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Hola Amigos,

It’s been awhile since I rapped at ya, but I’m thinking about blogging again. Where have I been, you may wonder (or not)? I’ve been right here in Bama, as always, planning, scheming, failing and getting back up to do it all over again. I kind of lost my taste for blogging and just let this site slip into a well-deserved coma. A lot of the rant-style posts I used to put here are now foisted (in thankfully abbreviated form) on the denizens of FaceBook ( and Twitter (, but, heck, maybe I’m ready to give it another shot. What with this here recession on, there’s not much else to do.

I’m going to try to write fewer, more quality posts and keep the ranting to a minimum:) To those who have allowed me to remain in their RSS feeds, thank you. Whether your kindness was due to nostalgia or pity, I’ll take what I can get. So what say you internets? To blog or not to blog?

Alternate title for this post: Back by unpopular demand or be careful what you don’t ask for.

Come on out to the 3rd annual Magic City Brewfest at Sloss this weekend! The Friday Session lasts from 7-11pm and the Saturday Session from 3-7pm. Enjoy over 200 beers, including several above the recently retired six percent limit, food and music.

If you haven’t already, join Free the Hops, the sponsor of the Brewfest and the driving force to reform Alabama’s antiquated beer laws. FTH’s efforts in getting the Gourmet Beer Bill passed is the reason you’re seeing high-gravity beers at your favorite establishments and stores around town and why you’ll be able to sample such tasty brews at the Brewfest this year.

Also, be sure to be responsible and plan ahead. You’ll have a better time and learn more about great beer if you keep your wits about you.

I’ll be there both days, so I hope to y’all there!

Today marks the 20th Anniversary of the Tiananmen Square Massacre when the Chinese state violently ended weeks of peaceful protests for democratic reform and killed hundreds of its own citizens for daring to speak out against repression. Even though most of us let this day pass unnoticed, the Chinese state has not forgotten and remains committed to squelching dissent by any means necessary. Be thankful for the freedom you enjoy. And remember what a fragile thing that freedom is as you think of those who have to watch what they say or do because their lives depend on it.

Previous remembrances.

More remembrances around the web:


Claudia Rosett in the WSJ


Radley Balko

As most of you are no doubt aware, Governor Riley signed the Gourmet Beer Bill into law on Friday. While I’d like to think that my first post as Birmingham’s Political Issues Examiner this past Thursday had something to do with it, the truth is that this victory is the result of the efforts of thousands of folks working for years to have freedom of beverage choice here in Alabama. Many of those folks, including myself, were celebrating this victory at the J. Clyde on Friday.

The real drivers of this change were the leaders, members and fellow travellers of Free the Hops who have proven that a committed grassroots movement can effect change in Alabama. Going from an idea to such a force in less than five years is nothing short of incredible, especially considering the political climate in this state and the fact that many of our politicians use their pharisaical opposition to all alcoholic beverages as a campaign plank. I, for one, will relish my first taste of Alabama-bought high-gravity beer as the sweet taste of freedom commingled with victory.

Of course every silver lining has a touch of grey, so we can’t forget that the battle for free brews is not over in here in the heart of dixie. As Danner Kline reminds us:

While the post below is titled “The Hops Are Free,” that’s not entirely correct. Raising the ABV limit was the primary reason I started FTH, and it was always our highest priority, but there are other antiquated, asinine laws oppressing the craft beer industry in this state. We’ll be having lots of discussions in the coming days about what to do next year, but rest assured we will continue to fight for sane beer regulation in Alabama, and there is much work left to be done. And we still need your help. So stay tuned — we’ve proven a grassroots effort can change Alabama law for the better. Let’s keep up the good work.

The restrictions on container size, homebrewing and brewpubs remain in place and will likely prove as difficult, if not moreso, to remove. I have it on good authority that the container size restriction (no bottles above 16 ounces) will likely be the next target for Free the Hops. We need to keep pushing for more freedom and fewer needless and arbitrary laws that make criminals out of folks who aren’t doing anything wrong.

This Tuesday, May 16th, will be the first meeting on the Birmingham chapter of Liberty on the Rocks, which is a social club for folks who are fans of freedom. The festivities begin at 7pm at the J. Clyde on Southside.

Our very special guests for this initial event are the crew of the Motorhome Diaries, who are travelling around the country filming a real-time documentary on various folks’ efforts to find liberty in North America. Just a couple of days ago, they discovered that some members of law enforcement in Mississippi aren’t so fond of being filmed in the course of their duties.

Come on out and enjoy half-price brews and don’t forget to contact Governor Riley and urge him to sign the recently passed Gourmet Beer Bill into law.

Now lets make sure Governor Riley does the right thing.

Evidently, some topics are too taboo even for Larry Langford:

The flap began when Hartley made comments about a “brain drain” in the city and the lack of cooperation between Birmingham and surrounding municipalities. Hartley said most of his classmates don’t live in Birmingham and have moved to other areas.

“I wasn’t implying that they live in Shelby County,” he said. “They live in Denver and Philadelphia, California and North Carolina because that’s where the jobs are that took them. I was asking a question. I don’t think that I insulted the mayor in any way.”

Langford said Hartley “had the nerve to call everyone else in the room who lived in the city limits ignorant. I will not sit by and allow someone who makes a living in this city to put this city down. If I did such a thing, I shouldn’t be mayor of this city.”

Langford said he walked up to Hartley to hear him better.

“I didn’t want to miss anything that he was saying because I couldn’t believe what he was saying. That’s when he proceeded that he felt threatened,” Langford said.

Hartley said he felt he was in danger.

“He tore his glasses off at one time and got in my face and said he wasn’t afraid of me,” Hartley said. “I thought it was an innocent question but he didn’t take it that way.”

How can we address problems in Birmingham if we can’t even discuss them realistically or call them by their proper name. To say that there has been a brain drain from Birmingham means that some of the smartest folks have left to pursue work and life elsewhere. That is not a slight on those who remain and doesn’t mean that we are less intelligent than folks who have left. Saying there’s a brain drain, or a business drain or an affluence drain, which there certainly have been, only reflects poorly on the city government and the mayor in particular, which is actually why Langford got upset.

If people are leaving, it doesn’t mean they hate Birmingham or think that the remaining residents are idiots, it means they’ve found a better opportunity elsewhere. If Langford wants to stop such outflow, he should actually make the city competitive and friendly to residents and businesses. The best way to make Birmingham competitive is to lower taxes across the board, remove the red tape involved in starting businesses, buying homes and holding community and cultural events. Relax zoning laws and let people be creative.

The renaissance of Birmingham (yes, we do need one and no, that is not intended as a slight on the current residents) will be a grassroots effort driven by the wonderful, creative energies of the people who already live here and others who will be attracted to the city through such a renaissance. Langford and the current city government don’t believe in getting out of the way of progress though. Instead, they seek a “Field of Dreams”-style renaissance that only exists in the movies. Spending all of the city’s funds or going into debt to finance “one big project” like a domed stadium or a new museum isn’t a plan, it’s a gamble with other people’s money and it’s a risk the people of Birmingham should not allow LaLa or his fellow loonies to take. We don’t need grand delusions here. We need the freedom to let thousands of different plans flourish.

Three cheers to Jerry Hartley for speaking truth to power!

H/T to Gil for letting me know about this.

Not everyone can share a birthday with one of the greatest intellects of all time, but my Dad, who is no intellectual slouch himself, shares one with the late, great Friedrich Hayek.

Previous Birthday wishes to both. (Go here for more info on Hayek and links to essential readings.)

Even Reason can’t keep track of all these Birthdays.

and politicians will not hesitate to pander in the face of tragedy.

Megan Meier’s death is certainly a tragedy, but a restriction on “bullying speech” could not have prevented it. Reactionary laws, which are all the rage these days, don’t really make us safer or solve the problems they’re passed to address. Mostly such laws just provide election year talking points. Law should be general and apply equally and fairly. Even with an ideal system, there will be folks who bully, harass and worse. We can’t make a perfect society and we certainly can’t legislate one, but we can all try to be better friends, neighbors and people. We can all do more to look out for the Megan Meier’s of the world who are hurting, alone and abused.

Link via Radley.

As y’all know, I recently joined the twittersphere. It appears that state senator Erwin, who is holding up the Gourmet Beer Bill, has also been tweetin’. As indefatigable freedom fighter Steve Gordon notes, Mr. Erwin has been tweeting away about his thus far successful efforts at filibustering to prevent the Gourmet Beer Bill from being voted on by the Senate.

Since Mr. Erwin likes to use Twitter to boast of gumming up the works, Steve thought it only fair that we use to the same platform to let Mr. Erwin know that we would really appreciate it if he would step aside and let the Gourmet Beer Bill come up for a vote. Here’s a snippet of Steve’s call to action:

If you don’t have a Twitter account, it’s very easy to use. Simply sign up here and tweet away.

For those of you already tweeting (and the rest of you once you sign up), here are the necessary components your message should contain:

@SENATORERWIN #alpolitics #fth (insert your message here)

Here’s a sample of an one possible message you can use:

@SENATORERWIN #alpolitics #fth Please let the Senate vote on Free the Hops

As I’ll be updating this article from time to time indicating how many messages Senator Erwin has received, it’s important that you include the information above in your tweet so I can tally the results.

Also, feel free to leave comments below about any new ideas, unique tweets, or other interesting information (such as the international tweets, the twitterer the farthest away from Alabama, the youngest or oldest twitter, etc.).

Let’s keep is clean, but it’s time for war. A war of words.

UPDATE: For those who follow various feeds on Twitter or tools such as TweetDeck, Twitter is low right now, but your messages are getting there. It make take an hour or two for them to show on your feed, though.

UPDATE II: Here are a couple of good tweets:

RichMiller: @SENATORERWIN #alpolitics #fth Sir, as a Republican and your constituent, please allow HB373, the Gourmet Beer Bill, to be voted upon.

SouthernPatriot: @SENATORERWIN #alpolitics #fth drop your “holier than thou” attitude and allow #FTH to go for a vote – remember YESHUA drank WINE! #tlot

I tweeted the senator and so should you.

Update: The Tweetstorm is in full effect. 11 pages deep so far. Keep it up!