Nov 14


Back to the Glomerata section, where I share the covers of all of the yearbooks from Auburn, my alma mater. The one I’m showing you here is the 1924 edition. If you click this book’s cover you can see the 1920 Glom.


It was only 94 years ago when this 1920 book was landing in students’ hands for the first time. Teddy Roosevelt was gone. Woodrow Wilson, himself ill, stepped down. World War I was still very much on the top of minds, even as the wartime economic boom evaporated. Treaties, the League of Nations, and non-intervention policies were the big national topics. The year previous there were widespread streaks in meatpacking and steel. Race riots in major cities and anarchist attacks in New York. Warren G. Harding would that fall be elected president. Thomas Kilby, a Tennessee boy, was a railroad agent and successful businessman who had made his living in Anniston. He became mayor, a state legislator and then the lieutenant governor. In 1919 he took the oath as governor of Alabama. The next year he ended the deadly 1920 coal strike. No one ever talks about that. It is easy to see why.

Numismatic trivia: Kilby was put on the Alabama centennial half dollar in 1921, making him the first living person to appear on a U.S. coin.

Across the state, lawmakers and the University of Alabama were playing political games that would cripple Auburn for years. It hampered and highlighted the administration of the university president, Charles C. Thach. He served as president from 1902 until 1919. When he started the university’s only income was from a fertilizer tax. An illuminating oil tax and a barely upheld contribution from the state legislature helped. A little. Also, in the teens:

Not long after the Carnegie Foundation report appeared in print, an employee of the Montgomery Advertiser forwarded to API a draft article President Denny had submitted for publication in that paper. The informant believed the article contained thinly veiled attacks on API. Among other things, Denny wrote that the “choice young men and women” of the state wanted to attend the University of Alabama because it was known throughout the country, not within the “narrow confines” of a single state. He charged that some of the “so-called colleges” had been accepting students without adequate high school preparation. Shortly thereafter, API began to require the standard fourteen units of high school work for unconditional admission. Under President Thach’s calm and cool leadership, Alabama Polytechnic Institute weathered the storm of criticism with dignity.

By the time of the 1915 quadrennial session, API still had not received the $200,000 approved by the legislature in 1911.

And that’s the way it went for Thach. When he stepped down for health reasons at the end of 1919, and died the next year, that state money was apparently still out there, somewhere. It was all just the opening act for what would be a tumultuous decade in the 1920s.

In the fall of 1919 the first Army transcontinental motor convoy, an expedition across America, reached San Francisco. A young unknown lieutenant colonel, Dwight Eisenhower, was a part of the 3,251 mile, 62 days journey. Chicago had its Black Sox scandal. The Spanish flu petered out. Andy Rooney, Jackie Robinson, Pete Seeger and George Wallace were born in 1919. In the first half of 1920 API students heard about the New York Yankees acquiring that guy, Babe Ruth from Boston. Prohibition began. That June, The United States Post Office Department ruled that children could not be sent via parcel post. Apparently that happened, and it is important that you know it. James Doohan and Jack Webb were born in 1920, as was Karol Józef Wojtyła, who you would know as Pope John Paul II.

Anyway, you can walk through all the covers if you start here. For a detailed look at selected volumes, you might enjoy this link. Here is the university’s official collection.

Nov 14

An actual Monday

My first job out of college was traffic reporting. I think I did that four about four months before finally landing in news. One guy there once reported a car fire on the freeway as a carbecue. It sounded clever but I found it mean-spirited. Here was someone having probably one of the worst days of their year, losing who knows what and, for an encore, having to deal with insurance people. Making jokes just seemed like piling on.

I think of that every time I see a car fire, like I saw today.

And then, some time later, I changed lanes, topped a little rise in the road and found myself parked on the interstate. Three lanes going nowhere, for about an hour.

Turns out, just up the road, a dump truck lost its load.

As I told a colleague, even if I’d wanted to make up a reason to not be in the office I wouldn’t have thought of that. Who’s ever heard of a dump truck throwing dirt and gravel all over the pavement as the poor guy is driving from A to B?

In one of those philosophical cases of one-never-knows it is entirely possible, I suppose, that had someone’s car fire not slowed traffic down back there I could have had dirt poured all over my car further up the road. Sitting on top of the overpass and feeling it wave and whomp whomp with traffic coming from the other direction doesn’t seem so bad in comparison.

Rather than worry about a Monday — hey, the guy in the car fire wasn’t hurt and there didn’t seem to be any ambulances at the inadvertent dump site — let’s look at some pictures.

Here’s a mini-essay on tree doughnuts:




More tomorrow, on what will not be a Monday.

Nov 14

Catching up

The post with extra pictures, things that didn’t fit elsewhere or are just looking for a good home. You know the type, and you know the post. On with it, then.

We took a little hike, and I saw this young oak tree:


Sometimes the little things jump out at you. Sometimes you don’t even realize it until you get back home. That was the case with this one, I was shooting color, but now I see the edges:


Should I really be walking on something made by a company called Biltolast?


Only kidding. A small, local company. They’ve got about 80 employees and pedestrian bridges in Alabama, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Oregon, California, Connecticut, all over.

We went to see a play today:


And here’s the cool part, we discussed the show with the editor this evening. How often do you get to do that? I asked questions about the lighting and the sound, the deliberate anachronisms and the symbolism. He may never again tell us when he is directing.

Nov 14

South! Alabama

You can’t get tired of these stories, I won’t let you get tired of these kinds of stories. This one has a cute addition to it. South Alabama’s football team signed a kid, Colby Sawyer, and name dropped Alabama and Auburn.

When you’re out-recruiting the Tide and Tigers, good things happen. As you’ll see in this video, the Jaguars are bowl eligible:

South Alabama is bowl eligible for the first time in just their second year in Division I. Some bowl better pick up this program.

Update: How awesome is this? They named Sawyer player of the week.

Pardon me, I have to go put on my Jags shirt.

Nov 14

Comet: Avoid green beans, eat doughnuts

Back to that comet for 90 seconds. USA Today offers us the chance to hear the spooky-beautiful “sound” the thing makes.

Sure, those are clicks and pops in the magnetic field, amplified for the human ear’s range. But why is it, Mr. Smart Space Guy, that science fiction always has a similar sound to the creatures who are chasing the protagonists?

Isn’t that neat? You just listened to a comet. The 21st century is a pretty amazing place. I’m happy to be here in it with you.

Today’s post is brief because there was class — we discussed aggregation and curation — and then reading a bunch of paper that had to do with a news story and then a flurry of emails about it, the last weighing in at something like 1,500 words, with three footnotes. (Pro tip: When you go back to revise and shorten the email and it just keeps growing, press send and walk away.)

Got home just in time for dinner, so we went out with our friend Sally Ann and had a wonderful Pie Day.

The vegetable of the day was green beans. I mention this because, even if you are a huge supporter of the vegetable of the day concept, there’s no way you can stand by green beans as being worth a mention.

I like green beans, but they hardly win any given day. But if you have a recipe to jazz them up, I’m ready to hear about it.

Adding almond slivers does not constitute jazzing up green beans.

I plan on being asleep before it gets late, so you can see why I’ve so quickly come to the green bean portion of the festivities.

I did not have green beans.

Things to read … because you have to provide nutrition for the brain, too.

This is a fine, worthwhile essay about events taking place at the high school level. There are a few issues on some college campuses, but nowhere near as many and, thankfully, not on ours. At the high school level is where you see the pernicious influence. Still, ever vigilant, First Amendment: In land of the free, why are schools afraid of freedom?:

In one community, for example, school officials ban coverage of student religious clubs while permitting coverage of all other student clubs. But in a very different community, administrators instruct students not to report on LGBT issues because a few parents once complained about a profile of a gay student in the school paper.

Under current law, school officials may review what goes into school publications (though they aren’t required by any law to do so). But they may not turn “prior review” into “prior restraint” with overly broad and vague restrictions on what student reporters may cover.

Unfortunately, many public school administrators are either unfamiliar with the First Amendment or simply ignore it.

It must be serious, the AP is writing about it, Facebook’s privacy update: 5 things to know:

Facebook doesn’t just track what you do on its site. It also collects information about your activities when you’re off Facebook. For example, if you use Facebook to log in to outside websites and mobile apps, the company will receive data about those. It also gets information about your activity on other businesses it owns, such as WhatsApp and Instagram, in accordance with those services’ privacy policies.


Everything is fair game. Facebook explains it best: “We collect the content and other information you provide when you use our Services, including when you sign up for an account, create or share, and message or communicate with others.” Plus, Facebook says it also collects information about how you use Facebook, “such as the types of content you view or engage with or the frequency and duration of your activities.”

This defies excerpting, but it confirms a lot of what you might have read soon after the recent fence jumper, Secret Service Blunders Eased White House Intruder’s Way, Review Says.

I’m trying to imagine my grandparents doing this. Go ahead, give it a shot, Adults Apparently Wanted Underoos So Badly, They’re Already Sold Out.


Last week I was talking with a student and somehow we came to discover the Krispy Kreme Challenge. He’s a sprinter, but now I’m trying to talk him into doing this race — 2.5 miles, a dozen doughnuts and then 2.5 more miles. I’m going to do it in my neighborhood I said, just to see. I found the 2014 times of the race. If I can finish it, I at least won’t be last.

Well. Turns out there’s a Krispy Kreme Challenge in Huntsville, too. The 2-time Krispy Kreme Challenge champion explains how one prepares for 12 doughnuts and 4 miles in 1 hour:

“It’s mostly being in general good shape. There’s two components–running and eating. You can do one or the other, but the skill is to do both. This kind of race is hard to train for.”

This could be a mistake, but I think I might be that kind of guy. This could be a further, more grievous mistake, but next weekend I have a date with the track and a dozen glazed.