Every afternoon at the Castle household, my wife and I partake in “James Hour.” This “James Hour” (typically longer than an hour) is a time of fellowship with friends and family while indulging in some cheese, sausage and drinks. Great conversations always arise from this time, and I want to share some of the conversation with you. That’s why you can expect a weekly “James Hour Conversation” post in which I discuss some hot-button issues in the community and nation. Please take this opportunity to comment back your thoughts on the discussions.


Wine Sales in Shelby County Food Stores

This has been a pretty hot topic for a while here in Memphis, and yesterday it was reported that the majority of Shelby County communities will be able to vote on the November 4th ballot whether or not food stores will be able to sell wine. I have mixed feelings on this issue, but plan on voting “no.”

Being a capitalist, I invite competition and believe Americans deserve the lowest price possible. However, I also feel bad for my friends owning small liquor stores in town.

These small liquor store owners will lose a lot of profit here – sure, they still have the advantage of selling liquor, but wine drives most sales at these stores and now shoppers will begin purchasing their wine at the big stores like Kroger. I understand it though – it’d be very convenient to go ahead and pick up your wine while you’re shopping for groceries.

The small liquor stores can begin selling wine accessories like bottle openers and other small items, but with their huge stock and small storage space, it’s hard to see that making much of a difference.

And to make matters worse, many of these small liquor store owners just signed long-term 10 year contracts they can’t back out of. They’re in this for the long-haul and I hope to see them succeed.

Memphis Tigers Football

As Coach Justin Fuente says, it’s “wait ’til this year,” and I’m feeling pretty optimistic about this season – I’ve been waiting until next year for far too long. Six wins feels very possible and a bowl game would be wonderful – it’d take me back to the Tommy West days.

The entire change in culture has impressed me, from the addition of Justin Fuente, to new athletic director, Tom Bowen and new university president, David Rudd. Football at the University of Memphis is getting some much-needed attention.

Militarization of Police

This is just a bad idea and it feeds on itself.

The entire concept started a few years ago with a bank robbery in Downtown Los Angeles as the robbers were armed with heavy artillery and the police officers had small handguns. There was actually a movie made after that incident, called “Heat.”

(On a side note, I actually testified in front of The Missouri Legislature once about whether we’ve seen the ill-effects of militarization. That’s another story for another day though.)

The big push came when we withdrew from Iraq, leaving billions of dollars worth of armored vehicles and heavy weapons to be dealt with. Some stayed, but some came back over to the US. Armored vehicles were then painted and sent to communities here in the country to be used by local law enforcements, “just in case.”

We saw the ill-effects this caused in Ferguson. Why were police on the streets walking around in camouflage? Isn’t the purpose of camouflage to hide yourself in the wooded terrains or desserts? It doesn’t do much good out on the city and town streets.

It’s just a bad idea.

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