knox snooze

Succotash my Balzac, dipshiitake.

The Little Engine That Could

Saturday, May 29
I keep saying that Knoxvegas needs to get ahead of the game and provide seamless, free wi-fi across the city, or least the downtown/UT/convention center region. You might be asking me (though, I can barely hear you), "Ok, smart guy. How in the hell is a city with Knoxville's lack of experience supposed to affordably manage the logistics of such a network?"

I am so glad you finally asked.

Read this little I, Cringely column to find out just how easy, open, and cheap such a solution could be.

I totally think we should put the "I, Cringely" Toad on the new I-40/Hall of Fame Drive overpass.

Thanks to the Kap'n for the linkage.

T-Mobile HotSpots

I'm using a T-Mobile HotSpot for the first time today as well. I'm not a big fan of the pay-as-you-go style wi-fi spots, but I have to admit that it's really nice to know that I can go to a few dozen locations all over this ginormic town and hop online for the next 24 hours.



More evidence to me that free wi-fi in Knoxville would be a great draw for business and employers. Want to have a convention? We have a bigass convention center and free internet access all over our town for your convenience. We're ahead of the game.

Or old reliable:
Welcome to Knoxville. We're not sure exactly what we're going to do here.

Atlanta: Rock City

I'm in Atlanta this weekend, and I had a chance to see a really great band last night called Don Caballero at a semi-famous dive in East Atl. It rocked my face off. I'm not normally a big fan of heavy stuff, but they were the shite. I'm not exactly sure what the reference was, but I think I caught the word "Knoxville" somewhere in the middle of the drummer/frontman's mid-set tirade. Let's pretend like he loves it.

Go see them if you have a chance. It's well worth the cover.

UGA to lose its name?

Friday, May 28
Ben Maller reports that the University of Georgia has technically lost the rights to its own name, and stands to lose significant revenue from licensing fees.

More proof that things at UT are not as bad as they could be. I just hope we don't get beaten by the University formerly known as Georgia on October 9.

Pappas remembered

Thursday, May 27
In case anyone wondered who in the tarnation Doug Pappas is, and why his passing is a tragic loss, you should read what Eric Neel and others have to say about it.

Gordon Atkinson, eh?

The Real Live Preacher has finally lifted his long-held anonymity. It's sort of wierd to know who he is now. I hope his church fellowship isn't overrun by "spectators" in the coming weeks. I have to admit I'm awfully tempted to visit, myself.

More ways to save gas money

I guess we could ride our bikes some more, but why would we want to give the naked bikers a reason to put clothes on? Come on, man, them's nekkid folks that're free for lookin at.

Thanks to the Straight White Guy for the heads (and who knows what else) up on this.

The air up here

I honestly can't tell you that I can sense the poor air quality around Knoxville these days. I know people who say they can, and I'm sure they can, but about the only air-quality evaluations I can make without that aid of my local meteorologist are "pretty f^#&(%! muggy" and "hotter'n a $2 Rolex."

That doesn't change the reality of (or piping-hot discussion regarding) our diminishing (or is it improving) air-quality. Joe Sullivan has chimed in with an op-ed in the new Metro Pulse, but Bill Baxter says everything is fine. I tend to side with the optimistic perspective on this one, but that doesn't change the fact that cleaner air is better and possible.

I've been stumblin' around Ye Olde Interwebbe today, trying to educate myself as much as possible on the most important issues about air-quality, alternative fuels, and improvement initiatives in the area. I have to tell you, I'm a little overwhelmed. Seems everybody and his brother has got identified a different problem or solution, and they all think theirs is the answer to all that ails us.

So I'm left not knowing which way to turn. Frustrating as hell. I called a very good friend who works for a local city government, and who has been bombarded with about ten times what I subjected myself to. He sounded utterly exhausted from just talking to me about the frustrations he has in sifting out the legit from the looney.

Course, he also asked if he could borrow my truck. So I'm going to let him, but only under one condition: he has to fill it up before he gives it back.

Now that's what I call alternative fuel source.

Picture this

WBIR wants your storm photos. I wonder if they want mine:

Nu Muzik

One of my favorite bands has finally announced the release date of their new album.

I wonder if I can manage to save $20 between now and September 7.

Theater Thursday

Wednesday, May 26
Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King has officially hit the stores this week (I bought the first copy at my local Borders yesterday). Trilogies have been popular in the movies for years. This week we look at questions based on some famous cinematic triumvarites:

1) The Back to the Future Trilogy sent Marty McFly 30 years into the future, 30 years into the past (twice!) and 100 years into the past. Which of these time periods would you like to visit in your 1.21 gigawatt-powered DeLorean, and why?
Well, 1885 was pretty sweet for Marty, so I think I'd have to go there. Even though it was the worst of the three, he did get to pull off that whole Clint Eastwood thing.

2) The Lord of the Rings Trilogy was, of course, based on a famous trio of novels by JRR Tolkien. What sci-fi/fantasy/genre novels or series would you like to see turned into a Peter-Jackson-directed/George-Lucas-written/Steven-Speilberg-produced trilogy?
The C.S. Lewis space trilogy (Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra, and That Hideous Strength). Definitely not as intricate or cult-famous, but still very creative and wildly imaginitive.

3) Next summer, there will be two complete Star Wars trilogies in the history books. What's your strangest or most interesting Star Wars experience?
None really strange or interesting, I don't think. I had a friend in high school who knew the name of every character, planet, organization, weapon, species, and evrything else associated with the movies. Seriously, you could quiz this kid for days and not stump him.

Bonus) While the Jurassic Park and Indiana Jones movies are currently only trilogies, plans are in the works for a fourth movie in both series. What trilogy might've been better served with a fourth movie? Which trilogy would've been better if they had left it at only one movie?
Well, I think they should have made the fourth (actually first) movie of the LOTR saga. The Hobbit was my first introduction to the series, and I had probably read it twice before I ever picked up LOTR.
Back to the Future was great enough on its own. II wasn't bad, but III was probably a mistake. Not that I don't watch it all the way through every time it comes on TV, though...

What a relief

Though regular readers of this blog (both of you) will probably disagree, I am officially qualified to speak my own language:

Grammar God!
You are a GRAMMAR GOD!


If your mission in life is not already to
preserve the English tongue, it should be.
Congratulations and thank you!


How grammatically sound are you?
brought to you by Quizilla


I found this little gem via Baseball Widow, who waits patiently for basketball season to begin.

Notes from Nashville?

Our more famous cousins to the west have been the object of our envy for quite some time now, especially their library. In fact, the success of the "state of the art" library was something of an example to which proponents of a new downtown library often pointed.

The Tennessean reports, however, that things are not all roses with the new library in Nashvegas. In order to keep the operating costs under control, an elimination of Friday hours has been proposed. Yikes, I hope the powers that be in Knox County have taken note, and have plans to avoid a similar fate.

Flavor of the city

Tuesday, May 25
TDOT is planning a special kind of overpass for Hall of Fame Drive where it will cross the newly widened I-40 in downtown Knoxville. They're asking for input from regular commuters through the area regarding what it should be.
Much as the Henley Street tunnel welcomes travelers to downtown, the planned Hall of Fame Drive extension over a widened I-40 can provide a signature of the city to westbound drivers, road planners said Monday. The overpass can be utilized to present the flavor of the city to approaching motorists.

"We're not sure exactly what we're going to do here," said Jeff Mize, a design consultant.
Dude, I've never heard a better description of our city's flavor. We should get some damn t-shirts made too:
Welcome to Knoxville. We're not sure exactly what we're going to do here.

Petersen's pay

In case you are interested in what it looks like, The Tennessean has a comparison of of new UT president John Petersen's contract with those of J. Wade Gilley and John Shumaker.

When in the hell is he going to teach a chemistry class? Why would he do that? Dude, just be president.

TV Tuesday

Ray Romano and co. just signed on for one more year of Everybody Loves Raymond, for record salaries. Situation comedies have been popular on TV since the beginning, with Lucy and co. being one of the first. So what's your take on sitcoms?

1. What's your favorite sitcom?
Currently, it's probably Scrubs. All time, I'd have to go with NewsRadio.

2. Is there a sitcom you really don't like?
I know it's not really possible, since it's not on the air yet, but I'm pretty sure I already hate Listen Up

3. Which sitcom did you used to like, but now it just seems too hokey?
Remember Nikki? Yeah...that really wasn't too funny. It did have a smokin' hot redheaded showgirl and a semi-pro wrestler as its stars, so you can see how I was led astray.

~Bonus~ If your life was a sitcom, what would the title be?
Just Shoot Me. No, I'm Serious This Time.

Thanks for playing, and be kind to Insane Faery, your new TV Tuesday guru. I've enjoyed playing along with you, and wish you many more seasons of fun! ~ Isabella
Isabella, we hardly knew ye. So long. Stay tuned.

And remember the immortal words of Homer Simpson: "The answers to life's problems aren't at the bottom of a bottle. They're on TV."

Towel Day!

Hoo-rah, it's Towel Day. You froods know where your towels are? I should hope so. I remembered mine.



I'm not sure where I can get a Pangalactic Gargleblaster anywhere around here, so I'll probably have to settle for a G&T tonight in memory of DA.

Doug Pappas

Monday, May 24
Wow, I just heard that Doug Pappas passed away this past weekend in Texas. That's a really tough loss. He was such a bright and eloquent spokesman for the SABR community. He will be very missed.

Speaking of which...

Since I burned so much gas money this weekend and last, I've been looking around for ideas. Maybe UT engineering students can help me out. They are about done with the FutureTruck project, and have just announced that they will be participating in another similar competition called Challenge X.

Also, I found out that the VW New Beetle TDI gets approximately 45-48 mpg. Combined with the fact that diesel was about 30-40 cents cheaper than unleaded everywhere I saw this weekend, I wonder what my savings would have been.

Diesels seem to put out a lot of nasty black emissions, though. Is that a bad thing?

Gas money

I went to Atlanta this weekend from Knoxville to see a friend. The trip was great, but paying for the gas was not. It is easily 10 cents more per gallon in the ATL area than Knoxville. I don't exactly have a fuel-efficient vehicle, but I was wondering exactly how much the recent price increases have been costing me. I get about 20 mpg, and I drive around 250 miles per week, so I go through about 50 gallons per month. Gas is up about 50 cents around Knoxville from this time last year. If that average increase hold for the rest of the year, I'll probably spend about $300 more in gas than last year.

Damn. Does anyone have any profound insights for increasing fuel-efficiency in a V6 pickup? I wonder how a camper-top affects it. More aerodynamic, but heavier. Ideas? Anyone?

A View From a Broad

Thursday, May 20
I'm sure everyone has already found this and I'm just a month or two behind the latest online phenomenon. I just found it, and it rocks.
Someone asked what the Iraqis need-----they need jobs. Give them jobs, and most of the Mahdi Army would evaporate. That’s what we hear about all the time----”Jobs. Give us jobs.” They want to work. Even the street kids, even as annoying as they get----it’s kind of scary when a kid casually tries to grab the barrel of your weapon-----they’re still trying to make a living.
Maybe it's just me, but this is an amazing blog.

Theater Thursday

Hey, it's a new meme. w00t!

Shrek 2 opens this weekend in theaters, hoping to be an even bigger hit than the prequel. From Antz, to Mulan, to The Lion King, to Heavy Metal, even Anime; There are hundreds of animated movies.

1. What is your favorite animated movie?
I really liked The Iron Giant. There are some other really good ones out there, especially if you count The Animatrix as a movie, but I'll go with my first reaction here.

2. Which animated movie is your least favorite?
I don't know why I've always hated them, but the whole Land Before Time series really irritates me. There are like ten of them, but I don't think I've even seen one all the way through, though.

3. Who is your favorite animated movie character?
Well, it's actually claymation, but Mark Twain in the truly obscure The Adventures of Mark Twain. I think the copy I have claims it is the first feature-length claymation film. It's a truly dark, funny, and clay version of Twain. Watch it if you ever have the chance.

We miss you in Toontown.

Wi-Fi envy

Wednesday, May 19
A friend of mine and I have discussed at length the possibilities for a good, city-wide free wireless network. It seems it would be a lot cheaper than some of the other things we try to do to draw folks into town, either as residents or tourists [see also: Knoxville Convention Center version 2.0], and it could easily be a way of introducing the city to a visitor. T-Mobile hotspots require registration (and a fee) before using one of their locations. Why couldn't Knoxville's wireless network do that too?

Anyway, I saw what Austin, TX is doing (registration req'd), and it started me thinking again.
The City of Austin and the Downtown Austin Alliance kick off a new free wireless Internet program in downtown parks today.

From noon to 1:30 p.m. in Republic Square park, there will be a free seminar on how to go wireless. The park is at the northeast corner of Fourth and San Antonio streets.

The city and the alliance have outfitted Republic Square and Auditorium Shores with free wireless hookups, and will do the same later this year at Brush Square and Wooldridge Square.
The preliminary plans for the new downtown library include some amount of wireless access, but that's barely a start. There are already several privately-owned and "open" networks around town (Mellow Mushroom, Downtown Grill & Brewery, Golden Roast), but a municipally-susidized version would be a really nice step forward for the city.

Shock Jocks

Ira Glass, of This American Life fame, contributed an interesting column to the New York Times last week about the ever-increasing threat of FCC fines for on-air language usage. I listen to Glass just about every week, and it's a bit surprising to hear him drawing such a short line from himself to Howard Stern, but I think I like the point he's trying to make.
Sadly, lots of smart people shrug off the recent government crackdown on Howard Stern – and on other "indecency" – as if it were nastiness going on in some bad neighborhood of the broadcast dial, one that doesn't concern them, one that they'd never stoop to visit. But the recent changes in F.C.C. rulings make me Stern's brother like I've never been before.

Kerryisms

Slate felt no qualms about poking a little fun at President Bush's semantic stumbles during the last election. In due turn, they've introduced the "Kerryism." The Bushism usually involves the spontaeous creation of a word or the blatant misuse of an actual one, but the Kerryism is less about language gaffes than it is about his rambling embellishments, qualifications, and needless asides. It's funny. Go laugh at the candidate of your choice.

TV Tuesday

Tuesday, May 18
Jay Leno once quipped when he was alone in an elevator his mind always reverted to the lowest song he could think of: "Come and listen to a story 'bout a man named Jed..."

Love them or hate them, TV theme songs stick with us for years! If you're stuck on some lyrics, click here for a comprehensive page with words I never even knew existed. (Who knew I Dream of Jeannie had lyrics???)

On that musical note:

1. What is your favorite TV theme song?
It's kind of hard to think of them in terms of favorites, but I think the least annoying is the Scrubs theme song.

2. Which song drives you crazy enough to hit mute on the remote?
Gilligan's Island

3. Which song are your proud to say you remember (most of) the lyrics to???
The Dukes of Hazzard

~Bonus~ Put the lyrics on your page (from memory), and I'll list you next week in the TV Tuesday Theme Song Hall of Fame. Don't forget to leave a comment so I'll know you posted!
"They're just good ol' boys, never meanin' no harm...
...blahblahblah...
in trouble with the law since the day they were born

hmm-hmm-hmmm
blahblahblah
hmm-hmm-hmmmmmmm but the law never will

Makin' their way, the only way they know how,
But that's just a little bit more than the law will allow

Somethingsomethingsomething
lalalalalalalalalaaaaaaa...modern day Robin Hood"

Yeah...not so much. Just sing the parts you know, but sing 'em louder.

Thanks for playing, and remember:

"Got kind of tired packing and unpacking,
Town to town and up and down the dial
Maybe you and me were never meant to be,
But baby think of me once in awhile.

I'm at WKRP in Cincinnati..."

Gregory Thompson

Please show your support tomorrow if you happen to see the good folks from TCASK on the corner of Main and Henley in Knoxville tomorrow afternoon. If you are not familiar with TCASK or the Gregory Thompson case, take a minute to read about them. Regardless of your feelings about state executions, I hope you find that Mr. Thompson's case is not appropriate for the application of the death penalty.
--Sign-holding--
*WED MAY 19 4:30 PM*
Vigil/sign-holding for Gregory Thompson
Corner of Main and Henley in downtown Knoxville

From http://gregorythompson.org/ :
Greg Thompson is a black man who is scheduled to be executed despite
the
fact that he is so mentally ill that the State of Tennessee went to
court and had a conservator appointed to make decisions on his behalf.

August 19 is Gregory Thompson's impending execution date.
Even if you can’t make the sign-holding, *please* take a moment to sign
an online petition asking Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen to commute
his sentence to life in prison.
http://www.petitiononline.com/acfdgreg/petition.html

home improvement

Friday, May 14
Even though $500,000 was spent to renovate the home for John Shumaker, UT is spending another $100,000 to prepare the executive residence for its new president, Dr. John Peterson.
The University of Tennessee plans to spend about $100,000 on a new roof for the majestic and historic Sequoyah Hills-area home of the school president. It is a slate roof, and rotted molding and trim will be replaced.
I wonder who was apprised of the bidding for this job? 100 large sounds like a hell of a lot to spend on a roof and some molding. I wonder who initiated this work proposal. Is it a request from Peterson, or someone else?

I no likee.

Almost missed it

Thursday, May 13
It's easy enough to overlook, that little column of commentary in the Citybeat section of every Metro Pulse. But, if you happen to look over there, you'll find some pretty worthwhile asides in "Seven Days." For instance,
Thursday, May 6
•State Speaker of the House Jimmy Naifeh filibusters to stall an anti-abortion measure, giving fellow legislators a thorough description of his vegetable garden back home in Covington. That seems appropriate, since gardening is so similar to the legislative process: If anyone brings up anything worthwhile, bury it, throw $#!% on it, and hope that something good comes out anyway.
Now, I heard that.

So says Sam

Sam Venable has made his feelings about mobile phone towers in the GSMNP perfectly clear. He hates the very thought of it. Sam seems to think, along with many others around town, I might add, that mobile phones will be the end of us all. Those towers, he thinks, will destroy the "pristine" backcountry views, equating their visual impact with the air quality problems the area suffers.

This is about three potential towers. Three. I'm not sure when the last time was that Sam headed up the proposed locations for these towers, but they are hardly "pristine." They are two heavily trafficked picnic areas and one giant parking lot on the state line. Unless you consider hordes of tourists wielding camcorders, fanny packs, enormous igloo coolers, and battleship-sized SUVs full of squalling brats a pristine environment, then I'm not really sure what he's worried about disturbing.

Have you seen a mobile phone tower before?

Next to a parking lot of Expeditions, Suburbans and Rovers, I'd hardly call that conspicuous.

If mobile towers are to become a reality in the Park, they will be subject to public approval, and the phone company will be responsible for all construction costs as well as any impact costs associated with the construction. Nancy Gray, a spokesperson for the park assured Sam that it the approval would not be a hasty process.
There would be an environmental assessment or maybe an environmental impact statement addressing the visual and resource impacts.
What reveals Sam's ever-evolving codgerism most, though, is his willingness to dismiss the potential benefits of the towers. He goes so far as to say that the benefit to search-and-rescue operations is not worth spoiling his "pristine" view. He does not even try to address the benefit it would provide the hundreds and thousands of hikers who traverse the area, or the thousands of drivers and casual tourists who, like it or not, have and use mobile phones.
What's next, for heaven's sake? Sandwich boards on bears? Taped jingles to mingle with bird songs? Billboards along the road in Cades Cove?
Sam, you've always been kind of a grumpy old guy (so you would like us to think), but don't turn willfully ignorant on us too. We have enough of those around here.

Troy's toys

It's all about the music, baby. Over at the UT Library Media Center, Troy has found an excellent new distraction...er...tool. Now that he's mastered Garageband, we should expect a huge library rave any day now, right?

Everybody's buddy

In the new Metro Pulse, Joe Sullivan talks about what kind of job Bill Haslam has done in his first five months in office as Knoxville's mayor. Even David Patterson, the campaign manager for Madeline Rogero, Haslam's chief opponent in the race, thinks ol' Bill is doing a good job.
Bill Haslam has been doing fine. He spends time getting out with the public, and he made a big thing about looking at 6 percent budget cuts before proposing a tax increase, which is something Madeline thought would probably be needed. I’d say he’s handling things just right.
It's hard not to like Haslam so far. He's been mugging all over the city, and he is doing a lot of the little things right. Not to be too cynical or anything, but who wouldn't be pretty popular in his same situation? Knoxville hasn't really had any crises to deal with, other than the budgetary ones we inherited from Victor Ashe (and would we really know what to do with ourselves if we were operating in the black?). Congratulations, Bill. You haven't done anything really stupid.

One must admit, though, Haslam's vision for the future for Knoxville is one that most of us share: more efficient use of what we have, investing for growth based upon real results, and input from the broadest base of residents possible. His hopes for South Knoxville are also some I can get on board with.
On the other hand, Haslam hopes to grow an entire new neighborhood along the South Knoxville waterfront. Looking out across the river from his office window in the City County Building, he gestures expansively at an area east of the Gay Street Bridge that now looks like a tank farm and extends about a mile to the South Knoxville Bridge. “You have Holston Gases and the Marathon Ashland asphalt plant sitting right on the waterfront. Long term, can we find another location for them? I think there’s a great opportunity for mixed-use development and [the same for] the property west of the Henley Street Bridge leading up to Fort Dickerson.” With most older neighborhoods resistant to new development, and annexation no longer much of an option, Haslam sees the South Knoxville waterfront, the I-275 corridor and downtown as the prime target areas for growth that will augment the city’s revenues.
He's done well so far, and the measures he envisions for the near future are some that should have fairly broad support. Let's face it, his number one qualification is who he is not: Victor Ashe. But if former Rogero supporters and the other traditional detractors continue to show him the love, he should be in for a pretty smooth ride.

Boomsday

Wednesday, May 12
So they've finally done it. The Labor Day weekend UT football game has officially been moved to Sunday night in order to meet a request from ESPN. It will be broadcast on ESPN2. Consequently, Boomsday has been moved to Saturday night. Mayor Haslam was part of a press conference about the schedule change, and he feels pretty dang good about it.
This is a great opportunity for the city of Knoxville and the University of Tennessee to garner national exposure. We look forward to UT fans joining us for the Southeast's largest fireworks display.
Stop me if I'm missing something, but doesn't the football program already have a pretty solid amount of exposure? I don't begrudge them any "fame," and I'm not opposed to this schedule change, but let's not go around pretending like this is some amazing windfall for the city of Knoxville. ESPN will not cover the fireworks display on Saturday night, but were we worried about not having enough people at the event. The article already states that over 300,000 attended the show last year.

The only change of any significance I can see coming from this is fuller hotel rooms on Saturday night. Even that benefit will not be optimized, though. The game is late on Sunday night, so the overnight crowd on Saturday will be somewhat depleted from those ticketholders who are not interested in dealing with the headache of navigating Knoxville on Boomsday.

Kerry on

Unless he has not been honest in every TV and radio appearance I've caught, John McCain is not interested in being a part of the John Kerry or any other Democratic political campaign. That has not kept Kerry from fabricating a relationship with the Arizona senator at nearly every turn. Not only has he repeatedly made his desire to have McCain as a running mate known, he has used McCain's image in commercials, and now he's announced on Don Imus' radio show that McCain is his first choice for Secretary of Defense, if he is elected.
I have any number of people that I would make secretary of Defense, beginning with our good friend John McCain.
"Good friend?" Unless McCain comes out with some sort of positive response to this, then I think this is a really stupid move. Kerry's desperate attempt to align himself with McCain in order to appeal to the moderate element of the GOP is ridiculously transparent. This looks like nothing more than name-dropping. Admittedly, McCain's is the one to drop, but these contrivances by Kerry won't play well if McCain continues his pro-republican, "party of Lincoln and Roosevelt" stance on the presidential campaign.

I have a better idea. If Kerry really thinks McCain would be so good, why doesn't he wield his tremendous influence in the Senate to have McCain set up as the successor to Rummy, and then continue to hold Bush's feet to the fire to remove Rumsfeld. If the Bush camp has much sense, they'll jump on this as the opportunity to sack Rummy of their own accord and nominate McCain as his immediate replacement, thereby sending a "message" to the world (most importantly, the American electorate) about the recent atrocities, snatching the wind out of Kerry's sails, and co-opting McCain as a secondary part of the campaign ticket for themselves.

But maybe that's just me.

Phone home

Today's KNS reports on the "problem" of mobile phones in public schools in Knoxville. Phones are currently prohibited for students while at school. It's not just their use that is prohibited or restricted, but their presence. If a student is found to have a phone in a purse or backpack, regardless of whether it is being used, it is immediately confiscated, and must be picked up by the student's parent.

School officials claim that they are worried about students abusing the phones in order to cheat or to take "indiscreet" photos. Their solution, then, is to prohibit them. I think the schools have a right to restrict the use of phones by students during school hours, but the prohibition is an overreaction. It's about the equivalent of banning pens and paper because students are passing too many notes during class. As much as it might irk the uber-traditionalists among local educators, mobile communication technology is a regular part of everyday life for teenagers. Better to find a way to accept it and make it a productive tool rather than ignorantly ban them.

I think the blindness and foolish paranoia that characterizes these school officials is summarized nicely by Steve Griffin, the chief of security for Knox County Schools.
Kids go out on a fire drill, they don't want to be in school that day. They'll tell mom there's been a shooting, there's been a bomb, come get me.
What idiot parent responds, more than once, at least, to that kind of manipulation and absurdity? What is this guy doing in charge of security?

Back to politics

Tuesday, May 11
There was a very important vote in Nashville last night. The vote was whether to override the subcommittee defeat of a proposed amendment to the state constitution. Regardless of how you feel about the proposed amendment, you have to appreciate the honest assessment of the situation in the KNS:
Antiabortion advocates fell short Monday night in a final effort to win legislative approval for an amendment to the Tennessee constitution this year, then vowed to focus next on political campaigns.
Somehow, that seems like a vow that I believe they will stick to.

Bijou to close?

The KNS reports that the Bijou Theater must come up with $600K+ owed to its mortgage holder, U.S. Mortgage (surely not the same), by the end of today, or else face immediate foreclosure. The Bijou has been in financial hot water for some time, but this looks like the end of the line. The article mentions quite an impressive variety of debts owed by the theater:

1) $607,993.65 principle owed on the building
2) "accrued interest, late charges and expenses" on the same mortgage
3) $35,000 owed to KUB for utilities
4) $65,000 other back debt

They pay 10.5% interest on their mortgage too. They should have refinanced. Don't they watch TV? Rates are really good right now.

They have officially begun groveling before mayors Haslam and Ragsdale for help from the city and the county. These are the mayors who have both proposed to raise taxes a little and tighten up our budgets because of shortfalls.
Morris has appealed to Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam and Knox County Mayor Mike Ragsdale for help. Spokespeople for the mayors told the News Sentinel they are looking into the situation.
How much money do you think they can really throw at a theater that is so clearly mismanaged? It will take a very creative solution, I think, in order to even make this logistically possible. Perhaps the facility could become incorporated as part of the new downtown library...who knows.

I definitely don't want to see it close for good.

New freakin' blogger

Monday, May 10
Great, blogger has gotten all fancy-pants with the posting interface. Damn it, I'm a lo-fi, text-loving guy. I think ASCII art is cool.

Yes, I complain about all kinds of free stuff. Shut up.

The shot

Friday, May 7
Holy crap, I can't believe this was 15 years ago today. I hate seeing this replay on every episode of SportsCenter that features a "greatest moments" segment. Ehlo seems to have coped pretty well, though.
I'm immortalized by that shot. My son Austin [12] loves it. When I was coaching high school basketball, that was all my players wanted to talk about. I'll be able to tell my grandchildren about it.

Well, I'm glad he has closure about it. I have never held "the shot" against him.

Ernest Byner, on the other hand, still owes me my childhood hopes and dreams.

Sundown change

Thursday, May 6
Tonight's replacement for Steve Winwood at Sundown tonight will be The Allstar Tribute to the Allman Brothers. Sure thing.
Steve Winwood's appearance at tonight's Sundown in the City in Knoxville TN has been cancelled due to the sudden death of the family member.
Sundown in the City will take place as scheduled this evening. Jodie Manross will take the stage at 7pm and The Allstar Tribute to the Allman Brothers featuring some of Knoxville's finest musicians will follow.

Winwood cancels

It looks like the fire marshall is going to have to wait at least another week before he gets a chance to flex his authoritarian muscle and keep people out of Market Square. Steve Winwood has cancelled his performance tonight, due to a family death. Jodie Manross is still going to play, and she's well worth it. I wonder who else they'll have jump in there; perhaps Mike Thomas, R.B. Morris, or Scott Miller, or some combination thereof.

Sundown too big?

I was glad when Sundown in the City was moved back to Market Square this year, but I was a little surprised, considering the money that was invested in making the courtyard behind the ThInQ Tank a better venue. Looks like it was a good decision, though. The KNS reports (registration required) that the crowd size at the events has been "surprising."
The free concert series, held on Thursday nights at Market Square, kicked off its new season April 8 with eclectic jazz group Bela Fleck and the Flecktones. The show was the first of the series held on the newly renovated Market Square. Promoters were ready for a crowd of 7,000, but an estimate put attendance at more than 10,000.

I'm not sure where that estimate came from, but I was there, and it was crowded as hell. The following shows, however, haven't been nearly as bad. I saw Robert Earl Keen, and the crowd was there, but it was not overwhelming. The KNS estimates there 5-7,000 at each event; well within what is safe and expected. But, in unsurprising fashion, the fire marshall has announced that tonight's show, Steve Winwood and Jodie Manross, with be "first come, first serve" only. There's no word on whether this is going to be the pattern for the rest of the Summer, but it's very annoying. There might be an issue with the crowd tonight, but this is also finals week at UT. Anyone who has been to Sundown can tell you that a significant portion of the crowds have been UT students, or other college-age fans. If you have a hard time believing it, just take a look at the Sundown pictures on Knoxpics.

I doubt there will be a crowd "problem" on Market Square after this week, and I really don't expect one tonight (seriously...I know I'm not interested in Steve Winwood). I hope the fire marshall takes that into account, and lays off the paternal complex.

Hallebeerjah

In spite of the brackish condition of my Cinco de Stomach right now, I couldn't be happier at the prospect of pouring some more beer on it. That's because today's metro pulse reports the re-opening of the New Knoxville Brewing Company next month (or therebouts). The old brewery has been leased by a California guy who promises to diligently recreate the NooKaBooKa IPA, and add some other fine varieties.

What else rocks: they're going to have a "tasting room" [see also: pub] in the front of the brewery itself. Sounds like they've already got some good specials planned:
Knoxvillian Andrew Postlewaite, who will be managing the tasting room, says they will offer to-go growlers of beer, to save late-night carousers from the 2 o’clock mad dash to Weigel’s. They are also toying with the idea of a “train beer discount”—for every time a freight train rumbles by the building, which is just around the corner from the Old City.

Hell, yes.

More PO flames

Wednesday, May 5
I love this. Jay Jaffe at the ever-interesting futilityinfielder.com has posted an extensive (yes, more long-winded than me, even) response to Buster Olney's PO foolishness.
Productive Out advantage predicted the winner in 57% of postseason series (62.3% if you exclude the no-decisions as Olney did above), a rate exceeded by advantages in plate appearances (for these purposes simply at bats + walks), homers, and runs. In other words, thanks for nothing. Yes, there are certainly times where a productive out comes in handy, and the Yanks might have had themselves World Championship number 27 if Boone had been able to provide one. But such anecdotal evidence isn't what holds water in this battle. The real question is do productive outs correlate with scoring runs, or don't they?

As if the first month of the season didn't provide enough fuel for baseball bloggers, Buster Olney is keeping them all in business. Bloggers love nothing quite like they love an idiot with a soapbox.

Library n00z

Tuesday, May 4
Knox County mayor Mike Ragsdale has announced plans (.pdf warning) for the new downtown library this afternoon as part of his new budget.
The Ragsdale plan includes a new downtown library to replace Lawson McGhee. “This can be a critical part of downtown redevelopment,” said Ragsdale. The burden will not fall just on the taxpayers, however. Charlie Anderson, President of Anderson News, has pledged to raise $5-million to help defray the cost of the facility. The proposed site is the old News Sentinel site bordering State, Gay and Church. “The land is owned by the city, and we will work with them to devote it to this public use,” said Ragsdale. (Knoxcounty.org)

The county expects to raise the revenue needed for the various projects from a new $30 annual wheel tax. Ragsdale cites fairness as the reason for levying a wheel tax, and not a property tax. A wheel tax would affect 400,000 registered vehicles, as opposed to the 180,000 properties in Knox County. It seems rather reasonable, if you ask me. Considering the horrible air quality in the county, it would have been nice to see an exemption offered for extremely clean and efficient vehicles, or an extra fee for commercial trucks or private trucks over a certain weight. Clean the air and raise money for the library...crazy, I know.

Also, I'm not sure if I should thank Charlie Anderson or be suspicious about what he stands to gain from donating $5 million for the library.

TV Tuesday

Week 8 - The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world…
In honor of Mother’s Day this Sunday (what- you forgot? Shame on you! Get thee to a Hallmark Store!) This week’s questions will be about that beloved group of ladies we all know and love- TV moms.


1. Who is/was your favorite TV mom?
Well, Marge Simpson is awesome, but it occurs to me that Jennifer Aniston is a TV mom, which is appealing in an entirely different fashion.

2. Was she a realistic mother, or more of a TV fantasy type?
Neither of them is very realistic. Seriously, Marge would have left Homer a long time ago in real life (not to mention her kids would be old enough to have their own kids by now).

3. Which TV mom did you find the most unrealistic? Or if you’d rather: creepy – sappy – mean – you choose the adjective, and you name the mom.
Jane Kaczmarek as Lois on Malcolm in the Middle. Yeesh.

~Bonus~ No disrespect to your dear old mum, but which TV mom did you think it might be neat to have as your own?
Mrs. Jetson, just because I wanted a flying car.

Thanks for playing! Happy Mother’s Day, and always remember the loving words of TV mom Roseanne Conner: “If those kids are alive by the time he comes home at the end of the day, then hey, I’ve done my job!”

Graham Lindsey

Don't you love it when you find a new musician that you really like? Me too. I just heard Graham Lindsey on launch radio, which I recommend to anyone who is stuck at a cubicle all day. He's a damn fine songwriter. He's not coming anywhere around Knoxville anytime soon, but I'll be there if he does. Check him out. He's got mp3 clips of his songs on his website.

Sox lose...dammit

Sunday, May 2
Homer was pretty upset after the Red Sox dropped the third in a row to the Texas Rangers. Damn Rangers...they should go back to the range...or something.



Boy, he sure is pissed...SUPER-PISSED!

study day

Saturday, May 1
Lots to get done today...finals are next week. I'm planted at the Golden Roast for the remainder of the afternoon. If you see me, wake me back up, I have work to do.


West Town CarnieMall

After taking our friend Jim Bob shopping, the missuz and I headed over with him to the carnival in the mall parking lot. It was klassy as hell, yo. These two could barely control their eagerness to get on a ride called the "Surge," which can only be characterized as a tilt-a-whirl on meth. Look at how happy these two idiots are, though:



What was really disturbing, though, was the 10 minutes or so the attendants had to spend...ahem...adjusting the leg braces for the ride:



I don't think they were super-pumped that I was taking a picture. There was a lot of them swearing at each other and a great deal of flinging half-smoked cigarettes to the pavement in frustration. Yeah...it was totally sweet.