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  #21  
Old Posted Jun 25, 2009, 11:13 PM
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I think that either Florence or Muscle Shoals has Sunday alcohol sales at certain times at restaurants.
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  #22  
Old Posted Jun 26, 2009, 1:04 AM
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Hands down, the seperation of church and state would be the biggest improvement to the state.
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  #23  
Old Posted Jun 26, 2009, 4:18 AM
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BTW, I'll put out the results of the survey once a few more people have taken. So far, twenty have taken it. Even one from Canada, haha.
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  #24  
Old Posted Jun 26, 2009, 2:08 PM
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gotcha... thanks for the clarification everyone.
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  #25  
Old Posted Jun 26, 2009, 3:03 PM
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A similar question was posed to Gadsdenites - How do we improve Gadsden? - many years ago. One businessman ranked these, from first to last: 1) fire; 2) flood; 3) earthquake. Perhaps these same ideals could apply, but just in strategically placed areas!

In all honesty, I think that in order to improve Alabama, we must first look at our most derelict cities. And by derelict cities, I mean Birmingham. Birmingham's biggest impediment is its educational system (this resonates over to the Black Belt, too). Why should I live in Birmingham, with its mediocre schools when I can go over the mountain or east and have top-quality schools? Colin Coyne of the Coyne group had a great suggestion - invest the $400 million of school sales tax revenue in T-bills or some similar low-risk investment, and begin an endowment where you would continue to have that money every 30 years for reinvestment. In my opinion, you cannot begin to improve the other problems affecting the state (except perhaps home rule and church/state) before you enhance the education system.

Other things I would love to see in Alabama - of course, we're all a little more progressive than our peers - is passenger high-speed rail connecting Alabama's top ten/eleven metropolitan areas with Atlanta, Columbus, Pensacola, New Orleans, Jackson, Memphis, Nashville, Chattanooga, etc. If we cater exclusively to Alabama cities, it would fail. I remember looking up commute rates between Gadsden and Anniston. I expected them to be quite high, but if I remember correctly barely topped 1,000/day. That number could hardly justify any rail project, but if high speed rail connected our major cities and light rail ran throughout their respective metros, we might have something to flaunt. Just something as capital-intensive as this project would have a spillover effect in our economic vitality.
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  #26  
Old Posted Jun 26, 2009, 5:03 PM
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I don't believe in order to improve Alabama we need only to look at Birmingham or the Black Belt school systems. Granted, they are in shambles and desperately need a complete overhaul but Alabama's problems as a whole cannot be placed entirely on their shoulders.

I believe our biggest problem is our own negative perception and unwillingness to think progressive. I have lived a few different places and never experienced a state with such a negative point of view. We need some serious PR to ourselves. Regardless of what part of the state you live.
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  #27  
Old Posted Jun 26, 2009, 8:33 PM
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Originally Posted by | BRAVO | View Post
I believe our biggest problem is our own negative perception and unwillingness to think progressive. I have lived a few different places and never experienced a state with such a negative point of view. We need some serious PR to ourselves. Regardless of what part of the state you live.
You make a good point. Thinking progressive is a HUGE problem. In the "Huntsville Development News" blog, the point was made that Huntsville officials too often have a Madison County only, or Huntsville only mindset. Most officials are closed minded in the sense that they don't wanna think outside of the box.

I hear a lot of people on in this topic saying that separation of church and state would solve a lot of problems. Of course, we all know that on paper they are separated in Alabama (as far as laws and funding go), but the legislators too often insert their beliefs into the laws they create, to the point where many bills are quite bias towards only a their point of view.

Simply saying "get 'church' out of government" doesn't even begin to label what needs to happen. It's not "church" that needs to get out of government, it's the diction in the law that needs to be monitored in order for it to not be skewed in the direction of a religious belief, unless it is something like the freedom of religion and what not.

I hope everyone understands what I'm saying. I mean, honestly, I think it's ridiculous that people cite religion for reasons to not have gambling and alcohol consumption. I simply believe that "church" is welcome in government, as long as it remains in the sense of forming the good character of a politician an not in influencing their decisions on lawmaking.

I can tell you all right now, running into the street and yelling "separate church and state!" is not the way to go about fixing things. What we need is a comprehensive discussion to go forward in order for everyone to learn what parts of government church belongs.

Too often, politicians in the South forget that the opinions of the people come before the opinions of the church. We need to teach them that a balance can be found and worked out.
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  #28  
Old Posted Jun 26, 2009, 9:06 PM
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Originally Posted by | BRAVO | View Post
I don't believe in order to improve Alabama we need only to look at Birmingham or the Black Belt school systems. Granted, they are in shambles and desperately need a complete overhaul but Alabama's problems as a whole cannot be placed entirely on their shoulders.
I'm not saying that looking at Birmingham, etc. is the only thing we need to do, nor am I saying blame falls squarely on them. I simply meant that in order to improve the educational system, we must first look at improving the systems that are in the most dire need of repair.
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  #29  
Old Posted Jun 28, 2009, 11:07 AM
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A couple personal observations:

I HATE the idea of putting casino's on the Causeway. That area is uniquely Mobile & I would hate to see it paved under in a tacky neon haze like some mini-Atlantic City. The only thing I want to see done on the Causeway is an elimination of that pink monstrosity. I'd prefer, though, that it be made into a large marina to fit the cultural and aesthetic perspective of that part of Mobile. There are plenty of other places in Mobile to build on. Preserving the amazing heritage of our great city should never take a backseat to questionable development.

I'm not an opponent of casino's in general, had Mobile been able to jump ahead of Biloxi/G'port on the issue I'd have thought it brilliant. It didn't happen. Time to move on. Plus, people have this really ridiculous notion that gambling will solve the problem. No, gambling is just a bandaid over a sliced carotid.... at best. Our primary issue w/ funding is that (A) our state residents don't want to pay any taxes while still expecting a level of service in line w/ that of places that pay much more than we currently do & (B) that our current constitution and the ridiculously outdated property/income/sales tax distribution that it creates is like a titanium ceiling preventing our state the ability of self-actualization. As a state we will never achieve what we are capable of while it is in place & we are at present taking it out on our most vulnerable citizens with these oppressive sales taxes.

badrock's post on the seperation of church & state was pretty good, IMO. I have no religious opposition to liquor sales or gambling, as those are questions of faith best left to the individual & their relationship with their religion. I've always found it silly that liquor is prohibited on Sundays when not even all Christian denominations celebrate Sunday as the Sabbath.

I disagree that Birmingham's biggest hurdle is its education level. Their problems there aren't any more dramatic than in other poor school systems all over the state. B'ham's are just amplified by the # of children involved.... though for Pete's Sake can someone explain subject-verb agreement to the school board? One of the JeffCoSB member was on TV a week or two talking about how "the schools is". It's all well and good to use whatever dialect you want at home but when you're representing "Education" ACT LIKE YOU HAVE ONE! I think B'hams biggest hurdle is poverty. All the rest of its issues spill off that like water off a ducks back. The absurdly high STD rates, poor or negligible parenting, high crime rate, & education woes are all either directly or indirectly related to that. The solution to that is not discernible as there probably is no one solution to fix the problem. It's going to take a lot of work on the part of local leadership.

And now my ideas on improving AL:

Infrastructure:

There needs to be serious work done here. Education is important, but in terms of advancing the capabilities of our state, improving the infrastructure is on even (or better) footing. Yes, I'm on record as saying it needs to be done responsibly. I think the idea of just throwing up extra lanes to alleviate congestion is a stopgap that only postpones an issue. You have to think long term in this area. Long term needs dictate that we need more freight rail capacity in this state so that we don't have to have as many trucks on the road (greatly increasing the wear and tear on said roads). the plans for HiSpd Rail are great. Plans for Light Rail would be better. I would dearly love to see commuter rail links between the Mobile A'port & (via the Eastern Shore communities) the Pleasure Island area. I'd like even more to see a cooperative effort between Mobile and P'cola to create a larger "International" airport somewhere in Baldwin County between the two not far from I-10. I think light rail from downtown B'ham to park & ride centers along 280 would help to alleviate a lot of bad traffic there, but they've got serious issues with sprawl now.

Education:

California is doing away with textbooks and going to a computer-based model of textbook distribution. This will save them a ton of money and result with their kids getting the latest textbooks & being more familiar with computers in an increasingly computer-based economy. Why is it that Cali can do this when they're as broke as they are and we can't? If we can't achieve it all at once there's no reason we can't phase it in over a few years.

I think that a means of cutting cost while improving education would be to go from the 8-3 M-F w/ 2 1/2 - 3 months off school to a 8-5 M-Th w/ 2 months off. Schools would save a lot more money than you think by being open one less day. They could funnel this money into infrastructure, supply, & personnel instead. Plus, it would have the added benefit of giving our teachers a 3 day weekend which might help us keep our teachers instead of hemorhaging them to better-paying jobs in our sister states.

My most radical idea on education;

Do away with the physical school. Think about it. The physical schools are the biggest cost with the millions it takes to keep up with the demand & maintain the structures. Right now more and more college courses are taught online. With voice recognition software and interactive education tools we are getting closer and closer to the point where the school is functionally unnecessary. You could even conceivably teach a better version of physical education to kids by using technology similar to that employed by the WiiFit. We already have every book in our libraries available for free online, thus proving our capability in the online arena. Why not phase out schools by offering a top-flight home-schooling program for free to the taxpayers of the state. Software can monitor to make sure that the student "attends" his/her classes and intuitive programs can, by way of quiz answers, discern patterns in students who need more instruction in a given area or take them onward to more advanced knowledge. What more impressive way to change the image of the state's education profile than to lead the entire developed world into the new education model. This also returns some authority on a child's education to its parent(s). Socially, you would almost totally eliminate bullying. The kids would be as safe as if they were in their own house (b/c they would be). The rapid passing of diseases from child to child would be greatly lessened, & (with some state funding for facilities) community-based groups could take up the slack on athletics and other afterschool-type functions. It even should ultimately cost less per pupil and our kids would be at the forefront of education.
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  #30  
Old Posted Jun 28, 2009, 12:25 PM
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^^^ I agree with your post except for online schooling.
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  #31  
Old Posted Jun 28, 2009, 12:51 PM
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Yea, the online schooling I think is a bit too much. Now, if it's the AP distance thing that Alabama already does, I think that's appropriate. But, what if there is some glitch in the system? What if the system gets hacked? What if there is a power outage?
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  #32  
Old Posted Jun 28, 2009, 5:56 PM
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EDUCATION!
The AHSGE is a joke! Really, it's sickening to even look at that crap. And the fact that teachers are expected to pander to those "requirements" is insulting. Education has been reduced down to forcing students to recite facts not think.

However, the higher education system in this state is getting better and better.
I think UAB is THE vital link for revitalization of B'ham after the recession, considering Stem Cell research is now legal. Also, the Univ. of South AL. has been pushing to really improve.

If things continue, I can see the trend of the "best and brightest" leaving this state to go elsewhere, finally begin to fade.
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Originally Posted by Alabadrock View Post
You make a good point. Thinking progressive is a HUGE problem. In the "Huntsville Development News" blog, the point was made that Huntsville officials too often have a Madison County only, or Huntsville only mindset. Most officials are closed minded in the sense that they don't wanna think outside of the box.

I hear a lot of people on in this topic saying that separation of church and state would solve a lot of problems. Of course, we all know that on paper they are separated in Alabama (as far as laws and funding go), but the legislators too often insert their beliefs into the laws they create, to the point where many bills are quite bias towards only a their point of view.

Simply saying "get 'church' out of government" doesn't even begin to label what needs to happen. It's not "church" that needs to get out of government, it's the diction in the law that needs to be monitored in order for it to not be skewed in the direction of a religious belief, unless it is something like the freedom of religion and what not.

I hope everyone understands what I'm saying. I mean, honestly, I think it's ridiculous that people cite religion for reasons to not have gambling and alcohol consumption. I simply believe that "church" is welcome in government, as long as it remains in the sense of forming the good character of a politician an not in influencing their decisions on lawmaking.

I can tell you all right now, running into the street and yelling "separate church and state!" is not the way to go about fixing things. What we need is a comprehensive discussion to go forward in order for everyone to learn what parts of government church belongs.

Too often, politicians in the South forget that the opinions of the people come before the opinions of the church. We need to teach them that a balance can be found and worked out.
You absolutely right...and this makes me wonder why the people in office continue to get elected? OVER AND OVER....I think the little "scruffle" in congress awhile ago should have opened our eyes to the fact that many (not all) of our politicians are incompetent. Although, I do disagree with the notion that Alabamians do not think positive. I mean, look at the Tanker contract. They could have just accepted what happened but they didn't, although, I guess that's quite a different situation...
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  #33  
Old Posted Jun 29, 2009, 2:14 AM
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I disagree about online home schooling. School isn't purely just about learning facts and procedures. Children need the socialization that schools provide, something much harder to accomplish being stuck with your parent(s) all day every day. And, as someone else mentioned, the 100% online learning seems that it could potentially be unstable. Also, if you want to save schools money, than invest in smart energy consumption and use.
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  #34  
Old Posted Jun 29, 2009, 5:41 AM
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Children need the socialization that schools provide
no doubt.

a few more robert witts would also help.
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  #35  
Old Posted Jun 29, 2009, 7:37 AM
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Fair enough if you disagree on the online school idea, I did say it was a radical concept.

I disagree completely that socialization can only take place at school facilities. For one thing, social interaction between young people increasingly takes place online. Those of you familiar with the world of the "Gamers" can see the high degree of interactivity between individuals that is the future of that area & how it could apply in other arenas. I also think that it's worth noting that not all social interaction that takes place at school is a positive for children. Bullying, peer pressure, & social stratification (cliques, etc.) can be MUCH more isolating than home school & can actually have a negative effect on a child's social achievement. Besides, studies already show there to be no major difference between home-school kids and public school kids on social skills. I did also mention that there's no reason athletics or other after school programs would have to be eliminated in order to homeschool... look at Tim Tebow, for an obvious example. Community sports organizations like city football and baseball leagues can cover that function just as easily while arrangements at community centers could be made to cover the rest. Social skills WERE taught in this country prior to the advent of mandatory schooling. All we would be doing is returning to the original model.

badrock, glitches & power outages are already represented in the current physical set up by teacher error (no one's perfect, not calling anyone out on that... Teachers end up w/ tons to grade) & by sick days & inclement weather. If you consider those last two issues akin to power outages then you just make up the time at a later date & have a setup that "forgives" a certain amount of missed time (like sick days kids already have). The system being hacked is a definite concern, but there's an awful lot of business, entertainment, & education conducted online safely. If a facebook app can correctly quiz me on the capitals of Europe why can't the state of AL? If the UA can give me a college algebra course entirely online why can't the state of AL do the same for HS math? Not only that but having the courses online would remove the sad disparity between the course offerrings given in wealthier/larger districts and those in poorer/smaller ones.

Nouveau, I was mentioning how schools could save money in some areas so that it could be put back into other areas, not so that it could just be saved & unspent. Just trying to be clear on that. We live in a state with finite financial resources & can't really hope to keep up w/ all the things we need to spend on in order to catch up to where we need to be w/o juggling things around or making some fundamental changes, but I agree w/ you completely that there's a lot that can be done in that area by way of more efficient building and maintenance policy. Thank you for bringing it up.
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  #36  
Old Posted Jun 29, 2009, 9:41 AM
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I hate online classes at school, they're always such a pain to deal with. Especially the way they do the math classes. It is so easy for you to fall behind and fail a math class because all of the coursework is done online, instead of on paper.

You raise a good point that teachers also have problems. But, the thing is that there are thousands upon thousands more students in elementary, middle, and high schools than there are in colleges, thus there are many more ways for the system to go wrong.

Having an integrated system that involves both online and classroom coursework is a good thing, IMO, but I do not believe that an online course has the same impact as a classroom course.
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  #37  
Old Posted Jul 9, 2009, 4:27 AM
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Good evening all:

Forward
I am an Alabama native that relocated to one of the "bluest" states, so I can provide a critique from an outsider's perspective - provided you folks are willing to hear some "tough love". I contribute the occasional sardonic jest to the Alabama forums, but I will break from tradition and try to get my points across tonight in a wholly earnest way. Perhaps through my personal story and observations, you can extrapolate some of the larger issues at hand.

In sum, I'm the kind of person that Alabama can't really afford to lose, but lost anyway. Outside of burying my mother, I'll never come back.

Introduction
To provide you all some background and context, I'll furnish some biographical information. I was born at St. Margaret's, went to school at Dannelly, then Cloverdale, and finally Jeff Davis and graduated with the class of '95. I was accepted to AUM on full scholarship, and there I pursued a Business degree and graduated Magna Cum Laude.

I worked at some odd jobs in college, ultimately landing a clerical gig with Colonial Bank, whereupon I earned two rapid promotions to the loan audit team. Growing tired of the culture there, I impetuously moved to Birmingham to pursue a tech career. I had lived in Montgomery for 24 years!

I moved up the socioeconomic ladder working for a few firms and, in the process, was able to travel extensively for the first time. Knowing that my fate lay beyond the borders of the state, I moved to Portland, OR after securing a remotely-based position at my firm. I've now lived here three years and work for a local company downtown. I no longer own a car and rely on public transit to do everything, and using a zip car when I fancy a ride to the coast or the mountains, each a little over an hour away.

Observations
I have very, very strong memories of living in the South. There are a few recurring themes I encountered in my youth that I will examine, in no particular order. I'll make several posts, focusing on one theme at a time.

The first theme?

Fierce Pride In One's Own Ignorance
From being taunted at grade school for knowing what NAFTA meant to being ridiculed for believing in evolution or the ozone hole as an adult, one thing that seared my memory was people's ferocious pride in their own ignorance.

Whites and Blacks were equally guilty of this offense. It just wasn't cool to actually demonstrate knowledge and GOD FORBID if you used a "big" word. I remember clearly one time using the word "intonation" to describe the pitch of someone's speech and the TEACHER said "the hypotenuse of WHAT?” igniting a round of guffaws in the classroom and humiliating me into silence. I didn't forget.

I could give you dozens and dozens of examples in an array of social situations of being marginalized through peer pressure for articulating stances on evolution or climate change, or even discussing how delicious ethnic food is or expressing interest in world travel.

No matter the country discussed, the conversation always included a stern "But they HATE us over thar!!" and an OBSTINATE refusal to EVER consider traveling overseas. Even though they didn't know anyone from any of these nations, nor did any of their friends - they knew with 100% certitude that "they hate us over thar".

So, why does any of this matter? It matters because the state's leaders emulate their electorate. The attitude of "I don't know, I don't wanna know, I'm proud I don't know and you're a fairy elitist for wanting to know" is precisely the kind of leadership Alabama has had from top to bottom. Really, from Roy Moore to Fob James to Emory Folmar, they all berated people for deviating from a creationist, blue-law kind of worldview.

I won't forget reading about Fob James hunching across the stage like a monkey to illustrate his disagreements with Darwin. Of course, in a state filled with cars that have trunk ornaments of "King of the Jews" fishes eating smaller "Darwin" fishes, it's no big surprise that stunts like that earn substantial political mileage.

Now, the funny thing is, the pride in ignorance really only holds true on a macro level. People I knew in Alabama didn't take pride in doing a poor job, not knowing how their car works or not knowing who won the latest Iron Bowl. However, for instance, they took an immense amount of pride in not knowing - or caring - about the difference between Shia and Sunni Muslims.

They took PRIDE in not caring about the difference between Japanese, Chinese, Koreans or Thais; they all just fell into the same dog-eating "gook" category.

So why does it even matter? It matters because if you've got Japanese, Korean and German auto companies doing business in your state, doesn't it pay to be just a LITTLE curious about those cultures?

So, there you have one of the biggest reasons I fled west - to find a place where you weren't labeled a weirdo for exhibiting genuine curiosity in the world at large.

Unfortunately, it seems the old myth of assiduously avoiding the consumption of any fruit from the tree of knowledge is taken all too literally in the Heart of Dixie.
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  #38  
Old Posted Jul 9, 2009, 5:39 AM
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Wow... that was kinda insulting. Though, I'll put up with it because of your disclaimer

I'd disagree with many of the points you raise, though I would be crazy if I said that what you describe does not occur, because it does.

There are MANY politicians that are so stuck in the past that they aren't willing to look to the future. The fact is that it goes both ways. Republicans are usually blinded by the conflict between science and religion, and Democrats are usually just so devoted to a cause that they can't see past it.

Anyways, I think that saying that Alabamians don't know the difference between different races, aren't open minded, and are just so blissfully ignorant that they just can't help themselves is completely incorrect.

When I was going through Elementary, Middle, and High school, it was frowned upon if you made poor grades. The cool kids weren't cool because of what they wore or what they did, they were cool because they were intelligent and were going to make something of themselves. NAFTA wasn't at the forefront of our minds, we were more interested in conflicts in Iran, Korea, and if there was going to be a civil war in Iraq. What if China becomes too powerful? What happens when they stop loaning us money? How do we protect ourselves from another 9/11?

My Senior year, our daily Government/Economics and Current World Affairs classes were constantly full of updates on issues from around the world, we knew what was going on, and how it was going to affect us.

I don't know the people that grew up with you, and teased you because you knew what NAFTA was, but they certainly weren't the people I grew up with. I was looked up to because I took joy in knowing about the world around me, and other people took notice and began to do the same thing.

So, Philopdx, while some of your claims are valid, I find most of the others most interesting, because I never experienced, and still don't experience, them. I am 20 years old, so obviously times have changed, maybe you should re-examine Alabama. I am proud to be one of the 4,600,000 Alabamians on this planet. If those 4.6 Million people are as ignorant as you say they are, I don't want to be educated anymore.
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  #39  
Old Posted Jul 9, 2009, 6:09 AM
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I no longer own a car and rely on public transit to do everything, and using a zip car when I fancy a ride to the coast or the mountains, each a little over an hour away.
Congrats. Geographical Darwinism. Bama wins again.



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  #40  
Old Posted Jul 9, 2009, 7:32 AM
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Um, I'm gona have to go with Alab on this one.

Sure there were a couple of redneck d'bags in my class who flaunted their stupidity and laughed at their own racist jokes, but the majority of us were polar opposites of them. I have had open-minded religous discussions with my friends when we were freshmen. I was in acting with many of my friends and we performed many skits and musicals and the like. We all strived for good grades (cool kids, alternative kids, nerdy kids...). We would attempt to slip those dreaded "big" words into our conversations and often tried our parts at foreign languages.

I'm from Alabama born and raised. I love thai food and sushi. I drive an ULEV. My carbon footprint periodically goes down whole sizes. I am actively involved in the renaissance of my local downtown. I mean, I could go on, but I don't really think that it's necessary.

In parting, I can't speak for the whole state (especially many rural areas and areas up north) but these have been/are my experiences in Mobile.
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