May 22, 2016

Sunday Focus: Short Track, Short Life.

     There are at least 44 auto racetracks in Alabama, ranging from the huge NASCAR track in Talladega to lots of small dirt tracks. One of the latter is in Selma, a track where a driver died this month.

Selma Motorsports Track. Strip is at top/Google Earth.

      39 Year old Darren Bryant of Montgomery died when the S10 pickup truck he was racing was hit from behind at the Selma Motorsports Park on May 14th. The District Attorneys office continues to investigate, but believes it to be an accident. 

     The New York Times published an article on Saturday about deaths at other tracks, including a little girl too young to drive a regular car who died in a Florida racetrack  at the age of 15.

"Since 2002, when NASCAR made head-and-neck restraints mandatory, at least 141 people have died on short tracks, and dozens of others have sustained major injuries, making this the most dangerous corner of American motorsports. Those figures — based on police reports and news media accounts — surpass previous estimates and highlight the consequences of lax rules and scant safety protections."

(Vintage motorsports track)
 A memorial event is planned for Bryant at the Selma racetrack on Saturday.

There are other lists of tracks in Alabama that differ from the one linked at the top of this posting. None that I could find list the Selma track. 

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May 21, 2016

Saturday Data: Confederate Symbols.

      All but one of the Alabama members of the U.S. House voted against an amendment to a veteran's administration funding bill that bans many Confederate flag displays in veterans' cemeteries. The vote was mostly along party lines, with the only Democratic member of the delegation---Terri Sewell---voting for the amendment.

The alleged killer poses with a flag.
  We're coming up on the first anniversary of the massacre at the Charleston Church by a teenager who wanted to start a race war, but instead ignited a new fight over the symbols he loved so much, the confederate flag. 

One of the flags Bentley ordered removed.
   Also coming up, an anniversary of Governor Bentley ordering the removal of confederate flags from around the confederate memorial on the capitol grounds.



The Southern Poverty Law Center inventoried confederate monuments and published a comprehensive report that found, among other things:

  • 718 monuments and statues, nearly 300 of which are in Georgia, Virginia or North Carolina;
  • 109 public schools named for Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis or other Confederate icons;
  • 80 counties and cities named for Confederates;
  • 9 official Confederate holidays in six states; and
  • 10 U.S. military bases named for Confederates.


The Confederate Memorial in Montgomery.


From an article in The Atlantic:

The Permanence of the Confederate Flag

"In a strongly worded message to “fellow patriots and freedom loving history buffs,” the legislative director for Georgia Representative Lynn Westmoreland urged members to vote down the measure. “You know who else supports destroying history so that they can advance their own agenda? ISIL,” he wrote, referring to the Islamic State. “Don’t be like ISIL.” Westmoreland’s office later criticized the message as “unprofessional” and said the staffer had been disciplined."

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May 20, 2016

History Lesson.

“These things are going to be remembered,” Maloney said, likening the votes to being on “the wrong side of the march toward Selma” and “standing in the schoolhouse door” to prevent the integration of schools. He said the lawmakers who switched their votes Thursday would “have this hung around their necks for the rest of their careers.”

                                                   Rep. Sean Maloney (D-N.Y.)
                                                   Quoted in The Washington Post

Rep Maloney, it would not have been nearly as significant (nor as dangerous) for the marchers to have traveled from Montgomery and to Selma. but I get your point.

May 19, 2016

This is NOT Clickbait. If you work in Higher Ed, Read this.

"Change is coming one way or another. Universities have to decide whether they want to lead the change or become the next victims of disruption."

     It is a warning shot across the bow of Higher Ed. Two major companies say they will now hire people without a degree...and Gallup asks:

Which is more indispensable to you in your job -- your university education or the university you have in your pocket, your smartphone?

They believe Higher Ed will be disrupted the same way media and other institutions have. If they're right, some big changes are coming.

HERE is the full Gallup posting. No degree required. 

May 18, 2016

Trump and Wallace


   I am now convinced that a century from now, writers and commentators will still be talking about the U.S. election of 2016, and children will likely be taught the connection with Alabama Governor George Wallace.
     Right now, the latest essay on that connection is on the MTV website under a huge photo of Wallace and the headline:

How An Alabama Governor Helped Give America Donald Trump

Fifty years ago, George Wallace used race-based populism to try to Make America Great Again — and nearly succeeded.

"When Wallace died in 1998, a historian wrote, “George Wallace laid the foundation for the dominance of the Republican Party in American society through the manipulation of racial and social issues in the 1960s and 1970s. He was the master teacher, and Richard Nixon and the Republican leadership that followed were his students.” 

You can read it online HERE.

May 17, 2016

Alabama Redeemed, at least for doctors.

     We are dead last or first on so many lists these days (depending on which is worst) that I found it refreshing to find the state ranked 3rd for the best states to practice medicine!

Birmingham is the recommended city. 

And why? 

State profile: Alabama offers excellent physician compensation—an average of $296,000 last year, which is 4.6% above the national average. Given that the state's cost of living is nearly 10% lower than the national average and the overall tax burden is 8.7%, Alabama doctors can stretch their earnings pretty far. The malpractice environment is likewise favorable, with payouts per capita last year amounting to just $4.15—the fourth lowest rate among the states. Alabama's economy is projected to continue growing, but slowly and unemployment in February was above the national average (6.2% vs 4.9%).
City profile: Birmingham is the state's economic engine, but Hoover just to the north is growing quickly too. Although independently incorporated, the city of more than 84,000 is an in-demand suburb with good schools, the largest shopping center in the Southeast, and easy access to downtown and the University of Alabama Medical Center.
Cons: Average housing costs are more than twice the state average.

HERE is the link...and Doc, you can look at other states too....