February 28, 2007
Critical Perspective on the Race for President
"Just to keep some perspective, Bill Clinton didn't enter the presidential race until October of '91 -- just 3 months before the New Hampshire primary." -- Jay Bush
Wow. I did not remember that. I do remember this guy named Jerry Brown, however, whom I thought (hoped?) would be the Democratic nominee. That was the year I missed registering to vote by an hour or two, and thus could not cast a protest Perot vote.
Please click on the first link above and read Jay's whole post. He makes a brief but good argument against having so many primaries so early, even though it would help us Volunteers feel like we had part of a say.
All Bottled Up - Dogs, dial-up, dumb laws, and drinking on Sunday
Interim state Sen. Shea Flinn (Memphis) isn’t wasting a second in his predecessor’s (Steve Cohen’s) seat. In addition to proposing a constitutional amendment that would authorize casino gambling (bring it on, I say), he has taken on one of the most illiberal industries in the state (beside healthcare) — the liquor lobby.
Flinn’s shot across the bow was a proposal to allow liquor stores to be open on Sundays. Then, in tandem with his likely successor, current Rep. Beverly Marrero, he introduced a measure that would allow wine to be sold where the food is. Imagine it! We may someday be able to pick up a bottle of Pinot Grigio with our Camembert and water crackers, and on any day of the week.
It seems apparent that the mighty Flinn has invited wrath from a bevy of strange bedfellows. Liquor distributors and religious groups, though traffickers in different kinds of spirits, will likely team up to oppose both measures, even though it’s not like one is currently unable to drink on Sunday, if one plans ahead or gets it “by the drink.” Come to think of it, says Volunteer Voters blogger A.C. Kleinheider, restaurants and bars probably won’t be too happy about liquor stores opening on Sundays, either. But the fact remains that our liquor laws are outdated and incompatible with the current 24/7 society, so I encourage you to contact your legislators with regard to this relaxation on refreshments.
The hidden hurdle, even if both bills were to survive the inevitable multi-pronged onslaught, is local control — which is a good thing, don’t get me wrong. However, after all, it is illegal to buy Jack Daniel’s whiskey in the county of its origin, whether on Sunday or on Tuesday. Even if “gin is in” elsewhere in the state, we’d have to make sure our city and county governments uncork any local prohibitions, as well.
Sen. Doug Jackson — you remember him from the “Girls Gone Wild” video (or something like that, I may have left out a word or two) — has introduced a handful of bills that all deal with the subject of vicious dogs and their owners. Leaving aside the irrational breed discrimination that so often accompanies this kind of thing, and the fact that “pit bull” is often just a catch-all term used to describe tragically abused mongrels, let’s avoid exuding the smell of fear, as it were, with regard to animal control.
It’s true that a critical few lack responsibility with potentially dangerous dogs under their care. It’s also warranted that general inflation causes us to periodically review the monetary penalties associated with misdeeds, so that lawbreaking isn’t taken as a joke; but what is the probability that any of us will be attacked by roving packs of ferocious canines as we walk our streets? You no doubt remember the “Summer of Sharks” a few years back, when media reports made it seem like attacks were increasing, and the exact opposite was true. Let’s be sure the problem isn’t merely one of perception.
Furthermore, Sen. Jackson claims that drug dealers and other miscreants are arming themselves with attack dogs due to being barred from owning firearms. Please. They may well indeed be acquiring animals trained to be violent toward humans, but these are in addition to the guns. You with me?
It is also interesting that those lobbying for tougher restrictions and penalties against dog owners are, for the most part, representatives of law enforcement. Color me cynical, but I have to ask: is it truly public safety that is at issue here, or is it the idea that cops desire to, as they would see it, level the playing field against their adversaries? Think about the rise in no-knock, warrantless raids, TASER® use, and plenty of other questionable police militarizations across the nation before you answer.
A FAST MODEM ON EVERY FARM
Here’s a question for all you effete, tech-savvy urbanites reading the Pulse (online, I presume): when was the last time you used dial-up? How workable is that type of connection, given the nature of Internet content these days? Even fairly generic websites have embedded video or audio that won’t make it to the client before the exasperated user quits trying. There’s much more to come on this, but battle lines are being drawn over the prospect of delivering broadband access to more, and in particular rural, Tennesseans. Such a move could enable major economic shifts, so stay connected as this develops.
POINTLESS LEGISLATION WATCH
With so many dumb bills filed, it’s difficult to keep up. This week, Sen. Tim Burchett (Knoxville) wins for suggesting drug-testing all recipients of public assistance. Though Rep. Stacey Campfield (Knoxville), sponsor of no small amount of bad legislation himself, explained recently on his blog that filing deadlines create a lot of bill text that is put together hastily by legal staff, and that many times barely resembles either the filer’s original intent or the final outcome, I can’t see any way to fix this one. I recommend that Burchett’s expensive, goal-deficient folly gets promptly deposited in the recycle bin.
[Cross-posted from the Pulse.]
There's Hypocrisy, and Then There's Irony
I somehow get the sense that the amount of energy being expended fussing over Al Gore's electric bill (on both sides, I should say) far surpasses the amount of energy being used at Al Gore's house.
February 27, 2007
What Is It With Doctor-Senators in Tennessee?
Is there some strange neuralchemy (my word) that occurs when a Tennessean with a medical degree achieves the elected office of Senator (whether state or U.S.), that redefines all of the subject's memory on matters of science? First we had an episode during the embarrassing national incident around a poor brain-dead woman in Florida, where the sitting U.S. Senate Majority Leader, Bill Frist, M.D., perpetrated a fraudulent "diagnosis"; and Frist also advocated for "Intelligent Design" non-theory to be included in public science education.
Now we have a state Senator, Raymond Finney, M.D. (Maryville), who is behind a resolution that, if passed by the Senate (the House need not be involved), will demand that the Tennessee Department of Education respond publicly to a series of questions on the origin of the Universe. (Why the Dept of Ed has any say on that is way beyond me.) These questions are shockingly incoherent, taken together — and again, they come from an educated mind.
“Is the universe and all that is within it, including human beings, created through purposeful, intelligent design by a Supreme Being, that is a Creator?”
“Since the universe, including human beings, is created by a supreme being (a creator), why is creationism not taught in Tennessee public schools?
“Since it cannot be determined whether the universe, including human beings, is created by a supreme being (a creator), why is creationism not taught as an alternative concept, explanation, or theory, along with the theory of evolution in Tennessee public schools?”
It is beyond reprehensible that our upper legislative body is wasting valuable time on promoting this academic fraud. I thought, innocently enough, that a Republican-controlled Senate would benefit the state by balancing a Democratic House and administration, and would help us focus on things like controlling spending, cutting taxes (on groceries, say), and promoting private economic growth.
However, before you make up your mind for sure to agree, read this "interview" with the Senator by SayUncle. I should warn you to avoid having any food or drink, unless you want it all over your machine.
February 26, 2007
Mayors Ramsey and Littlefield, Listen to This
You constantly hear about Mayors trying to make that "big deal." Landing a Nissan, building a convention center or a stadium. Now, all those things may be great. They may spark and sustain economic growth but the backbone of any economy is entrepreneurship. Small businesses, mom and pop type companies.
Big corporations have their place but a candidate who speaks up for small business and explains how government can help small entrepreneurs could catch fire.
Man, he could be talking about Enterprise South, and our officials' desperate fishing expedition for that one mother of a company to make it go. A megasite doesn't have to be inhabited by a mega company, in my view. And look at the original(?) Industrial Revolution as an example: entrepreneurship breeds entrepreneurship.
UPDATE II: St Elmo Dad has some important reminders from a different perspective in the comments at Josiah's and at Chattanooga is Home. I appreciate hearing varying points of view on this, as it helps me form a more balanced outlook.
February 24, 2007
Bus to the Future
Via Bill Hobbs, I found a Bill Hobbs post on an interesting prospect for the city, namely a hydrogen fuel-cell plant that would help revive our manufacturing heritage, albeit in the new energy sector.
The linked article indicates that the story ran in our daily paper this week, and I missed it. I also missed the bus, which was apparently here around the same time as President Bush.
My favorite part: this bus "emits only water in liquid and vapor form" and can travel 250 miles before needing a charge.
How long is a typical CARTA route per day? The downtown electric shuttles are great, but an expansion would be even nicer. I doubt the city could afford these experimental vehicles, though. We'd have to wait until some early adopters helped bring the price into our range.
What is that guy's name who works the corner of Willow and McCallie?
Two articles have surfaced this week regarding the existence of panhandlers in downtown Chattanooga. One, the cover story in this week's Pulse, focuses on downtown business owners' reactions to the practice; and today's TFP has a second piece that dwells more on the regulatory aspects. (Thanks to Medium, I found the latter article online.) Reporters Angela and Herman (respectively) treat the subject with due delicateness, but I struggle with understanding why there's a fuss about this.
I tend to think that as long as there have been villages, there have been beggars. Maybe there is an enlightened way toward eradication of poverty, but you and I know that we haven't found it yet.
We also know that addictions often drive the quest for loose change. Twice, in recent memory, I have endeavored to help someone who seemed down and out in the central business district. I was approached on each occasion with a plea for money for food. I rarely carry cash, so I was honest when I said I didn't have any ï¿½ but I then walked to the nearest Panera (not the world's best food, but the Sierra Turkey'd be a mighty fine meal, were I penniless) and bought a sandwich. When I approached the petitioner, I was twice met with protestations and excuses. I guess drug dealers and liquor store owners don't accept Panera as legal tender. Maybe I should have tried something from Bluffview. Nah.
I'm hardly ever out during the wee hours, so lunchtime is when I get hit up, if it happens. However, anyone who's ever been out around here knows Sandy, who got nothing but kind words in the Pulse interviews. As my post title indicates, I'm curious about the gentleman in a wheelchair whom I often see around 4:15pm at the aforementioned corner. He seems to make such a personable request, even if no words are spoken. He could be a politician, that guy.
Lastly, with all respectful apologies to the ghost of Bart Whiteman, I used to work in D.C., and Chattanooga has nothing on the system there. Panhandling's just not that big a problem here, in my opinion. Still, it is good to see our media outlets taking up the subject, even if it means talking with Council member Sally Robinson. You guessed it: she's got a zone for that, too.
February 23, 2007
Sing that song again and I'll bust an ASCAP in your BMI
This bar in Florida isn't the only house of karaoke I've heard about recently that's been at least threatened with legal action by the publishing houses.
Now, y'all know that I want good songwriters to be able to make a decent living at their craft. This ain't about that.
I also surmise that karaoke brings in a whole pile of dough, and other people want a piece of the action.
But leaving aside sing-along machines, whose owners perhaps should pay licensing fees, if only for all those lyrics: I'm here to ask about covering a song, as a live band or solo act. Where are the lines, legal and otherwise, that should or shouldn't be crossed? The wife's cousin got married a few years back, and her wedding reception featured a really hot band from Nashville (forget their name), whose business it is to bring credible performances of well-known pop songs to dance floors across the region. Do they, or those that hire them, have to pay to play? Perhaps not, if all the events are private?
Now, let's take the example of an act that largely specializes in original tunes, yet, during a particularly energetic set at the local dance hall, launches into an impromptu rendition of a copyrighted song. How does an unplanned cover fit into the mix? I am of the opinion that a performance is a performance, even if some of the content of that performance was initially generated by another. My version of "Wharf Rat" would put a speed freak to sleep; but it's mine, in addition to being Robert Hunter's and Jerry Garcia's. And tomorrow night's is a whole different one.
Any insight is welcome, because I have long ignored this side of the music business. I would just think you'd want to be careful to avoid confusing creative rights with corporate behavior.
Even though I've yet to attend what I've heard is the nicest festival in the country — the Live Oak, FL setting that is home to MagnoliaFest and a springtime event as well — I've decided to leapfrog that life event and go ahead and ask my buddy to order me a Bonnaroo ticket. If you think the fact that the reunited Police are headlining had anything to do with my decision to alter my annual habit of not attending Bonnaroo, you're probably right.
That said, I have been a more or less casual fan of Tool since the Undertow days, and I will be very happy to witness their mastery on stage as well ("from a good safe distance," one might say, since my "moshing" days are squarely behind me, thanks in no small part to a chronic inflamed liver).
And you know, the lineup isn't yet complete. Surprises could be on the way. I don't have time to check, but does anyone have Van Halen's tour schedule handy, to rule out a chance that Diamond Dave and the three VH boys might show?
The Decemberists are grabbing my attention these days, too, and not just from the "shred-off" on the Colbert Report. (Needless aside: Peter Frampton's rig on that show reminded me of the Saturday afternoon Kenny and I went to a local music store and checked out a whole slew of top-end Les Pauls, all played through a massive stack at very comfortable but window-jarring volumes.)
Old Crow, Hot Tuna, Ralph Stanley (this one's for you, Dad), and Tortoise also figure heavliy in my tentative plans. And Ween.
I mean, hey. "The Lej" will be out of session (I assume); the wife will be on summer break (again, I assume); I don't have any current plans as far as playing at Riverbend (another assumption); I have never been to Bonnaroo; and surely they need one more blogging nerd to show up and wander through fields of crazy humans. And the ----------ing Police are playing.
As some say, "Developing...."
February 22, 2007
What Did You Think Iran Would Do?
Okay, the UN deadline passed, and reports are in that Iran has continued enriching uranium, some say at a faster rate than before the sanctions were announced.
Put aside your prejudices and ask yourself: wouldn't I have done the same thing? And especially if the main guy telling me to stop is the world's biggest nuclear power, and the only one to use that power against another?
We would be wise to consider all angles to this and other international scenes. I'm not saying that I want Iran to have the bomb; on the contrary, I wish we'd all throw them away. But the reality is that we won't, so neither will anyone else. We have to deal within that context, and stop pretending that bluster is going to be deemed anything but laughable. It's dangerous not to.
I do wish to go on record as saying that I hope Iran is able to develop safe, clean energy to help its people find better ways of life. If that happens, the chances that those people will adopt what we may consider as more "moderate" positions on things increases tremendously. Economic progress travels a lot farther down the river of Time than propaganda does.
February 21, 2007
President Visits Chattanooga
So you crawled out from under a rock this morning and got caught in some hella traffic? How long did it take before you stopped approaching every little knot of state troopers and offering up your "strong mouthwash" story, only to be shooed away?
Yeah, the deal was that the President himself, George W. Bush, made a promotional stop in the Scenic City. Here are some thoughts, pictures, and whatever else I could find:
You've gotcher paper, there (link will age)
gid ate with the President and had some really cool pictures taken (if you're into that sort of thing)
More as I have time to look them up and paste links..
The Gwen Ifill Tower
The room in which I often eat lunch has recently been endowed with televisions, and so, like many others, I've taken to nonchalantly glancing at one while conversing with tablemates and eating my daily fare. After all, they're all tuned to CNN Headline News (tm or whatevertheheck), so we can get caught up, right up to midday, on world and national events.
There's just one small problem. This "news" channel — some have, at one point in time anyway, considered it a premier news source — doesn't play any news worth mentioning. Today there was actually a break from the constant mania over some dearly departed bimbo, because they just had to tell everyone about a car chase that happened to be going on in Florida at the moment. Great. I needed proof that some fool was acting crazy in Florida.
And when the car chase met its end in a not-so-Daytona crash, what did they cut to? Well, nothing at first; they just followed this idiot through people's backyards. But then, yep, that's right: back to Anna Nicole Smith. (Um, please pardon my one Google bomb. I've got a wife and kid, you know.)
What has happened down in Atlanta? Who's running this show?
Worse yet, why is there such a demand for this? We all know that that's what drives content, right? Or does it? I'm not out to solve that conundrum, but when do media programmers have to face some kind of reprimand for output that is downright criminally poor in quality?
For another take on the same idea, see the Resonance blog.
Where There's Smoke, There's A Lawmaker
Weighing public health concerns against individual rights
Multiple initiatives involving tobacco are coming before our Legislature this session. A keyword search on the General Assembly’s website yielded 100 results. Judging solely by their abstracts, not one of the proposals deals with educating ourselves better on the proven health hazards inherent in tobacco use, with a partial exception. The one percent award goes to Sen. Bill Ketron (Murfreesboro) and Rep. Glen Casada (Franklin) for their proposed Tennessee Student Health Act. The other 99 filings have little educational import. One bill (cloned many times) seeks a short-lived revenue swap, another could impose absurd restrictions on certain businesses, and a third tugs at the heartstrings but has little chance of being effective.
As I hail from the Virginia-Carolina Piedmont area and am a former smoker, I harbor sympathies toward tobacco farmers and tobacco consumers alike. Then again, as we examine these three threads, major public health concerns must be weighed against individual rights, which we all know end where they start infringing upon the rights of others.
Let’s start with the cigarette tax increase. This would, in the short term, raise revenue for the state budget — so what to do with the extra cash? Some bills have it swapped for a reduction in the sales tax on food in a variety of ways. The sales tax on groceries is counterproductive and should be eliminated one way or another, even though this measure would provide only the slightest offset. Others would earmark the funds for specialized healthcare, as they presumably figure that those buying the cigarettes are going to need that assistance when the emphysema and/or lung cancer hits. This seems to be a reasoned approach.
Another major theme, the ban on smoking in certain buildings, can easily get out of hand if not carefully balanced. Government buildings are the easy catch. Ban away. Restaurants get trickier, and I’m on the fence there; but bars and nightclubs are downright dicey. Adults choose to use tobacco or not, and adults choose where they want to work. Is it that simple? Can we just let the adults work it out amongst themselves? We’ll have to examine this in more detail as the session progresses.
The last one we’ll look at is narrower in scope, but is also locally produced, so it merits mention on this page. Freshman Representative Richard Floyd (Chattanooga) has filed a bill, HB0441, that would outlaw smoking in automobiles that have child passengers. While none of these three pending legislative issues on tobacco is cut-and-dried (you had to know that was coming), Floyd’s proposal comes closest to “meddlin’” and should be considered carefully.
It’s not like the intent isn’t good. The problem with any prohibition is thinking through to its enforcement. It’s already a law that children under a certain size must be in the back seat in approved protective gear, yet a little look around in local traffic yields the ugly truth that kids sit up front, stand up, and bounce around — while the driver smokes a cigarette and uses a mobile phone. Without question this is stupid parental behavior, but if we legislated away all stupidity, well...let’s just say there’d be a very long court docket.
On the other hand, the symbolic gesture is a no-brainer. I’d likely vote for keeping parents from locking their kids in a moving carcinogen-filled chamber, even if I knew the measure had severe limitations in being carried out. There is a certain amount of guilt associated with a “No” vote on anything that would protect children. So congratulations, Rep. Floyd, for putting your colleagues on the spot like that.
The last point on all of the tobacco-related legislation comes back around to agriculture, which has seen better days in the Volunteer State. Tennessee’s tobacco farmers should cast an eye to the northwest and track the progress of a North Dakota measure that has re-introduced (for a handful of lucky farmers) a valuable crop from our nation’s agricultural cradle: industrial hemp. The silly “look-alike rule” that prevents a harmless, viable product from helping our economy to grow has long outlived its usefulness. North Dakota seems to be a no-nonsense sort of place, so if they feel that they can handle hemp, then our similarly stalwart farmers should be given the opportunity to cash in, as tobacco sales will almost certainly continue to decline.
What about the Feds, you ask? Well, as the DEA is a huge, ineffective boondoggle, and is thus severely self-marginalized when it comes to having valid, practical input, I don’t know if anyone should even bother to inquire with them. And, well, hemp isn’t a drug, so it’s outside their purview.
Other General Goings-On
It would be a waste of newsprint/bandwidth to devote any more energy to that now-infamous death certificate bill, so we’ll skip right on by that. See me after class if you just have no idea what that’s about. Other bills of interest include Sen. Bill Ketron’s initiative to do away with the four-month-old Ethics Commission and hand its authority (back?) over to the Registry of Election Finance; and thanks to the watchful fingers blogging at the Tennessean, we learn of Sen. Raymond Finney’s anti-bestiality bill (see earlier comment re legislating against stupidity), as well as Rep. John DeBerry’s proposed regulation on just who is allowed to manufacture a “cosmetic metal apparatus” for the mouth — i.e., “grills.” Count on the Civic Forum to stay abreast of all the important — and not-so-important — laws being worked on this session.
[Cross-posted from the Pulse]
February 19, 2007
Chattanooga Government and New Media
I don't remember sitting down in Aught Five with a bunch of bloggers and either Ann Coulter, Dan Johnson, or the eventual winner, Ron Littlefield. It's possible that I missed something, as I was a brand-new father; but no, I don't think so.
I'm only pointing this out to say that this wave is headed here. It may take a few detours, but it'll wash up here eventually, probably with some old dead catfish from below Chickamauga Dam. And I'll be sitting at that table.
The real question is: who is going to be that candidate? Someone was hinting to me the other day that Ms. Coulter may return for a rematch. I have no idea how much validity there is to that. Any other takers?
If you haven't guessed, I'm not exactly enthused about a second Littlefield term.
February 17, 2007
Lame Duck Limps into Town
I saw a few minutes of "Eyewitness News" last night before stumbling to bed and thus NOT attending the Ogya performance at the CTC that I should have supported.
I had forgotten what I heard by this morning, but remembered when I came across Knox County Republican Brian Hornback's annnouncement that President Bush will indeed be visiting Chattanooga this coming Wednesday.
I think a lot of us would be quite a bit more receptive to the President's ideas on healthcare, if he hadn't squandered so much goodwill with this war in Iraq. Now it's hard to trust anything coming from the White House.
Still, the Office of the President of the United States of America commands deep respect, and so I encourage you to explore the possibility of coming out to greet President Bush when he's here in our little burg. Hoist a sign if you dare, but show up if you can.
February 16, 2007
Obligatory Post on the Iraq War Debate and Votes
Let's have a little contest, shall we? Here's what I propose as the game:
Whose Congressperson has said the most embarrassingly unenlightened thing regarding the war during this debate?
Leave your thoughts in the Comments below. All Members of Congress who've spoken are eligible, no matter which side of the debate they championed.
The winners of this contest? Obviously, those Americans whose Reps. and Sens. have avoided chewing on their own feet. The rest of us deserve some kind of consolation prize, but I'm afraid to ask what it'd be. (War with Iran? No thanks.)
I'd like to start the proceedings by nominating my very own Congressman, Rep. Zach Wamp, who said, "In my view, this is a religious conflict. We're at war with Islamic jihadists.”
For the last time: Saddam Hussein, his sons, and their Baathist regime, which were purportedly the threat to which we preëmptively responded, were not "Islamic jihadists."
Furthermore, the ethnic/religious factions that currently struggle for power in the vacuum we created are not inherently "out to get us." Yes, they shoot at and bomb our troops, but if they weren't there, it wouldn't be happening. It's not like the Moqtada al-Sadr brigades or the Sunni insurgents in Fallujah would've been marching toward the Potomac. They're after each other, in many ways as proxies for Shi'a and Sunni strongholds to the East and West, respectively.
Finally, the horribly irresponsible implication in Wamp's statement is that "we," the U.S., are viewing and fighting this as a religious war. Never mind that Usama bin Laden and al-Qaeda are about as "Islamic" as pork rinds and Paris Hilton; we are the United States of America, a free nation, and not any kind of tool of the Christian religion. Christians are as free as any other believers are to worship here, which is super-great, and is in part what makes us special; but I surely do not want them co-opting our agenda and couching our national security objectives in a Judeo-Christian context. Even if one's opponents have a religious foundation for their ire (and I don't believe that they do), that doesn't necessitate a religion-tinged response.
Congressman Wamp is therefore emphatically nominated for saying the dumbest thing anyone could have said from the House floor this week. But I'm open to your thoughts on the matter. Ready, Go!
February 14, 2007
I'm High As A Kite / I Just Might / Stop at the Late-Nite Drive-Thru for a Square Burger
Yeah, that makes sense. I know it's all agents and contracts and other lawyeresque machinations, but it is still somehow quite depressing to see the sorts of bands one likes to imagine as anti-establishment selling out to fast-food chains and the like. (More are listed in the comments at the linked post above.)
But hey, at least they played the wakeboarding festival last year.
February 12, 2007
Barack Obama & the Thunder Down Under
While many eyes were focused on the frigid American Midwest, peering at a certain U.S. Senator from Illinois, and wondering if, hoping perhaps, his refreshing rhetoric is not just another carefully prepared mask, eyes on the other side of the world were shooting daggers at the Australian Prime Minister. According to The Courier-Mail, Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd lambasted Prime Minister John Howard right in front of God and everyone, after Howard had said that the Obama candidacy announcement "would have al-Qaeda praying" for the Democrats to win in 2008. (ABC News)
Reasonable people disagree on the schedule to be utilized when terminating military operations in Iraq, but it's a little disquieting to have a world leader adopting such a playground posture on so serious a matter — however, that's beside the point. The real story here, from an American perspective, is that Obama has quickly acquired an heroic stature that makes me more than a little nervous for the man. No pressure, Senator Obama. You're just going to have to stand for everyone whose voice has gone unheard; everyone who wants to genuinely like their political leaders, as opposed to merely tolerating them; and everyone who'd rather government focus on the real problems at hand; and not just 300 million Americans. You've got to be there for the world. Good luck.
Neighborhood Recycling Report
BRAINERD—The first full month of now-monthly curbside recycling in Area 2 is nearing its close, and residents are mixed in their participation. Some, like this reporter, have piles of bags and stacks of cardboard in the basement. Others have given up.
Still others haven't heard, or don't yet understand, the new plan. One dear lady has put her blue bags out every Monday, just like we all (or about 60% of us) used to; and another family waited until this week, which is also brush pickup week for this area—but while that service runs all week, the recycling truck only comes on Wednesday. Maybe they want to be sure it doesn't get missed, so they set it out a couple of days early.
As the "Dilbert" characters so aptly put it, "GAAA!" All this, for the same exact price to taxpayers that the old plan cost.
Herman Wang, ever on the follow-up to this Littlefield brainchild, had a good story* in the daily paper yesterday about how residents are simply stopping recycling. I mean, it's not like we had any excess numbers to shed.
(*I'm not paying $1.95 for it. If I could just give Herman a coupla bucks, that'd be different.)
To be sure, part of me rightly chides those who use any excuse to keep from doing something good; but there are folks whose schedules and circumstances legitimately push them over the line when the choice is between hauling everything to a "convenience center" and finding a way to store a solid month's worth of recyclables in their homes.
And how does this drop in participation help Orange Grove, exactly? Maybe that goofy raccoon mascot knows.
February 10, 2007
Makes You Wonder What the General Assembly's Rules Look Like
If you like surreal and disturbing, then this AP story should make you grin your grimmest:
Tennessee’s procedure manual for executing prisoners is a jumble of conflicting instructions that mixes new lethal injection instructions with those for the old electric chair, an Associated Press review found.
Before a lethal injection, the 100-page "Manual of Execution" instructs prison officials to begin by shaving the condemned prisoner’s head — as if preparing him for electrocution. They would also need a fire extinguisher nearby.
Andy Sher has more from Governor Phil Bredesen's recent visit with the TFP. No wonder the Governor, though he's (too) quick to dispel any notion that he's had second thoughts on the death penalty, suspended executions for a while.
Bobby, have you seen a bowl of green Jell-O around?
You mean that stuff we're s'posed to smear on fer faster 'lectricution? I done put it on him.
Bobby, that was part of his last meal. Now git over here and help me with these tubes.
To state the obvious, the above jest is for making a point only, and is in no way meant to disrespect the solemn offices of our state's corrections and justice officials.
February 8, 2007
The Citizens Aren't Happy
Frank DePinto on Recycling:
Recently, the city had a fine opportunity, a $100,000 opportunity, to undertake a professional, comprehensive study of the problems of curbside recycling in Chattanooga from the “curbside to Orange Grove,” and to make recommendations to make curbside recycling a successful “cost and energy” effective operation in Chattanooga...[h]owever, the mayor decided to squander this $100,000, the taxpayers’ money, on a $100,000 mascot which does not address the “reality of the situation,” but only adds to the comical, unprofessional, and tragic manner in which Mayor Littlefield, his staff and the staff of Orange Grove have handled the “curbside recycling” issue...
Scroll down to read the whole thing.
February 7, 2007
The Pre-K Debate - Glorified babysitting or scholastic insurance policy?
You heard the man. Governor Bredesen, in his annual State of the State address, outlined a funding initiative (based on the iffy cigarette tax) to increase the number of pre-kindergarten programs in the state. The message is sure to receive mixed reviews, as is already evidenced by discussions in numerous virtual and physical settings.*
Leaving aside for a moment the voluminous assumptions we make regarding the necessity and relevance of four-year college degrees in the marketplace, let us not fool ourselves into ignoring the proven positive impact on academic ability that early learning programs are able to produce (with the obvious caveat: when implemented effectively). Thanks to the author of the popular blog Nashville is Talking, a roundup of statistics is readily available in the post titled “Pre-K Is More Promising Than The Boys Give It Credit For.” Look it up.
Children at this young age do not see learning as a “required” activity. They just do it. All one needs to do is provide access to the materials and information, and they set about having fun soaking up the knowledge. It is for this reason that pre-K learning should be seriously considered as a common goal. Yes, there is a strong argument that the primary responsibility of a child’s education lies with the child’s parent(s), but that stance could be (and is) used to argue against public education in general. If we accept that the society, through its state, has an interest in a well-educated populace, then our provisions wisely include measures to address this motherlode of time-sensitive learning capacity.
Who knows? Perhaps some of the burden on K-12 teachers to provide childcare instead of education could be eased by kids’ having been taught to love learning already.
The University of Orange
Keep your ear to the rail regarding a proposed change to the University of Tennessee system’s public presence. As goes the account given me, a major re-branding initiative has been suggested by consultants that would unify all UT campuses (campi?) under a common logo and, more noticeably, a single color. Yes, you guessed it, that color would be a most familiar shade of orange.
Of course, athletic programs across the system are exempt. I am not qualified to hold this opinion, given how well I don’t keep up, but I could imagine a response something like “Of course UTK doesn’t want other UT teams using its colors. Apart from the confusion, there are reputations at stake.” Again, I don’t know enough to say exactly whose reputation would end up sullied, but the point is that the unification of all schools, except for their sports, by the brand ID that is so closely associated with a particular campus’s athletics, could be seen as too strongly emphasizing football (with all due respect to the Lady Vols) within the overall image of the system.
It’s an interesting debate, and one given fresh input by a certain former star quarterback’s very recent success in some sort of professional title match (or so I’m told). After all, sport is a means to massive resources for the institution. Watch for more to come, as alumni and student groups, faculty and friends, and our UTC community as a whole decide how we’ll respond to attempts to supplant the Blue and Gold.
Freedom of Inference
You probably read or heard about the anti-defamation bill that was “accidentally” filed, then hastily withdrawn, in the General Assembly last week. If you didn’t, you could use a refresh on your sources. To briefly recap for those not paying attention, the bill would have devised special protections for public officials from defamatory remarks on websites and would even have required owners of said websites to remove allegedly slanderous statements within 48 hours. (I suppose the bill’s authors have never seen a page that’s been cached by a web crawler.) So, even if someone read something the wrong way, internally misplaced a comma, or was just feeling a little sensitive that morning, the online police could make the offending journalist or blogger shut up.
State Senator Jamie Woodson (R-Knoxville) gave the bill text, which she says was authored by a third-year law student, to Rep. Rob Briley (D-Nashville), who filed it. Keen-eyed citizens saw this (thanks is due the General Assembly’s online services), alerted the citizen media, and within hours the bill was pulled, with both lawmakers backpedaling on how it ever came to be in the first place. I’m not trying to discount their stories; but the moral here is that we have to watch. It is just such a move, intentional or not, that could cause us to wake up one day with radical changes to the freedoms we now enjoy.
* This Pulse column actually went to print before Governor’s Bredesen’s State of the State address. If for some reason, my assumptions are inaccurate, please accept my apologies.
February 5, 2007
I've taken to watching Anthony Bourdain's "No Reservations" on the Travel Channel. It's a good way to unwind right after arriving home from band practice. Food, drink, travel, culture and "New York attitude" make a good combination.
February 2, 2007
Why Crib the Goofball Stuff?
UPDATES: After receiving more info on "Erik" the professor from these guys, I received an apology of sorts from the group that operates the site where my post was copied. Furthermore, it appears that their post has been removed.
No hard feelings, folks; just be careful with your forwarded emails, and I'll do the same!
(My original post follows.)
I'm flattered, really. Someone whose online profile lists him as being a "college professor of political science" quoted my thoughts on the upcoming (eventually) 2008 presidential campaign.
Wow! A blogging member of higher education quoted this little site. Except, well, he didn't so much quote me, as use my words, without attribution, with every indication that he meant for a reader to think they were his own. In the quintessential sophomoric plagiarist's manner, he inserted two lines of his own, and "edited" text to a grammatically poorer result.
Mine: "Happy running for President, everyone; I wish you all the best. I'll do my best to make a choice among you."
His: "Happy running for President, everyone; I wish you all the best to make a choice among you."
Mine's not that great either, and you may stop focusing on that at any time. But that's really the point I'm making. I don't make money from this blog, I don't assume any prestige; and the post what got stolen was just a silly swipe in the air. I'm certain now to develop a complex around the notion that my more serious stuff isn't worth passing off as professorial. That's the real damage here, ya know?
I don't know anything about schools in Kentuckiana, but I would imagine that the good people of the region wouldn't appreciate knowing that their students are being taught by someone who thinks this sort of thing is okay.
But wait, there's more: I've saved the best part for last. A curious twist to this story is that the name on the email whose sender alerted me to my parroter's existence is "Erik Professor." Funnily, the name on the "Freedom of Speech" blog from New Albany, Indiana is "Erik" and the writer purports to be a professor. Would a plagiarist tell on himself?
I'm going to guess that the tipper has some beef with the professor, and uses "Erik Professor" toward such a purpose. I don't really know. The whole experience has made for a sufficiently weird full moon today, and for that I am thankful.
Now let's see if I can actually write something worth stealing.