Saturday, December 30, 2006

Take aim

Aubrey Thurmond is convinced that by using a dramatic line to close his (her?) letter that everything must be OK.

Actually, I think a complete ban on high-powered rifles is the wrong-headed approach to take for two primary reasons ...

- It's true that some parts of this county are too populated for appropriate hunting with a rifle, however there are still very large patches of land in the community which are suitable for hunting with a rifle;

- A reactionary ban of high-powered rifles in response to the unfortunate shooting of dogs is meaningless to someone who is going to deliberately shoot at dogs anyway.

What we need is a tiered approach to this issue, with certain parts approved for rifle use, others for shotgun use and others for bow-hunting.

Friday, December 29, 2006

The field fills out

With all the attention on who is and who isn't running for president these days, particularly with the announcement from John Edwards that he would again seek the office in 2008, I started to take a look at some of the (possible) candidates out there. And, in doing so, I was reminded that, as of now, I'm still an Obama man.

Case in point ... his remarks at the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Awards Ceremony from this November.

It’s the timidity of politics that’s holding us back right now – the politics of can’t-do and oh-well. An energy crisis that jeopardizes our security and our economy? No magic wand to fix it, we’re told. Thousands of jobs vanishing overseas? It’s actually healthier for the economy that way. Three days late to the worst natural disaster in American history? Brownie, you’re doing a heck of a job.

And of course, if nothing can be done to solve the problems we face, if we have no collective responsibility to look out for one another, then the next logical step is to give everyone one big refund on their government – divvy it up into individual tax breaks, hand ‘em out, and encourage everyone to go buy their own health care, their own retirement plan, their own child care, their own schools, their own roads, their own levees…

We know this as the Ownership Society. But in our past there has been another term for it – Social Darwinism – every man or women for him or herself. It allows us to say to those whose health care or tuition may rise faster than they can afford – tough luck. It allows us to say to the child who was born into poverty – pull yourself up by your bootstraps. It let’s us say to the workers who lose their job when the factory shuts down – you’re on your own.

But there is a problem. It won’t work. It ignores our history. Yes, our greatness as a nation has depended on individual initiative, on a belief in the free market. But it has also depended on our sense of mutual regard for each other, the idea that everybody has a stake in the country, that we’re all in it together and everybody’s got a shot at opportunity.

Left out to dry?

I don't necessarily have anything against this, particularly if it means we can improve safety at those intersections. However, from what I understand, this also has the potential to punish individuals who cross through the intersection - either from Alps Road or by turning left from West Broad Street onto Hawthorne Avene - and get stuck in the intersection.

The majority of the time, these vehicles are stuck not because of their own doing, but because of unseen actions further down Hawthorne such as a stop light two or three blocks down or a bus stopping to pick up a passenger. The stop light problem is one I've noticed as of late, particularly because it seems those lights are not at all in sync with the one at the intersection. I mentioned this before, but I think you can relieve a good portion of the traffic woes in this community by simply taking a look at trying to better sync our traffic lights.

Big overture, little show

Typically, I've come to notice that when you engage in debates and/or arguments with individuals over certain issues, if your opposition begins to resort to personal attacks and/or deliberately misleading perceptions of your original argument ... it means they've already lost and have nothing left worth contributing to the conversation.

Case in point ... J. Paul Clark's letter to the editor which was written in response to my response to his earlier letter.

Let's see ... personal attacks?

The writer of the Dec. 18 letter is apparently like many who claim the name "Christian," who usually interpret and/or misquote the Bible to suit their agenda. Fact is, most people claiming to be Christian have never read more than 50 pages of the Bible, attend church maybe five times a year, and barely 3 percent of that group actually tithe with a church. These are actual statistics from the Association of Religion Data Archives.

How about deliberately misleading perceptions?

Early Christian activities were more in line with the commune concept of "to each according to his needs." Lenin used that same phrase to outline his concept of government.

According to Clark, anyone who disagrees with his narrow theological and ideological views is a hypocritical socialist. Wow. That's awesome.

But his own counterargument is confusing at best, terribly ineffective at worst.

He couches his argument based on the theory that publically funding social services via tax money is ultimately stealing from the rich and giving to the poor. That's an argument I don't agree with, but one that could be effectively made if actually done so in a logical way (and Xon has worked to do that at times).

However, after setting up this Robin Hood argument, he completely retreats from it by saying ...

If it can be determined that the will of the majority of the American people is to further social causes for the poor and uneducated, then our democratic representatives should follow the dictates of that majority. Our governmental representatives should never arbitrarily set themselves up as some sort of modern-day Robin Hood simply because they can identify a need in the community.

OK, either it's robbery in your book or it isn't. First off, it's a false choice to compare an individual stealing jackets from a department store and then heading off to the poorer districts of our community, tossing them from the back of a pick-up truck like manna from Heaven, to a democratically elected body of representatives passing laws regarding taxation and spending policies.

Second, Clark even concedes that if the majority of Americans support employing these tactics, then by all means go ahead and do so ... just don't have Congress act 'arbitrarily' in doing it. As long as the people want it, then it's permittable.

Which, I think it should be noted, was exactly my point that he wasted seven paragraphs disputing ... that our democratic system of government acts as a community which passes policies and laws to benefit the nation as desired by the people.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Just watched

I've seen an unusually high amount of movies thus far on my Christmas break, so I figured I'd run down what I thought of those recently viewed movies ...

Inside Man - A little long and, at times, insanely boring. The opening sequence was good, as was the final scene ... but, on the whole, it was rather anticlimatic. I'm a big Denzel Washington fan, but this ain't his best work.

Talledega Nights: The Legend of Ricky Bobby - Awesome on levels unbeknownst to mankind. I thought Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgandy was the funniest movie I had seen, but Will Ferrell doesn't disappoint. The entire dinner scene is one of the funniest things I've even seen in a movie. Awesome. Absolutely awesome.

Alfie - Let's see an unlikeable main character who proceeds to ruin the lives of countless beautiful women ... we'll just leave this by saying it was the only thing on that night.

The Family Stone - Nowhere remotely near the lighthearted comedy The Wife and I thought it would be, but nonetheless a good film.

Walk The Line - One of the best movies I've ever seen. It's beautifully acted, beautifully shot and beautifully written. Plus, it's got an awesome soundtrack and is the first film that made me think Reese Witherspoon was more than just moderately attractive.

On tap ... An Inconvenient Truth, Little Miss Sunshine and The Sentinel.

The generous bounty

What did I get for Christmas? Here's a sampling ...

The White House Looks South: Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman and Lyndon B. Johnson by William Leuchtenberg - I'm almost 100 pages into it, and it's been a fantastic read so far. It analyzes the role these presidents took to empower the South politically and takes a close look at the relationship between the region and those three leaders. I'm still working through the passage on FDR, and it's interesting to see how much of the New Deal stems from his experiences in Warm Springs.

State of Denial: Bush At War III by Bob Woodward - I flipped through this earlier this year, and it's pretty good. I'd been meaning to read Woodward's first two books on the War on Terror, but hadn't gotten the chance to.

Le Creuset 14-inch oval stoneware dish - I like to cook, and anything to assist in that process is much appreciated.

Winchester 3-inch serated wood inlay pocket knife - Well, I just kinda felt that I needed to get a pocket knife since I always seemed to need one whether I was fishing or trying to open a box at work.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Kinda missing the point

I've grown increasingly frustrated with a majority of national, left-leaning blogs (save for ones like Matthew Yglesias) - not so much because of significant ideological differences, but rather because I've grown to disagree with some of their ideas when it comes to political strategy or with their self-inflated sense of importance. All too often, I fear, they merely adopt the tactics and practices of the opposition, only with different ideological stripes, and I think our level of public discourse is worse off because of that.

Consider this post at MyDD discussing the sudden regionalization of the Republican Party. I think it makes some pretty good points, but then it tosses in an unnecessary, and patently false, line like this ...

America's military limits have been revealed, and Americans are ready to try wisdom again.

Perhaps it's simply poorly worded, but I don't think one aspect about the War in Iraq has revealed anything about this country's military limits. In fact, it's revealed exactly the opposite. In less than 30 days with fewer troops our military, almost acting entirely alone, conquered a hostile regime.

What it has revealed instead is a lack of leadership, direction or planning from our current administration which has ultimately handicapped our military, thus hindering the process to properly secure and rebuild that nation.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Couple of things

- As noted yesterday, Partners for a Prosperous Athens released 150 recommendations to combat poverty in Athens-Clarke County. In the next few months, a steering committee will help whittle this list down into more concise and specific goals (for instance, the organic farming option might just not be picked up). There are some good ideas there, particularly regarding ideas to encourage entrepreneurship in this area. I got through about a fourth of it last night and will read up a little more.

- Wow. The kids in Fort Valley sure know how to have a good time ... 'hey, let's get all liquored up and attack Hairy Dog at the Georgia-Jacksonville basketball game.' What a bunch of morons.

- This is a pretty good piece by Jeffrey Whitfield on the Greene County charter school fiasco. From what I can gather from the situation, is that this charter school won't hold up to the scrutiny. If it gives preference to students who live within a specific geographical area, then it would appear to have set up some sort of admission policy ... at least loosely. I suppose my thing is why don't these folks set up their own private school? The intent is clearly two-fold - to avoid having to send their children to school with the poorer children in town and to establish a school where they can control who attends it and what is taught there. It definitely isn't like these folks don't have the money to set up something like a privately funded Lake Oconee Academy for White Kids or anything.

- Regarding this, I've got to say that I don't necessarily see Thomas Hinson being that much at fault. If the kid was violating the law - and walking down the middle of a busy two-way street is a violation of the law - then it would seem appropriate to inform them of this. Whether or not they deserve to be cited is another thing, but is something that should be left up solely to the responding officer. Now, as far as the use of pepper spray, we don't know much about that and that appears to more the fault of C.D. Moody, and not Hinson. The latter gave a legitimate request, and it seems odd to me that he is punished, while Moody never was.

- How convenient! I wonder if this academic probation is anything similar to the concussion he suffered after shoving a Georgia trainer during his freshman season. Is it wrong that I'm taking so much joy in the fact it's impossible for him to redeem himself now?

The giving season

Originally, I had intended to break down a charity every other day or so, but I've been kinda busy and that sorta thing takes time. So, rather than do that, I'll just list some charities and non-profits The Wife and I have supported in the past and encourage you to take a look at them if you're interested in making a donation this Christmas season.

Carolina for Kiberia - A multi-pronged effort to assist the citizens of the Kenyan slum of Kiberia.

Family Promise - The parent organization of the Interfaith Hospitality Network. IHN of Athens is a coalition of area churches and other faith groups which have banded together to assist homeless families in crisis situations, and help them find sustainable independence. If you'd like to contribute to IHN of Athens, then email its offices.

The Northeast Georgia Food Bank - Works toward ending hunger as part of an overall community effort to alleviate poverty in our community.

Action Aid - Helps supply the needed training and materials to impoverished communities across the world.

Coming in 2010?

Yesterday after I was asked about whether or not Miami Vice was a good movie (to which I had no answer), I plugged the possibility of an Airwolf movie. Thanks to YouTube, I've been able to uncover the opening to what was one of the most awesome helicopter-driven, Jan Michael Vincent vehicles in the past 25 years.

(As an aside ... there are a lot of Airwolf clips out there.)

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

PPA recommendations

The first round of recommendations from Partners for a Prosperous Athens are up at its web site. I'll scroll through 'em and see what sounds good.

Off the bat, they've got some good ideas for partnering with neighboring counties to actively recruit businesses to area.

Couple of things

- They've got some problems down in Greene County, and if there ever was a place in this state where you were bound to see some conflict over the tremendous disparity of wealth - and it's huge down there - this is it. For what it's worth, it does sound like the board needs to trim its spending, and typically I always think things like charter schools are great ideas. But, regarding the latter, someone isn't telling the truth. Either this new school will exclude folks from across the country from application and admission or it doesn't.

- Uh, well, sure. But aren't they all?

- Is it wrong that when I saw who penned this letter, the first thing I thought of was this.

- I pose an honest sports-related question.

- Though I don't necessarily agree with the comparison, I agree with them about the central argument - that it's not right, and getting pretty tiresome, that we've got the folks in Atlanta now micromanaging every single local issue out there. Our property taxes are kinda high, sure, but I don't think this is the best solution to the problem.

- Just as a heads-up, I've got two responses I know I owe folks, and I promise I'll get around to 'em.

- Let me tell you what the hell is wrong with Bill Shipp ... the old man has absolutely lost it. It isn't so much the arguments he's put forth in this recent column - as I agree with some, but disagree with more - but rather that as of late he's taking to becoming, for lack of a better way to describe it, nothing but a bitter, mean old fella. For absolutely no reason at all, he's taken to attacking high school and collegiate athletes, the University of Georgia football program, young people, folks who don't look like him and the like.

- You know, I don't think we've got a rampant drug use problem among our teachers in the Clarke County School System so it's unfortunate some folks may make that unnecessary conclusion from this whole thing, but I've never really had a problem with random drug testing. I had to undergone a couple of random drug screens back when I worked at the newspaper and, considering I don't use drugs, I had nothing to worry about. I know that's a rather simplistic argument to make, but I think it's also a rather simplistic issue.

An honest question (eventually)

Last night, I joined Stanicek and a buddy of his for a drink at Wow! to watch the Poinsetta Bowl (thank you TCU for garnering me 32 points in my bowl pool right off the bat). As expected, with that many TVs on around us and that many sporting events on the air, our discussion turned to sports.

The buddy and I disagreed on a variety of things - and it must be pointed out that I found it amazing that he was, in one fell swoop, a Yankees fan, a Duke basketball fan, an Indiana basketball fan and a Michigan football fan ... I was dying to know if he somewhere harbored a secret love for the Lakers as well - most namely over whether or not Florida belonged in the BCS Championship Game.

Obviously, he opted for Michigan, relying on the somewhat tired, but always reliable argument of 'well everyone knows they're the second-best team.' And I, as I have before, argued the Gators were the more deserving team.

So we debated why each other felt their pick was the most deserving. My argument, as in the past, relied on the Gators' strength of schedule and the quality of the opponents they have defeated, contrasted with the Wolverines'.

His relied, primarily, on his belief that Michigan was simply 'better' because he had seen both teams on TV and was more impressed by the Wolverines than the Gators. This is where I had some issues with his argument - namely that on one hand he decried the human voters for allowing personal opinion and 'politics' (which I freely admit played a significant role in this), but then the almost-sole justification for his argument was his own personal opinion (including the use of the phrase 'I don't care about strength of schedule or statistics or all of that ...').

But that's not even what I'm here to talk about ... the real thing is an open-ended question to the public:

What is a 'worse' scenario for a fan of a team?

During a 25-year stretch, your team is in contention for the playoffs or a good bowl 75 percent of the time, including a national title or world title, say, four or five times, but happens to lose in a spectacularly disappointing fashion?

Or during a 25-year stretch, your team is never in contention and is stuck in the middle or bottom of the pack year after year with no hope of getting better?

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Couple of things

- Ha! This is in 'response' to my letter to the editor. Well-played Tom Montgomery ... well-played indeed.

- I don't necessarily think the things Jeffrey Moss lists in his letter as 'offensive' are actually either happening or could be considered 'offensive.' For instance, I don't think undocumented workers are 'offended' by employers asking for proof of citizenship. Rather I think they're, you know, honestly scared about being deported.

- A nice piece on fundraising at the ole musee, so kudos to you Ms. Quigley.

- Hillary and I had a nice chat yesterday regarding Chris Hassiotis's letter to the editor regarding the 'sunny' economic outlook in Athens-Clarke County. We disagreed, but not really. That is to say that we both agree that we need to create jobs that offer higher-paying and competitive wages in this community, but I'm not so quick to say the creation of lower-paying wage jobs is that bad. I suppose my point is two-fold - 1. That some folks have the opportunity to gain some type of income, however small it may be and 2. The expansion of the service industry, which typically offers these lower-wages, to me at least, seems to be one step in a series of steps toward attracting those higher-paying wage jobs. Of course, the other reason we see things like the service industry expand rather than, say, the biomedical field or the manufacturing field, is because we do have a large portion of the population living in poverty that don't have the necessary skills to match those jobs. Getting them the necessary training is another step in this process.

Holiday gifts

It's always good when you can think of a pretty clever gift for a white elephant exchange at a Christmas party you're going to. It's even better when the gift is the following picture stuck in a magnet frame ... and received by The Realist.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Unleash the oddity

So, Hillary wants me to reveal six weird things, to which I say ... only six?

1. When I was a child, my elementary school would do the 'Star Student of the Week' in which one student from each class got to be profiled and featured outside the door. You got to fill out a questionnaire, and one of the questions was 'What do you want to be when you grow up?' All of the kids wanted to be a football player or a fireman or something of the like. Me? I wrote down that I wanted to be a hardware man since my dad, at the time, ran a hardware store.

2. I have a set way I brush my teeth, which includes a rinsing process that I've done almost every day since I was in middle school. It's not OCD or anything since I do, on occasion, not follow said routine. But it's a habit, which is mighty odd.

3. In all honesty ... I really don't care about Major League Baseball. I love the Red Sox, and I want the Braves to do well, but outside of that, I'm rather indifferent.

4. I used to struggle with a stutter when I was a kid, but have been able to put it behind me through lots of hard work. Only one word continues to hinder me. That word? McGinty. My last name. Interesting, no?

5. I don't sneeze just once or twice. About 27 times in a row is more like it.

6. I hated the Lord of the Rings trilogy, which blows the minds of most of my friends. I found them too long, too preachy, too full of cheesy acting and way too full of overly dramatic dialogue. Yet, I have always found Red Dawn to be one of the best movies I've ever seen.

OK ... now let's tag Xon, Russ and Pasqua and Stanicek.

Couple of things

- Like a lot of other folks, I had a letter to the editor printed, and I put together an easy roundup.

- Our incredibly knowledgable anonymous poster has responded to my latest thoughts on Prince Avenue, and I intend to put together some additional points and questions later in the day (hopefully).

- The Athens Banner-Herald editorial staff works to get folks involved, and I agree.

- Bloomfield is concerned over parking, and I don't blame 'em. Those are some narrow streets and when they get clogged with cars, it gets pretty tricky to try and navigate over there. The University of Georgia needs to try to find some additional parking for its students, but I'm not entirely sure where the best place is for that.

- Hillary just tagged me for some sort of meme, and I'll work on that in a bit.

For the holiday

Because this has us laughing in the office pretty hard last week, I figure I'd share it with everyone else.

There's a pattern here ...

It's a blogger-tastic day in the Athens Banner-Herald as Flagpole writer and frequent blogger Chris Hassiotis discusses improving the quality of jobs, regular contributor Robert Mabry breaks through some of the myths perpetuated in an earlier letter while last, but certainly not least, yours truly offers a rebuttal to a recent letter by J. Paul Clark.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

It's official ...

... Bill Shipp needs to hang it up because he's completely lost it. Barack Obama doesn't have a chance? Really?

Listen, I'm perfectly willing to listen to reasonable explanations why Obama might need to wait a few years to run for president (for what it's worth, I disagree with that assessment), but simply saying that he's not channelling Sam Nunn is flat-out absurd.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

More on Prince Avenue

I'm in the midst of a pretty interesting conversation with an anonymous poster regarding three-laning Prince Avenue (by the way, feel free to email me and let me know who you are without fear of my revealing your secret identity), and I felt my response to his latest post might be of some interest.

So please check out the comments first, and then read below ...

Good points again, though I do think we have some fundamental disagreements despite sharing some concern over shared causes (i.e. appropriate bicycle lanes, pedestrian safety, etc.).

For example you say that 'people' are one of the three primary users of 'streets' and I take that to mean 'pedestrians' (please forgive me and correct me if I'm wrong), and there is one disagreement. To my understanding, it is only lawful for pedestrians to be using the streets when they are in a recognized crosswalk. When they are not, they are in violation of the law. As a result, when I view how best to structure our roads, I want to find ways to develop safe crosswalks and traffic-calming measures around the pedestrian-heavy areas to ensure their safety. However, I would disagree in sacrificing additional highway space for the primary user of said road, the automobile, for the pedestrian if both of my goals can be achieved.

And I think that may be the crux of our disagreement - that I think we need to give more consideration to the primary users of our streets and roads, which are automobiles. Please don't misunderstand me as this isn't to say I don't rank bicycle safety or pedestrian safety highly on my list, but I also think the number of pedestrians/cyclists are considerably lower than the number of automobile drivers on any given day in Athens-Clarke County.

So the question is how to we provide better for the majority (the drivers) while offering appropriate safeguards for the minority (pedestrians/cyclists)?

I think much of the debate regarding increased protection for cyclists and pedestrians is to automatically three-lane the road and set up bicycle lanes along the side or for its opponents to cast a blind eye to the needs of that particularly community and be content with having cars race down a four-lane highway with no regard.

I like to think there are other alternatives to just that tired debate I laid out above. As a result, I've tried to offer one and it may be imperfect, but it's gotten us talking hasn't it?

Our community, within the next 40 to 50 years, is going to potentially double, possibly triple, in population. These people are going to put more cars on our roads, and I think it's imperative that we devise a long-term plan that can accommodate that additional number of vehicles and preserve the safety of our cyclists and pedestrians.

With regard to some of your specific questions/points - I would estimate that about 95 percent of my experience along Prince Avenue is driving, with the other five percent coming as a pedestrian (after driving to a set location in the area). I think I admitted that my perception of the area are heavily colored by my usage of it, which is predominantly behind the wheel of my 1998 Honda Accord.

Regarding Hawthorne, we have some disagreements. We share the belief the road should remain three-lanes (I assume), but I do so primarily because it's not a wide enough road to offer adequate space for four lanes. When I view that corridor, my biggest complaint is that it is a traffic nightmare (one which could probably be remedied somewhat by better synchronizing our traffic lights), and not your concern which is the width of the existing bike lanes.

Regarding the parking spots, I see you're not entirely opposed to my suggestion, but have concerns over how wide the road is. I actually meant to get an estimate last night during my drive home, but it seems to me it's wider-than-average from just past Athens Regional Medical Center down toward Milledge Avenue. The most difficult area to accommodate what I had proposed would be down by The Grit and the Bottleworks, which, admittedly, is the most traffic-heavy area.

Speaking to one thing specifically, I'm assuming your problem with the crosswalks stems from the ones you criticize, which are the ones with the signs in the middle of the road. Can I ask an honest, and possibly somewhat naive question ... why couldn't pedestrians travel down a half a block to the stoplight and use the crosswalk there? There, they would have the protection of the traffic light rather than trying to dart through traffic.

Regarding my last paragraph, it wasn't my intention to hit a nerve, and I may have worded that inappropriately. Please believe me that I try very much to be a 'big-picture' kind of guy and all of those things you list - responsible urban planning, social justice, etc. - are the types of things we must consider in the decisions we make. So I don't think that particular point has the meaning you thought it had.

My point was that, from my experiences as a driver on that road, I feel that shifting from four- to three-lanes would be detrimental for the commuters of that street in terms of traffic congestion and wait time ... as well as the very real concern that drivers might be tempted to hop into the existing neighborhoods to get around the traffic.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Music for the Moment (Holiday Edition)

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Couple of things

- OK, Ken Rosenthal told me not to worry, and it turns out he was right. The kicker about the Matsuzaka deal is that he still signed for considerably less (roughly $$8.5 million per year) than what Scott Boras was pushing ($15 to $16 million per year). Rumor is now the Red Sox may attempt to move Josh Beckett for a closer, which may or may not be a good thing ... though it does mean they've lost confidence in Craig Hansen.

- But, wait ... I thought the argument was that our local government was hindering our economic growth?

- Pasqua think Mark McGwire shouldn't be in the Hall of Fame, and don't get me wrong, I'm not a fan. But, see, it's impossible to ignore what they did on the field, particularly in light of the fact that, apparently, the majority of the top players in the game in the 1990s were using the same performance-enhancing drugs. If there were no official rules to regulate these things during this era, how can you effectively fault someone for breaking something only in hindsight?

- With regard to the vaccine plant, this kinda thing is huge. Providing the proper training opportunities for our local population is one of the best ways to lure those businesses to this community.

- When you read this story, and then view it in the weird context from this column ... then you start to wonder about the whole state of Arkansas football Particularly when you read Orson's post, complete with comments from the readers.

- Just for the record, I ain't crazy about any elections for judges, but definitely not partisan ones. However, it's moving that way anyway since some candidates openly flaunt their political affiliations. While it's perfectly acceptable to allow one's ideology to affect your views of the legal system, I think it's a whole other ballgame when you start saying 'I'm with X Party' because that means you might be more beholden to party leadership and loyalty rather than honest ideological leanings.

- I got some good comments regarding three-laning Prince Avenue, and I attempted to build on my original post some more in the comments.

- Joe Johnson looks at hunting in Athens-Clarke County in light of the shooting of the dog on the eastside. I've been meaning to write more about this, but I need to brush up on some of state and local zonings and regulations regarding hunting. Still, it's a good piece.

- Hello, my name is Howard Guest III, and I like making absurd generalizations which miserably fail in the light of public scrutiny.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Couple of things

- In what I think is a pretty good move, Jane Kidd is seeking the position of chairperson of the Georgia Democratic Party. Much of this is inside baseball, but since she's a hometown girl, good for her. Considering how ineffective the party has been under Bobby Kahn's leadership, I think this is a good change.

- Just note ... headline reads 'Phyllis Diller full of laughs at 89' ... it's funny to me for some reason.

- Considering I'm more of a 'ends' guy rather than 'means' guy, I want to see our educational system improve just like anyone, but I agree with the Athens Banner-Herald editorial staff on this one. Sticking a voucher system in a costume and calling it something else doesn't change what it is ... a voucher system. I've got plenty of reasons why I don't think such a system would do anything to make the current state of education in the state better, but I'm particularly bothered by the PR move to simply change the packaging to make the package appear to be better.

- Here's some clarification on my part regarding three-laning Prince Avenue.

- I talked about this before, but I think something really positive came come from the challenge to the ban on patio smoking. The law, as currently written, is terribly confusing and the outcome of this, regardless of what it is, can go a long way in giving law enforcement officials a better idea of how to do their job. What do I think? Well, I think if you're not inside the building, you oughta be able to smoke.

- In light of the Christmas season, I take my first look at a worthy non-profit - Carolina for Kiberia.

- Russ acknowledges that he's getting old ... and the fact it came at a Deftones concert makes it funnier to me.

Charity spotlight

We're roughly 12 days out of Christmas, so now is as good as a time of any to start promoting some of the very worthy organizations in the community and across the world which do good work and deserve your support.

The first one is Carolina for Kiberia, which has long held a special place in my heart. I first became aware of this organization through the video for World on Fire by Sarah McLachlan (which, quite honestly, is where I discovered a good number of the global non-profits The Wife and I support).

Kiberia is considered to be the largest slum in East Africa, with more than 600,000 people living in an area the size of Central Park. It's a diverse area with five of Kenya's six largest ethnic groups living there, as well as several groups of refugees fleeing unrest in neighboring countries.

There are few, if any, basic services provided to this area. As a result, through an outreach of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Carolina for Kiberia is a non-profit organization which works to help supply some of these services. The group has established a permanent presence in the area and set up a medical center, a sports association and an organization to help the residents find sustainable independence, among other things.

To make a donation, please click here.

A three-laning clarification

If you read my objections to three-laning Prince Avenue a day or so ago, you might think that I'm an anti-three-laning fella, which isn't the case.

I think the three-laning of Lumpkin Street has been very successful, and, though it generates considerably more traffic, the three-laning of Hawthorne Avenue isn't something I'd like to see undone in the immediate future. Why? Because those roads were incredibly narrow to start with and, particularly Lumpkin, feature large volumes of heavy foot traffic.

I don't think that's the case with Prince Avenue, which offers this community a unique opportunity. It's true there is a strong presence of pedestrians, namely down toward the Bottleworks end of things, but it's also true this is one of the wider roads in Athens-Clarke County. Coupled with the impending move of Prince Avenue Baptist Church, we've got real chance to create some special along that corridor ... one that preserves the existing lane of traffic for commuters from the westside of town, as well as ones from out-of-county, and/ creates a safe and special district for pedestrians and cyclists.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Couple of things

- OK, now I kinda agree with the Athens Banner-Herald editorial staff ... the lawyers for BYX appear to not realize they, you know, actually won. As a result, they keep pushing for promises that, to my understanding the University of Georgia has already given them.

- Ah Denny my boy ... continuing that freefall into irrelevance.

- Doug McKillip is out in front on this, which means he's being proactive, and I kinda like that. Listen, I support raising the minimum wage, but I don't support a living wage, and I've admitted that before. I also understand and respect most of the arguments against a minimum wage hike, so no real need for its ardent opponents to sweep in here ... however, Rep. Jerry Keen's particular argument is absurd to me. The Republican from St. Simons Island said he didn't support it because it would eliminate part-time jobs for young people. Just so you're clear ... this guy appears to be not so much concerned about overall employment issues resulting from an increase, but rather what directly impacts 16-year-olds rather than, say, single mothers working two jobs to make ends meet.

- You're right Laura, but I don't think an orange vest would have deterred the shooter in this particular case.

- Ken Rosenthal tells me not to worry about Daisuke Matsuzaka. I'll try to take his word on it.

- Apparently the Athens-Clarke County Library has been transformed a brothel according to Keith Johnson.

- I swear, if someone can find me The Mighty Orbots on DVD, I'd buy 'em in a heartbeat. As of now, I'm stuck with short clips from YouTube.

- Blake takes another look at future mayoral races.

Real Work Conversations

Me: Last night, I got sucked into watching some terrible GPTV concert called Celtic Woman.
Hillary: I've seen parts of that. They're playing it, like, all the time now.
Me: It was weird.
Hillary: Really?
Me: Well, take five moderately attractive women who sing something resembling Celtic music and drop them in the middle of a Yanni concert.
Hillary: That sounds about right.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Couple of things

- While E.H. Culpepper lends his efforts to an Atlanta-Athens commuter rail, the guy who beat him in the election learns the ins-and-outs of being a state legislator.

- I think the editorial folks may be overreading this one a bit. I took the 'still pending' comment to mean that BYX was just waiting on the promise to drop religion from the requirements become official in terms of UGA policy, i.e. something in writing and approved by the appropriate folks.

- I wouldn't say three-laning Hawthorne isn't working, but it's definitely led to some traffic nightmares. I'm not ready to say it should become a four-lane road (though I think that's moot for at least a while), but it's definitely worth keeping an eye on. I mean, I drive down this thing every day, and it is probably the worst one in town that isn't connected to the University of Georgia campus (though I do hate the Five Points intersection if you're heading toward downtown on Lumpkin ... the stoplight appears to be favoring the folks on Milledge considerably more than those on Lumpkin).

- Apparently, she couldn't do just one.

- Blake put together a nice piece on the local political scene following the election, and, unlike my friends at Athens Politics, I don't get a weird, power-hungry vibe from Elton Dodson. Though I am a fan of those who won office this past week, and I'm very optimistic about some of the things they're going to be able to do, let me say that I disagree with them on one thing - three-laning Prince Avenue. I think it's a mistake, and I think you can develop a long-term plan which can best preserve the pedestrian-friendly aspects of that area with four lanes ... particularly with the upcoming move of Prince Avenue Baptist Church, which has the potential to free up those parking spots along the road.

- I'm warming to the instant runoff idea.

- Picture time! Here's Disney World, Georgia-Georgia Tech and the runoff election for mayor and commission.

Runoff Election Day

Georgia-Georgia Tech

Disney World

Been a bit slow on my upkeep of random pictures from the past few weeks, so here's some quick catch-up. The Wife and I went to Disney World with my folks, and, yes, it rocked.

Sure we're in Italy.

Ah, the whole family after the most jam-packed day of the whole trip ... three theme parks in 12 hours.

This figures

On one hand, this would save the Red Sox a ton of money, but on the other hand I kinda lean toward paying the ridiculous sum of money to the guy for the chance he pans out and keeping him away from the Yankees.

Though I do know that my utter disdain for Scott Boras continues to grow by second.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

In the movies

Scott, with his actual background in television and video editing, was able to document one of our tailgates ... and it just happened to be that beautiful experience that was defeating Georgia Tech 15-12.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Couple of things

- While I don't disagree with those who voted against the increase in water fees, it's also something which is absolutely essential and has to be done. The increase, while, again, unfortunate, is also minimal compared to other increases and will, in the long-term, provide improved services and benefits to the community.

- It appears we've got a compromise in the BYX case, which is good. I still don't understand why the group simply didn't file to be listed as a campus ministry, which would appear to offer more protections for what they wished to do.

- Favorite Christmas movies anyone?

- Adrian chimes in with a letter on the Lumpkin-Baldwin intersection.

- Somewhere, someone thinks I should be in the Georgia General Assembly.

- This is pretty bad ... and, well, aside from being illegal, is also amazingly dangerous. Even if you're a 'great shot' ... firing at someone walking a dog is inexcusable. Killing the animal is awful enough, but if this moron had accidently hit the person that would be tragically worse.

- South Park is, at times, pretty funny.

Thanks Xon

From City Pages in Flagpole:

... Dyles’ bandmate in The Folk Yous and Big Gray, Courtnie Wolfgang, got one for state House in District 114 along with Bill Elliott, Mickey Mouse, Stephen Colbert, Vince Dooley, former Mayor Doc Eldridge, and local blogger Jonathan McGinty.

Ben told me about this Tuesday night at Heidi Davison's victory party (of which, The Wife and I are pictured, along with Mike Hamby and Dorothy O'Neil, here), and I struggled to think of who could have actually voted for me ... and then I remembered something involving Xon saying he wrote me in.

Deck the halls ...

The boys at Pasqua and Stanicek did their Top Five Christmas Movie list, to which Josh responded (note awesome inclusion of Die Hard).

My list won't vary too much and is probably way too tame.

5. Bad Santa - Actually, I really didn't care for this movie ... but something like Miracle on 34th Street was too cliche.

4. It's A Wonderful Life - OK, fine, forget cliche ... it's a classic people. Plus, Xon used to do an excellent Jimmy Stewart impression.

3. The Family Man - I have an irrational love of this film. Maybe it's the fact that he finds happiness in the smaller things of life ... maybe it's Tea Leoni, who knows.

2. National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation - A close second my friends. Aunt Edna saying 'don't throw me down Clark' kills me every time.

1. A Christmas Story - It drives The Wife nuts, but my father and I insist on watching as much of the '24 Hours of A Christmas Story on a misc. Turner-owned network each Christmas Day.

World of Warcraft

I'm not a regular watcher of this show, but South Park does crack me up from time to time. And thanks to this post from Every Day Should Be Saturday, I was greeted to an episode I had never seen before.

That changed yesterday, thanks to YouTube. The South Park kids and a role-playing fantasy game ... excellent.

Part One

Part Two

Part Three

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Couple of things

- Just because the election is over doesn't mean we don't have stuff to talk about ... as evident by the passing of domestic partner benefits by the Athens-Clarke County Commission last night. Again, this is something I like in principle (offering benefits to committed and dedicated couples), but have concerns about application and cost. While I agree with Elton Dodson that other companies and cities don't have problems in paying for these, I'd also point out that using the example of private business doesn't exactly hold up since increases or decreases in price to cover additional costs aren't binding on the entire population.

- A new Christian fraternity is suing the University of Georgia after the latter denied it a status as a recognized campus organization. The University's problem is that BYX's constitution says it will only permit Christians into the organization. The suit cites several other on-campus religious organizations, such as the Baha'i Fellowship, receiving status despite their religious declaration. However, that doesn't exactly work since the other organizations are open to everyone and don't have language in their constitution which bar the admission of others.

- Where do I come down? On one hand, I have a problem with a Christian organization barring its doors to anyone who isn't a Christian. I believe our doors should be open. This isn't the same as saying you share the beliefs - or even legitimize them - of a person who attends a meeting or two and isn't Christian. On the other hand, I kinda have a problem with any entity - public or private - telling any religious organization what it can and can't do with its own constitution. If this group wants to have a more narrow view of what it wants to do with its constitution, then I think that's not the end of the world.

- Listen, I'm all for finding ways to create safer scenarios for pedestrians ... however a protest that intentionally creates traffic definitely doesn't fall under that category. That intersection is a nightmare, but it's been my personal experience - as a student and Athenian - that the blame is more on the pedestrians than the drivers. Students often brazingly walk into the road with no real regard for oncoming traffic or what color the traffic light is. Just this week, I saw a girl talking on her cell phone cross the street, despite it being a green light with two cars coming on her. They honked, she giggled and followed that by feigning a hurry-up and that was it.

- Comforting news, isn't it? Sounds familiar too ...

- This kid goes to my church ... good for him.

- Apparently, there's a rash of racist language flowing from random white dudes.

- Mr. Weatherby good sir! Welcome back! Now, apparently, even private, non-profit efforts to assist the poor in the area are deemed 'socialists' these days ... ah yes, the inability to use a basic thought process.

- Ugh. Here's 'that' guy.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

More blogger wars

So the election's behind us and what have we learned?

Don't screw with Jason Winders.

In what is definitely an inside baseball kinda thing now made public, Winders, the executive editor of the Athens Banner-Herald, is having a minor quarrel with Jeff Snowden, a local PR/ad guy here in town who handled press and public relations for Charlie Maddox's campaign.

Why? Well, over at Athens Politics, the latter, posting as 'Suburban Chaos' unleashed several strongly worded comments in several directions and then attempted to make nice.

Winders, understandably, took some issue with this and has since called him out.

What do I know? I only know Snowden by reputation and a handful of phone conversations we've had. In our dealings, he's always been open, kind, funny and somewhat hard to read. He's a nice enough guy, and I'll take him up on that 'let's get a beer' offer one day.

I did have some issues with several, somewhat juvenille mistakes the Maddox camp made, and that can be traced back, somewhat, to him. And surely his comments were over-the-top at Athens Politics and definitely disappointing.

Like I said, I've interacted with him on a handful of instances, so to see him go from a somewhat responsible discussion over local politics to downright nastiness and mud-slinging, regardless of who started it first, is unfortunate. Even in my harshest criticism of Maddox, I recognized that there was a human being brave enough to stand up and speak behind those ideas (however much I disagreed with them or felt they weren't thought out enough) and did my best to reflect that in my writings.

What else do I know? I know that I like Winders. I know that I used to work for him, and he was a good boss and a fair boss. And I know that he's slow to anger, so for him to volley some shots like this means he was rightfully bothered.

I also know election season is over, and we've got new commissioners coming on board. I, for one, am pleased with the election results. However, for those who are not, I hope you'll find a way to responsibly and respectfully convey your wishes and concerns to the local government, and I'd also encourage you to continue to find ways to plug into the vast network of area non-profits in this community.

Find a way to make a difference and follow through.

Real Work Conversations

It's been a while for these, so here's some catch-up ...

(From an email)
Carissa: Do you have 20 cents? I can pay you back in pennies ... although I realize you probably don't want that.


(From an email)
Me: Just a moment ago from BAF ... 'There's some delicious pimento cheese sandwich crust in the kitchen.'
Carissa: Yes, I cut the crusts and put them there. The docents downstairs looked mortified that we would eat that.


Hillary: Milk? Ugh.
Me: You don't like milk?
Hillary: It's terrible.
Me: No dunking cookies in milk?
Hillary: Why would anyone do that?
Me: You don't eat cereal?
Hillary: I eat cereal, but I just eat it dry.
Me: Why don't you just swallow some broken glass and call it a day?


Me: You know what I learned? That the chocolate-flavored Oreos aren't considered a member of the Double Stuff family.
Hillary: Really?
Me: It just looks like they are. So imagine how much creme that is for the other ones? It's almost too much.
Hillary: The other ones were like 1.2 stuffed Oreos.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Short thoughts

Nothing much left to say here folks, so everyone please go out and let your voices be heard at the polls.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Couple of things

- It had been a while, but I penned a forum for the Athens Banner-Herald on getting more involved with things like the school system and area non-profits. It's arguably not my best work, but I'm kinda rusty on those whole forum-writin' things.

- This is good journalism by the Banner-Herald, and it's something which has gone on for years but never gets picked up on. Nice story.

- Speaking of nice jobs, let's all give the folks with Partners for a Prosperous Athens a hand. They've made great headway in finding the root causes of poverty in the area and have begun developing a multi-pronged approach to combatting it. I'm also glad the need for affordable and quality child care is getting as much attention as it is as, speaking from my personal experiences with IHN of Athens, I can attest it is one of the greatest roadblocks to helping folks in poverty get back on their feet.

- Speaking of nice jobs (again), let's go back to the Banner-Herald who broke down the mayoral runoff election one final time for us. It's a good read that gives credit where credit is due in the sense that Charlie Maddox firmed up some of his positions. However, it also seems pretty clear to me that Heidi Davison answered a lot of his criticisms rather effectively (the comeback about Maddox working for the Department of Labor was brilliant) ... as well as the simple research done by the newspaper which shows that much of what Maddox is claiming, quite simply, ain't really that true.

- By the way ... it's the Chick-fil-A Bowl for Georgia against Virginia Tech.


Earlier this summer, I bought a pair of tickets to the Dixie Chicks concert in Atlanta originally scheduled for Oct. 18 for The Wife. She has always been a big fan (and I like 'em too), and we never get to go to concerts, so we figured why not?

Well, they decided to reschedule the tour to fit in some additional dates, thus moving our Atlanta concert to Dec. 2 at Phillips Arena. The fact this now coincided with all of the conference championship games wasn't lost on me, and I was pretty upset about having to attend at first.

However, it was a pretty darn fine concert (well, except for the poor lady two seats down from me who passed out and proceeded to get sick all over our aisle two songs into the show).

They sang Long Time Gone, which is easily one of my favorite songs, but also worked hard to change some of the arrangements of their older songs. For instance, I've never been a fan of Ready to Run, but they added an electric guitar, sped it up by about half a beat and gave it more of a rock-a-billy sound and closed the show with it. They also played Mississippi, which I had never heard before, but really liked.

Also, Pete Yorn opened for them ... and that was pretty cool.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Movie watchin'

When you're home with a cold, you tend to catch up on movies you've missed. So, thanks to the wonders of digital cable, I was able to see the following films ...

Derailed - Kinda annoying. First off, I found Jennifer Aniston's character to be wholly irrational, though we figure out why in the end. Second, do we really believe that Vincent Cassel could take Clive Owen? Still, it had Aniston, and that alone made it watchable.

A History of Violence - Pretty good, though I was disappointed to find out that he actually was some sort of hitman. It would have been cooler if he had just been confused for someone else and had to learn how to defend his family.

Just Friends - I don't want to find Ryan Reynolds funny - particularly after the fact that he, you know, had a starring role in Blade III: Trinity - but it's hard not to. Though Chris Klein's character kinda made the movie.

I also watched a couple of the Star Wars movies, which I've seen hundreds of time, because Cinemax has been showing 'em nonstop. I liked Attack of the Clones more yesterday than I had in the past.

Love him, hate hm

It's an old familiar saying among Red Sox fans now - 'Manny being Manny.'

Manny being Manny, however, has prompted the team to try and move him in three consecutive offseasons. And each time, I've disagreed with Boston trying to do so. This year, the Red Sox have ratcheted up their determination to ship Manny Ramirez off somewhere, entering serious discussions with the Padres in the past week.

However, the word is that San Diego is unwilling to part with ace Jake Peavy, and you really can't blame the team for not wanting to get ready of a young pitcher entering his prime ... and he is a bargain compared to other No. 1 pitchers in the league. Outside of that, few teams have the necessary talent, resources and capital to make a deal possible.

And that's why I agree with Ken Rosenthal in saying that, once again, keeping Manny is the best thing for Boston.

A bit loopy or not, he's one of the 10 most feared hitters in the game, and he provides ample protection in the lineup to, well, another member of the 10 most feared hitter in the game in David Ortiz. If the Red Sox can add Daisuke Matsuzaka to their rotation, which will be bolstered by moving Jonathan Papelbon from the closer's role to the No. 3 pitcher slot, sign some adequate bullpen help and close deals with J.D. Drew and Julio Lugo, they automatically become one of the best teams in the American League.

I haven't been a fan of signing Drew, but there's a caveat to that - I haven't been a fan of signing as a replacement for Manny. Adding him as the No. 5 hitter, however, makes this one of the most fearsome lineups in baseball.

Plus, as Rosenthal argues, if you look to the future, you can set yourself up for making a run at Andrew Jones when he becomes a free agent next season. Then, you'd have to only deal with Manny's contract for one final year, and you could move Coco Crisp to help clear salary space.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Couple of things

- I've been fighting off a cold for the past couple of days (thank you Hillary), so I'm a bit slow here. I know you missed me.

- There's a pretty interesting, though at times uncivil, discussion going on at Athens Politics. So far it's featured grammatical critiques, favoring one group over another, the Homestead Exemption and, of course, a little bit of Chuck Jones.

- The folks from Doug McKillip's campaign (transition team? office? crew?) were kind enough to send over a press release detailing his plans for the Georgia Earned Income Tax Credit.

- Apparently, I missed the 'Christians should vote for Charlie Maddox' argument which James Robertson put forth yesterday. Rabbi Gerson countered that claim today, which was good to see. If you're a Christian and want to vote for Maddox, knock yourself out. I'm a Christian, and I'm going to vote for Heidi Davison. I don't necessarily see how either one of us 'wrong.'

- I just don't see how you could oppose this minor raise in sewer fees, particularly when it means you're going to have an improved system and additional lines to provide service and encourage development. I'm just going to have to disagree with both Carl Jordan and George Maxwell. The cost of our water and sewage is still considerably lower than other metro areas in the state and factors out to, on the average, less than $3.50 a month. And, in the end, you get a more improved, more efficient system.

- I agree with this editorial. Hank Huckaby should have been allowed to stick around, as should both Heidi Davison and David Lynn according to this hypothetical scenario.

- Typically, I post all my college football stuff at The Cover Two, but I feel compelled to put this video of Georgia's game-winning touchdown from last Saturday up here.

EITC at the state level

The folks from Doug McKillip's office (I suppose ... it's not a campaign anymore) sent me a copy of this press release. It's one of the ideas I liked from McKillip during the election season, and I'm glad to see he wants to make it one of the first things he does when he assumes office.

McKillip Introduces Legislation to Provide State Earned Income Tax Credit for Working Georgia Families

Atlanta – State Representative-Elect Doug McKillip (D-Athens) pre-filed legislation for the upcoming 2007 Session of the General Assembly that would provide Georgia’s families a state earned income tax credit. McKillip’s proposal is a state version of the widely successful Federal Earned Income Tax Credit and would provide an estimated savings of $200 a year in taxes for a family of four making $20,000 per year.

"There are few proposals out there today that have as much support from both ends of the ideological spectrum as the EITC. This legislation offers the unique opportunity for legislators on both sides of the aisle to reward Georgia’s hardest working families through tax relief," said McKillip.

McKillip pointed out that Republican President Ronald Reagan labeled the Earned Income Tax Credit "the best anti-poverty, the best pro-family, the best job creation measure to come out of Congress." Bruce Katz of the Brookings Institution described the EITC as "a proven federal tool that reduces poverty, rewards work, strengthens rural and neighborhood economies and needs little bureaucracy to implement."

"The current House leadership has expressed interest in doing away with income tax in Georgia all together. An Earned Income Tax Credit would certainly contribute towards that end but with an emphasis on those families who work the hardest and need it the most," said McKillip.

According to the Georgia Budget Policy Institute, a non-partisan think tank, in 2003, the federal earned income tax credit (EITC) lifted 4.4 million people out of poverty through income tax relief and wage supplements. Commonly described as a work incentive since it applies to income that is earned, the federal EITC reduces income taxes for low-income working families.

The GBPI also states that since its inception in 1975, the federal EITC has received enhancements under the Reagan, Bush, and Clinton administrations. Following the example set by the federal government, eighteen states and the District of Columbia have enacted state-level earned income tax credits. Due to the success the EITC in several states, many state governments have increased the EITC.

The bill may be viewed at

Working for change

The fellas at Athens Politics have returned to discuss the debate, though it's morphed into the usual 'Chuck Jones vs. the world' showdown.

Chuck is discussing his desire for change in Athens-Clarke County, and by that he means ...

I am not interested in what you wish or don't wish. Write a letter to Santa Claus. I'm NOT going away, I'll keep fighting for change. Real solutions to poverty, the complete eradication of the Athens Grow Green people, postive student-resident relations, bringing low the snobbish gentry that puts trees and "quality of life" above people, etc.

This troubled me for a variety of reasons. Real solutions to poverty are needed, and we don't disagree. The caveat being that real solutions to poverty are coming from Partners For A Prosperous Athens. I've been a part of some of those discussions and studies, and I firmly believe we're going to see some real change, regardless of who our next mayor is. Folks from all over the community, from all sorts of political and ideological persuasions, have been a part of this discussion, and that's a good thing.

And that's the problem with suggesting we need real solutions because it ties in with other comments he made in that thread, which highlight his call to shoot first and ask questions later. This, naturally, is exactly the wrong way to address the challenges which face our communities these days.

Chuck didn't enter the practice of law without first studying how to be a lawyer. Doing so would be rash and also spell doom for his future. Taking the time to learn how to do the job is imperative when you want to do a good job. As a result, it's important to know all the facts, to run all sorts of studies and calculations and talk to as many people as possible to come up with the best plan of action.

Regarding the 'eradication of Athens Grow Green' ... I don't know why he holds so much anger and hatred toward this group, but I'd also say it's very dangerous language to say you wish an entire group was eradicated. Athens Grow Green is a very important and very beneficial organization which fights for responsible stewardship or our natural resources. You may disagree with how much influence the group currently wields (which, quite frankly, I think is a tad overinflated), but to wish for their destruction is petty and a bit disturbing.

But much of his hatred stems from the wholly false perception that the members of organizations like Athens Grow Green 'put trees ... above people.' Sure, that makes for a catchy soundbite, but it's also ridiculous ... as ridiculous as those who oppose the War in Iraq saying those who support it 'love war.' It's establishing a false choice which doesn't exist.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again - the members of Athens Grow Green (as well as, say, BikeAthens) are engaged in considerably more than just Athens Grow Green. They are involved with the Boys & Girls Club, IHN of Athens, the Homeless Coalition, their churches, etc. and etc. There is more than one thing which compels them to service in this community, and their's is not because of an irrational disdain for another segement of this community's population.

I know, I know ... it's nice and easy to say things like 'they love trees more than people' because that goes for the shock value. It's also, well, demonstrably wrong and flat-out stupid. It suggests an inability to process the fact that people can be passionate about more than one thing.

A while back, after I resorted to a cheap shot at Chuck's expense, I penned him a personal apology, and I included some suggestions on how best to engage in responsible discussion. I had hoped he would take my good-natured criticism at least somewhat to heart, but apparently not.