knox snooze

Succotash my Balzac, dipshiitake.

Reduce, Reuse, Repeat the information please.

Thursday, September 30
Barry Henderson writes that the City of Knoxville plans to give curbside recycling pickup another go.
Waste Connections, the city’s regular trash-collection contractor, will be gradually instituting citywide curbside recycling pickup—neighborhood by neighborhood—at a fee of $3.50 per month per household, and will supply the necessary containers for a one-time outlay of $10.
Does anyone know more about this program yet? I've contacted Waste Connections, but I just get a recording. I hope it will be in my neck of the woods soon. I would gladly lay out $3.50 a month to not have to haul it to Kroger myself.

Theater Thursday

This week we have a Mickey Mouse Movie Meme - all about Disney films.

1) What is your favorite Disney film? If it's animated, what's your favorite live action film?
I've never been a huge fan of any of them, but The Jungle Book certainly made an impression on me at an early age. Honey, I Shrunk the Kids was also pretty good ("Oh...French class!").

2) What Disney character is your favorite, and why? Which character do you think is overrated and or overused? (they don't have to be animated characters)
Iago, the parrot from Aladdin. Mostly because I can't help seeing Gilbert Gottfried looking over the script and realizing that, though it sucked, it was better than hosting USA, Up All Night. Bambi is an overrated, but delicious wuss.

3) Why do you think the Disney appeal has endured so long and been so influential in American film and culture?
I would say that the quality of their work has shaped our understanding of how we relate to the world; that we are influenced by them from an early age to heed the principles of understanding, cooperation, and personal responsibility. But really, they just pump narcotics into the theater at their movies and they lace their videos with other highly addictive chemicals. Damn Pentavirate...

BONUS) If you were Walt Disney and you suddenly came back from the dead (or got unfrozen, or had your head reattached, or whatever), what would be your impressions of what the company has made since you "died" (in 1966)?
Since I "died?" I would think, "Holy crap, who would have thought I could take over the world with a rat?"

Play Theater Thursday

A surveyor's blog

Having just bought a new house and finding out just how interesting neighbors can be, my wife and I have decided to install some privacy fencing along our property lines. Unfortunately, the property lines are a little unclear. So unclear, in fact, that the neighbor cut down a mature pear tree just inside my yard a couple of weeks before we bought the house.

So I'm looking for a surveyor. Lo and behold, a Knoxville surveyor who is also a blogger.

Occupational hazard

After pitching a good game to beat the Royals, Kyle Denney and the rest of the Indians thought their work was done for the evening. Apparently not. They still had to remove a bullet from Denney's leg. That's right, someone shot at the team bus on the interstate in Kansas City. The bullet went through skin of the bus, through the pant-leg of Ryan Ludwick, and into the calf of Kyle Denney.

Oddly enough, this isn't the first time an Indians player was shot in the leg. Of course this one was in a less humiliating place, I'm sure.

National disgrace?

Wednesday, September 29
Timothy Noah lambasts the directors of the recently opened National Museum of the American Indian in Washington D.C. He complains its poor layout, open-palm attitude toward Ben Nighthorse Campbell, and lack of scholarly focus make what should be a national treasure a national embarrassment. He gives their attitude and abandonment of academic objectivity an interesting comparison.
Folkore and religious beliefs are certainly legitimate topics for a museum to explore, but to present such beliefs in a vacuum constitutes Native American creationism. It's like visiting Salem's Witch Museum and being told that Bridget Bishop, hanged in June 1692, had it coming.
There is, no doubt, an active and pertinent American Indian culture today. The role of the museum, however, should be to provide a fuller picture of the history and context out of which it arose. Heritage matters, so don't half-ass it and call it education.

Little NPR surprises

Have you managed to get through most of the day without hearing the phrase "spontaneous monkey-love?" That's a shame. Take a listen to this segment from Day to Day (about three and a half minutes) to correct the situation. You will never regret it.

Burks' curtain call

Ellis Burks was activated from the DL last Thursday by the Red Sox. He plans to retire after the season, and wants to do so in a Boston uniform. The Transaction Guy has a nice tribute to Burks.
Ellis Burks is not a Hall of Famer. He’s not even a guy about whom you can say, “well, if only he had stayed healthy, he could have been a Hall of Famer.” What he was, was a very good, sometimes great, player with bad knees who captured my attention by what he did on the field.
Since being activated, Burks has only had one plate appearance. He hit a single.

Here's hoping he has plenty to celebrate in another month.

Melt-Down Bradley

Don't pretend you're sad to see him gone. Milton Bradley is making Mark Shapiro look smarter every day.

HU$TLE

James Wolcott has an excellent review of the ESPN Pete Rose bioflick HU$TLE.
A middleaged overgrown boy who still thinks he can lie like Tom Sawyer is not an inspiring sight, and Sizemore didn't try to pretty any of it up. And the supporting cast of bookies, leeches, and frosted-blonde wives was terrific: a tribe of lowlifes with little trace of the Runyonesque. It was as if wherever he went, Pete never really left the sports bar.
Sadly, I haven't seem the movie yet. Now that I've moved on to the uberbasic cable package, it looks like I'll have to wait for a DVD at Blockbuster. And nothing makes me feel more intellectually mature that hunting for movies in the "Sports" section of a video store.

Wrestlemania XVI, anyone?

D.U.H.

Having recently purchased my first home, I have an expanded appreciation for people who are willing to go through the hassle and headache of designing and building their own home (not me). Scott Adams (yeah, the Dilbert guy) is one of those people. Actually, he's more like me: 1)co-opt a bunch of other people into designing a sweet house for you. 2)don't really build it. 3) take all the credit.

Actually, Adams just wanted a better place for Dilbert to live, and he approached it in typical fashion.
First, let me give you some background. As you probably know, most of the people who design houses hate your guts...Any decent engineer could tell you that the way to design a house is to first gather the requirements about the occupant's lifestyle and THEN design the house, taking into consideration the best thinking in energy efficiency, economy, and maintenance.
The result is Dilbert's Ultimate House (DUH), and it's possibly the sweetest, most awesomerest house ever.

So famous, we're in-famous

I knew that a lot of people around this neck of the woods were grumbling about the proposed cuts in Tenncare, but I wasn't aware that it had really hit the national advocacy group intervention stage yet. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer (Motto: We have no idea where our name came from either) is even covering it.
"This is probably the most damaging change in a state's Medicaid program in the history of the program," said Ron Pollack, executive director of the Washington-based Families USA, a private consumer group.
Interesting that a Seattle newspaper would fail to mention that Families USA is a Washington D.C.-based organization (jump to your own irrational conclusions here).

I completely support state-subsidized healthcare for the needy and underprivileged, but I will always have a hard time feeling very bad for Tenncare recipients when benefits are changed or cut. My wife works in a Doctor's office (I did as well for awhile) in an area where 50-60% of patients receive Tenncare benefits. The abuse of benefits by patients was astounding. Many regularly walked out on co-pays, were discharged from the practice for drug-abuse, and were often good-for-nothing layabouts.

I know, that's a totally heartless attitude. I hate them for making me feel this way.

I don't think that limiting benefits to what is deemed the "least costly alternative" or a "medical necessity" is a great way to do things either, but Tenncare is choking our state, and it's a self-perpetuating nightmare in its current form.

National advocacy groups have the abusive Tenncare patients themselves to thank for the urgent need to curtail costs. If you really want change, give doctors the right to kick people off Tenncare completely. Let the people who deal with the actual problems everyday have the power to correct those problems.

The most important meal of the day

What did I have for breakfast (he asked in his most blogly voice)? A fistful of pills comprised of no less than one Wellbutrin (no fumar), one Nexium, two Prednisone, and six (count 'em) vitamins (aka urine dye tablets).

And now I have awakened the Balrog in my belly.

Queer eye for the straight fifty

Tuesday, September 28
The new $50 bill has been released, and boy is it purrty. MSNBC reports that the next in line will be the $10.
After the $10 makeover comes the $100 bill, the most counterfeited note outside the United States, Ferguson said. The $5 bill won’t get a new look, and neither will the $1 and $2 notes, he said.
No word on whether they were trying to make Grant look more realistically hungover or not. If they were, then good work, guys.

In other news: we still have $2 bills? Why has no one told me about this? More importantly, why don't I have a few?

Flexing a little authoritarian muscle

Some UT students had "Vols for Bush" stickers confiscated by UT Police before last week's Homecoming football game. Some have claimed that it was a politically motivated move. It's possible, I suppose, but more likely it's a case of the University using it's power to control anything that they feel resembles one of their number one revenue sources: their registered logo.
Michael Young, coordinator for UT's trademark licensing office, said the stickers violated the trademark not only for the word "Vol," but also for the orange and white checkerboard pattern as seen in the football endzones. UT also has trademarks for the phrases "Big Orange Country" and "Go Vols," among others, Young said.
I'm not sure how a geometric pattern like the checkerboard can be trademarked, but ok, we'll take your word for it.

Does anyone else see the irony of the College Republicans having their free speech impeded by the University of Tennessee? No? Ok, it's just me then.

I may not agree with the politics of the College Republicans, but I certainly support the right of a University-recognized organization to call themselves "Vols" and declare what it is they support in the same breath. Especially when they are not seeking a profit or abusing their position for personal financial gain.

Speaking of which...Vols for Beer.

Addendum:
I nearly forgot; you should read what the College Republicans are saying about it too. Nathan, John, and Adrienne.

We're all waiting...

Timothy Noah takes aim at yet another outbreak of plagiarism at Harvard.
1) Aren't there any conservative professors at Harvard who commit plagiarism? (Over to you, Weekly Standard.)

2) Don't they have any faculty plagiarists at Yale?
Meanwhile, Harvard's President is faced with eating his own words.
University President Lawrence H. Summers told The Crimson in an interview last week—before the allegations against Tribe surfaced—that he did not see “a big trend” of plagiarism problems at the Law School as a result of the charges against Ogletree and Dershowitz, but indicated that a third case would change his mind.

“If you had a third one, then I would have said, okay, you get to say this is a special thing, a focused problem at the Law School,” Summers said of the recent academic dishonesty cases.
Well? Now what. As I sit here, facing down a bevy of midterm assignments and reading, I wonder how lowly UT would respond to a little insignificant plagiarism on my part...no harm intended, of course. Maybe that's the problem: If you want to be a top-flight school with a lot of really respected publications, then steal other people's work.

That seems sort of obvious now.

Penmanship?

You've got to be kidding me. If I was in high school now, I would screwed.

What a surprise

The fan who is now in possession of the ball that Barry Bonds hit for his 700th home run is now being sued by another fan who says the ball is rightfully his.
It's not the first time fans headed to court over the fate of a Bonds homer. In October, 2001, Bonds' record-setting 73rd homer of the season sparked litigation that ended when a judge ordered both men to split the $450,000 the ball fetched,
When is our judicial system going to learn that what the American public really wants is not this diplomacy bullshit, but a full-on, to-the-death cage match. Against Barry Bonds.

Them fightin' W's

Matthew White at South End Grounds has some misgivings about the Montreal Expos' apparently imminent move to the D.C. area. At least he's honest.
You could reasonably argue that I don't want the Expos to move because I don't want them to be competitive again - they've been good for at least 12 Braves' wins a year. The Braves wouldn't have won 13 division titles if the Expos still had the likes of Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, Larry Walker, Vladimir Guerrero, Cliff Floyd and Javier Vazquez playing together in Stade Olympique.
Read the whole post. Will they bring back the "W?" Hmm...is MLB making a political move here? Damn election year baseball.

Bad newswriting 101

Kevin would like to help you get through the tripe and misinformation of a NY Daily News writer who doesn't know jackpoo about the guns they're covering.
Um, those weapons and magazines were already out there. If the cities "gangs and drug organizations" wanted them, they've got 'em already. The elevated price didn't worry them any. They're selling drugs. That's a high profit-margin business, I understand.
Indeed.

What the...

Some pictures are already too perfect for further commentary.

Our buddies are back

Hide the women and children. College GameDay is coming to town.

TV Tuesday

Monday, September 27
It's true that human's are creature of habit and we've all got our favorite shows, celebs, movies, etc, so this week we're going to examine your favorite channels! :)
1. It's off to an easy start, what's your favorite channel?
Damn, I hate to fit so well into my own demographic, but I freakin' love ESPN. I'm getting a cheaper cable package that doesn't include it anymore, though, but I still get the History Channel. So I got that going for me...which is a good thing.

2. What shows are on your favorite channel?
Sportscenter, Baseball Tonight, Sunday Night Baseball, Sunday Night Football, College Gameday. Oh yeah, and a lot of WNBA recently, which is disturbing.

3. Does your favorite channel change often or are you a loyal watcher?
I wouldn't call it loyalty as much as I would call it a full-on addiction. It isn't healthy or pretty, people. I'm one of "those" guys. You know, when one of your friends wonders aloud who in the hell wants to watch the same edition of Sportscenter over and over every morning...I'm the answer to that question.
~Bonus~ How much of a creature of habit are you? Do you have a daily or weekly viewing schedule? Is your TV or Cable programmed to switch channels even if you're not there?
I don't have TiVo, if that's what you mean, but the "3" and "2" on my remote are just about shot. A lot of times I just have to use the force to change it back to ESPN.

Play TV Tuesday

Today's fantastic film synopsis

Sadly, the movie is an abysmal yawn inducing poop fest.

Fast women

If you see a pack of good looking girls in matching orange running shorts cruising down Neyland Drive, don't even try to catch them. They'll still be going strong after you stop for the second or third time to question your manhood. They're UT's Womens Cross-Country team, so don't feel alone. They are making everyone look dumb.

Classy like a Claussen

It sounds like the Claussen family is raising another champion of sportsmanship and selflessness in California. Jimmy Claussen, Casey and Rick's younger brother, had no trouble shredding a high school defense last week for 6 touchdowns and nearly 300 yards passing. True to family form, he even took a moment to acknowledge the fans of the opposing team.
Clausen felt so good early in the first quarter that after his first two touchdown passes, he kept motioning to Burbank fans and once yelled, "We got you!"
Just like Jesus would want the QB of Oaks Christian HS to do, I'm sure. Even the coaches for Oaks got in on the act, betting one another with each possession how many plays it would take them to score. I'm sure the winners donated all of their winnings to the missions fund at church on Sunday, though.

Please, stay in California.

All Day I Dream About Sports?

Friday, September 24
In case you were worried, UT has upped its existing shoe and apparel contract with Adidas for another five years. They haven't said yet how much money the Athletic Department is making off of this deal. I wonder if that fleet of Brinks trucks I saw this morning has anything to do with it.

A novel idea

According to the Tennessean, UT is considering instituting an extra attendance policy for its athletes. UT History professor Todd Diacon pitched the idea to AD Mike Hamilton after hearing about a similar program at the University of Florida, of all places. The plan is pretty straightforward:
Diacon's proposal was that any athlete with four unexcused absences in the same class automatically would be suspended from the next scheduled game or competition.
Other sports programs at UT already monitor class attendance very closely. Granted, they don't have close to 100 athletes to track, but I see Men's Basketball Assistant Coach Al Daniel roaming the halls and sticking his head into classrooms on a regular basis. Coach Summitt is reportedly even more fastidious with her players.
You sit in the first three rows and you go to class — period.
Sounds like a good idea to me.

Because you were raised by wolves

In an ongoing effort to train students and employees of the University of Tennessee, the Career Services Office has prepared an instructional guide for dining etiquette. Yes, this is real. It is way too awesome for me to have made up. Also, my dining manners tend to fall into the "chugs beer, belches loudly" category.

Here are a few quick pointers I picked up from the handout. First, we have a very informative illustration:

Note: I have never seen this table setting. Anywhere. If this is the spread your potential employer lays out at the interview, run. He is a supervillain. Toss back those three glasses of booze first, though.
Table Setting. It can be very confusing to be presented with a variety of eating utensils. Remember the guideline "to start at the outside and work your way in." If you have been given two forks,which are the same size, begin with the fork on the outside. Many restaurants use the same size of fork for both the salad and main course.
Since both of the forks look exactly the same, it is very important to identify which will be your salad fork and which will be for the main course. Choose one, raise it over your head, and shout, "SALAD FORK!"
Napkin. When dining with others place your napkin on your lap after everyone at your table has been seated. Do not open your napkin in mid-air. As you remove your napkin from the table begin to open below the table level and place on your lap. If you must leave a meal, do so between courses, and place your napkin on your chair or to the left of your plate. When a meal is completed, place your napkin to the right of your plate -- never on the plate.
A little known fact is that used napkins and empty plates, when combined, form a highly volatile and explosive compound. If you see a fellow diner make this mistake, take one for the team and dive on it. Be sure to cover the plate as completely as possible and absorb the force of the explosion with your midsection. This will show your boss that you are a team player.
Served. Wait for everyone at your table to be served before beginning to eat. However, if an individual who has not been served encourages you to begin eating, you may do so. Eat slowly while waiting for their food to be served.
Refrain from shouting, "Aw, snap! You just got served, yo!" Unless, of course, the waiter also does a totally sweet dance move. Like the moonwalk.
Soup. When eating soup, think of making a circle: spoon away from you, bring around to your mouth and back to the bowl. Soup is taken from the side of the soup spoon -- it is not inserted into your mouth. Do not slurp or make noises when eating soup.
In order to complete this maneuver, you may find it helpful to lift the spoon high, tilt back your head, open your mouth and pour it directly into your esophagus. Please refer to your Cirque du Soleil training when eating soup.
Utensils. Be careful how you hold your utensils. Many people tend to make a fist around the handle of the utensil -- this is the way a young child would grasp a utensil (not an adult). There are two acceptable ways to use the knife and fork: continental fashion and American standard. Continental fashion; the diner cuts the food usually one bite at a time and uses the fork in the left hand, tines pointing down, to spear the food and bring it to the mouth. American standard; a few bites are cut, the knife is laid across the top of the plate, sharp edge toward you, and the fork is switched to the right hand, if right-handed, tines up to bring the food to the mouth. (Do not cut more than two or three bites at a time.)
When following the American standard, remember to eat all bites at once. If you are unable to do so, remember to shout, "UNO!" when you have only one bite remaining. If you forget to do this, and another diner catches it, they can force you to drink straight hot sauce.
Dessert Utensils. Dessert utensils may be found placed across the top of the place setting. Slide these utensils down for use after the main course is removed (fork to the left and spoon to the right).
If no dessert is yet on the table, continue sliding the utensils past your plate and into your pocket. When dessert is served, complain that you did not get any dessert utensils. You might even be able to get an extra dessert if you act really pissed off (shouting helps).
Passing. Pass "community food" such as the breadbasket, salt and pepper, and salad dressing to the right. Always pass the salt and pepper together. When passing items such as a creamer, syrup pitcher or gravyboat, pass it with the handle pointing toward the recipient.
Remember to tell the person to your right to "go long" if you have an especially strong passing arm.
Seasoning. Always taste your food first before using any seasonings. Do not assume it needs to be seasoned.
Unless it is identified as some sort of "Pate." Trust me, this shit needs all the salt on the table.
Bread. Bread/rolls should never be eaten whole. Break into smaller, more manageable pieces, buttering only a few bites at a time. Toast and garlic bread however may be eaten as whole pieces since they are usually already buttered. If you are served a piping hot muffin or biscuit, you may break in half crosswise, butter and put back together. However when ready to actually eat, break it into small pieces.
If the phrase "piping hot" crosses your mind as you handle a muffin, go ahead and pour yourself a glass wuss-juice, you little pansy.
Glasses. A variety of types and sizes of glasses can be used throughout the meal. Remember your items to drink will be located in the area above your knife and spoon. Coffee cups may be located to the right of the knife and spoon.
If your meal includes the glass of sherry as illustrated above, be sure to hold the glass with your pinky finger extended and say something Frasier-y.
Finished. When finished with a course, leave your plates in the same position that they were presented to you. In other words, do not push your plates away or stack them.
If you finish first, remember to be a gracious winner. A little celebration is acceptable, but refrain from spiking your soup bowl or pointing your boss' face. Unless you totally smoked him.
Guest. If you are someone's guest at a meal, ask the person what he/she recommends. By doing this, you will learn price range guidelines and have an idea of what to order. Usually order an item in the mid price range. Also keep in mind, the person who typically initiates the meal will pay.
One way or another, they will pay. Nobody double-crosses you.
Office Parties. Office parties are good opportunities to improve morale and build good will. Keep in mind these are people who see you every day and they will remember a lapse in behavior. Be aware of your alcoholic consumption and do not embarrass yourself. Do not discuss business; this is a social occasion and an opportunity to learn more about your co-workers.
If they happen to forget your behavior, be sure to remind them about that one time, after you finished the new budget, that you and Mark from accounting got totally hammered and pissed on the fax machine. Yeah...that was pretty sweet.

And there you have it. Little tips to get you through the job-hunting experience.

Have a good weekend.

Jim Henson

Jim Henson would have been 68 today. The Writer's Almanac has a nice little profile of him.

it's not easy being green

Free screenwriting software

Thursday, September 23
Troy at the alpha channel has found a free-to-use open source screenwriting program. Looks interesting. Now where was it when I was dropping large monies on a similar program a few semesters ago?

trolling the blogosphere

Have you played with the "NEXT BLOG>>" thingy on the new navbars yet? Of course you have. We're all voyeurs here. It's alright.

What have I found?

  1. A group blog on the writings of Robert Pirsig (good luck, kiddos)
  2. Some crazy-ass "jewelery" blog (twice, actually)
  3. One dedicated entirely to MLMs

So go, explore the only frontier we have left: our own navels.

Went too (K)FAR?

By now, everyone has heard about KFAR (Knoxville pirate radio) being shut down and having their equipment seized. It was a full-on raid. A lot of people I respect have shown their support for the station, but I don't know if I can agree with them. Joe Tarr (scroll down) gives us a rundown of how it happened. According to them, KFAR was shut down because they were the political gadflies that the current administration just couldn't stand.
The programs are what some members think got them in trouble. A lot of the shows—Democracy Now!, CounterSpin, Making Contact, Between the Lines—were produced by national groups and were critical of the Bush Administration and the corporate media, among others.
While I may agree with a lot of what they broadcast, I have a hard time following the conspiracy theory thread. They weren't persecuted, they weren't abused, and they weren't framed. They were in clear violation of established laws. Tarr offers their explanation.
Although it broadcast illegally, KFAR members believe they had a right to broadcast because the airwaves belong to the public. They believe the FCC has mismanaged those airwaves to benefit large corporations at the expense of the public interest. KFAR is soliciting the support of local legislators in hopes of getting the FCC to back off.
A lot of things belong to the public. That does not mean the public can utilize them at their whim. Resources, services, utilities, lands and airwaves held in public trust require protection against abuse. Pirate radio is abuse. KFAR might be great radio, but they were always living on borrowed time.

ADDENDUM:
Dan has spoken more about the KFAR situation.
There appear to be ways for KFAR to broadcast legally, and at at least one local radio station has done this, WDVX . So if there is a legal way for KFAR to broadcast, why haven't they explored this option?
It is certainly not an issue with a simple answer. To civilly disobey or not, I suppose.

Astute observations from the web

A new AP poll shows that people with higher incomes tend to find their quality of life more satisfying that those with lower incomes.
"Money is not everything, but it allows you to do things many people can't always do," said Bob Russell, a 53-year-old businessman from Hockessin, Del.
Proof at last that there is no more news.

Theater Thursday

The very first movie I ever watched on the big screen was Home Alone. Now that cute little boy is being arrested for drug charges. Do you remember your first time?
1. Do you remember the very first time you watched a movie on the big screen? Describe it.
Yeah, I saw The Jungle Book. I think I wasn't as impressed by the cinema experience as I was the movie. Dude, it had a singing bear and dancing monkeys.

2. What was the last movie you saw on the big screen?
Garden State, and I'll probably see it again and pre-order the DVD.

3. Did you ever like a movie so much that you paid to watch it more than once? If so, what movie?
I saw The Matrix a couple of times. Whether or not I actually paid for the subsequent viewings is another matter. On the other hand, I only saw The Matrix: Revolutions, but I feel like I'm paying for it for the rest of my life.
BONUS) How much does a movie ticket cost in your neck of the woods?
Um...around $5-$8, depending on the show, theater, and whether you get them on Fandango.

Play Theater Thursday

Meet the new look

Wednesday, September 22
Yeah, so the old template, like the template before it, was getting pretty sloppy. So I changed it.

Holy crap, I changed it.

Missing from this new one: the previous comments. I'll see if I can import the enetation comments to blogger, but I have my doubts. Let's start again.

Pour one out

I've been listening to a new Elliott Smith track from the upcoming album From a Basement on the Hill. Damn, it's good. I heard it online on the Fall music preview edition of All Songs Considered. I've got to find out when that album comes out.

Spinach-cell power

UT researchers are involved in yet another plant-related renewable energy source project. This one sounds more delicious than some of the others.
At the heart of the device is a protein complex dubbed Photosystem I (PSI). Derived from spinach chloroplasts, PSI is 10 to 20 nanometers wide. Around 100,000 of them would fit on the head of a pin. “They are the smallest electronic circuits I know of,” said researcher Marc A. Baldo, assistant professor of electronic engineering and computer science at MIT.
Hmmm...salad bedding rethought as a kind of perpetual energy machine. I don't know why we didn't think of this sooner.

The thanks I get

So Saturday was National Public Lands Day and, being the whiney-ass tree hugger that I am, I volunteered with a group of students from UT at House Mountain State Park. We cleaned up some fallen trees, repaired water-blocks, and were basically good people.

Four days later, not only do I have that warm and fuzzy feeling that comes with volunteering, but I have a bumper crop of thick, yellow, weepy poison ivy blisters on my wrists and forearms.



If this was taken with a better camera than my phone's, you would have the exquisite joy of seeing the particularly vile, clear-ish sludge that excretes from these monsters all day. Have a good lunch.

Holy Sub-Angstrom Resolution, Batman.

Tuesday, September 21
Hey, we were mentioned on All Things Considered. They called him in Knoxville. Awesome...and stuff.

Is it bad that I'm so excited my city was mentioned on NPR?

p.s.
This bumps the number of awesome last names I've heard today to two: Pennycook and Stringfellow.

Riiiight

The Irish Examiner reports that Saddam Hussein is in bad shape, and that he sounds like a broken man:
“Saddam sent me a verbal message asking for mercy,” Ayad Allawi told the pan-Arab newspaper Al Hayat. “He said they were working for the general good and they didn’t aim to harm.”
That's a little tough to swallow considering all the evidence to the contrary.

Taxing issue

Surprise, surprise, most Tennesseans oppose an income tax, even if the state sales tax is reduced.
In the poll conducted by Mason-Dixon Polling and Research Inc., 53 percent of 625 registered voters said they were opposed to an income tax, one of the most controversial issues in the state during the last few years. Thirty-five percent were in favor of a tax, and 12 percent were undecided.(AP)
And here in Knoxville, we'll vote against vehicle registration tax too. You know, just for good measure.

More: The Tennessean's online poll shows an even larger gap between the two.

Wide World of Sports

With the upcoming NHL season paralyzed by an owners' lockout of the players, the U.S. must scramble for another marginal sport to replace it in our cosmos of non-stop sports broadcasting. Might I suggest elephant polo? I might. In what other sport can you find flamboyant transexuals, severe bodily injuries, and descriptions of the game as vivid as this:
On the 100-meter field, one of the elephants defecates hugely. The mound is quickly scooped into a large red basket by one of the "poop boys" who wait patiently next to the pitch.
For those of you who guessed the WNBA, you're wrong. Hilarious, but totally wrong.

TV Tuesday

A great show never dies, it simply spins off into new shows! LOL This week we'll take a look at the ever famous spin off syndrome!!
1. What's your favorite all time spin off? Which show did it spin off?
Frasier. Are there any other good ones?

2. What do you consider the worst spin off ever? Why?
They all tend to be pretty bad. The Michael Richards Show wasn't a strict spin off, but everyone knew that was Kramer. And it was bad.

3. Is there a show that's ended that you wish they'd done a spin off for? Which one?
Not really. No matter how good a spin off is, it still always looks like a pathetic cash-grab by the network.
~Bonus~ If you could "end" your current life and make a spin off of it what would you call it? What would be the theme (characters new and eliminated, changes you'd make)?
I'm not sure. It would probably star one of my friends and feature me as that loud-mouth, hard-partying, obscene-joke-telling, buddy who comes over too often. I would be a cab driver. A cab driver with a dark secret. A secret that I can't tell even you because then it wouldn't be a secret anymore, would it?

Nosy bastards.

Play TV Tuesday

Biomass

Not that I'm suggesting you're a pyromaniac, but have you ever looked around and thought about all of the organic materials in the world that can burn? Go ill-prepared for a camping trip in late October in the mountains of East Tennessee and you'll soon find yourself thinking very specifically about what you can and cannot set on fire to warm your numb fingertips.

It's not exactly the same, but some researchers at UT are using a $1 million grant to research the feasibility of switchgrass as a biomass fuel. Interesting.

Real Live Issues

Monday, September 20
RLP has found that the fuzzy edges of the blog life and that other life (the real real life) are getting muddled. The transition doesn't sound like an especially comfortable one:
It finally happened. Four people showed up at our church because of Real Live Preacher. These people from Dallas were in New Braunfels, which is only about twenty miles from our church, and they decided to drop in for the service.
I have to admit that I looked him up right away as soon as the RLP mask of anonymity was lifted. I actually planned on going down there for a service. I can't believe it took this long for other people to get down there because of RLP.

Judicial Power

Judges in Tennessee are overwhelmingly opposed to turning some sentencing power over to juries. All this fuss is in response to Blakely vs. Washington, which demands a clear relationship between punishment for the crime and the elements of the crime for which he/she was convicted.

David Raybin has some thoughts on possible interpretations of the case in Tennessee.

Big Rig

My wife and I just bought a house. We haven't moved into it, but we're over there pretty often working on the house (painting, knocking down walls at random, etc). Before we bought it, it was empty for about two years. I think this led the neighbors to believe that it somehow reverted to just open property. Kids walk through the yard, dogs sleep on my porch, and others park in my driveway. Until now, the most jaw dropping demonstration of their disregard for our property lines was when I opened the front door one afternoon to find the neighbor shooting fireworks in my driveway.

That was until this weekend. Yesterday we pulled up to the house to find that a de-trailered big rig had decided to park in the drive. When the owner of this truck approached my vehicle, I asked if I could help him. His reply was "There's not enough room to get it into my driveway. You don't mind if I leave it here, do you?"

It should be noted that there was no room for my vehicle in my own drive with him there.

When I finally fumbled though my response enough to make it clear to him that I really wasn't okay with him there, he pulled out. Through my yard. Burning ruts into my lawn with his spinning tires.

What in the hell is wrong with people in my new neighborhood?

Google alerts

Have you seen the "news alert" that Google currently features? Maybe I'm way behind the times, but I just found this last week. It's pretty interesting. I've got three set right now to cull for "University of Tennessee," "Clemency," and "TennCare." So far, so good.

Amen, brother

Friday, September 17
Radley Balko continues to preach the word about the ridiculous zeal of many who enforce drinking-age laws.
Christ. They were sending their kid off to the military. He's volunteering to serve his country. In wartime. That means that, you know, he could fucking die.

McSweeney's

Thursday, September 16
What's the funniest thing I've read today? Why, it's "Stranger Danger" over at the electronic McSweeney's.

Rain, rain, go away

If anyone was thinking about heading out to the Scott Miller/Mic Harrison show tonight on Market Square (I was), well think again. It's been cancelled.

Guess we'll have to wait a little while longer to hear some live V-Roys tunes.

More Jack

Neely also talks about the opening of UT's new Downtown Gallery (an opening I also attended) and the Joseph Delaney exhibit there. It's a great display that everyone should try to get to.

An image of the "Vine and Central" painting Jack refers to in the article can be found here. Enjoy.

The great parking myth

In the new Metro Pulse, Jack Neely tackles the newly expanded plans for the Watson's Parking Garage on the west edge of Market Square. Chief among the current concerns is the fact that the project once planned to build several residential units and a parking garage to complement them. That plan somehow became to build a garage as tall as the buildings around it, and (oh yeah) tack on no more than 12 condominiums at the south end.

The final project doesn't sound all that bad, actually. I imagine that two or three years from now, we'll be wondering what else we can bring downtown to make the most of all the empty parking spaces in this new garage and the garages on Locust and State.

The most recent drawings of the project by architect Buzz Goss sound interesting.
In architectural renderings, the condominiums are there, and finished, but the parking garage next door, which will be finished earlier and will be at least a floor taller, is not. Goss has no quarrel with the parking garage; he says he left it out of the drawing only because the parking garage would block out familiar landmarks which offer the viewer a sense of place.
One can only hope this disturbed sense of place does not carry over to the new residents and by-passers.

New personal best

Wednesday, September 15
Barley's in Knoxville has a Lord of the Rings pinball machine upstairs. This magical device is akin to highly refined heroin in its addictive quality. Needless to say, I am its minion.



The first time I played it about a month ago, I matched two times in a row, earning two free games. I scored about 9 million on that last game. Last night, I surpassed that score, falling only 25 thousand points shy of the lofty 10 million point (free game) plateau.

So yeah, feel free to donate to my Amazon account in increments of fifty cents.

KMA blog

Tuesday, September 14
After a long hiatus, it appears that the event blog for the Knoxville Museum of Art is up and running current events again.


Check out Suburban Thursday when you get a chance. There's nothing else quite like it in Knoxville. It's worth it, even if you don't like martinis.

Understatement

Nothing like a little "interaction" between the players and fans at a big league ballgame.


TV Tuesday

Court shows have been around a long, long time. From Judge Wapner and his bailiff Rusty to a tough little lady named Judge Judy there's been a lot of different faces and a lot of cases decided in under 30 minutes.

You're the jury this week, it's your job to see all the evidence and render a verdict!

Judge shows, what do you think?
1. Do you have a favorite judge? Least favorite?
Seriously, they all kind of suck. The best was Phil Hartman's Wapner impersonation on SNL.

2. If you were given the chance would you settle a court case on a judge show?
No.

3. What's the silliest case you've ever seen on a judge show?
I don't know...probably one of those things from fashion court.
~Bonus~ Imagine it, you've got your own show and now you're a judge, what would your show be like?
Like Night Court, only not as serious.

Play TV Tuesday

The Virtual March

Philip Workman needs your help. He faces an unjust execution on September 22nd. Visit the virtual march to let Gov. Bredesen know that you oppose this execution.

Information about Mr. Workman's case is on the same page. Please read it before submitting your petition to the governor.

Rotting corpse

Andrei Codrecuhwhatsyername, thou art a butt! Writhe in your own filth! You will lead me on no more.
Dear Exquisite Corpse contributor,

If you have received this email, you have most probably submitted some
of your undoubtedly brilliant writing to us at submissions@corpse.org
anywhere between March, 2004 and the present date. Unfortunately, we
have placed our macabre journal in suspended animation and we will not be
reading new submissions until May, 2005. We would ask you to resend
your submission after this date if it is still available for publication.
Please refer to our on-line submission guidelines for more information.
Thank you for being there and supplying us with quality ammo. We hope
to hear from you when we rise to haunt the web again. Until that time,
keep your arms polished and enjoy our latest issue!
Yes, yes, I will enjoy your stinking piece of crap publication while you take a semester or two for yourself.

Commie bastard.

Back in the slump of things

Monday, September 13
Well, after looking good against the Mariners, the Tribe destroyed my highest expectations for them and dropped two of three to the A's. No part of it was pretty, especially last night, when Jake Westbrook tossed a fantastic game, only to have it wasted by an utter lack of offense.

The Indians have finished their west coast swing and are on their way back home. They'll open up a six-game homestand against Detroit tomorrow. They'll finish out the season with all AL Central opponents, including four more at home with the Twinkies.

This is the end, my friend. Let us begin the countdown to 2005, for the winter will soon be upon us.

Heard over the cubicle wall

Friday, September 10
Last song: Dream On, by Aerosmith.

Current Song: Summer of '69, by Bryan Adams

The only songs I can mildly appreciate from the two "artists" I most loathe.

As always, why in the hell am I telling anyone this?

Blogoholic

Hi, my name is Ashby, and I have a problem.

Don't even try to stop me, though.

Theater Thursday

Thursday, September 9
You've just been hired to write, cast, direct and produce your own movie. You've been given $75 million to hire a cast and crew, and 90 days to shoot. The film is scheduled to open a year and 1/2 from today.
1) What is the name of your movie?
Lucky's Lounge.

2) Who are the stars you hire?
Jack Black, Peter Sarsgaard, Juliette Lewis, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Sedaris, and Donald Sutherland

3) What is the general plot/style/theme of your dream movie?
An old Savannah, GA hotel, The Shuffler, burns down one night, killing a Fortune 500 CEO who was there participating in less than prudent prostitute-related activities. The only survivors of the fire are the employees and patrons of the hotel bar, Lucky's Lounge. An independent investigator, hired by the board of the Fortune 500 company, interviews each of the survivors, uncovering everything in their lives but the truth about the Shuffler's last night.
It would be dark and disturbingly funny, and the plot would be arranged in a sort of Rashomon style.

Not that I've thought about this much, or anything.
BONUS) What's one obstacle you see that could prevent you from achieving this dream movie?
You mean, besides my total lack of ambition? Not much, I'd say.

Play Theater Thursday

Jesus was homeless too



Several hundred homeless gathered to watch The Passion of the Christ under a bridge last night in Knoxville. I was around the corner at Cup-a-Joe, wondering what all the commotion was. Free hot dogs and a movie will do that.

Who says we need to raise a lot of money to build a downtown theater? It looks like we might already have one.

I kid, I kid.

Just another name for wiener?

I'm not sure if Frank Cagle is calling Instapundit an insightful voice or a mudslinger. Is he crediting the blogosphere with reasonable assessing the importance of Kerry's Vietnam record, or does he see blogs as the stupid bulldogs who won't let the campaign be about Iraq and the economy?

Wait, isn't Cagle a blogger too; an RTB'er, no less? Frank, what gives?

I heart NY

Nick Corrigan writes in the current Metro Pulse about a small group of Knoxvillians known as the Utopian Street Orchestra who protested at last week's Republican National Convention in New York City.

I know another (sometime) Knoxvillian who was arrested at a protest in NYC. I don't know if I could have believed the things he told me about the arrests and jailings without hearing it from a friend I trust. He told me about being jailed for more than 24 hours without formal charges or a chance to contact his lawyer. He was kept in a cell with several other grown men, but also with 14 and 15 year-olds who were not given a chance to contact their parents. He was arrested with a delivery boy for a Chinese restaurant who was snatched off his bicycle and whose delivery was confiscated and eaten by police officers as they laughed at him.

I'm not so blind as to place all of the blame for those crimes on the shoulders of the RNC, but they can't escape some responsibility. And while they can take their share, the rest of the blame can rest squarely on the puny shoulders of Mayor Bloomberg.

That's two in a row

The Tribe managed to outhit the Mariners on their way to another win last night. Cliff Lee finally picked up another win, but it wasn't pretty. He did, however, manage to avoid giving up a base hit to Ichiro. What's really surprising is that it isn't out of the ordinary. Aside from Sabathia, Tribe pitchers are relatively successful against the Japanese hit machine. He's batting .285 against them (them not including C.C.) with no extra base hits this year. This is successful only because he's rocking all big-league pitching to the tune of .377. Incredibly, C.C. is one of his favorite victims. He's .500 in 12 AB against the big lefty this season, and 11-for-25 in his career.

The Indians will finish up their Left Coast jaunt in Oakland this weekend; Oakland, who just lost three in a row to the Red Sox by a combined 23-7. Sound like trouble for the Tribe? Have no fear. The last time Oakland was swept by Boston, they followed it up by dropping two of three in Cleveland just before the All-Star break.

All the same, it should be very tough to take more than one game away from the determined A's, who are still in the hunt for a postseason spot, and whose pitchers (See also: Hudson's collapse) are overdue to hit their September stride.

Recent books

Wednesday, September 8
I'm too lazy to actually write reviews of any length or thought for the books I'm reading, but I've just finished a few that deserve comment. Instead, let's just rate them on a scale of 1-10:
White Noise - Don Delillo: 8
Waiting For The Barbarians - J.M. Coetzee: 7
Maus I: My Father Bleeds History - Art Spiegelman: 6
Maus II: And Here My Troubles Began - Art Spiegelman: 6
War In Heaven - Charles Williams: 9
There. Now don't go telling people you never learn anything here.

Shutout

C.C. Sabathia tossed a complete game shutout against the lowly and fading Seattle Mariners last night. Gone are the days when a game like this in mid-September could change the direction of a division race, but it still feels good to shut them down completely.

Somehow, the Tribe managed to get five runs on five hits and a walk. How could they do that, you ask. Ah, the sexiness of the long ball. Back-to-back jobs by Hafner and Blake in the second. Even Omar got in on the action.

This brings up the important question of what Shapiro plans to do this offseason about who will be manning 3b in 2005 (verily, the long-awaited 2005). Casey Blake has had a terrific year (.272-25-73), especially for a guy who is making less than $400k, and I wouldn't be offended at all if we just sent Aaron Bleepin Boone (whose numbers when healthy are remarkably similar to Casey's) to the Red Sox for a minor prospect or two, just so they could have their way with him.

Dubya sauce

I'm not sure how the whole AdSense thing is going to work out, but at least it's amusing for now. Somehow an ad for W Brand Ketchup was directed here by google. Hmm...I wonder if they know something about me that I don't.

Speaking of which, where are my freedom fries?

TV Tuesday

Tuesday, September 7
Kids' Shows.
1. When you were a kid what was (or is if you're still a kid LOL) your favorite show?
Square One TV. No question.

2. What is the silliest kids show you've ever seen? (You can use stupidest, most outrageous, worst, etc if you prefer!)
I think Slim Goodbody (or whatever it was called) was the most inadvertantly creepy show ever

3. If you could be any character in a kids show (past or present) who would you be? Why?
Kermit the Frog, but I'd have to figure out some way of getting around and talking without someone's hand up my butt. Which is always tricky.
~Bonus~ This one is kind of for the adults and parents out there. Do you feel kids shows have changed for the better or worse since you were a kid?
Meh...kids are kids.

Play TV Tuesday.

Somewhere in Africa

I haven't kept up with him like I meant to, and I haven't sent him the money I'd planned to, but my prayers and thoughts are with a new Bible teacher somewhere in Kenya.

What day is it?

Don't you hate when you forget to reset your alarm clock on the Monday night of a three-day weekend? There's no panic quite like the panic of waking up to find out you're already late for work.

Cliff?

Friday, September 3
What has happened to Cliff Lee? For the first half of the season he looked like a perfect second southpaw to have behind Sabathia and Westbrook. But, now he's lost his sixth decision in a row, and he's getting no love from the papers.

Puttin the 'lickin' back in Republican

Thursday, September 2
I have no idea what that's supposed to mean, by the way. I've just been wanting to say it for the last couple of days, and I haven't been able to come up with a decent context. Shut up.

Anyway, Paul Ford, of f-train and npr glory, somehow found his way into a Republican schmooze-fest in Brooklyn. Food and drink were had, pictures taken, and the oh-so-ironic melodies of Marvin Gaye heard in one afternoon. He was accompanied by Steve Burns, who I don't know, but who I want to pretend is the same dude who used to host Blue's Clues. He's apparently a big fan of the tubed meats. But who isn't?

Yeah, what he said

When I was a renter, I thought and spoke and acted as a renter. I once had the stones to write Matt Edens an email decrying his lack of love for Knoxville renters in his biweekly Urban Renewal column for the Metro Pulse. Of course, Edens' didn't reply to me, which is somewhat relieving considering the late hour and number of beers that accompanied the writing of the email.

That said, I find myself liking him more and more. Sure, now I have a house in the city, so I'm just selling out to my own self-interest. Whatever.

Matt's guest commentary in this week's Metro Pulse is a damn fine explanation to all those county whiners out there who beat down the new wheel tax with such zeal.

Theater Thursday

Wednesday, September 1
Anacondas opened up in theaters last week. There have been tons of movies made about 'killer' animals. From Cujo, to King Kong, to Jaws, what do you think of these 'bad' animal flicks?
1) What is your favorite movie about some type of 'animal gone wrong'?
Dude...Jaws. It is the standard by which all others are judged.

2) Do you end up feeling sorry for the animal, or just scared to death?
Usually pretty scared. There aren't too many vicious attack puppy movies where the cute little golden retriever has to be hacked to pieces to save the town.

3) Do you think there is a movie about a 'killer animal' that went way too far or was just a ridiculous movie?
I don't think The Birds was a ridiculous movie, but I certainly feel it went too far. I base that mostly upon my now intense fear of birds...especially fluttery little ones with those bloodthirsty eyes.
BONUS) What kind of killer animal movie would you like to see made? Scary squirrels anyone?
Squirrels, scary? No. Unless they had machine guns...and a score to settle. Die, Chipmunk, die.

Play Theater Thursday

Moore politics

Michael Moore is covering the Republican National Convention in NYC for USA Today. In his first column, he describes his experience of finding that many convention attendees tend toward a degree of liberalism that isn't always consistent with the party line. He calls them RINOs: Republicans In Name Only. He struggles to understand why these RINOs, who appear to be in the majority at the convention, continue to support the GOP. He thinks he's found the reason.
Money. That's what it comes down to for the RINOs. They do work hard and have been squeezed even harder to make ends meet. They blame Democrats for wanting to take their money. Never mind that it's Republican tax cuts for the rich and billions spent on the Iraq war that have created the largest deficits in history and will put all of us in hock for years to come.
I guess Moore doesn't think that it's possible that many RINOs simply disagree with the principles by which the DNC intends to operate. Democratic policies are very rarely as simplistic as "everybody just be nice to each other."

That said, Dick Cheney is evil.