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Showing posts from June, 2012

Study of Birmingham's Railroad Park dispels some myths | al.com

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Study of Birmingham's Railroad Park dispels some myths | al.com: BIRMINGHAM, Alabama -- A scientific study of who uses downtown's Railroad Park and how they use it confounds some commonly held myths about the park, according to researchers for UAB's School of Public Health.

Conducted from last summer to this spring, the study recorded the activity of 5,000 visitors to the park. Information was collected in the morning, midday, afternoon and evening, in good weather and bad. The study findings were shared at a Friday Lunch & Learn gathering at the Jefferson County Department of Public Health.
According to University of Alabama at Birmingham professor Nir Menachemi, some people initially assumed the park, which lies just south of the downtown railroad corridor between 18th and 14th Streets, would be frequented only by affluent over-the-mountain whites, that no one would go there in the evenings, or in the summer's heat or the winter's chill. The study found all t…

Sequatchie Cove Farm: Blueberries and solar-powered cheese | al.com

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Sequatchie Cove Farm: Blueberries and solar-powered cheese | al.com:
Pat Byington piece on his uncle's farm where the solar panels had been installed and operational for about a year and half and that it was made possible by grants secured by the Tennessee Solar Institute.

Tropical Storm Debby washes tarballs and coconuts ashore on Dauphin Island (video) | al.com

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Tropical Storm Debby washes tarballs and coconuts ashore on Dauphin Island (video) | al.com:
by Ben Raines
DAUPHIN ISLAND, Alabama -- Wet, glistening, and smelling of asphalt, tarballs the size of nickels were scattered liberally among the seashells pushed ashore by Tropical Storm Debby.
As predicted, the 20-foot waves associated with the storm moved oil left behind by the BP oil spill in 2010 on shore. While BP officials reported finding few tarballs along other Alabama beaches in the wake of the storm, oil was easy to find on the uninhabited portion of Dauphin Island surveyed by the Press-Register.

Parts of Birmingham area officially in drought | al.com

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Parts of Birmingham area officially in drought | al.com: BIRMINGHAM, Alabama -- As if the extreme heat wasn't enough, portions of the metro area are now officially in drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor published Thursday.
According to the National Weather Service, temperatures are predicted to reach 99 degrees today and climb to 102 Saturday. Temperatures near or into the triple digits with only slight chances of rain are expected through Tuesday.
Trapped under a ridge of high pressure, the stagnation and searing temperatures also are creating unhealthy air quality. Wednesday and Thursday both were code orange air quality alert days, and the high ozone levels are expected to persist today. The Jefferson County Health Department advises that active children and adults, and people with lung disease such as asthma, reduce prolonged or heavy exertion outdoors.
Read more

Energy and Water Collision in extreme heat

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As temperatures rise and rainfall dwindles, we find ourselves in a negative feedback loop.
When it is hot, we use more power to stay cool.
When it is dry, we use more water to keep the landscape alive.
Power production uses a lot of water.
The treatment and pumping of water consumes a lot of power.
Producing more power, particularly when it is coming from burning coal, puts more pollution in the air.
When it's hot, those pollutants react in the atmosphere and form ozone, which can cause damage to lungs and air passages.
As water supply dwindles and heat rises, it becomes harder to use that water in the power generation process.
All that adds up to a more quickly depleted water supply and higher levels of ozone in the air.

So, if you can find ways to save energy, drive less or use less water, do.

The Power of the Particular - NYTimes.com - David Brooks

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The Power of the Particular - NYTimes.com: It makes you appreciate the tremendous power of particularity. If your identity is formed by hard boundaries, if you come from a specific place, if you embody a distinct musical tradition, if your concerns are expressed through a specific paracosm, you are going to have more depth and definition than you are if you grew up in the far-flung networks of pluralism and eclecticism, surfing from one spot to the next, sampling one style then the next, your identity formed by soft boundaries, or none at all.

Baby bald eagle stops Gulf Shores traffic while learning to fly | al.com

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Baby bald eagle stops Gulf Shores traffic while learning to fly | al.com: Gulf State Park officials believe the bird came from a nest within the park, and do not know of any other bald eagle nests in the area.

Alabama landowners partner to keep water unpolluted | al.com

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Alabama landowners partner to keep water unpolluted | al.com: When a small army of state and federal agents show up at a rural Alabama farm, you might expect a confrontation. But Bryan Burgess of Ashville has welcomed them.

Running through Burgess' farm is Big Canoe Creek, a relatively pristine Coosa River tributary that's home to more than 50 species of fish and an array of freshwater mussel species.
The government agents -- representing the Geological Survey of Alabama, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources -- have identified Big Canoe as one of the 50 best remaining aquatic habitats in the state. They'll need allies such as Burgess in the battle to preserve and improve water quality.
"It's the landowners that are key," said the GSA's Patrick O'Neil, who is leading a multi-agency effort to enlist public cooperation in protecting the 50 targeted watersheds ...
Read more ...

Public hearing Thursday on second proposed coal mine near Cordova | al.com

Public hearing Thursday on second proposed coal mine near Cordova | al.com: Another coal mine on the banks of the Mulberry Fork of the Black Warrior River will be the subject of a public meeting Thursday in Sumiton hosted by The Alabama Department of Environmental Management.
A proposed mine at Shepherd Bend on land owned by the University of Alabama has been the subject of intense controversy because wastewater discharges from the strip mine would enter the river just upstream from a Birmingham Water Works intake that supplies water to 200,000 customers. The BWWB is fighting the permit issued to that mine and has lodged objections to the Reed No. 5 mine, which is farther upstream.

Birmingham may meet EPA air quality standards after all | al.com

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Birmingham may meet EPA air quality standards after all | al.com: BIRMINGHAM, Alabama -- Updated air quality data suggests that metro Birmingham may meet new, tougher federal air quality standards for soot, contrary to assertions made recently by U.S. EPA's top air official.
According to Ron Gore, chief of the Alabama Department of Environmental Management's Air Division, monitoring data of the area's air quality from 2011 puts Birmingham in the range of other counties EPA considers to be on course to reach annual particle pollution reductions.
Earlier this month during a discussion of the new standards by the Environmental Protection Agency's top air official Gina McCarthy, Jefferson County was identified as one of six counties nationwide that would need to take additional measures if it hoped to make the standard.

$10 million federal grant to improve city streets in Birmingham, focusing on Pratt City (with gallery, video) | al.com

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$10 million federal grant to improve city streets in Birmingham, focusing on Pratt City (with gallery, video) | al.com: A $10 million infusion of federal transportation dollars will pay for repaired streets, new sidewalks, bike lanes and paths in Birmingham, particularly in tornado-battered Pratt City.

Birmingham native and U.S. Department of Transportation official Dana Gresham last visited Pratt City in the days after the April 27, 2011, tornadoes in the company of U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.
On Friday, he delivered the good news to the diverse coalition that backed Birmingham's successful bid in the fiercely competitive TIGER Grant competition.

Forever Wild gives go-ahead to projects in Baldwin and Jackson counties | al.com

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Forever Wild gives go-ahead to projects in Baldwin and Jackson counties | al.com: Alabama's Forever Wild board voted today to move ahead on two major projects: a partnership with Baldwin County to create a 621-acre waterfront park with boat launches in Baldwin County and an 11,000-acre addition to the complex of hunting and hiking properties in North Alabama's Jackson County.

Paying for content or giving it away in hopes of attracting eyeballs?

There are two schools of though out there on how news organizations survive going forward.

One by charging readers for content (plus charging advertisers) or continuing to give it away in order to attract eyeballs (for the sake of advertisers).

Here are a couple of pieces with thoughts about models in which people are willing to pay for content:

The Newsonomics of Pricing 101 | Newsonomics and The Newsonomics Of 99-Cent Media Pricing.

Report says economic benefits of Birmingham's Northern Beltline exaggerated | al.com

Report says economic benefits of Birmingham's Northern Beltline exaggerated | al.com: BIRMINGHAM, Alabama --- The economic benefits of a planned interstate beltline north of Birmingham have been exaggerated and oversold, according to a new analysis by the Chattanooga-based Ochs Center for Metropolitan Studies.
The study was commissioned by the Southern Environmental Law Center, which represents Black Warrior Riverkeeper, a Birmingham-based environmental group that has sued the Alabama Department of Transportation. The lawsuit claims that the agency has not followed federal regulations requiring a thorough examination of the social and environmental impacts of the 52-mile Beltline, which is projected to cost $4.7 billion over more than three decades of building.
Beltline supporters, predict that the project will create 70,000 jobs during the construction phase and 21,000 permanent jobs in a new suburban ring around the city.

Birmingham wins federal TIGER grant to aid rebuilding in Pratt City, make other improvements | al.com

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Birmingham wins federal TIGER grant to aid rebuilding in Pratt City, make other improvements | al.com: BIRMINGHAM, Alabama -- Birmingham learned Tuesday that it has landed $10 million in federal grant money to rebuild storm-damaged roads in Pratt City and improve connections in the city and with regional neighbors through work on sidewalks and bike lanes and trails.
The money comes through a fiercely competitive grant program, known as TIGER.

Pictured above is one link that was part of the proposal: a pedestrian and bicycle connection between Railroad Park and Sloss Furnaces along First Avenue South. The original application included $23 million in requests. It is unclear which projects will be paid for with the $10 million.


Birmingham wins $10 million in federal money for roads and trails | al.com

Birmingham wins $10 million in federal money for roads and trails | al.com

BIRMINGHAM, Alabama -- The city has won $10 million in the fiercely competitive federal grant competition known as TIGER.

Alabama's Coldwater Mountain Forever Wild mountain biking trails drawing riders (with video) | al.com

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Alabama's Coldwater Mountain Forever Wild mountain biking trails drawing riders (with video) | al.com: ANNISTON -- On a recent Saturday, cars sporting license plates from multiple Alabama counties, and from Georgia and Tennessee, crowded the parking lot for the new Coldwater Mountain Forever Wild mountain biking trails.
The first 12 miles of trail, designed by experts with the International Mountain Biking Association, opened earlier this month, and the buzz is spreading about the rollicking ride up, down and around the mountain's heights.
Beginners can speed around an easy-to-handle 1.5 mile loop that rides like a woodland roller coaster. The more adventurous can try a 10-mile loop that peaks on a 1,600 feet mountaintop, then takes a 700 foot descent, down 3.5 miles with rolling berms and banked turns.
"Central Alabama is becoming a mecca for mountain biking in the Southeast," an exhilarated Karl Peters of Birmingham exclaimed. Future additions are expected to stret…

EPA investigating discrimination complaint lodged against ADEM | al.com

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EPA investigating discrimination complaint lodged against ADEM | al.com: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will investigate a complaint that the Alabama Department of Environmental Management discriminated against black residents of Perry County by granting permits to operate and expand the Arrowhead landfill in Uniontown.
The landfill, which opened in 2007, is authorized to accept waste from 33 states. The complaint points out that the racial composition of that service area is predominantly white, but the portions of Perry County receiving the waste are 87 to 100 percent black.
Located in one of Alabama's poorest counties, Arrowhead's creation originally was championed by the majority-black Perry County Commission as a jobs generator.
But the landfill has been the subject of a steady barrage of complaints from neighbors who say offensive odors, heavy traffic, noise and dust is harming their health and decreasing their property values.

Historical Jemison Magazine gets republished with booster spirit | al.com

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Historical Jemison Magazine gets republished with booster spirit | al.com: BIRMINGHAM, Alabama -- Downtown Birmingham apartment buildings. Urban hotels. Carefully planned subdivisions. A park within a two-minute walk of every residence. Winding streets designed to slow traffic. Flood plains left undeveloped.
The concepts described in the Jemison Magazine seem straight out of contemporary New Urbanism. But the magazines, which herald the rise of city landmarks and familiar neighborhoods, were published in the early decades of the 20th century, when Birmingham was booming and on the cutting edge of urban design.

Jefferson County would not meet Obama air quality standards proposal | al.com

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Jefferson County would not meet Obama air quality standards proposal | al.com:

BIRMINGHAM, Alabama -- Jefferson County is one of six counties nationwide that would not meet new air quality standards proposed by the Obama administration Friday without taking additional actions to reduce the amount of soot released into the air.

Cutting print is a money-loser for Times-Picayune, but cutting staff makes changes slightly profitable | Poynter.

Cutting print is a money-loser for Times-Picayune, but cutting staff makes changes slightly profitable | Poynter.

Interesting business analysis of the decisions being made by Newhouse in shifting to a three-day a week print newspaper and a slashed staff in the newsroom.

Anniston Star - Are roads safe enough for cyclists

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Anniston Star - Are roads safe enough for cyclists

The death of cyclist Derek Jensen in the Anniston area on June 14 prompts discussion of Alabama attitudes toward and cycling and safety.

Read more:Anniston Star - Are roads safe enough for cyclists

Former Birmingham News writer- On the inevitability of newspaper's decline

Justin Fox - Harvard Business Review

Why Newspapers Were Doomed All Along12:53 PM Thursday June 14, 2012  |  Comments (7)More on: AdvertisingDisruptive innovationMedia The best job I've ever had was as an editorial writer at The Birmingham News in Alabama in the early/mid 1990s. It was a perfect combination of boss, colleagues, place, subject matter, and time of life. I left in 1995 because my then-fiancĂ©e (now-wife) had taken a job in Washington, D.C., and I was getting ambitious. But every once in a while I've wondered half-wistfully what it might have been like to stay

Newspapers and Thinking the Unthinkable Clay Shirky

 Newspapers and Thinking the Unthinkable Clay Shirky

I'm going to go back and collect some of the key pieces on the impending death of newspapers.

Canoeists paddle 631-mile trail from Georgia to the Gulf of Mexico | al.com

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Canoeists paddle 631-mile trail from Georgia to the Gulf of Mexico | al.com: David Haynes of Blount Springs and his golden retrievers, Roscoe and Bailey, are just a day or two away from completing a 631-mile canoe trek from the Alabama-Georgia border to the sandy shores where Mobile Bay meets the Gulf of Mexico.

Homeowners want to open up Dauphin Island ponds; scientists fear island will breach | al.com

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Homeowners want to open up Dauphin Island ponds; scientists fear island will breach | al.com: The most vulnerable spot on Dauphin Island is right in the middle, directly across from a series of 22 ponds dug by town officials during the emergency response to the BP oil spill.
While a coastal engineer warns the ponds should be filled in as soon as possible to strengthen the island against hurricanes, seven homeowners who allowed the ponds to be dug on their property have applied for permission to open them up to the Mississippi Sound.

Are We Living in Sensory Overload or Sensory Poverty? - NYTimes.com

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Are We Living in Sensory Overload or Sensory Poverty? - NYTimes.com:
I sometimes wonder if we’ll survive our own ingenuity. At first glance, it seems as if we may be living in sensory overload. The new technology, for all its boons, also bedevils us with alluring distractors, cyberbullies, thought-nabbers, calm-frayers, and a spiky wad of miscellaneous news. Some days it feels like we’re drowning in a twittering bog of information.

But, at exactly the same time, we’re living in sensory poverty, learning about the world without experiencing it up close, right here, right now, in all its messy, majestic, riotous detail.

A Comeback For Downtown Cleveland. Could Birmingham follow this trend?

An NPR report on the resurgence in Rust Belt downtowns. Could the same forces come into play in Birmingham?

A Comeback For Downtown Cleveland : NPR: Long the punch line of late-night comedians, Cleveland is now part of a new trend as old industrial centers shed their Rust Belt images and become urban hotspots. David C. Barnett reports from member station WCPN.

Thunder on the Mountain 2012 is a go

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Vulcan Park and Museum - Events & Programs: The annual July 4 fireworks show, Thunder on the Mountain launches at 9 p.m. Details at the Vulcan Park website.

Using Google to measure racial hostility- Alabama makes the top 10

Seth Stephens-Davidowitz, a doctoral candidate in economics at Harvard, has written a research paper studying Google searches that use the N-word as a proxy for the prevalence of racial hostility by state. We rank up there but not at the top.


Racially Charged Google Searches by State

1. West Virginia 100
2. Louisiana 86
3. Pennsylvania 85
4. Mississippi 83
5. Kentucky 82
6. Michigan 78
7. Ohio 78
8. South Carolina 76
9. Alabama 76
10. New Jersey 74
11. Tennessee 73
12. Florida 71
13. New York 71
14. Rhode Island 70
15. Arkansas 70
16. North Carolina 69
17. Georgia 69
18. Connecticut 68
19. Missouri 68
20. Nevada 67
21. Illinois 65
22. Delaware 65
23. Oklahoma 65
24. Maryland 64
25. Indiana 63
Racially
Charged
Rank State Search
26. Wisconsin 63
27. Kansas 62
28. Texas 62
29. Virginia 59
30. Vermont 59
31. California 57
32. Maine 56
33. Nebraska 55
34. New Hampshire 54
35. North Dakota 54
36. Iowa 53
37. Massachusetts 52
38. Arizona 51
39. Washington 50
40. South Dakota 50
41. Alaska 50

'Rocket City Rednecks' taping new episodes, getting set to launch second season this fall | al.com

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'Rocket City Rednecks' taping new episodes, getting set to launch second season this fall | al.com: "Rocket City Rednecks" premiered last year and quickly became the National Geographic Channel's highest-rated new series in 2011. A number of critics as well as viewers responded to the unique mix of family, friends, lots of fun, a little Southern sensibility and home-built projects backed up by real science.

Sacred Harp: Flourishing globally from Southern roots | al.com

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Sacred Harp: Flourishing globally from Southern roots | al.com:
The National Sacred Harp Singing Convention, will hold its 33rd annual event Thursday through Saturday at First Christian Church on Valleydale Road in North Shelby County. About 700 are expected from as many as 25 states and three foreign countries.

Future cloudy for Birmingham intermodal transit site | al.com

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Future cloudy for Birmingham intermodal transit site | al.com

The future of Birmingham's downtown intermodal facility remains uncertain as the city awaits federal approval of its plans and faces a potential penalty of millions of dollars if it demolishes the existing building there.

Caution: sterility | Bhamarchitect's Blog

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Caution: sterility | Bhamarchitect's Blog
The potential pitfall off the new downtown entertainment district.
Architect Jeremy Erdreich brings to out attention a Salon.com critique of Urban Entertainment Districts.

Auction of land in Talladega National Forest for oil and gas exploration is postponed | al.com

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Auction of land in Talladega National Forest for oil and gas exploration is postponed | al.com: It's the latest twist in a story that has raised questions about whether the right procedures are in place for oil and gas leasing in the national forests of the eastern U.S. And about why anyone would be interested in leasing this land.

Birmingham Water Works appeal of coal mine permit set for August | al.com

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Birmingham Water Works appeal of coal mine permit set for August | al.com:

A challenge to a permit for a coal strip mine just upstream from a Birmingham Water Works Board drinking water intake has been set for Aug. 14 in Jasper.

Solar Payments Set Off a Fairness Debate - NYTimes.com

Solar Payments Set Off a Fairness Debate - NYTimes.com:
The net metering benefit, which is available to residential and commercial customers with renewable energy systems in more than 40 states and has helped spur a boom in solar installations, is at the heart of a battle.
Alabama is not one of those states.

Bama Art House Series film pulled after complaints from churches, leaders | TuscaloosaNews.com

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Bama Art House Series film pulled after complaints from churches, leaders | TuscaloosaNews.com

In an article by Mark Hughes Cobb, the T-News reports that the Arts Council of Tuscaloosa dropped the film under pressure from local pastors John Kearns of Christ Harbor Methodist Church and Randy Fuller of New Beginning Family Worship Center.
According to Arts Council the award-winning filmed contained "no nudity or other subject matter outside the range of similarly rated films that are screened on a daily basis throughout the state of Alabama and the surrounding states."

43,000 acres in Talladega National Forest eyed for gas and oil exploration | al.com

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43,000 acres in Talladega National Forest eyed for gas and oil exploration | al.com
Lease sale set for June 14 despite objections for Congressman Mike Rogers and the threat of a lawsuit by the Southern Environmental Law Center.

Alabama streams recovering from mine's coal washing spill | al.com

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Alabama streams recovering from mine's coal washing spill | al.com
New safety measures in place for injection wells statewide in response to the disaster that dumped thousands of gallons of sludge into creeks feeding North River.