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Index of Articles

Change, by Edmund Tsang. (Apr 10, 2001)
Some Harbinger readers probably already know that I am leaving Mobile for Kalamazoo, Michigan. Consequently, the community newspaper part of The Harbinger will cease after this issue; the public forum/life-long learning mission of The Harbinger will likely continue, at least in Kalamazoo. And the Harbinger web page, which has proved to be useful to professors and students across the U.S., will remain open.

Ration, Ration, Who's Got the Proration (Mar 27, 2001)
The public's unwillingness to support public education is one of the oldest stories in the world -- hardly worth the telling if it weren't for the profound consequences.

Movies, Movies, Movies (Mar 6, 2001)
A riddle: What do all critically acclaimed films have in common? Answer: You guessed it -- they can't be viewed in Mobile.

What's In A Flag? (Feb 20, 2001)
History, to paraphrase Katharine Hepburn's character in the movie African Queen, is what we are put in this world to rise above. It is dangerous for any group of people to forget their history, but perhaps even more dangerous to try continually to re-live it.

Time to Pay the Piper. (Feb 6, 2001)
It is a cliche among economists that "There is no such thing as a free lunch." It has been repeated to the point of cliche that the starting point of real development for this community -- not only in the narrow economic sense of better jobs, but in the broadest sense of developing the full potential of the community -- is better education.

Let the People Vote!. (Jan 23, 2001)
Yes, we are talking about the Electoral College once more.

Colonial Politics. (Jan 9, 2001)
Have you noticed local folks' fondness for the name "Colonial"? We have Colonial Bank, Colonial Bread, and Colonial Mall, to mention a few. We are also attached to colonial-era political structures -- such as the Electoral College. This is one colonial artifact that needs to be discarded.

All Sports, All the Time. (Nov 28, 2000)
The TV cable system in Mobile has approximately forty channels dedicated to nothing but sports, in addition to the heavy sports programming on many of the other cable channel stations, especially during the weekend. The available electronic and in-the-flesh versions of sports are not enough for University of South Alabama administrators, however. They are circling like sharks with the scent of fresh blood, and they will not be dissuaded until football is added to the university's inter-collegiate sports program.

NASA, Come Home! (Nov 14, 2000)
Another rocket to Mars? Hopefully not. The U.S. has landed enough costly hardware on the red planet. And how about that $90 billion international space station -- built for strictly political reasons? Instead of projects such as those, why not refocus on NASA's "Mission to Planet Earth," where the real problems are.

The Invisible People. (Oct 31, 2000)
Homelessness is a complex issue, and one that is difficult to deal with. The first requirement, however, is that as a society we stop pretending not to see the homeless, and give up some of the myths that make people feel better about the homeless but prevent anything being done to alleviate the problems.

Guns, Goons, and a Well-Regulated Militia. (Oct 17, 2000)
Like the Bible, the U.S. Constitution is constantly exalted, yet seldom read in full. Consider the Bill of Rights, written largely in the context of the American Revolution: It restores the rights that British colonial rulers denied the American colonials. Do they make sense in 21st-century America? Yes, for the most part, but with some concessions to more then two hundred years of change.

Some Good Environmental News???. (Oct 3, 2000)
Is it possible that there is some good environmental news in southwest Alabama? Maybe. Two recent news items may be harbingers (so to speak) of a more progressive attitude in the state regarding the environment, but it is too soon to be uncorking the wine for any celebrations.

Football Prayers: A Symbolic Revolt. (Sep 19, 2000)
Together with the national anthem, public recitations of the Lord's Prayer have been a standard part of Friday-night gridiron rituals in small-town America. Now the federal judiciary says that such organized expressions of faith don't belong in a publicly sponsored event. Why must the tradition die?

The 1901 Alabama Constitution. (Sep 5, 2000)
The fire-and-brimstone preachers like to say that man is a creature "conceived in sin and born in corruption." That expression may be bad theology, but it is literally true of the 1901 Alabama constitution.

Change. (Aug 22, 2000)
Regular Harbinger readers will notice a number of changes in this issue of the paper, which kicks off the 19th year of publishing.

Siegelman and Education, by Dan Silver. (Apr 25, 2000)
During his gubernatorial campaign, Governor Don Siegelman vowed to make education reform a priority of his administration. For a majority of voters his articulate phrases were a soothing balm after the embarrassing statements and the silly antics of the former governor. But lately his words have been disappointing.

The 2000 Census and Civic Engagement, Blah, Blah, Blah..., by Edmund Tsang. (Apr 11, 2000)
It took me less than five minutes to complete the short form of the 2000 United States Census for a household of three people. If I were one of the six persons who received the long form, I am sure I could complete it pretty quickly.

The Sum-in-Lieu Issue, by Dan Silver. (Mar 28, 2000)
Mobile's public schools are in financial trouble. Painful program and staff cuts will be needed in order to fill a $10 million budget hole. Meanwhile, nine area businesses refuse to make promised payments to the school system for tax breaks that they received. It is shameful that the city's Industrial Development Board (IDB), which awarded the tax breaks almost 10 years ago, is either unable or unwilling to collect.

Savage Justice in Alabama, by Dan Silver. (Mar 14, 2000)
Once again Alabama is in the news, and once again the news is not good. Death row in Alabama is growing faster than in any other state. Although Alabama provides lawyers for appeal...the compensation is laughably small.... Not surprisingly, lawyers who cannot avoid being assigned capital defense cases, such as those in small, poor towns where the pool of lawyers is small, are often unfit to represent their condemned clients.

Jeff Sessions and his Abuse of Power, by Dan S. Silver. (Feb 22, 2000)
Last summer Christian Coalition President Pat Robertson met in Washington, D.C. with Senate Republican leaders, including Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions. Christian Coalition, an organization that has been refused Federal tax-exempt status because of its political activities, was planning its version of a voter registration drive in churches around the country.

Governor Siegelman's Safe Agenda, by Dan Silver. (Feb 8, 2000)
Governor Siegelman's State of the State address last Tuesday night was a disappointment. Instead of promising to tackle significant issues such as tax and constitutional reforms, the governor vowed to take on safe issues during the coming legislative session.

It's only e-money, isn't it?, by Dan Silver. (Jan 25, 2000)
December was a month of unprecedented giveaways for the dot-coms, especially those in consumer markets such as drugs, books and gourmet food. On-line companies threw around gift certificates and promises of free shipping in hopes that consumers soon would be there.

Rush Limbaugh Asks: Who Knows Where the Time Goes?, by Dan Silver. (Jan 11, 2000)
What Rush didn't know was that new software romantically called Cash was compressing his hot air, searching his sentences for small intervals of empty, content-free space (for this you need software?), editing them out to make room for a few extra commercials each hour.

One Day in the Life of Mitchell U., by Edmund Tsang. (Dec 1, 1999)
The most recent example of gross disregard for the ideal of equality can be found in the Mitchell Center where Trustee Mayer Mitchell ordered the staff of the university to work for his own personal benefit and whim by changing the height of seats that he bought in the sports complex.

Violent Thoughts on Veterans Day, by Dan Silver. (Nov 16, 1999)
Stories of gun violence filled the newspapers last week. As Alabama saluted veterans of its nation's wars, it also remembered a young woman who shot and killed another last Tuesday after an episode of road rage. “Oh my God, I shot her! She's dying!'' was all that Shirley Henson could say on her cell phone after she had called the police.

Response to an arts brother, by Dan Silver. (Nov 2, 1999)
On Sunday, October 24 Mobile Register Fine Arts Editor Thomas B. Harrison told arts groups that they should not expect publicity for their events. In a bizarre column entitled “A gentle reminder to my arts brethren'' Mr. Harrison wrote: “An arts editor is a journalist -- not a salesman, stenographer, cheerleader or mouthpiece.'' He concluded: “Publicity is an inevitable byproduct of coverage, but it isn't the editor’s raison d’ętre.''

Plan B, by Dan Silver. (Oct 19, 1999)
We still don't understand exactly where in the Bible it says Thou shalt not gamble. The closest authoritarian statement we can find is by Albert Einstein, who said God does not play dice. Einstein never suggested that we should not.

Lottery as Charity, by Dan Silver. (Oct 5, 1999)
Alabama voters will decide on October 12 whether or not they want a lottery designed to pay for pre-kindergarten programs, public school computers and college tuition.

For the Good of USA, Trustee Mayer Mitchell Please Resign!, by Edmund Tsang. (Sep 14, 1999)
The Harbinger is a community newspaper, and as such normally does not write and has not written much about the University of South Alabama (USA), unless it affects the Mobile community of which USA is a member. As everyone knows, there is turmoil in USA involving mainly some members of the Board of Trustees, USA President Mr. Gordon Moulton, the USA Foundation Board, and the foundation's current director Dr. Frederick Whiddon, the first and former president of USA.

Death of a Tax Bill, by Dan Silver. (Aug 31, 1999)
On August 17 Mobile County voters overwhelmingly rejected a desperate call for a 10- mill increase in property taxes for public schools. Few would have denied that many classrooms are in terrible shape or that 550 portable classrooms are too many. So why did residents defeat the measure which would have raised property tax on a $70,000 house by a mere $70 a year?

Wherefore Art?, by Dan Silver. (May 4, 1999)
Artists suffer. Perhaps American artists suffer the most. This is a country that knows the value of a buck, that tallies success in units of dollars, power and influence. In America we hang pictures by Van Gogh and Gauguin in our living rooms, while we warn our children not to become artists. After all, how would they make a living?

Hey, Would You Believe it!? Robin Hood Works For The Mobile Register, by Tom Brennan. (Apr 13, 1999)
The Mobile Register, in its April-4 editorial, has discovered a ready and easy way to solve the indigent-care problem plaguing the USA's hospitals--rob from the rich to pay for the poor! ... As the Mob.Reg. sees it, three parties are obligated to solve the indigent-care problem: USA's hospital system, USA's endowment Foundation, and Mobile County and surrounding counties.

Steve Windom is a Desperate Man, by Daniel Silver. (Mar 30, 1999)
In January, Democrats in the Alabama Senate voted to strip the Lieutenant Governor of much of his power. Since Republican Steve Windom had just been elected and would soon take up the post, the Democrats' action sounded to some like a scorched-earth tactic. To others it made perfectly good sense.

Trashing PrimeHealth or As Me Old Irish Grandmither Used To Say, Laddie Ye Be Cuttin' Off Your Nose To Spite Your Face!, by Tom Brennan. (Mar 16, 1999)
In its March-5 headline story, "Trustees question Bailout, HMO Gets $21 Million from USA Foundation," the Mobile Register has fashioned a new and improved crooked yardstick, surpassing all its previous measures for reckless journalism.

Mercury in the Bay, by Daniel Silver. (Feb 23, 1999)
The article in this issue on mercury pollution in Mobile Bay should upset residents of the state. Until public officials and Mobile's daily newspaper finally recognize the true scale of the problem and search for its real causes, no-consumption advisories will become increasingly common.

Tiny Tim Versus Ebenezer Scrooge, by Tom Brennan. (Feb 2, 1999)
As in all matters where desire and money are the themes of the Mob.Reg. soap opera which casts the USA Foundation as Scrooge and the USA Board and Administration as a poor crippled Tiny Tim, the maudlin sentimentality of the script is very likely to delude the audience into thinking that Scrooge is beating up Tiny Tim when, if the truth be known, Tiny Tim is using his crutch on the back of poor old Scrooge.

Covering the Arts, by Daniel Silver. (Jan 19, 1999)
The Harbinger has a different look. Beginning with this issue each cover will display work by a Mobile visual artist. We hope that our new format brings a little more attention to Mobile's visual artists.

A Season of Hope for Recycling, by Edmund Tsang. (Dec 1, 1998)
A recent flier left with the customers stated that Earth Resources would discontinue pick-up of plastics because it could not find a buyer for recycled plastics. The announcement mentioned that the City of Mobile is about to implement a comprehensive recycling plan.

Jackasses Galore, by Tom Brennan. (Nov 17, 1998)
Last Spring, Prathina Veeramachaneni, an international student at the University of South Alabama, wrote a short piece for The Vanguard titled "Naked Came the Strangers in the Night" (5/4/98). The story contained nothing, one would think, that could cause anyone to take offense. It simply stated in excellent English that during the winter quarter about 15 naked men, presumed to be from some unidentified fraternity, ran through several dorms in "full Monty" fashion. But...

Brother, Can You Spare $32 Million?, by Daniel Silver. (Nov 3, 1998)
When an issue involving the University of South Alabama has community-wide importance, we write about it. The fight between the USA Foundation and the university's Board of Trustees is such an issue. During his last years as university president, Frederick Whiddon faced growing challenges from Board members with their own egos and agendas. Whiddon now heads the USA Foundation, which controls a $340 million endowment, and the challenges continue.

Diamond Fob, by Daniel Silver. (Oct 20, 1998)
Fob James likes to denounce gambling. He has resisted the lure of casinos in Alabama. He enjoys criticizing opponent Don Siegelman's proposal for an education lottery. However, James's actions in office suggest an altogether different attitude toward games of chance. The Governor is a gambling addict.

Republican Prudery and the Old Testament, by Tom Brennan. (Oct 6, 1998)
Whenever I have occasion to dip into the Old Testament, which is more often than you would think, the laws governing sexual matters and the vindictiveness of the Old-Testament God, when those laws are broken, remind me of Republicans and their putative moral superiority in matters of sex and all things else.

Extra! Extra!! New Revelations About Monica and Bill!!, by Daniel Silver. (Sep 22, 1998)
Read any important news lately? Unlikely. Despite polls that show most Americans want the Bill and Monica Show off the air, the news media seems determined to bring it on.

Football Schmootball: MOB REG Doublethink, by Tom Brennan. (Sep 8, 1998)
The Mobile Register gave us a perfect example of doublethink with its editorial "Sort Out USA's Problems Before Embracing Football" (8/23/98).

Bill and Monica, by Dan Silver. (Aug 25, 1998)
Thanks for your attention. Actually, I was going to write about Bill and Monica, but Management insists that I write about money instead. We need money.

Primary Killers, by Dan Silver. (May 26, 1998)
Fob James, Winton Blount, Guy Hunt, Lewis McAllister and Phillip Williams are all running in the Republican race. Although James is favored, the wide field will prevent him from winning a majority. Polls predict that James and Blount will fight to the death in a runoff election on June 30.

Fob's [expletive] Facts, by Dan Silver. (May 26, 1998)
Two weeks ago Governor Fob James spoke remarkably straight about prayer in Alabama's public schools. While signing a bill mandating a moment of silence, he had this private exchange with the bill's sponsor:

The Abba-Dingo Reaction Versus the Instrumentality: Religion and Spirituality in Age of Science and Technology, by Tom Brennan. (Apr 28, 1998)
The Abba-Dingo Reaction is the polar opposite of the Instrumentality. ...The Abba-Dingo Reaction is an onslaught of inexplicable irrational behaviors breaking into the House of the Instrumentality. It's as if Abba, our Father God, has suddenly gone haywire and has become a Wild-dog God,...

Feed the Harbinger or Feed a Cow, by Dan Silver. (Apr 14, 1998)
Guy Hunt's newly formed election campaign committee wants donations. The Harbinger also wants your dough. Let's compare merits.

Trusteeship: The Crown Jewel of Public Service or Star Chamber for the Exercise of Personal Power?, by Tom Brennan. (Mar 31, 1998)
Ronni Patriquin Clark reporting in the Mobile Register on the March 4th meeting of the Board of Trustees at USA did her best to portray the proceedings of that meeting as a public spectacle where competing factions maneuver for control of the board.

Shred Any Good Books Lately?, by Dan Silver. (Mar 3, 1998)
Randall Terry and his fanatical followers have invented a new technique of literary criticism. They rip up books that don't meet their standard of morality. Terry, who once headed the anti-abortion Operation Rescue movement, has singled out Barnes & Noble, the nation's largest bookstore chain, for selling books by Jock Sturges and David Hamilton.

Lusting After the Business Fix, by Tom Brennan. (Feb 10, 1998)
The Mobile Register, in its Jan. 21 editorial, exhorts the Mobile County school board to try "something altogether different." And just what does this new idea amount to? Nothing more than the same old plea by Mobile's daily to put corporate executives into any and all leadership positions in the public sector.

Editorial Haiku, by Dan Silver. (Jan 27, 1998)

Xmas Eve Media Massacre of Whiddon, by Tom Brennan. (Jan 13, 1998)
In an editorial on Dec. 7 and again in two long stories on Dec. 21 and Christmas Eve, Dec. 24, Howard Bronson, President, Publisher, and CEO of Mobile Register, exceedingly wroth up and wrought upon (the question is by whom?), sicced his Pit Bulls on Fred Whiddon, founder and President of USA.

Thou Shalt Not Batter Thy Neighbor's Neighborhood, by Tom Brennan. (Dec 9, 1997)
We hope Mobile's daily will muster its editorial voice in defense of neighborhoods endangered by ill-advised development within the city of Mobile. Just how much "backbone" has Mobile's Planning Commission exhibited over the years?

Silence, Anyone?, by Dan Silver. (Nov 25, 1997)
MONTGOMERY, Jan. 13 -- State Rep. Perry Hopper Jr. intended to introduce a bill today requiring that public schools observe a moment of silence each morning.

Coming Attraction: The Forked-Tongue Follies, by Tom Brennan. (Nov 11, 1997)
Not much has been said lately in Mobile's daily about the funding situation of the Mobile County Public School System. ...The funding crisis, though temporarily muzzled by Sousa's creative financing, is still with us and will soon rear its ugly head again.

Netanyahu Met a Yahoo, by Dan Silver. (Oct 28, 1997)
Many Alabamians wonder why Governor Fob James went on a 2-week trade mission to Israel. If the Governor really wants to pursue hot prospects for trade, shouldn't he be in Acapulco?

A Witches Brew: Politics and Religion, by Tom Brennan. (Oct 7, 1997)
I wonder to what extent the upcoming symposium, "Great Religions in a Pluralistic Society," sponsored by The Harbinger, will air what appears to me to be one of the most dangerous trends in recent years -- the growing tendency to mix religion and politics.

Support The Harbinger - Save $44,984,093.47 !!, by Dan Silver. (Sep 23, 1997)
The Stealth fighter that broke apart at a recent airshow in Maryland cost $45 million. By comparison, last year's publication of the Harbinger, which remains intact, cost only $15,906.53.

Hey Fob, Move Over, Make Room for Roger!, by Tom Brennan. (Jun 10, 1997)
Fob James, always the macho clown, has laid claim to the courthouse doorway from which to assert himself as defender of the superior moral and religious probity of Christianity in particular and Western Civilization in general. And now another mighty Samson, Roger Bedford, is leading the charge to stake out another doorjamb to assert his own crowing and bragging rights to be an exemplary defender of embattled Christian values.

Pardon Me, by Dan Silver. (May 27, 1997)
Once upon a time, if you committed a serious crime you went to jail. Four years ago Alabama Governor Guy Hunt was convicted of diverting $200,000 from his 1987 inaugural funds for his personal use, a felony offense. Hunt, who did not go to jail, appealed on May 12 for a pardon from the Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles.

Tax Who, Tax What, Tax How?, by Tom Brennan. (May 13, 1997)
They believe a referendum should be held to give voters a chance to decide if they want a sales tax or a property tax, or any kind of tax. In our view, the most rational and the fairest choice would be a referendum in which the electorate supports a modest increase in the property tax.

Camel Cash, by Dan Silver. (Apr 22, 1997)
Tobacco industry executives have been talking with their legal opponents secretly during the past few weeks. Big Tobacco hopes that a series of payments and concessions will buy them immunity from liability lawsuits. Only Congress can convey such immunity. Congress should just say no.

The Mobile Register -- A Rotten Rag?, by Tom Brennan. (Apr 8, 1997)
In its April 1 editorial, "When Religion Meets Science," the editorialist of the Mobile Register is correct in saying that the University of South Alabama will host a series of symposia on religion and science, but is wrong in leaving the impression that USA should be given credit for the series.

THE HARBINGER TURNS 14 !, by Dan Silver. (Mar 25, 1997)
Seven years ago we celebrated the seventh anniversary of The Harbinger with the slogan "Seven years of good luck!" This month The Harbinger turns 14, and we think that the past seven years have been twice as lucky.

Fob James' Dirty War Against Higher Education, by Dan Silver. (Mar 4, 1997)
ACHE, the Alabama Commission on Higher Education, was created in 1969 by an act of the state legislature to be a coordinating board for higher education. Last year the legislature granted ACHE new authority, in particular the power to shut down academic programs.

Moonpies and Murder in Mobile, by Tom Brennan. (Feb 18, 1997)
The question that begs an answer from the Mayor is: in just what sense is Mobile a safe place when murder seems to be mushrooming all over town and county.

Lowering Higher Education, by Dan Silver. (Feb 4, 1997)
"James wants fewer colleges," announced a recent front page of the Montgomery Advertiser. Unwilling to raise taxes yet hungry for new revenue, Governor Fob James continues to drool over the state's $962 million budget for higher education.

Gumption Traps, by Tom Brennan. (Jan 21, 1997)
Robert Persig, in Zen and the Art of motorcycle Maintenance, defines the old-fashion word "gumption" as it relates to quality. it's an old Scottish word once used by pioneers, though seldom heard nowadays. Persig says that gumption describes "exactly what happens to someone who connects with Quality. He gets filled with gumption."

English Is Spoke Here, by Dan Silver. (Jan 7, 1997)
An amendment to the Alabama Constitution states: "The legislature and officials of the state of Alabama shall take all steps necessary to insure that the role of English as the common language of the state of Alabama is preserved and enhanced." Say what?!

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