Nov 20 2018
09:17 am

Here are some new rules to improve the decorum of news briefings, likely affecting the person at the podium more than those in the audience:

* No person shall refer to another by a derisive nickname such as low-IQ, crooked, little, boring, sleepy, or Pocahantas.
* Quotation marks around the title president only shall be used for persons who acquired the office but lost the popular tally by two million votes or more.
* A laugh track will be added to question replies only when a false statement is repeated after being shown false by a major fact-checker such as Politifact, FactCheck, or Snopes.
* The term Fake News will be reserved only for Comedy News programs, not ones with which one has a grudge.
* A non-classified version of the Presidential Daily Briefing shall be provided to reporters so at least someone will read it.

Nov 20 2018
06:03 am

(click image for slideshow...)

Here are some views from the recently opened Foothills Parkway between Townsend and Wear's Valley.

Nov 20 2018
06:00 am
By: R. Neal  shortURL

Washington Post: Ivanka Trump used a personal email account for government business: Ivanka Trump sent hundreds of emails last year to White House aides, Cabinet officials and her assistants using a personal account, many of them in violation of federal records rules, according to people familiar with a White House examination of her correspondence. ... She said she was not familiar with some details of the rules, according to people with knowledge of her reaction.

Nov 19 2018
08:51 am

Charges relate to helping a coal company dodge toxic cleanup costs. Executives from the same company were convicted on federal bribery charges ealier this year.

(By way of RoaneViews.)

Nov 18 2018
12:16 pm
By: michael kaplan  shortURL

California officials are cleaning up what's left of a 3-mile-long homeless encampment in Orange County after officials evicted more than 700 homeless individuals from the area on Sunday afternoon. Located along the Santa Ana riverbed, the encampment isn't far from Disneyland.

So far, the cleanup of the homeless camp has led to the removal of over a thousand pounds of human waste, 5,000 needles and about 250 tons of trash, Fox News reported Monday. The clear-out began Tuesday, after a lawsuit brought by seven homeless people living at the camp resulted in an agreement that the county would offer monthlong motel vouchers or a shelter bed to the homeless people affected by the move.

So far, no response to my letter of October 28 to Mayor Rogero asking where the homeless displaced from Broadway are sleeping, or what happened to their belongings.

It's notable that massive tent cities have been established in empty parking lots and fields to accommodate victims of the California fires. It will be interesting to see how long those emergency housing solutions will be 'tolerated' by those living in the vicinity of the camps, and what longer-term solutions will be proffered.

Nov 17 2018
08:03 am

So apparently, since 1875 a kilogram has been defined as the weight of a precisely machined cylinder of platinum-iridium metal stored in a vault in Paris. Exact copies were distributed around the world for reference and calibration.

But, scientists found that the original kilogram has lost weight and its replicas no longer matched. So they set out to fix it.

On Friday, the International Bureau of Weights and Measures agreed that a kilogram is now based on universal mathematical constants:

The kilogram, symbol kg, is the SI unit of mass. It is defined by taking the fixed numerical value of the Planck constant h to be 6.626 070 15 × 10–34 when expressed in the unit J s, which is equal to kg m2 s–1, where the metre and the second are defined in terms of c and ∆νCs.

This means that a kilogram is now the same everywhere on Earth and anywhere in the universe. Or something like that.

The new definition is based on Planck's constant. But there first had to be agreement on its value. This involved several years of complex research.

Now if we could just convert to metric. Did you know that the U.S. is one of only three countries that don't use the international standard metric system? (The others are Myanmar and Liberia.)

Further reading:

BBC: Kilogram gets a new definition

NYT: The Kilogram is Dead. Long Live the Kilogram!

PBS: The new definition of the kilogram will change the way we weigh everything

Nov 17 2018
06:36 am

Thursday there was a snow storm in the NYC area that resulted in about 6 inches of snow. This piddling amount of snow brought the area to a near stop. Commuters were stuck for hours, traffic was at a stand still, roads were blocked by abandoned cars, buses didn't run, wrecks everywhere.

I guess Atlanta commuters reaction to snow storms isn't so ridiculous after all .

Maybe the problem is you have millions of people trying to travel in a relatively small area.

Don't get me wrong, I've been stuck in snow/ice storms, luckily never in my car for hours on end. I hope it never happens again. If it does, I'm pretty sure I won't be in a city/area with millions of other people.

Nov 16 2018
06:50 am

Jamie Satterfield reports Burchett's remarks: "I have been following the recent news reports related to the illness and deaths of employees who worked on the TVA coal ash cleanup, and I am deeply disturbed by what is being reported. ... I hope that TVA, EPA and the U.S. Attorney's office will fully investigate this matter. ... If necessary, I will seek a formal congressional investigation into this matter, because those affected deserve answers and anyone at fault should be held accountable."

I don't recall Jimmy Duncan having much to say about the disaster and cleanup, other than we shouldn't let public opinion about TVA and coal be swayed by environmental "kooks and extremists." He did take $16,000 from Jacob Engineering in the disaster aftermath, though.

Suicides are rising among the whole population, and a breakdown by occupation shows construction workers and miners headed the list, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday.

Construction workers lead in U.S. suicide rates, CDC finds

Suicide is the tenth-leading cause of death (2016 data) in Tennessee, claiming over 1,000 lives per year

Facts About Suicide - TSPN

DTV Host Lisa Plawchan discusses the 2018 General Election Campaigns of Democratic candidates Renee Hoyos and Greg Mackay with their campaign managers Will Callaway and Chris Barber on DTV on Friday, Nov 16 @ 7:30 PM.

DTV airs on the Community TV channel on
Comcast Channel 12
Charter Channel 193
Wow! Channel 6
ATT U-verse Channel 99

DTV also streams live on Friday @ 7:30 PM (here!)

Not sure what an envoy does.

President Donald Trump has nominated handbag designer Lana Marks to be the next US ambassador to South Africa.

Marks, a Florida resident and member of Trump's exclusive Mar-a-Lago resort, according to a source familiar with the club, was born and raised in South Africa, where she attended the University of the Witwatersrand and the Institute of Personnel Management in Johannesburg, the White House said in a statement.

Trump picks handbag designer, Mar-a-Lago member to be envoy to South Africa

Watched some of, PBS: Sinking Cities - London, this evening

Looks like a good series

Sinking Cities - Four Part Series on the Threat of Climate Change

Nov 14 2018
02:58 pm

Freshman orientation for new members of Congress has begun.

From the New York Times,

Tim Burchett, a newly elected Republican of Tennessee, was just trying to find his way around.

“I’m from Knoxville, ma’am,” he said. “The longest I’ve ever been in D.C. was in 1976 when I was a patrol boy.” And that, he said, was when he was in the sixth grade.

I hope he does good for (all) the folks back home.

Nov 14 2018
06:00 am

On her first day in Washington D.C., Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, of the progressive left and newly elected congresswoman from New York, decided it would be a good idea to protest outside Nancy Pelosi's office.

“This is not about personality, this is not about rebuke, this is not about confrontation — it’s about making sure that we are getting the job done,” she declared, moments before she spoke to young activists who staged a sit-in to demand a Green New Deal to address climate change."

Ms. Ocasio-Cortez’s noisy Washington debut, and her uncanny knack for grabbing the spotlight, underscores the difficulties that await Democratic leaders as they try to unify an unusually diverse incoming class. Newcomers in both parties descended on the capital Tuesday for the start of a biennial Washington rite — freshman orientation — that seems unusually freighted with seriousness in the age of President Trump.

I'm all for bringing in new blood to Washington. Is it really a good idea to add to the Republicans disdain for Pelosi?

Amazon has announced that their HQ2 will be split between NYC and Arlington Virginia.

BUT, Nashville gets a nice consolation prize: A new $230 million operations center that will bring 5000 jobs.

Nov 13 2018
06:28 am

For the first time the State of Maine is using a ranked ballot form of voting for the U.S. House and U.S. Senate races. Ranked voting allows the voter to pick their first choice to take the election, then a second choice, and so on. Not sure how many choices would be possible.

In Maine, if one of the candidates for the U.S. House or U.S. Senate races doesn't not receive 50% of the vote then they start adding in 2nd choice options to the vote counts. "If there's no majority, the last-place candidate's second-place votes are reallocated to remaining candidates. The computerized process can be repeated until there's a winner."


"Maine residents approved the system in 2016 after nine of the previous 11 gubernatorial elections resulted in winners who failed to get a majority of the vote."

And, of course, that is what happened this first time the State of Maine tests using the ranked ballot form of voting.

"If it works as intended, then it's possible the Republican incumbent with the most first-place votes could end up losing to a Democrat.

Some expect a lawsuit to challenge the one-person, one-vote rule under the theory that the system lets the supporter of a last-place candidate to effectively vote twice, violating the Equal Protection Clause."

Just a little confusing. In Tennessee they would have to use landscape format ballots to fit in the 8 candidates for U.S. senate along with the write-in option.

A record number of women — mostly Democrats, many of them galvanized by the threat the Trump administration poses to reproductive freedom — were swept into Congress during in the 2018 midterm elections. The results were still being tabulated on Wednesday when Trump’s Department of Health and Human Services quietly finalized two rules empowering employers, universities and nonprofits to refuse birth control coverage to women.

A third rule, also announced Wednesday, would require insurers on the Affordable Care Act marketplace to charge women a separate monthly bill for abortion coverage — a change that advocates say would be so prohibitively expensive it could force insurers to stop offering the procedure altogether.

Trump Administration Quietly Unveils New Rules Targeting Birth Control and Abortion

Insurers contend they use the information to spot health issues in their clients — and flag them so they get services they need. And companies like LexisNexis say the data shouldn’t be used to set prices. But as a research scientist from one company told me: “I can’t say it hasn’t happened.”

Why health insurers track when you buy plus-size clothes or binge-watch TV

While most election attention has been focused on the U.S. House and Senate, Democrats are competing to capture governorships around the country, and also hope to flip a few state legislatures. With the 2020 Census approaching, many of the governors and state legislators elected tomorrow will have power in drawing the congressional boundaries that will be used starting in 2022.

Unless that power gets taken away from them. Three states — Colorado, Michigan and Utah — are voting on ballot measures to create independent commissions for redistricting, making it a nonpartisan process. These commissions are already in use in California and Arizona.

How the 2018 election could affect the next decade of redistricting

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Lost Medicaid Funding

To date, the failure to expand Medicaid/TennCare has cost the State of Tennessee ? in lost federal funding. (Source)

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