Posts tagged Alabama

Save the Gnu’s Room, Save the World

My favorite bookstore in the world, The Gnu’s Room, is on the ropes. Commercial rents near campus are high in Auburn, and until this month it looked like the bookstore would have to close in July. But there is a real chance to save the store now, and to help it not only continue as a used bookstore and event space, but also to expand into a new arts space (in the emerging Arts District in downtown Opelika). A donor has come forward with a new, low-rent location, so Gnu’s Room is trying to raise some money between now and June 15 which would allow them to cover the fixed costs of the move, and so to keep the bookstore in operation. Here’s more from the Kickstarter campaign page:

The Gnu’s Room: a non-profit bookstore and community art space has been the cornerstone of our independent arts community in Auburn, AL.

Due to the difficulties of high urban rent and waning financial support, The Gnu’s Room is struggling to make ends meet and fulfill its mission of promoting literacy and the arts in Southeast Alabama. Our community is heavily marginalized in the predominant culture of today… and those who love books, independent films, and local music have got to come together and show their support!

We are trying to raise the seed money to move The Gnu’s Room into a huge, low-cost warehouse space in the new Arts District of Opelika (supported by the Alabama Arts Council, The Railyard independent venue, and the future Cotton Seed Studios)

But we need help to make this move possible!

Pledges of varying amounts can earn you rewards like free books, tickets to our benefit concert, local artwork, and genuine ivory scrimshaw bookmarks…. Plus the added reward of keeping our artistic community strong and well…

Don’t let our favorite meeting place for all things artistic, inspirational, and happily weird disappear! The Gnu’s Room plays a vital role in serving the area with rare volumes of nearly-forgotten wisdom and creating more arts through their publishing house, Solomon & George Publishers. We want to use the freedom of the Opelika Arts District space to expand community services to include e-publication archiving of these rare works, i.e. the Gnu Library, in-house printing services, art galleries, and a scrap exchange program for resident artists. . . . The biggest challenge facing our organization is pursuing often non-existent arts funding in our state and region. We hope to overcome that difficulty by providing useful services in a retail format. For example: We re-sell donated books in our bookstore. The Scrap Exchange will sort and recycle materials to bring low cost arts-and-crafts, packaging, and garden supplies to our proactive community members. . . . The new location will create not just more opportunities for our mission, but continue our ability to provide a common meeting place for the forum of artistic and creative solutions.

— Kickstarter: Save the Gnu’s Room!

The campaign has until June 15, 2013 to reach their fundraising goal. As of press time, there’s about $2,500 left to go in order to meet it. I just backed the project myself; if you can, please consider backing it with me, and help us save this precious community space, one of the long-time strongest supporters and most open forums for the arts, culture and philosophy in the Auburn-Opelika community.[1]

Also.

  1. [1] The Gnu’s Room has been very supportive of local authors, and among other things they have been very kind and helpful to us for Markets Not Capitalism, which they generously hosted the world’s first book-talk / reading for, back in November 2011, and which they continue to sell on their shelves.

Shameless Self-promotion Sunday

Happy Sunday, everyone. Time to get Shameless.

Around here, I am trying to get my office into some semblance of tidiness, doing some background reading for a paper on the emergence of the fast-food industry, and making the final arrangements to get myself up to Birmingham for Alabama Coalition for Immigrant Justice’s May 1st march for immigration freedom. (Wednesday, May 1, 4pm–7pm, starting in Linn Park, Birmingham, Ala. See you there?) ¿Y tú? How’re things where you are? Got anything big coming up? Anything you’ve been working on lately? What have you been up to this week? Write anything? Leave a link and a short description for your post in the comments. Or fire away about anything else you might want to talk about.

Sectional Education

You know, I live in Alabama and I spent about a decade of my life in Alabama state schools. I hate that the current state code includes a provision requiring high-school sex-ed classes to include stigmatizing, bigoted and false anti-gay content. And I’m glad to see that there’s a bill pending in the state legislature that would just delete that entire section and all the minimum content requirements along with it.[1] I’ve lived in Alabama for much of my life and I’ve often tried to take a hand in changing local culture and building more positive alternatives in my community. But when I see a liberal freethought blog linking to a story about this, and (1) the very first comment, and (2) over half of the comments that follow it, are from comfortable progressives cracking jokes about incest or marrying cousins or having sex with farm animals,[2] I— well, actually I just don’t get the feeling that y’all are really on our side, somehow. Or that you are quite as un-bigoted as you might have thought that you were.

  1. [1] Of course there is no right way for government to do sex education, or any kind of education, or to run schools at all; so the best thing to do is simply to get rid of all government control over education, period. In the meantime, when state laws specifically require schools to insert content into lessons which is harmful and false, I’ll be happy to see those specific requirements get axed.
  2. [2] See, it’s funny because poor people living in rural areas have often been socially marginalized and ridiculed with broad stereotypes about their supposed deviant sex practices. Ho, ho.

Thursday Morning News Clippings

To-day’s clipped stories, from the Opelika Auburn News (September 20, 2012).

  • Front Page. Nothing to clip here, actually. The biggest real estate is occupied by a story about how some super-millionaire said something in private that turned out to be aired in public that may or may not hurt his chances on the margin in his attempt to go from being one of the most massively privileged people in the entire world to the single most massively privileged person in the entire world. This may or may not help out the chances of his super-millionaire opponent to remain the most massively privileged person in the entire world, if it convinces more people that the super-millionaire challenger cares less about ordinary folks than the incumbent super-millionaire does. Somebody is supposed to care about this. I don’t: it couldn’t possibly matter less how much the most massively privileged person in the entire world cares, or who he or she cares about, because the existence of such massive, ruinous and lethal structures of social and economic privilege is exactly the problem, and it is the one problem which such debates over the less-worse of a pair of party-backed super-millionaires will never raise.

  • 2A. Donathan Prater, Bo’s nose: Auburn police get new K-9 tracker. A fairly typical police puff piece to announce that the police force occupying Auburn, Alabama has a new dog that they are going to use to hound people who are trying to get away from them, and to get or fabricate probable cause for harassing people suspected of nonviolent drug offenses.

    Bo has a nose for finding trouble. But in his line of work, that’s a good thing.[1]

    The Auburn Police Division welcomed Bo, an 11-month-old Belgian Malinois, to the force on Wednesday.

    Trained in both narcotics detection and human tracking, Bo was officially introduced to members of the media at Auburn Technology Park North.

    For years, we have called on (Lee County) Sheriff Jay Jones and (Opelika Police) Chief Thomas Mangham for use of their tracking K-9s, for which we’re thankful, but we felt like it was time for us to have our own, Auburn Police Chief Tommy Dawson. We’re very excited about putting this dog to work.

    … Dawson said Bo was purchased last month from the Alabama Canine Law Enforcement Officers Training Center in Northport with approximately $10,000 in seized assets from drug arrests.

    … The acquisition of Bo puts the APD’s number of K-9 officers at four, said Dawson, a former K-9 handler.

    — Donathan Prater, Bo’s nose: Auburn police get new K-9 tracker. Opelika-Auburn News, September 20, 2012. A2.

    Well, that’s a damn shame. The primary purpose that they will use Bo for, as they use all police dogs, will be to provide pretexts to justify what are essentially random sweeps, searches and seizures; to harass, intimidate and coerce innocent people on easily fabricated, often mistaken and incredibly thin probable cause, with the minutest of ritual gestures at a sort of farce on due process, in order to prosecute a Drug War that doesn’t need to be prosecuted and to imprison, disenfranchise, and ruin the lives of people who have done nothing at all that merits being imprisoned, disenfranchised, or having their lives ruined by tyrannical drug laws. It’s not the dog’s fault, of course; he looks like a perfectly nice dog. But the people who bought him (with the proceeds from their own search-n-seizure racket), and who are using him, are putting him to a violent and degrading use, and they ought to be ashamed of themselves.

  • Op-Ed Page, 4A. Muslim religion should be feared in US. Rudy Tidwell, of Valley, a God-and-Country fixture on the Op-Ed page, decides that he doesn’t like Church-State integrationists when they aren’t part of his favorite church. Then, by means of an insanely ambitious collectivism, he assimilates the actions of his least favorite hypercollectivists to the thoughts and feelings of literally all 1,600,000,000 (he rounds up to 2 billion) Muslims in the world.

    The phrase Arab Spring has become a catchphrase for the media and other liberals to minimize the real dangers of the actual enemy of America.[2] The so-called Arab Spring is actually a Muslim Spring, meaning that the growing takeovers we see in various Middle Eastern countries[3] are Muslims rising up worldwide.

    Why is this aspect of the Middle East unrest not recognized for what it is? The euphemism[4] made between so-called radical Muslims and peaceful Muslims. Islam is a dangerous body of more than 2 billion people who are determined to convert or kill, and there is no compromise to be made?

    It’s not just a few radical Muslims who make terrorist attacks. How then do you account for the fact that when the attacks on 9/11 occurred, Muslims around the world rejoiced and danced in the streets?

    More recent events in Libya and Egypt have been recognized as and declared to be planned attacks, not benign protests. Were all the people burning the embassies and tearing down and burning the American flags peace-loving Muslims?

    We have a growing number of Muslims in the United States. There are enclaves of Muslims who rule with rigid and brutal Shariah law. Dearborn, Mich, is perhaps the most notable. Muslims are entering the U.S. in numbers that would shock us if we knew the full extent.

    I encourage you to get a copy of the Quran and read it. It is a frightening book that demands faithfulness to its teachings to the point of death. It is the guide book for a worldwide takeover, not by reason and diplomacy as Communism said it would do over time,[5] but by conversion or death.

    Rudy Tidwell
    Valley

    Well, then. 2,000,000,000? Really? Did they all do the converting and killing and rejoicing and dancing all at once, or do they maybe take it in turns? Well I suppose the gigantic hive mind that they all link up to when they join that dangerous body no doubt ensures that such problems of coordination don’t really arise.

  • Op-Ed Page, 4A. Today in History.

    On Sept. 20, 1962, James Meredith, a black student, was blocked from enrolling at the University of Mississippi by Democratic Gov. Ross R. Barnett. (Meredith was later admitted.)

    . . .

    In 1884, the National Equal Rights Party was formed during a convention of suffragists in San Francisco.

    In 1958, Martin Luther King Jr. was seriously wounded during a book signing at a New York City department store when Izola Curry stabbed him in the chest. (Curry was later found mentally incompetent.)

    In 1973, in their so-called battle of the sexes, tennis star Billie Jean King defeated Bobby Riggs in straight sets, 6-4, 6-3, 6-3, at the Houston Astrodome.

    In 1996, President Bill Clinton announced that he was signing the Defense of Marriage Act, a bill outlawing same-sex marriages, but said it should not be used as an excuse for discrimination,[6] violence or intimidation against gays and lesbians.

    In 2011, repeal of the U.S. military’s 18-year-old don’t ask, don’t tell compromise took effect, allowing gay and lesbian service[7] members to serve[8] openly.

Section A contains no international news at all today, unless you count the collecto-eliminationist letter from Rudy Tidwell on the Op-Ed page.

  1. [1] [For whom? —R.G.]
  2. [2] [Sic. Of course what he means, as he makes clear, is the enemy of the United States government. Which is not true either, but in any case obviously not the same thing. —RG.]
  3. [3] [Sic. Of course all governments are usurpers, and thus are ongoing takeovers by nature. That includes transitional and revolutionary states; on the other hand it also obviously includes the hyperauthoritarian regimes recently challenged or thrown out. What the hell was the Mubarak regime, say, if not a constantly repeated, jackbooted takeover of innocent people’s lives? —RG.]
  4. [4] [Sic. What he describes is not a euphemism, but rather a distinction that he regards as being misapplied. —RG.]
  5. [5] [Rudy Tidwell is speaking outside of his area of expertise. —RG.]
  6. [6] [. . . —R.G.]
  7. [7] [Sic. —RG.]
  8. [8] [Sic. —RG.]

If it moves, regulate it.

This is from the OA News from a few days ago.

. . . On another issue, AU is requiring all students, staff and faculty bringing a bicycle to campus to register it with AU’s Parking Services, Smith said.

Although people have previously been asked to register, the requirement will be more strictly enforced now, something Smith said is necessary as the campus has become more pedestrian.

We’re seeing many, many more bikes on campus and because of that we’ve got to get a handle on how many we have …

— Donathan Prater, Opelika-Auburn News, August 15, 2012

(No, you don’t.)

. . . and registering them is a good way to do that, Smith said.

— Donathan Prater, Opelika-Auburn News, August 15, 2012

(No, it isn’t.)

You register your car on campus and the same is true for bicycles.

— Donathan Prater, Opelika-Auburn News, August 15, 2012

(This is a completely specious comparison.)

Registration is free.

— Donathan Prater, Opelika-Auburn News, August 15, 2012

(Don’t count on that lasting forever.)

Smith said the number of bicycles registered with the university will help ensure that an adequate number of bicycle racks are available on campus.

— Donathan Prater, Opelika-Auburn News, August 15, 2012

The reason the University requires you to register cars is specifically to limit and control access: parking space near campus is extremely limited, it’s expensive to build more, and the parking tags regulate who can park in which zones. None of these rationales apply to bicycles on campus, no matter how many there may be. The idea that you just have to know the exact number of bicycles might be brought in at any given time is inane. If you’re seeing many, many more bikes on campus, then evidently you have some idea of the order of magnitude you’re dealing with, and if you want to tell whether you need to install more bike racks, you can do this pretty easily by looking at the bike racks and seeing whether or not they’re full up all the time, or by watching for bikes chained up to lightpoles when the racks are all full. If you see these problems, you need more bike racks. If you don’t, you don’t. The cynic in me would point out that one reason to enforce this policy is that it’s a way of making up for the declining revenues from on-campus cars, by extracting a little more revenue from the bicycles they are going to seize and impound. But really this, and a lot of other policies controlling bicycling that are justified by the same kind of specious comparisons to motor-cars, seems to be driven, more than anything, by a reflexive belief if there’s ever a lot of any damn thing at all, it’s a Problem that has to be counted out and controlled; that any and every important part of civic life, or campus life, must be registered with, and legible to, the controlling authorities. There is no reason at all to enforce this policy, other than an irrational compulsion to control anything that moves in your field of vision. In practice, the effect of the policy will be to waste students’ time, to cost students money, to punish bicyclists, to impound bikes, and to make campus less accessible to the rest of the community. (A lot of us have bikes. But we’re not eligible to register them.)

Also.