes feel safer. The Greek Army hasn't stopped anything since the Battle of Salamis Bay.
Told you to read this guy.

Also, Coach, I knew Kucinich was still in the race. Do I have to remove the bumper sticker from my cubicle now? I didn't support him, but I liked his proposed Cabinet position for a Department of Peace.
This has been cross-posted over on Fear,Folly,Politics, but I get a few Auburn readers through here so ...

The Auburn Plainsman has a Q&A with interim President Dr. Ed Richardson. Cutting right to the point:
Q: How do you think SACS will address the changes you've made when they come this fall?

A: I think they will give us a clean bill of health. We've done everything we could think to do. I've talked with SACS repeatedly to see if this was sufficient.
This is a wide-ranging interview that touches on a lot of topics big on the Plains, coaching and administrative changes, budget, the dissolution of the AUPD, the Board as a silent gray eminence and more. It also touches a question no one else has asked:
Q: The Board of Trustees, according to state law, must conduct business in public. A university president has certain privacy in regards to his decisions. Do you think SACS will be skeptical of your appointment to interim president directly from the board? I.e., do you think SACS may think the board is privatizing an agenda by channeling it through an interim president?

A: I think there was a lot of suspicion that way. But for the people that know me, and if you look at what has happened over the last five months in terms of what I've asked of the board and what they've done, everybody wasn't happy about it.

And the direction that I'm taking is that I think that would be alleviated. But if when I was first hired if you'd asked that question, I would say, "Well, I'm not sure about that." So yeah, sure.
Dr. Richardson did reveal one disturbing admission:
Q: What have you learned in your time as interim president?

A: I learned I didn't know a lot about Auburn, I can say that. I had some things confirmed ... Another thing that I have learned is that there are forces at play that are going to impact higher education more than I would have originally thought.
The man served on the Board of Trustees at Auburn for eight years while state superintendent of education. Prior to starting as the state school superintendent. Before he became state superintendent, Richardson was superintendent of schools for the Auburn City Board of Education for 13 years. According to his bio all three of his degrees are from AU, what did he not know?

If you're an Auburn man or woman you'll want to read the piece. Kudos to Richard McVay on a nice job.


By the way, I've neglected to mention this, but do stop on over and see my boy Stephen Wadsworth's new site. He's now calling himself a refugee in Pennsylvania.

It is still very young, and he's getting the HTML kinks worked out, but that's not why you'll go there. The site is beginning to zoom in on its ultimate identity and has a world of promise, just like the man behind it. So do me a favor and jump over there. He's got some great pictures up from his first anniversary -- he and Brooke went to New York City. There are a few family pics, and there is some educational reading. If you like politics or sports, or both, this site looks to become a mainstay for you. If you're looking for a Southern boy condescending on the yankee place he finds himself unfortunately living, you'll appreciate this. Humor wisdom, insight ... maybe the homepage is a reflection of the man.
A slow-speed car chase in El Monte, Calif. Despite what the talking heads think, a slow-speed chase is riveting. And while we normally get these on Friday for whatever reason, today Fox had a mid-week surpise. Sadly they cut away before the police finally stopped the guy. I hope the dog that was in the car with the suspect is OK.
I'm sorry, but this is stupid on so many levels ...
STRATFORD, Conn. (AP) -- Police have charged two men in a confrontation that could be described as potty rage. The situation developed Friday night when a 52-year-old Stratford man took too much time in a bathroom at Burger King, police said.

Andres A. Diaz, who was in the john, and Joseph Manuel Augusto, 37, who was waiting to use it, got into an argument when Diaz emerged, police said.

Heated words escalated into a physical fight.

The two men allegedly bumped chests, then chased each other around the restaurant with their weapons. Augusto had a small razor pocket knife and Diaz brandished a Burger King straw dispenser, police said.
Fortunately no one was hurt, and Augusto had to wait even longer to get in the bathroom.
Who ever heard of a sinus infection in July?

This is annoying enough to make me grumpy.


Today in Fear, Folly, Politics:

Gubernatorial bloggin'
The Don's attorneys ask for charges to be dismissed
Don Siegelman really likes coffee
Q&A the money man
'The bad animals are gone, please enjoy our waters.'

What these stories are about: Governor Riley is writing a blog while job hunting in Germany; Lots of legal stuff in the Siegelman investigation; an insightful Q&A with the state finance director and predator numbers at the Gulf are back to normal.
Question: If you make a joke, and you can't stop laughing at it yourself, does that mean it is not really funny?
I'm listening to old Tracy Chapman this morning in my headphones. Each time I put one of her discs in I am reminded of a conversation I had years and years ago with a teacher of mine.

On the subject of an even older Tracy Chapman album, she said that many people had been inspired to join the Peace Corps because of Chapmen and Paul Simon albums.

So someone help me out here: I've listened to Tracy Chapman for 15 years and have never felt that urge. Do I need to play the two artists together? Backwards? What?

Every time I throw in one of these CDs I find myself wondering about this.


I wrote about Natural Bridge, Alabama just below. On the way home from the singing today I stopped off at that town's namesake and -- as far as I could tell -- the lone attraction.

Some 200 million years ago when the seas reached into northwest Alabama that water washed away the sandstone, leaving in place iron ore veins which hold the expanse in the air some 60 feet. Natural Bridge is the largest such structure east of the Rocky Mountains, spanning some 148 feet. The area would much later become home to the Creek and trails through the area were used by both sides during the Civil War.

Anyway, I have seven pictures from Natural Bridge I'd like to share with you. You can find them on the 'visual' page or save a trip by clicking here.

Unfortunately there are no pictures from on the bridge. I tried as hard as possible in dress shoes and slacks to climb up top, but feared for my life and my camera. Later, talking to the staff, they said it was too dangerous and overgrown with moss to walk across.

One day I will go back with hiking boots.
I have this longstanding theory that you can tell a lot about a town by the post office. Size, age, cleanliness, these are all key indicators of the town.

So on my way to the homecoming singing at the Whitehouse this morning (always top notch by the way) I saw this theory in two new towns. Look first at the post office branch for lovely and exotic Delmar, Alabama.

Note how the whole building is just barely bigger than the words "United States Post Office." Clearly this is a small town. (See map.)

But it is a metropolis compared to a place just two towns over, where the good people of Natural Bridge, Alabama do their postal business.

Now that's small. (See map.)


More pictures added to that random column over on the right. And I recently took a visitor's advice and changed the way they pop up on your screen. Looks way better. Now I'm toying with the idea of just having a page full of those pictures. As it is now they rotate off and haven't shown back up. That's a shame because some of them aren't bad at all.

Well, off to find something to do.


See that yellow dot in the center? It is much more impressive in reality than it is on the radar. The clouds have stolen all the light from the sky. Everything is slate gray or darker. Lightning is racing through the sky in the distance, maybe a half dozen bolts a minute. Thunder is rolling in with cavernous echoes. The streetlights are on, the trees are still, but the rain really hasn't let loose.

Today at Fear, Folly, Politics:

Fort Rucker looks to be off the hook
DOT: 431 is numero uno
DOT: Don't speed; and keep your eyes off our illegal signs
Fairhope goofs
Montgomery's top cop gets the wrong pub
Have a rolling rock
Riley to make news in Germany

What these stories are about: Fort Rucker is getting $40 million; DOT has set their road priorities (and I try to stir up controversy); the city of Fairhope makes a potential $500,000 mistake; a police chief gets busted; the Ten Commandments go on tour and the Governor goes job hunting in Germany.
I'm almost ashamed to admit this, but I finally got around to buying The Jayhawks: Tomorrow the Green Grass. Suffice it to say my next four or five music purchases will be to get their whole catalogue.

I also picked up Maroon 5: 1.22.03 acoustic. If you really like Maroon 5 it is worth a listen, otherwise you'll probably want to stay away.


So we're standing around the candy bowl at work this afternoon, discussing the crack-like qualities of the individually wrapped Certs. One guy didn't think that was the case.

"But Reese's Cups ... " as I reach into the bowl to tempt him with one, "those are different."

"At least" I say, "you have a sense of how many of them you've eaten because you have to basically open them twice."

A third guy chimes in, "Yeah, what's with that? You do too much work for what you get out of the miniatures."

I'd never thought of pulling off a piece of aluminum foil and plastic as work.

Fear, Folly, Politics is up. I believe that to be the permanent address for it.

Haven't decided on what rules I am going to make for myself about cross-posting. If you want to visit do you want to have to scroll through it twice? Should I put the same post on both blogs? Should I just mention that I've put up something over there, mention the topics and link to it? So many decisions to be made.

So far, it has started fairly well. I took the hospital drugs story I had here yesterday (before any paper had the chance to run the story) and posted it there with two little quotes from each side of the issue. Also there's a blurb about a mayor charged with rape running for re-election and a landfill controversy in Montgomery.


Co-workers recently found the stuff of legend on their daily commute. They told the story of a mysterious place, The Bait 'N' Tan they called it. A gas station where you could both buy live bait and work on your melanin.

Last night, I found the Bait 'N' Tan. That link will take you to a four-picture composite I made. Look to the left and see, "MINNOWS WORMS CRICKETS" and scroll to the right to see the "BEACH TANNING beds."
He said, he said, damnation edition:
Former Chief Justice Roy Moore told Justice Gorman Houston that Houston was damned to hell for "covering God" when Houston removed Moore's Ten Commandments monument from public display in Alabama's judicial building, Houston said.

Moore denied making the comment.

Speaking to a civic club Tuesday, Houston said he last talked to Moore at 6:54 a.m. on Aug. 21, 2003, when Houston was in his office and Moore was at home.

"Roy told me in that four-minute conversation that I was damned to hell, that there was nothing I could ever do to change that, because I was covering God," said Houston. "I was speechless."

"That's absolutely ridiculous and he knows it," Moore told The Birmingham News, which reported Houston's remarks. "I would never say anything like that. Only God is the judge of a man's soul. (Houston) tried to hide the Ten Commandments from the public while I was still chief justice, and I wouldn't allow it."
Insert joke here.
Here's a lawsuit that will be worth watching.
An Alabama public health hospital yesterday filed a class-action lawsuit against some of the nation's largest pharmaceutical manufacturers including Merck, Pfizer and Eli Lilly, claiming the drug manufacturers have been systematically overcharging public hospitals and community health centers for drugs by as much as $500 million per year.

... Central Alabama Comprehensive Healthcare Inc., an organization that provides care for the indigent, claims major drug manufacturers have charged prices far above the maximum allowed by a 1992 law designed to provide more healthcare access to the homeless, the disabled, children, and the poor ...
The suit cites a recent report by the Office of the Inspector General for the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services that shows: more than 97 percent of public hospitals paid prices above the legal limit for drugs during September 2002; 31 percent of the items purchased by public hospitals and community health centers exceeded the maximum price allowed and that public hospitals overpaid an estimated $41.1 million.

Mark Firmani, with the law firm Hagens Berman tells me, "This is it the first litigation of its type following the US Department of Human Services OIG report. It has broad national implications for every provider of healthcare involved in the 340B. The folks at CACH are true trailblazers in this litigation."
The Demopolis Times editorial staff makes a good point this morning. In summary:
Whatever the excuse, something has gone horribly wrong for West Alabama and the Black Belt yet again ...

This week, the good folks of West Alabama and the Black Belt have been informed that plans to widen U.S. Highway 80 from Marengo County through Sumter County have been delayed once again ...

If plans for widening U.S. 80 have been discussed since the 1960s, why in the world did we just find out about an "environmental issue" in the summer of 2004? ...

In the past decade, an entirely new interstate - Corridor X - has nearly been constructed from Memphis to Birmingham; almost all of Interstate 20/59 from Tuscaloosa to Birmingham has been widened from two to three lanes.

In the past five decades, the people of West Alabama and the Black Belt can't get 22 miles of a United States Highway four-laned.

Can anyone tell us why?
The Demopolis Times says such a project would improve "the economic and social disorders" in their region. While it seems they might be in disagreement with the Federal Highway Administration over the amount of miles involved in this project, there's no disputing the benefit such a development could bring to the area. Several studies have said as much -- including the FWA's, which concludes:
Without uninterrupted four-lane connectivity between (I-65 and I-20/I-59) Alabama's US 43 and US 80 Corridor counties would not attract any appreciable number of Hyundai suppliers. With such access, however, the region could attract suppliers in sufficient number to add over 1,600 well-paid jobs to its employment base.
Those are just job estimates for the local auto industry. Suddenly the paper's rhetorical question is even more relevant.
So Alabama has a new state school superintendent. Joe Morton has the interim removed from his title. By all accounts he is a capable man. In many interviews with him I've found him to by a kind man who cares about the children.

The Board -- thinking they had a good choice already on board -- decided to skip the cost of a national search. But as the Mobile Register reports:
State school board members joked Tuesday that they were looking for a combination of "Superman," a "family pet" and a "miracle worker" as they appointed a new superintendent.
The best part comes from Governor Bob Riley who said that Morton "wants to move us from the level of mediocrity to the level of excellence."

You have to respect a straight-shooting Governor. Nice to know that the last guy who couldn't get Alabama moved from the level of mediocrity is now the president of the state's largest University.
Turns out, it is not the heat after all.
The National Weather Service is forecasting a high of 98 degrees today, which would make it the hottest day since the summer of 2000.

High humidity will make it feel like 110 degrees by mid-afternoon.
But we're tough: National Weather Service meteorologist John Sirmon says they would announce a heat advisory only if the heat index reached 110 two days in a row.


Ed "Not quite hatchet man" Richardson still has Governor Bob Riley's support at Auburn. The Opelika-Auburn News reports:
"Is everyone happy with his decisions? No, but they never will be," Riley said in a Monday interview with the Opelika-Auburn News. "One of the things you learn in politics, anytime you make a decision you're probably going to make as many people mad as you did happy. I don't think there's any question he came in and he started making decisions that are in the best interest of the university, and that's essentially what I wanted him to do."
Riley says that three high-profile firings by Richardson were not designed to prove a point to SACS, the body that grants accreditation, with whom Auburn is currently on probation.
Alabama's numbers were positive on employment in a recent announcement. The South seems to be coming along as well.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics says the South has the lowest unemployment rate in the country — 5.0 compared to the national average of 5.6.

While mill and factory closings are very real, more jobs have been created than lost. During the last recession non-farm employment in the South actually grew.

The South has grown up, particularly in the urban areas there's just as much transportation and communication infrastructure as anywhere else. Don't forget the nice climate, low cost of living and right-to-work laws. Doesn't hurt that most states have gotten serious about recruiting industrial development.

UPDATE: Case in point, car part manufacturer Mando America Corp., is leaving Detroit and headed for Opelika, more than doubling its local size. The $35 million investment and 170 new jobs are coming primarily because of the nearby Hyundai plant.
So we're watching Fox News at work this morning ... and they are following up on Newsweek's story about an apparent growth in cheating wives.
Couples therapists estimate that among their clientele, the number is close to 30 to 40 percent, compared with 50 percent of men, and the gap is almost certainly closing.
So Fox has this therapist on with her advice, and one of her tips is to use your pet as a role model.

"Be like your pet, your pet loves everyone."

That seem's to be the problem already!


As about three people know, I've been asked to do a political blog for work. We've struggled for days and days on the title -- it has to be just right -- and we've finally got it down to just a handful. Here's the working list in no particular order:

Unofficial Results (credit Justin/work)
An Honest Gamble
Smoke-filled Room (Justin)
Smoky Back Room (Wads)
Alabama Tickle (old folk song)
Dried Figs (based on Chapman's quote)
Politics is Applesauce (Will Rogers)
Over the Pork Barrel (Brian/work)
Fear, Folly, Politics (based on Coleridge's "In politics, what begins in fear usually ends in folly."
Tools & Enemies (based on Friedrich August von Hayek's "A politician divides mankind into two classes; tools and enemies."

Your help in picking a good title is, as always, appreciated.

UPDATE: Some good suggestions rolled in, including: Decipher the Lies; This is why we should vote; That's politics Coach and Confederate Betterment.

Love the last two.
Let's learn together!

I've taken a line from Lydia M. Child out of context today for a story about soldiers returning from Iraq.

Child (1802-1880) says, "Home -- that blessed word, which opens to the human heart the most perfect glimpse of Heaven, and helps to carry it thither, as on an angel's wings."

She was the writer of Hobomok (1824), believed to be the first historical novel in the United States. While writing several other books, she was also an editor, journalist and teacher.

The abolitionist was elected to the executive committee of the American Anti-Slavery Society, and became editor of the society's National Anti-Slavery Standard in 1841.
"What would it be like to visit every Starbucks? Would I be the only one? Could I do something unique?"
Winter is on a mission to visit every Starbucks in the world. On this day alone, he has mapped out four more stores around Phoenix and two in El Paso that he needs to hit. A contract computer programmer, Winter works just enough to fund his obsession, for which he has laid out specific rules: He stops only in Starbucks that the company owns—eliminating the more than 3,000 licensed spots in places like airports and grocery stores—and he has to drink caffeinated coffee in each. In the seven years that the 32-year-old has been on his quest, he's been to 4,122 stores in North America (including some that have since closed), 114 in Britain, and 53 in Japan. Starbucks operates 4,025 stores in the U.S. and 846 internationally. So Winter is doing pretty well. Except for this one problem: The company opens an average of 10.2 new, company-operated Starbucks a week around the world and has no plans to slow down.
John "Winter" Smith needs the kind of friend that can talk you out of something.
You know what, let's just skip that pesky election altogether.
U.S. counterterrorism officials are looking at an emergency proposal on the legal steps needed to postpone the November presidential election in case of an attack by al Qaeda, Newsweek reported on Sunday. The magazine cited unnamed sources who told it that the Department of Homeland Security asked the Justice Department last week to review what legal steps would be needed to delay the election if an attack occurred on the day before or the day of the election.

The department was asked to review a letter to [Tom] Ridge from DeForest Soaries, who is the chairman of the new U.S. Election Assistance Commission, the magazine said. In his letter, Soaries pointed out that while New York's Board of Elections suspended primary elections in New York on the day of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, "the federal government has no agency that has the statutory authority to cancel and reschedule a federal election."

Soaries wants Ridge to ask Congress to pass legislation giving the government such power, Newsweek reported.
If this becomes anything more than a contingency plan it is probably not a good idea. But if it does become more, we're dealing with larger and more immediate issues. Hopefully any federal law allowing for such a thing would be very specific about the delays involved.


What a day! OK, for most people it was probably close to the activity level of a normal day, but for me, there was a lot to do.

Skipping the mundane stuff in the morning I: killed a few minutes at the flea market; found a grave from a man buried in the 1820s who fought in the Revolutionary War; helped a friend from work inherit some new furniture (I apparently earned some red velvet cake for that); got picked on by a college buddy on the phone and then helped another co-worker move into an apartment (where I earned pizza from Davenport's. Yum!) and had a long conversation about politics, life and being a military brat.

Before I do anything else I need to eat my Wheaties.


If you have a coworker or friend who is breathlessly telling you all the latest goodness that is Michael Moore -- and if a sound thrashing isn't an option at your place of business -- read the rest of this screed by the always excellent James Lileks:
Believing in Bush’s perfidy gives some people the same comfort and emotional nourishment others get from believing in Jesus. It validates them, cements their view of the world – venal, conspiratorial, run by capering chimps who are somehow ten times less intelligent than Usenet posters but somehow able to yank strings on a global scale. A commenter on a Fark thread called Bush “The Unelected Murder Monkey,” for heaven’s sake. Not all the opponents are unhinged, of course. Of course. There are many levels of opposition, from the serene and reasonable to the char-broiled nutburgers who haunt the comments sections of my favorite blogs. Or my favorite talk shows. Today I heard a caller describe how “Fahrenheit 9/11” affected him; now he believed that the Bush administration attacked the Taliban and Iraq because the Saudis wanted it. The host pointed out that the Saudis didn’t want it. The caller said “well, that’s your opinion.” Movies are facts, you see. Facts are just opinions.
This is the dangerous part of anyone partisan enough to put out an effort like Farenheit 9/11 -- and you'll see more efforts like this in the future from both sides of the political aisle. The good people plunk down their $7.50 and absorb everything they see on that big beautiful screen as the gospel. Does Moore have his points? Yes. Is he playing fast and loose with the facts ... Lileks shows you he is.


Here's more to think about in the ongoing stem cell debate.

The Huntsville Times reports of a Tennessee man who's looking to his child to help save his life.
The couple is hoping that what the doctors can't do now with insulin and other medications, little Peyton has done: Help make the substance that can actually cure the condition.

The process is still experimental - one reason the Hargraves will wait a couple of years before finding scientists to help them. But researchers are developing a process to take the stem cells extracted from the blood left over in the placenta and umbilical cord that brought Peyton into the world and inject them into a diabetic's damaged pancreas where they can create healthy, insulin-producing cells.
The Times also has a story of beating back lupus thanks to stem cells.
Oncologists Richard Burt and Ann Traynor worked with a treatment that chemically kills a patient's own immune system, then they harvest the patient's own stem cells. Stem cells are amazing building blocks the body makes that can become tissue in several organs. With the patient further chemically depleted of the natural immune system, the washed and screened cells are re-injected into the patient.

Once the researchers were approved for their third group of 10 patients in 2002, (Gay) Parsley had battled to get her daughters' names onto the list ... Pam, who had her transplant in November 2002, just months after Heather's transplant, thought the procedure wouldn't do much good ... But the transplants worked.

"I felt different almost instantly," Heather said.
And finally here's one paragraph -- the part that needs to be said over and over in the debate -- from an excellent piece Newsweek ran recently, profiling Nancy Reagan's new fight. You can find the full story here.
Political support for embryonic-stem-cell research—galvanized by testimony from scientists and the heart-wrenching stories of sick Americans pleading for cures—has come from surprising quarters. Rep. Duke Cunningham, a pro-life Republican from California, says he is haunted by a child who told him, "Congressman, you're the only person who can save my life." He signed on after a scientist explained that IVF clinics house thousands of frozen embryos, from which stem cells are derived, and that many are destined to be discarded. "My own personal belief is that I'm actually saving life from something that is not going to be life," he says. Sen. Orrin Hatch, a Mormon from Utah who is staunchly pro-life, is an ardent supporter, too. In early 2003 he, Specter and Democratic senators Ted Kennedy, Dianne Feinstein and Tom Harkin introduced a bill that, with strict regulations, would allow so-called therapeutic cloning to create new embryos from which more stem cells could be harvested.
Makes a downside hard to find.


If you cast your vote and no one is there to count it did you vote at all?

Apparently not.

As Scripps Howard reports Alabama was one of 12 states that didn't report how many ballots were cast when certifying 26.3 million votes in the contentious 2000 presidential election. The problem: the lack of reporting makes it impossible to know how many votes were lost because of inaccurate counting machines.

The state isn't in a position to make a complete accounting of ballots cast in the upcoming election.

Secretary of State Nancy Worley said she will ask the Alabama legislature to require counties to count ballots in future elections. "This is the first time this question has been raised to me," Worley said. "I didn't realize we were one of just 12 states that doesn't report this."

Maybe she was too busy driving around in her taxpayer-funded SUV.

"I don't want to pin it to any one detail," (Birmingham City Council President Lee) Loder said of the firing ...

But loaning your car out for crack couldn't have helped.

So Ebb Cox Jr. has now lost his job as the Council's chief security officer, ostensibly for filing a false stolen car report.

No word on whether he'll be removed from his elected position as constable.
Attorney General Troy King is getting proactive, announcing a four-pronged unit aimed at protecting children, the elderly, consumers and welfare fraud.

This new family protection unit won't mean more costs or employees, King says, but will bring more efficient coordination between existing state and local agencies.

King is pledging "that the protection of our families, from our children to our grandparents, will be the cornerstone ... "

That's a fine sentiment and good luck to all those involved. But how many of the current problems are systemic of undermanned, and already overworked, agencies?

How often is DHR besieged with complaints, lawsuits and "What ifs" that center around too few caseworkers and too great a caseload?

King himself points out that a federal audit shows that abuse reports in nursing homes are not investigated as quickly and completely as they should be. The report said there were 311 complaints from 141 nursing facilities in 2002, but only 131 had been investigated and closed at the audit's conclusion. The state health department found themselves blaming backlogs. (Click here or here for more.) Is there a ready-made remedy already in place that hasn't been put to use?

And what happens when the state comes through with another round of budget cuts?
Many Alabama hospitals, and several counterparts in Louisiana and Mississippi are suing the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for more than $261 million in back Medicare payments.

At issue is what the 97 hospitals claim to be an incorrect formula that generates the rates to be paid out. The hospitals say the the labor cost calculation based on "irrelevant geographical boundaries" has been harming them for years, though their suit can only go back to 2002.

Congressman Artur Davis (D-Birmingham) says, "The fact that our hospitals are exploring litigation underscores that the relief provided in last year's Medicare bill is insufficient and is only a Band-Aid for the crisis that threatens many hospitals."
When you have problems with your kids, just remember, it could be worse.

"The terrible twos aren't coming," Diamond Harris said last week, "They're here."

The Harris sextuplets are celebrating their second birthday today.


A late-night letter to my sister.

Don't feel too bad; my day was pretty quiet too. I'd been reading, tried to go to sleep but the fireworks people aren't cooperating. Fireworks aren't as much fun if you aren't setting them off. I always forget that until the New Year's or Fourth that I am not doing it.

I started a new book tonight. So now I've got three going at one time. This new book is by (and about) this writing professor from the University of Vermont. In 1973 he came to the States from England and hitchhiked the country. In 1998, fearing middle age and a whole bunch of other stuff you don't know about yet, he decided to do it again. This book is about that second trip. Pretty interesting so far. I like travelogues. If I can't do it myself -- not that I want to hitchike -- at least I can read about the adventure. He's a writing professor and the words he uses, and how he uses them, are just as exciting to me (a word nerd) as his real stories.

I'm also reading a book about a woman in England who's sister died. It is covering the year after her death and how she copes. I picked that book up because the part I glanced at in the bookstore seemed hopeful and optimistic. So far it is sad and a kind of desperate weird. She did lose her sister after all.

And the third book, my 'car book' (that I take places and read if I am early, eating, broken down or what not) is a book telling of how they teach us American history wrong. It is by a professor, also from somewhere in Vermont, and is a somewhat academic book. You know how I am about history, so it is right up my alley, even if the ideas in it are weighty and high-falluting.

Well, I'm going to try and go back to sleep again. The fireworkers seem to be reloading. Maybe I can snooze in the meantime.


Good gracious indeed.

From the Baldwin Register (an insert of the Mobile Register):

BAY MINETTE -- Turnout in Tuesday's County Commission runoff was so low at the Bay Minette Intermediate School precinct that the number of poll workers doubled voters.

Of the 926 registered voters, two cast ballots. That is not a misprint. That is not a percentage. Two individuals showed up to decide the Republican nomination for a County Commission seat between Wayne Gruenloh and William "Will" McDaniel.

They both picked McDaniel.

"Good gracious alive," Baldwin County Probate Judge Adrian Johns said upon learning the results from that precinct.

The turnout percentage at that polling place works out to 0.22 percent, which elections officials said could well be a record.
Buried in that story is a push on a national level to reform the system to cut down on cost. It is called instant-runoff voting and is used in some countries now, but the description reads a little more challenging than dangling chads and butterfly ballots.
Need crack? Find a security officer. The Birmingham City Council's chief security officer, Ebb Cox Jr., is in hot water. He's being investigated for -- allegedly -- loaning out his city car in exchange for crack cocaine and filing a police report saying the car was stolen.
"Our investigation revealed that the car, in fact, was not stolen," Birmingham auto theft Sgt. D.P. Smith said ...

... Investigators said Cox's car was in disarray. Inside were a large number of civil court subpoenas, as well as a badge and Cox's constable identification card.
Cox is now under several investigations and has been placed on administrative leave.
The Alabama legislature may be going into yet another special session. The Montgomery Advertiser reports:
Gov. Bob Riley said Wednesday he is looking at calling a special session of the Legislature later this year if a state task force can agree on recommendations for controlling rising government health care costs.

"That becomes the foundation" for a special session, Riley said at a news conference.

Then, Riley said, he would "layer on top of that" legislation from the 21-bill government accountability package he tried unsuccessfully to pass in the Legislature's regular session that ended in May.
Few in the legislature seem to want anything to do with a government accountability package. No matter the form, it has met with a resounding thud everytime it has been proposed. Meanwhile, everyone in Montgomery is coming to the realization that reigning in health care costs is a top priority. Resistance to change on accountability issues may bog this whole process down.

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