What book(s) influenced you?
by StarEditorBobDavis
 Behind the Star
Aug 16, 2012 | 73724 views |  0 comments | 71 71 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink
Since Mitt Romney selected Paul Ryan as his VP, the books of Ayn Rand have become a trending topic. That's because U.S. Rep. Ryan, R-Wisc., has famously and repeatedly cited Rand's works as highly influential in his development. 
In a 2005 speech Ryan said:
"[T]he reason I got involved in public service, by and large, if I had to credit one thinker, one person, it would be Ayn Rand. And the fight we are in here, make no mistake about it, is a fight of individualism versus collectivism.”
The stories on Rand's influence on Ryan are stacking up. See here, here, here, here, here and here
The buzz will almost surely sell a few more copies of books by Rand, who died in 1982. Her most famous are Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead.
Our question today, however, deals with books and their influence. What book(s) influenced your ideology/politics? Use the comments section below to cite a title, author and reason.
Oh, and to get the ball rolling, allow me to offer my nominee: George Orwell's 1984, a novel that forecasts life under a totalitarian state. It's probably best read alongside Orwell's novella Animal Farm, an interest examination of the corrupting influence of power.
Our Big Competition
by StarEditorBobDavis
 Behind the Star
Jun 29, 2012 | 8558 views |  0 comments | 70 70 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

A group of community leaders joined us at the offices of The Star yesterday afternoon to discuss next steps in the Our Big Problem series on obesity. We had a fast-paced hour discussing ways our community can wrestle with the frightening statistics that show Alabama is among the fattest states in the union. (And, yes, as our reporting has shown, the impact of this epidemic has huge implications for everyone, even the fittest among us.)

One big idea to address Our Big Problem is a competition pitting young people from various community centers, clubs, churches and so forth against each other. The aim is to make fitness fun by competition and encouragement. In broad strokes, the highlights include:

-- Competitors would compete against other teams in a series of athletic contests.

-- Prizes would go to the top finishers as well as those kids who showed the most improvement.

--- The event might be best compared to a big “field day” where multiple events would be happening at the same time.

-- Incentives – prizes, special events, special recognition – would be available for winning teams and individuals. 

-- Our aim is to make this a fun event where boys and girls can encourage each other to get healthier.

 So, that’s what’s on the drawing board. We talking about an annual or twice-a-year competition, perhaps hosted at McClellan, which has facilities for multiple athletic events.

Now it’s your turn to weigh in.

What do you think of this idea? 

 How can we make it better?

 What athletic events would you suggest be a part of this competition? What about X-Games-styled events?

All ideas welcome. 

Never too late for a correction
by StarEditorBobDavis
 Behind the Star
Jun 20, 2012 | 4044 views |  0 comments | 60 60 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink
An emailer wrote late last night asking for a correction regarding a mention of Adlai Stevenson, the Democratic presidential nominee in 1952 and 1956. "His name was Stevenson, not Stevens," the email said. "Please correct your error on June 14.  Thanks.

At first I was thrown. I could find no reference to the politician in the June 14 issue of The Star. A little searching helped me realize the error was from my column published on June 14 of 2009. My mistake. The online version of the column has been amended. It's never too late to set the record straight. You can read it here. I'm happy to issue a correction ... three years late.

Early morning mourning
by StarEditorBobDavis
 Behind the Star
Jun 15, 2012 | 5765 views |  0 comments | 75 75 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink
Eight cyclists headed out along Choccolocco’s back roads early Friday morning. I can’t speak for the others, but Derek Jensen was on my mind at every turn of the pedal.

Jensen, the director of external affairs at the Center for Domestic Preparedness at McClellan, died Thursday morning after being hit by a truck while cycling to work, according to the police report. He was 37.

Jensen occasionally joined the group of early morning riders who follow a route designed to stay mostly clear of motor vehicles. He was a strong rider, an extremely fit athlete who never seemed to tire. He was a friendly soul, someone who encouraged slower riders like me. He was a positive person who could always be counted on to put in a good word no matter the subject, something we should all aspire to.

A death in this region’s tight-knit cycling community has weighed many down with sadness. Friday’s ride was a more somber affair than usual. Eyes and ears were even more attuned to oncoming traffic. The strain of extreme physical exertion brought an odd sort of relief, an hour or so of suffering to briefly distract one’s mind from the death of a friend. It was to me a sort of mourning.

In Judaism, the Kaddish is a prayer said in mourning the death of a loved one. Religious scholars are quick to point out that the Kaddish is not a prayer for the dead; it’s a prayer for the living.

While Derek’s friends and family remember his life, it’s important to also reflect on those left behind. We all share the same roads. There should be more awareness that others are using them, whether these travelers are on a bicycle, running or walking on two legs or even driving in another automobile.

Most runners and cyclists assume drivers of automobiles don’t notice them. Many carry flashing backlights to signal vehicles approaching from behind. Those are necessary precautions, yet not always enough. Today’s small hope is that Derek’s tragic passing can serve to raise awareness that the roads are meant for sharing.
A clarification from Congressman Rogers’ office
by StarEditorBobDavis
 Behind the Star
Jun 08, 2012 | 3424 views |  0 comments | 72 72 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

The office of U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Saks, takes issue with an Anniston Star editorial’s take on the congressman’s views regarding oil exploration in the Talladega National Forest.

The editorial – Our neck of the woods: Consider Talladega National Forest off-limits to drilling for oil, gas - contained this sentence: “Three Republicans — County Commissioner Tim Hodges, state Rep. Randy Wood and U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers — each have voiced strong opposition to drilling for fossil fuels in our national forest. Rogers was wise to request, in writing, that the BLM delay the auction.”

That’s not accurate, writes Shea Snider, spokeswoman for Rep. Rogers. Her email notes:

The above sentence “doesn’t accurately reflect Congressman Rogers’s statements on the issue. Rogers has never referenced drilling in the Talladega National Forest.

“What he has said is that he is vehemently opposed to allowing the leases to go forward, as he has said repeatedly and in public, because of the way BLM kept the public, local officials and his office in the dark. That’s why he has asked for the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to delay the lease sales, reopen the public comment period and hold public meetings as they should have done from the beginning. Something this important needs thorough public discussion and debate; the people deserve to know what is going on.”

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