June 30, 2007
Let's Go to My Parents' House and Play "Fort"
Am I the only one who finds it mildly amusing that this weekend's talks between two of the world's reportedly most powerful leaders are being held at one of said leaders' dad's house?
No, I'm not. I heard someone say as much on the radio just the other day. I do realize that content far outweighs location in importance. But it's funny to imagine George H. W. Bush (or, more likely, Barbara) walking into the room and admonishing the "boys" to "play nice." It's even funnier (not) when among their "toys" are missile shields and, um, ballistic missiles.
I always reserve final book-cover judgment for when I have the opportunity to be in the same physical space with a person; but until such a time, I'm guessing that Vladimir Putin is a rather cold, intelligent, and scheming sort of person. Not that there's anything wrong with that. It's just different than our President's assessment of Putin as "straightforward."
And this thought just hit me: Putin is said to be ex-KGB, while Bush Sr. is ex-CIA. (Sort of. As its CEO, he couldn't have been as entrenched. But he knew some guys.)
June 29, 2007
Howard U Hosts Democratic Candidates
I turned on the PBS last night, intending to watch the debate (or whatever it technically was), but we had company, so I mostly didn't hear the candidates. Watching them with the sound turned down low was interesting, though. John Edwards and Mike Gravel tied for appearing the most cartoonish, with honorable mention to audience member Al Sharpton.
If you want a good wrap-up from a partisan perspective, R. Neal has it at KnoxViews.
June 28, 2007
Well, it does eliminate the whole "chase" bit
Female inmates in Jackson County, Tennessee have apparently found some of their jailers to be, well, rather captivating:
[I]nvestigators found evidence that [...] five officials had been sexually engaged with as many as ten jail inmates since 2005. The contacts are said to have occurred in the jail and in the sheriff's office in Gainesboro.
The obvious angle here is the absolutely disgusting (alleged) abuse of power by the sheriff and his henchmen; but aside from that, what kind of man (speaking as one) is attracted to common criminals?
Maybe they feature really fetching felons there in Upper Cumberland. It's not fair of me to assume they're unattractive, but I somehow can't get visions of meth mouth out of my head.
So, the Bald Eagle has been removed from the Endangered Species list.
In related news, Canada called, and they would like their eagles back. (They asked very nicely.)
AAN Many More...
A sufficiently grow'd-up Pulse has started a new chapter in its relatively young life: it has been admitted to the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies as of June 17.
Even though I'm a contributing writer, I'm not one of the core group who spend time at the factory (er, warehouse?) delivering this great product to your Chattanooga newsstands every week, so I feel that I can offer congratulations without sounding like I'm patting myself on the back.
That said, I will claim ownership to a tiny slice of the tasty praise offered by one of the deciding panelists about the paper's local election coverage (with all requisite kudos to Bill, Aaron, Angela, and others for the vast bulk of said praise).
June 27, 2007
Election Season Nears
It's hard to believe, I know. Not only are the wires burning with presidential election news, but candidates are lining up by the dozen to prepare for the races for the Tennessee General Assembly and the United States Congress in 2008. I've a whole stack of clipped stories waiting to appear here in the brand-new set of candidate listings for the 2008 election cycle.
Sometime around the 4th of July (if all goes as planned), the all-new TennesseeTicket.com candidate pages will launch, along with archived versions of the 2005 and 2006 pages.
Stay tuned, and send your election news tips via the Contact link above, or in the Comments section below.
Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song
I hope you've been watching the PBS special based on the concert that's all about Paul Simon.
We actually just stumbled upon it by accident, but it has been a real treat to watch and listen to all these artists pay tribute to a truly great American songwriter.
As I write this, Dianne Reeves delivers a smoky rendition of "Something So Right."
Ladysmith Black Mambazo brought back intense memories of being in South Africa two years before apartheid fell, and listening to the Zulu and Xhosa singers there.
Stevie Wonder plays piano on "Loves Me Like A Rock."
None other than Philip Glass plays over the credits.
And, let me just say two words about the drums for most of the evening: Steve Gadd.
So, today when "All Things Considered" was running some story about a teenager that interested me not, and neither Jack-FM nor The Mountain was playing a song for which I cared, I hit one of my admittedly lower-tier station preset buttons to see what was going on over at "The Legend."
Imagine my surprise when, instead of Waylon or Conway or Tanya or Hank (père ou fils), from out my speakers came the unmistakable strains of Motown.
Yes, 97.3 and 99.3 are proudly 'casting a different format. This after the Top 40 station kissed us goodbye (not that I ever paid attention). It's hard to keep up when all this switching happens.
June 26, 2007
Aw, Fred, You're Just Playing With Us
Saw this at Taegan Goddard's place (though the story he links to doesn't seem to contain these words):
"You're either running or not running. I think the steps we're taking are pretty obvious." -- Fred Dalton Thompson
June 24, 2007
There Are Libertarians, and Then There Are These Types
I had already braced myself for the typical rant when I read the title: "Taxed More Than Enough." Yeah, start the pity engine.
But then, as I read through Hamilton County Libertarian Party Chairman Mo Kiah's expected misgivings about the revenue system our democratic republic has installed for better or for worse (a message complete with suspicious code words such as "world bankers"), I came across this mind-blowing tidbit:
"[The Federal Reserve and IRS] are part and parcel of the “Seven Headed Beast” mentioned in the Bible."
Well, alrighty then. I see now what we're dealing with. To paraphrase a friend from a recent conversation: "Mo, you've got a little crazy on your face, there. You might want to wipe that off a bit."
June 23, 2007
Make Bourbon, Not Auto Fuel
Venerable area environmentalist Denny Haldeman has written a lengthy but very readable column regarding the misguided emphasis our local, state and national leaders (and in this instance I use the term loosely) are placing on ethanol from corn as a replacement for petroleum-based energy.
Titled "Ethanolics Unanimous" and containing plenty of other "corny" word play examples throughout, this somewhat encyclopedic article manages to capture the essence (that's French for gasoline) of just how wrong the corn lobby is on this issue.
I'm no agricultural scientist, but it's been common knowledge since, well, almost forever that grasses such as corn — and especially corn — deplete soil of valuable nutrients at a higher rate than they provide a return in caloric output. Furthermore, the varieties of corn grown for livestock feed, and now for ethanol production, are more taxing to the land than is your average table-ready sweet corn. The vast fields of the grain belt are (or should be) planted in an annual rotation, where grains are switched out with legumes (clover, alfalfa, peanuts), because the latter restore nitrogen and other precious elements that the corn uses. The ethanol frenzy threatens this delicate balancing act, as more and more farmers (read: indentured servants of ADM and Con-Agra) are pressured to plant corn exclusively.
And that's just getting started on the myriad reasons why merely substituting ethanol for or adding it to gasoline is a policy slated for failure. Go check them all, and then contact your elected officials with your feedback.
Make That 75,001 (Or 38,001?)
Leaving aside the idea that freshly "de-partisaned" New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is heavily rumored to be considered as a candidate, it's notable that the Unity08 people are boasting (not really: they want
a ten million) that they have 75,000 delegates signed up for their Summer 2008 nonpartisan nominating convention.
This morning, I took the plunge and became a Founding Delegate to this unprecedented convention. I felt "safe" signing up because it's not a political party, and one can still remain a member of his or her own political party (or not) in joining. The site offers the ability to invite friends via blast e-mail to do the same, but I won't spam you like that. I'll mention it here, and let you make your decision without any urging. It's just how I do. Usually.
On a related note, Tennessean reporter/blogger Jennifer Peebles announces the weekend talking head guests, and I couldn't help but notice that longtime "Law & Order" star Sam Waterston will be one of them. He, as you well know by now, is a huge proponent of the Unity08 movement.
June 21, 2007
Ralph Nader Respects Ron Paul
Then again, he also gives props to Mike Gravel. I'm not exactly sure where that puts things.
I myself think a whole lot of Ron Paul, even though I disagree with him on a lot of things. Mainly I love his courageous stance on the ill-fated war in Iraq.
We're all (me, Ralph, Mike, and Dr. Ron) prob'ly a bunch of crackpots.
June 20, 2007
Project Blog Smart
TennesseeTicket is itself inspired in part by Project Vote Smart, as well as by the extensive federal and statewide candidate pages maintained by Ron Gunzburger at Politics1.com. (There's one called Green Pages, too, but it's not coming up in my search. I'm not talking about the Green Party's newsletter, but a site that lists candidates.)
It was always my plan to take the concept that these sites employ — extensive, searchable information for voters in national elections — and apply it to the state and local levels. (I realize that PVS covers many state elections as well, but obviously they can't go municipal.) How I've executed on that plan is up for debate, but I will say that I'm gearing up for a hoppin' 2008 season, after pretty much coasting through the first half of '07.
Needless to say, I look forward to including the Vote Smart blog (cool name, "The Voter's Speakeasy") in my daily reading. I don't know where the time comes from (uh, please don't ask the wife that question, as it may touch a nerve), but it's important enough to me that I make room for this stuff in a busy schedule.
Tales from the Help Desk
So, the wife answers the phone today, and a voice on the other end asked, "May I speak to Adele [some surname]?"
"This is Sally," the wife politely replied. "There's no one here by that name."
"I'm sorry, I think I have the wrong number," came the apology.
Just as the caller was about to hang up, the wife suddenly realized that the city and state on the caller ID were a location from which she expected a call. "Wait! Are you calling about the computer? I did call in a ticket with the help desk about my laptop, which is a Dell."
Sure enough, the call was coming from technical support. Apparently some mistranslation occurred between the help desk operator and the support person who got assigned the ticket.
Sally says she thought about asking her caller if he would like to speak directly to her computer, but then decided against it.
Heigh, ho, the merry-o.
If This Tent Gets Any Bigger, It May Collapse
What it means to be an early 21st-century Republican
A Pew Research poll recently revealed that, in America’s heartland, the political pendulum has begun to swing away from solid support for the Republican Party. There are numerous ways to explain this (and no doubt the blogs are expounding upon each theory in mind-crushing detail), but the simplest answer comes from remembering how rural voters came to be considered a Republican lock to begin with, and then looking at the ways in which that magnetism has dissipated for this and other factions.
The “Reagan Revolution” of 1980 unified a rather unlikely mix of small-government conservatives, lobbyist-wielding magnates, and firebrand moralist demagogues into an electoral machine that enjoyed great success in the quarter century following, despite the Clinton years. A machine requires maintenance in order to stay running, though; and the fact that this one’s parts were of such disparate manufacture has made that job difficult.
In the inevitable, perfect dance between money and power, the corporate (especially in the defense sector) has won out over other factions as to which coalition component has gotten the grease. For small-“l” libertarians, the hope is in someone like a Ron Paul to steer the party back on course. But the rural voter, largely identified also as the “values voter,” faces a seemingly impossible choice in the near term: either continue to support a party that (they’re finding) has essentially sold them out, or move (back) to one which (they’re told) thoroughly disgusts their moral sensibilities.
As the 2008 national election scene takes shape, many unknowns leave large gaps in the electorate’s consciousness. Given that, for example, we have no idea whether a serious independent, centrist candidacy will materialize, perhaps we should leave speculation to the professional gamblers and concentrate on what we do know. For starters, the large business community’s propensity to have fiendish hordes of lobbyists fling cash at politicians is not exclusively pointed toward Republicans. The bet-hedging began before the 2006 midterm elections, which, amazingly enough, benefitted Democrats. This illustrates two things: one, populist angst over money in politics is irrelevant, and two, that the GOP has been dealt a serious blow by what are effectively economic sanctions in the campaign finance arena.
There are suggestions in the current desperate search for a GOP presidential candidate that all is not well in the elephant family. The poll bid by Fred Thompson is one manifestation of this, but another I came across recently demonstrates just how serious the trend is: it’s a website called “Republicans for Obama.” I admit that I didn’t see that one coming, but I also realize that I’m not surprised. A movement like this, however small right now, could signal a new alliance among earnest citizens who tire of the empty acrimony and dichromatic maps we currently endure. And it’s perhaps our best chance of defeating Hillary Clinton.
[Cross-posted from the June 20, 2007 Pulse]
June 19, 2007
Bloomberg: Independent Candidate for President?
From race42008.com, we learn that New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has un-affiliated himself from political parties.
The former Democrat who ran as a Republican for Mayor of the Big Apple (and won) has long been rumored to have been considering an independent run for the White House.
Fred Thompson and Hillary Clinton are in staff meetings right now. Mark my word. This is potentially huge.
June 18, 2007
Oh, it's good to be back home. Riding through the bucolic fields outside the festival this morning, under an overcast sky, and heading for a hot shower as soon as I got home and kissed the boy (who smiled and said, as soon as I walked through the door, "I love you, Daddy" and thus made me weep like a child as soon as I was out of sight), was about as much of heaven as I can hope to achieve.
Then the wife got home from work, and there were more hugs and kisses, and more welling in the eyes. I'm glad I'm man enough to admit that, even though I'll qualify the scene with the fact that I'm exhausted. That lends itself well to more emotional output than I'm used to.
You can read my Bonnaroo memoirs/reviews (live-blogging didn't exactly work out for me) over at the Pulse Blog:
June 15, 2007
In case you hadn't heard, I'm off the politics for a few days, and mostly offline. Check the Pulse Blog for my occasional updates from Bonnaroo.
June 13, 2007
The Blogroll Just Got Weirder
I saw an entry pop up from a blogger who goes by WhitesCreek at KnoxViews, and had to go see for myself.
Yes, there really is a website called "Republicans for Obama," and yes, they do have a blog. I have rolled it. I am getting behind on my collection of 2008 official and supporter blogs, even though I started pretty early on finding them. The season is upon us, I suppose.
There'll be more about what it means to be a Republican (uh, see above) in next week's Pulse. It should be an interesting topic to try and write about without actually being one.
The Topics Server - The economics of immigration and drugs as a public health issue
Last week, I wrote about wanting to see an increase in public discourse. The old-fashioned town square, complete with a town hall (which may or may not double as a Unitarian/Congregationalist church) might still be a part of life in colonist-designed New England, but the advent of air conditioning, shopping malls and television have done away with the concept in the rest of the country. There are places to do this, however. City-wise, we have the convenience of Miller Plaza, which is complete with a covered pavilion in case of inclement weather. But there are recreation centers and other public spaces where these conversations can and should take place on an even smaller scale.
I rather doubt it, but in the event you need some topics to get you started, I’ll serve.
PEOPLE, THEY’RE JUST SHOWING UP FOR WORK
Is your bore-ometer reading elevated due to the soggy arguments about immigration being slung over the airwaves? Big yawns abound among regular folk, even if shrill ultra-nationalists dominate the talk radio and, on the other side, even when so-called militant migrants congregate in the streets of L.A. Around here, as well as across most of the land (excepting the capital city), immigration (legal or otherwise) just doesn’t seem to bother us that much.
I remember writing that 2006, due to mid-term elections, would be the host year of the immigration issue — and I was wrong. This year, the subject was taken up again; but we seem to be nearing the point where ennui, like its cousin entropy, takes over. It’s fine, really, as most of us simply don’t give a taco. Those of us on either side of the (ahem) fence just need to cull our respective herds of their fringe elements. The ones making the most noise about illegal immigration overlap in large part with those who find legal immigrants — that is, from Latin America or Africa, but Europe, not so much — distasteful. That rather weakens their standing, no matter how loud their squawking. (And yes, it’s louder than the chickens some were complaining about last year.) And just as those anti-war demonstrations that I’d almost sign up for preclude me due to their communist backers, some of the pro-immigrant forces represent a radicalism in which average folk decline to take part.
Immigration’s economic angle is the only one worth following, and it seems to be charting its own course regardless of the pretense of zeal perpetrated by either side in the media.
The multibillion-dollar federal program known as the “War on Drugs” wastes huge amounts of our money, but that’s not its worst feature. Turns out, it’s kind of hard to wage war on anything but people, so guess what’s happened? From farmers poisoned by aerial spraying to inmates being hardened into lifetime criminals after being convicted only for non-violent offenses, we are expending more resources aimed toward these destructive ends than it would ever cost to simply treat addicts. Instead of so futilely trying to squelch their supply (never) and jailing the junkies (where they can get it anyway), let’s approach this as a public health issue. And if you like the idea that neither tobacco nor alcohol can be sold to minors, then think about the children, and take the drugs away from lawless pushers.
Likewise, a local attorney recently caused a fuss by stating his position that prostitution stings aren’t the best use of police officers’ time. While his detractors have a point regarding pimps and drugs and neighborhoods, I counter that finally facing the music and making prostitution legal would turn a dangerous, disease-ridden act of desperation into a safe, however societally undesirable, act of authorized commerce. Make it really restricted, zoning-wise, but legal, so that it doesn’t pervade and degrade our residential areas. You think we can solve budget problems by taxing cigarettes; why not try brothels? People might quit smoking, but, unless I’ve grossly miscalculated, people will not quit — well, you know.
(This entry is cross-posted from the Pulse, June 13, 2007.)
June 12, 2007
Staying Up to Watch the Fred Tonight Show
WRCB's news anchors bravely tried to keep the tease alive that there may be a major announcement from former US Senator Fred Thompson on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno.
I don't think there will be, but I'm watching just to see what he does say, in lieu of a major announcement.
I'm dog-tired after only 4 hours' sleep (from 12-4 am) last night, but I can make it.
Segment 1: He doesn't seem sick, if that's anything. (Odd side note: that vacuum cleaner ad with the squeaky toy sounds is infectiously effective, no? Just ask the dog, the cat, or the kid.)
Segment 2: Jay asks, "would you like the job?" Fred says, "yes," and plugs the website. (For the record, and this is not a promotion, it's ImWithFred.com.)
Jay: "What are Fredheads?"
Fred: "Beats me!"
Can we use a different word than "propaganda" to describe any efforts to reach out to like-minded citizens of hostile nations? I don't know about you, but that terminology seems to me to be a sure turnoff.
Well, it's over, and nothing took place but more silly beating around the bush.
Kevin Eubanks rocks the "Four Sticks," and I'm going to bed.
Elephants Have Rather Sturdy Legs
AC Kleinheider sat down today and belted out a righteous post on what seems to him to be a looming split in the Republican coalition. You really should read it.
I've thought the very same things myself, at times, and even wished for it to be true, so that southpaw independents like me could reach out to newly former GOP moderates (defined here as fiscally conservative, but not total tightwads; and socially realistic, if not outright libertarian) and advance policy from a centrist (but not the wishy-washy kind of centrist) point of view. [Cue music: Journey, "Open Arms." (Kidding!)]
If you will permit me to wax metaphorical: there are strong timbers in a ship's hull on either side of the keel. Together, they keep the thing upright and able to sail ahead. If these beams were all on one side or the other, or were splayed out wildly, you wouldn't have much of a boat. (I just now realized that I totally ripped that off from the more common oarsmen analogy, but here's the difference: the oars do protrude to either extreme, and those forces are necessary too. I'm talking about the construction itself, though.)
This all stems from news of a decline among rural voters' support of the Republican Party. I almost guarantee, though I have no proof, that the war is a huge factor in that. Multiple frustrations have to be mounting as death comes home to town after town, with the "cause" (i.e., "democracy" that ever fails to take hold) seeming to melt like ice cream in a Mesopotamian summer. (Note: video of the 1/181st National Guard shipping out from Athens, TN airs as I write this.)
I don't envy the rural electorate's position, for surely their choice — between a party that (they're finding) has essentially sold them out, and one which (they're told) thoroughly disgusts their values-based sensibilities — cannot be an easy one.
But here's the thing: political parties exist to do one thing, and that is to win elections. I wouldn't count out the so-called Party of Lincoln just yet. They may be suffering from a pendulum swing, but you and I both know that the Democrats are themselves fully capable of giving Americans reason to coalesce against them. All it takes is time.
In the meantime — and I'm not trying to toot the Unity08 horn or anything — but can some of us talk? Between us, we can marginalize the squawking extremists that flap like so many unkempt sails, and come to certain understandings about disagreements with which we can live, and thus set our course for the open waters of our future.
Now to the County Budget
Via the ever-watchful Ben Cunningham, here's a look at how our Hamilton County budget might be shaping up. I have to admit that I don't understand why the BEP windfall would necessitate an increase in county property taxes...but whatever the case, the fact that the push is coming from "Senior Commissioner" Curtis Adams boggles the mind. Even though I was okay with the modest levy last time around, this suggests that all of Adams' huffing and foot-stamping at the time lacked substantive reasoning, doesn't it?
The county jail and workhouse are a dire situation, yes. And even though an extra few million will only elevate the school system to "getting by" (and that's just maybe), it seems like that would take pressure off and allow more distribution of funds to these other badly needed areas. But, like I said, I'm still learning.
Budget Bills Pass Both Houses
Tom Humphrey has the rundown in today's Knoxville paper. A couple of key features are the half-cent reduction in the sales tax on groceries and a mechanism, authorized by constitutional referendum last November, that will enable local governments to enact a property tax freeze for low-income seniors.
Whenever I mention the words "state budget" in day-to-day conversation, I'm invariably met with some form of eye-rolling impatience; but this is important stuff, y'all. It's perhaps the primary reason we have legislative elections every couple of years. We delegate these men and women to the task of running the state. I claim no expertise on it, but I will say that I have become much more engaged in the facts and the process over the past several years.
According to the KNS article linked above, the House and Senate versions seem close enough for a quick reconciliation today, and then the General Assembly can adjourn its 2007 session.
June 11, 2007
For years, I've heard — and, rarely, seen — shadowy, large fowl in the woods between our house and Brainerd Road, without knowing their exact identities.
First came the call. Early one morning, about four years ago, I woke to the strangest bird call I had ever heard. It sounded robotic, mechanical, and hollow. I asked my dad, who was an avid amateur birder, what it could be, and his guess (without hearing it) was the Cuckoo.
Well, a couple of years went by, and I periodically heard the haunting call in the wee hours. Somewhere along the way, I left the Cuckoo idea behind, and later ascribed the sound to a Great Horned Owl, as I thought that's what I saw perched on a nearby hickory branch one morning.
Then one day, as I gazed at an early dawn, I witnessed a remarkable event: a Red-tailed Hawk was chasing my owl friend through the woods. Holy smokes, I thought: this is warfare among birds of prey. (I've watched a local pair of hawks for several years here.)
A couple of weeks back, I saw a pair of owls moving through the trees in the evening hours. I only got a good view of one of them, and it didn't seem to have the tufts or "horns" common to the Great Horned. Whatever they are, they're large, and mostly dark brown (unlike the Barred Owl or other possible candidates), so the final answer isn't yet known. I have heard the call enough to be able to imitate it, so surely someday I'll find out.
In addition to the occasional rivalry from hawks, these mostly silent hunters get a raw deal from the local crow and jay contingent, but I hope they weather the swooping, squawking loudmouths and stick around. They sound so cool in the middle of the night.
June 10, 2007
Protecting the Tourists
A resident of my local community (what are we called: Brainerdites?) wrote a thought-provoking email to the Chattanoogan recently. In it, the writer contrasts the official response to incidents of sort-of-threatening teenage behavior in Coolidge Park to the response generated by shootings on Tunnel Boulevard and elsewhere nearby.
In addition to being a sensible plea for a review of resource allocations, it's another illustration of why cameras are not a good idea in Coolidge Park.
(Counterpoint from the wife (my wording): there are kids in the park, all the time, so cameras help protect them; and Coolidge Park is most often used by locals, so the "protecting the tourists first" angle doesn't fly as far.)
Still, the downtown-to-neighborhood disparity in public safety is something that deserves our ongoing attention.
June 7, 2007
Exciting Innovation in Power
Bob says, "The possibilities are mind-shattering. For years scientists working on electric cars have said, “if only we could make more powerful batteries.” Perhaps the solution all along was just to make a better cord–which is no cord at all." Of course! Fuel stations and rest stops are there already. Just pull up and charge the chariot while you pee. At least, it's something to think about.
Power would be a priority, yes; but I've dreamed of wireless, lightweight loudspeakers for years.
June 6, 2007
Nashville TV Station Blogger Calls It Quits
A lot of us do this for fun. For me, it's a cross between enjoying myself and slaking some mental thirst that I don't quite understand. Why I would do that in public is beyond me as well.
I've given the idea of blogging for sustenance a bit of consideration, in the purely theoretical sense. I don't think I could maintain so rigid a writing schedule, but it's hard to say without actually having the time so conveniently allotted to doing so.
There are days when it must really wear on a person, and today was one of those days. I have considered Nashville is Talking a daily feedreader stop since its inception. I hope it, the blog, will continue; and I imagine that its author will continue, if not there.
I hate to see one of the good ones go; but if you check out the circumstances that most immediately preceded the decision, I think you'll see why it was a valid option. Not many people are made to withstand the storm of verbal abuse that the internet can unleash. [I'm not saying I'm one of them, either. I'm not looking for any trouble. I'm a small fish, anyway.]
Now, to the questions that remain. Will the station's management determine that the NiT blog is an important web fixture? Will they staff it as soon as is prudent? On second thought, maybe it's too soon to ask. The sun has barely set on a tumultuous day (for some). A night's rest can bring answers.
Let's Take It Outside - It's time to end the "culture war" (one way or the other)
This is going to be a long, hot summer. It is also going to be an exceptionally loud one. Above the usual din of car stereos, motorcycles, personal watercraft and landscaping equipment will rise the roar of public discourse. We’ll be stepping out from behind our televisions, telephones, and computer keyboards, and meeting in person to get a few important things accomplished. The end result will hopefully seem worth the temporary inconvenience.
We need to rediscover the mutual respect most of us felt in the days after September 11, 2001. Unfortunately, however, I don’t believe that we can get there by merely smiling and brushing smooth our deeply different philosophical accessories. We’re going to have to have it out at some point. Like a bartender who encourages the boys (and/or girls) to go ahead and take it outside, lest his property be damaged by an involuntary eruption involving every patron, I call for a season of discussion in the open air — the sweatier and stickier, the better, so Chattanooga’s a perfect place to start — a verbal showdown in the public square over the issues that keep us from feeling unified.
What would be the harm? We think and write far more insulting, damaging things when we’re safely removed from each other’s company than we would (and do) say in person. I am not advocating that we let things escalate to blows, but I somehow think that a healthy tête-à-tête, like the act of perspiring itself, will purge a lot of bile from the system. We have the right to speak freely and to assemble peacefully. We don’t use those rights enough, and there’s no requirement that the two taken together assumes that we’re all saying the same thing. We can show other nations how it’s done and learn from our own tragic past mistakes.
The so-called culture war—except on the outermost fringes—is a cold war. It’s time for us to quit the callous, biting whiner mode, and to look each other squarely in the eye and speak deliberately to what is on our minds. If we get this out of the way, then the process of choosing a national leadership team next year will be far less painless. Line up, spray on your sunscreen, bring an extra reusable bottle for water (but leave the Kool-Aid at home), and let’s go.
(This entry is cross-posted from the Pulse, June 6, 2007.)
June 5, 2007
Ketchup on a Stick
Cigarette Tax Hike: from $0.20 to $0.62 per pack. I hate to see any tax more than triple in one update, but that's all I'll say about that. Oh, you know I couldn't help it: between the tax increase and the smoking ban, how, again, is the education funding supposed to stay stable? All right, it's late, one more: smoke up for the War on Terror. I love it.
Senator Cooper seems to be in some hot water
June 4, 2007
When gadgets and the info they bring us are too much
It pays to read down through the comments to a web article, because the collaborative impulse creates a more complete, more complex and, though this is subjective, more interesting work than the original. This occurs whether the correspondents agree or not.
I found an evocative bit just now that I wanted to point out, and maybe simply because I resonate to it:
I find the “boredom” of doing some kind of simple labor, like cleaning the patio with a pressure washer or cutting down over-large weeds with a swingblade or sawing up deadfall or low-hanging branches remarkably refreshing. Part of it is the narrowed focus to the next sweep of wand or whack of pokeberry bush or approach to a heavy limb, and part of it is the immediate connection of cause and effect. You notice more about the immediate environment and find there is more to notice....I don’t even listen to iPod or Walkman much when doing this kind of thing, because the sounds, from bird calls to Jake brakes, are a part of the environment.-- Hudge
I was whacking my way through some pokeweed, and boxwood, and hackberry, and poison ivy just yesterday. I had purchased a swingblade (they must be called something else here, because I get looks from people like I'm Billy Bob Thornton in that movie — Slingblade, that is — when I mention it) the day before, and I only had about an hour to get outside and use it, but I made sure to take the time. Therapy ensued.
June 1, 2007
Bonjour, Mauritius; Tudo Bem?
A visitor locale I have never before seen on the Statcounter got my attention: the Indian Ocean isle called Mauritius.
I knew a couple from there, years ago. They described it as a place where an amazing number of cultures had blended over the generations into one quite unique. The food they prepared at a party I attended was delicious. Imagine the best of Indian, Chinese, African and Mediterranean cuisines all rolled up in an island-based freshness and garnished with fresh cilantro.
It's Been A While, but We Have Election News
Yesterday, in midtown Memphis, primary voters went to the polls to select their candidates in a special election to fill House district 89 (formerly held by Beverly Marrero, who's now a state Senator in U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen's old seat).
I hadn't followed the primary too closely, but my sense was (based solely on activity in the left-TN blogosphere) that Kevin Gallagher stood a fighting chance. Nope; he was whupped roundly by Jeanne Richardson, who will quite likely go on to win the general next month against GOP nominee Dave Wicker, Jr.
Sharon Cobb has the vote details.
UPDATE: More at VolunteerVoters. It may sound like I read that post before writing mine, but I swear I didn't. I had to go searching for the feed again, as I was missing my 2 favorite WKRN bloggers today. Their posts come through to Bloglines on a different feed every time I turn around. If you see multiple entries in my blogroll, it's because I am just subscribing to all of them, so I don't keep missing out.