Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Joseph O. Patton: Interview with an angry drag queen

Author’s note: Perhaps I’ve become rusty in the realm of interviewing subjects, but this was just plain traumatic all around. Nonetheless, here’s my interview with the upstart drag queen (female impersonator) Miss Fallopiana Fontaine Fabrege.

Gary Palmer: Stand up, speak up and step up in 2010

  At the start of each year, people make resolutions or set goals. Here is a suggestion for a resolution for 2010… do something that will make a difference. It is easier than you think and the impact you can have could be greater than you have ever imagined.

  I got this idea from a book entitled “The Butterfly Effect” by Alabama native and international best-selling author Andy Andrews. The book’s name is based on the theory, developed by American mathematician and meteorologist Edward Lorenz, that a butterfly could flap its wings and set molecules of air in motion, which would move other molecules of air that in turn would move other molecules of air. This movement of air molecules causing the movement of other molecules of air would become so great that they would eventually be capable of starting a hurricane on the other side of the planet. This phenomenon was called “the butterfly effect.”

Joseph O. Patton: How some make excuses for criminal behavior

Editor’s note: The original version of this article appeared in the July 2008 edition of the Capital City Free Press

  The current screaming and gnashing of teeth over red light cameras and police checkpoints in Montgomery raise an entirely more pressing issue: When did our collective view on crime shift so drastically that we completely disregard illegal behavior and instead nitpick how someone is busted for such behavior?

  Take the City of Montgomery’s new practice of utilizing red light cameras at major intersections: Despite the fact that there is clear photographic evidence of offenders running red lights - and in the process, breaking the law, being reckless and endangering other motorists and even pedestrians - many citizens of the Capital City inexplicably think it’s a greater issue that the ticket is being issued by a clerk wielding computer software  and reviewing the captured images instead of an actual uniformed officer brandishing a radar gun--the fact that the offenders have broken the law seems entirely irrelevant to the detractors of this new program. Granted, there are a few cases in which the offender is driving a vehicle registered in someone else’s name, but the ticket in such a scenario can easily be appealed… though quite frankly, that’s simply a risk you take whenever you allow someone else to drive your car.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Joseph O. Patton: My letter to Santa

Dear old fat man with the unruly beard who only owns one tacky red and white outfit (which is sorely dated) and whose reindeer disrespectfully leave big ole dooky turds on my roof each December 25th:

  First off, I must inform you that I have been a very good boy this year... more or less… sometimes… okay, a little… and you can’t prove otherwise because those particular court records are sealed. Ergo, I am submitting the following wish list which I trust you will peruse with all due haste and hook me up accordingly:

Renee Lee: Getting out of jury duty

  Last week, I dyed my hair orange - not red, not the subtle hue of a delicate tiger lily bloom, but bright, shiny traffic cone orange. This is actually not an unusual occurrence. I've dyed my hair various less-than-conservative shades on the color wheel, and invariably I have received contrasting responses that have ranged from "Hey, cool!" to genuine concern from those who believe that I am yet another victim of the devil's crack rock.

  This kind of stuff has never bothered me, though. I have come to realize that there are certain individuals who can't handle discrepancies in what they consider to be "normal." I have also come to realize that I am and always will be one of those discrepancies. In fact, I celebrate it, and occasionally I even use it to my advantage.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Senator Steve French and Michael Ciamarra: The Promise of charter schools

  Alabama has a tremendous opportunity to quickly improve the quality of education outcomes in the state. If we want to answer the questions, “What does Alabama have to do to succeed in the next five to ten years?’ and “What do we want our education outcomes to look like in five to ten years?” with bold vision, it is obvious we need to take dramatic actions. Preparing our students for meaningful lives and 21st century challenges cannot be accomplished within the constraints of our current one-size-fits all public school model.

  We must trust the experience in other states, where leading educators have come together to start more challenging schools with a new set of rules focused on success for students versus security for adults. They have done this by creating laws that enable the creation of public charter schools.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Joe Bageant: The Devil and Mr. Obama

Barack promised change -- and sure enough, things changed for the worse...

  Well lookee here! An invite from my limey comrades to recap Barack Obama's first year in office. Well comrades, I can do this thing two ways. I can simply state that the great mocha hope turned out to be a Trojan horse for Wall Street and the Pentagon. Or I can lay in an all-night stock of tequila, limes and reefer and puke up the entire miserable tale like some 5,000-word tequila purged Congolese stomach worm. I have chosen to do the latter.

  As you may know, Obama's public approval ratings are taking a beating. Millions of his former cult members have awakened with a splitting hangover to find their pockets turned inside out and eviction notices on the doors of their 4,000 square foot sub-prime mortgaged cardboard fuck boxes. Many who voted for Obama out of disgust for the Bush regime are now listening to the Republicans again on their car radios as they drive around looking for a suitable place to hide their vehicles from the repo man.

  Don't construe this as support for the GOP. It's just the standard ping-ponging of disappointment and disgust that comes after the honeymoon is over with any administration. Most Americans' party affiliations are the same as they were when Bush was elected. After all, Obama did not get elected on a landslide by any means; he got 51 percent of the vote.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Gary Palmer: Wonder of Christmas transcends war and worry

  Christmas holds different meanings for different people. For most of us, when you get past the stress of shopping and decorating, there is a sense of peace and joy and just plain childlike wonder at Christmas that transcends everything else. And nothing elicits those feelings quite so well as hearing Christmas hymns.

  In fact, at least for a short while, a Christmas hymn stopped a war 95 years ago and restored a sense of humanity and common decency to the combatants on both sides. Known as the Christmas Truce of 1914, on Christmas Eve the stillness of a cold moonlit night was broken by the voices of German soldiers singing “Stille Nacht, Heilige Nacht” from their trenches.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Charles C. Haynes: Hark! The herald angels sing — or maybe not

  ’Twas the nightmare before Christmas late last month for Michael Stratechuk of Maplewood, N.J., when a federal appeals court upheld a local school district policy barring religious music from school events during the holiday season.

  Stratechuk, a parent with two children in the district, filed suit in 2004, arguing that eliminating sacred music from holiday programs discriminates against Christianity in violation of the First Amendment. On Nov. 24, the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed, ruling that public schools are not constitutionally compelled to include religious music.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Gary Palmer: Why I signed the Manhattan Declaration

  On November 20, 2009 a group of nationally known and respected Christian leaders set forth an historic declaration.

  The Manhattan Declaration is a long overdue message from men and women of faith to all those in political power from state and local governments to the federal government and its myriad bureaucracies. The Declaration focuses on three foundational principles of justice and the common good on which the signers will not compromise: the sanctity of human life in all stages and conditions; the dignity of marriage as the conjugal union of husband and wife; and religious liberty and freedom of conscience.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Josh Carples: Religious dogma does not equal morality

  Recently, The Anniston Star ran an article titled “Wheel Power” which examined a service offered by Jacksonville State University to prevent students from driving under the influence of alcohol. Nicknamed the “drunk bus,” a bus travels around campus and the city each Thursday and Friday from 10 p.m. until last call, picking up students and dropping them off.

  The article states, “Since JSU launched the safety route in August, the number of alcohol-related arrests has dropped,” and that in “October 2008, police arrested 18 people for driving drunk, six of whom were students. This October, he said, 12 people were charged with DUI, and only two were students.”

  The line of the article that is alarming is this one: “But to the people who despise it, mainly a local religious group, it’s an excuse to drink, a way of getting a dangerous drug into the hands of students, a waste of money.”

Monday, December 7, 2009

CapCity Exclusive: 10 Questions for Jesus

  Editor's note: This interview was conducted by Josh Carples, Capital City Free Press managing editor.

  Twitter has proven to be a useful tool for many, and a while back, I (@joshcarples) discovered that Jesus himself was now using it (@OfficialJesus). He doesn't use Old English as the New Testament would have you believe, and for a deity (or "magic" as Sarah Silverman would say), he is very down-to-earth.

  We at the Capital City Free Press (follow @TheCCFP and editor/publisher @JosephOPatton) decided that since the decorations are up and the music has been going since right after Halloween, it seems the perfect time to get in touch with Jesus.

  He was kind enough to answer these ten questions. Enjoy.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Gary Palmer: Climate change scandal: Fraud undermines global warming agenda

  For those of us who have had doubts about the so-called scientific consensus supporting global climate change, our skepticism may prove to be well-founded and now well-documented.

  On November 17th a file containing 1,079 emails and approximately 3,500 other files from the Climate Research Unit (CRU) of the University of East Anglia in England was posted on the Internet. These emails and files, which were obtained and posted either by a hacker or a whistleblower inside the CRU, expose what appears to be serious scientific fraud and the attempted cover-up of the manipulation of critical global temperature data which serves as the primary basis for the push for an international policy on climate change.

  For years there has been growing skepticism among highly reputable scientists and experts in statistics about the validity of the climate change science, particularly the computer models on which so many of the global climate change policies depend. There is little question that global climate change occurs; the real question is whether or not climate change is caused by human activity (anthropogenic) or is part of a natural cycle which human activity can do little to significantly influence.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

CapCity Classic: Renee Lee: Retail... why I hate Christmas

  I work in retail, therefore, I hate Christmas. Yes, that's what I said: I HATE CHRISTMAS. People often cluck their tongues and shake their heads in appalled disbelief when I tell them this, and then they often follow up the shaking of their heads with the same response: "I love Christmas because people are nicer to each other."

  Obviously these people do not and have never worked in a grocery store during the holiday season. Wherever these kindler, gentler folk are, they definitely aren't anywhere near my place of employment. Of course, I work at the customer service desk, which on any given day, is over-crowded with pissed off patrons demanding refunds and making general threats in order to get free food. During the holidays, this volatile behavior inevitably increases twofold, only to be compounded by the insane repetition of the Muzak in the background playing the 975th version of "White Christmas."