Energy Department Awards $6 Million to Universities in Tennessee and Virginia to Advance Master's and Doctoral Training in Power Electronics

For this funding opportunity, the Energy Department has selected The University of Tennessee, Knoxville to receive $2.9 million and Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech) to receive $3 million to create masters or doctoral training programs that will enable the design, manufacturing, and deployment of advanced high-efficiency electrical equipment such as motors, inverters, and grid equipment, as well as high-efficiency electrical systems. 

The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, in collaboration with DOE's Oak Ridge National Laboratory, will create design‐oriented education and hands‐on training with wide bandgap (WBG) power electronics for the next-generation power engineering workforce. The project will include wide dissemination of recruiting and teaching materials to other U.S. institutions, targeting 100% student placement and developing a clear strategy for recruitment of women and minority students into the workforce.


from the Washington Post ...

Four years into The Great Smoky Mountains Study of Youth, the families of roughly a quarter of the children saw a dramatic and unexpected increase in annual income.

Not only did the extra income appear to lower the instance of behavioral and emotional disorders among the children, but, perhaps even more important, it also boosted two key personality traits that tend to go hand in hand with long-term positive life outcomes.

The first is conscientiousness. People who lack it tend to lie, break rules and have trouble paying attention. The second is agreeableness, which leads to a comfort around people and aptness for teamwork. And both are strongly correlated with various forms of later life success and happiness.

The remarkable thing that happens to poor kids when you give their parents a little money

The Great Smoky Mountains Study of Youth


We seem to be doing pretty good in that area

from U.S. Energy Information Administration …

The United States exported about 4 MMb/d of crude oil and petroleum products in 2014, resulting in net imports (imports minus exports) of about 5 MMb/d in 2014. Net imports accounted for 27% of the petroleum consumed in the United States, the lowest annual average since 1985.

How much petroleum does the United States import and from where?


I won't see this in the southeast in my lifetime, but it does seem like it would have some applications between large metro areas like Atlanta and Charlotte, or connecting Atlanta, Nashville, Louisville, Chicago.

Japan's maglev train goes 374 mph, sets world record

Oct 8 2015
10:13 am

In case you missed it, yesterday was National Walk to School Day. The Knox Co. Health Department, TennCare Kids, and the Safe Routes to School Partnership sponsored an awareness event yesterday at Bearden Elementary School with local and state officials.

It's a laudable effort. But unlike the ancient times when I was able to walk to school, it's not really feasible these days.

A kid living in Island Home would have to walk about 7.5 miles to South-Doyle High along dangerous roads with no sidewalks.

A kid living in Vestal would have to walk about 2.5 miles to Dogwood Elementary along Maryville Pike with no sidewalks in places and also cross Chapman Highway.

Oct 8 2015
09:32 am

from CBO ...

The federal government ran a budget deficit of $435 billion fiscal year 2015, CBO estimates—$48 billion less than the shortfall recorded in fiscal year 2014, and the smallest deficit recorded since 2007.

Monthly Budget Review for September 2015

Oct 7 2015
07:49 pm

...they get bought out by Gannett.

RELATED: Gannett Bleeds Tennessean, Pays Execs Big Bonuses

Decoding The Tennessean's "Newsroom Of The Future" Statement

The Tennessean essentially fired its staff yesterday.

That's not snark. There were 89 slots in the newsroom, and there will be 76 at the end of the month. Everyone has been invited to reapply for jobs in the new newsroom.

My sincerest condolences to those about to weather the ongoing zombie apocalypse that is a Gannett newsroom, in which the survivors truly envy the dead.

Oct 7 2015
12:39 pm

What: Joint Hillary/Bernie Debate Watching Party
When: Tuesday, October 13, 2015 - 8:00pm
Where: Carleo's Lounge 117 S. Central Ave, Knoxville

Teams #Hillary2016 and #FeelTheBern will be feeling the Love at this Democratic Unity Debate Watching Party. Come on down and help paint the old city BLUE!

see link: (link...)

for info: Sylvia Woods (


What: 3rd & 4th District Democrats-sponsored Democratic Debate Watch Party
When: Tuesday, October 13, 2015 - 7:30pm
Where: Big Fatty's Restaurant, 5005 Kingston Pike, Knoxville

From Las Vegas to Knox Vegas: Democratic Presidential Candidate Debate Watch Party. Come on down and buy dinner and drinks to support our good friends and hosts Big Fatty's, then hoot and holler fer the horse yer backing! Those not betting can act as referees.

see facebook event page: (link...)

For info: Chris Foell (
Isaac Johnson (


Tennesseans Reclaiming Educational Excellence (TREE) writes this morning to report that three charter school companies representing six charter school applications denied by the Metro Nashville BOE are now asking the state BOE to override those local denials.

The state BOE will accept public comments through October 7 on the requests from KIPP, Rocketship and The International Academy of Excellence.

See TREE's complete e-mail with board member contact info and talking points after the break.


Oct 6 2015
07:22 pm

The Blount Co. Commission agenda committee voted 10 to 5 against considering any of the proposed agenda items (apparently for the the first time ever), effectively killing the plea to God to save Blount County from the gay agenda for now. That doesn't mean it's over, but probably. The Tennessee Equality Project turnout was impressive, with about 200 people there by our estimate. We'll have some photos and videos in a few minutes.

UPDATE: Some photos. Click image for gallery....

UPDATE: We spoke with Tony Webb, former Blount Co. Democratic Party Chair, who just recently got married to his longtime partner. He said they had no problem getting a license from the Blount Co. Clerk, but had to go to Pigeon Forge to get married. He called the chapel there and asked if they had any problem performing a same sex marriage. They said "we don't perform gay or straight marriages. We perform marriages." Anyway, here's what Tony had to say about the resolution:


If successful this seems like a game changer

from Yahoo Tech ...

It all feels and — above all — sounds so real. But it’s not. You aren’t really in the club. You aren’t in New York. In fact, you never left your house. You’re sitting instead on your own couch, in the comfort of your own living room, watching the show on a virtual-reality headset.

While this might sound like a scene cut from Back to the Future, it’s actually happening: A legendary New York jazz club — Blue Note — is pioneering such virtual events as a new way for jazz fans all over the world to watch concerts and, eventually, other live events.

Legendary Jazz Club Uses Virtual Reality to Bring Concerts to Your Couch

Oct 5 2015
03:54 pm

Last week I lost yet another mailbox on the narrow road in front of Casa Lulu. By the next afternoon I had straightened the steel fence post that supported it and life was pretty much back to normal.



Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance must refund more than $16 million in taxes paid by five groups of out-of-state insurance companies. Tennessee "adopted a retaliatory tax statute unique to the insurance industry. The statute, which is designed to equalize tax burdens across state lines, protects each state’s domestic insurance companies against discriminatory or excessive taxes that may be imposed when doing business in other states."

$16 million gone, but then how much did it cost TN taxpayers for the Dept. of Commerce and Insurance to take this all the way to the TN Supreme Court?

This is one of the many problems that have arisen during Haslam's administration.


Oct 3 2015
04:04 pm

Buzz Aldrin aboard Apollo 11. Photo: NASA

Here's an incredible archive of photos from every NASA Apollo mission. Nearly all of the photos were scanned in high resolution by civilian archivist Kipp Teague of Virginia. The collection is part of his Project Apollo Archive.

Flickr gallery...

Apollo Image Gallery, indexed and annotated...

BONUS: There's also an Apollo Multimedia archive (click on the Multimedia link).


Maryville Daily Times: Commissioner hopes to avoid 'wrath' of God

County Commissioner Karen Miller wants to save Blount County from the "wrath" of God.

Miller, who represents District 4, is sponsoring a resolution asking that the Supreme Being “pass us by in His coming wrath and not destroy our county as he did Sodom and Gomorrah and the neighboring cities” because of the June 26 opinion by the U.S. Supreme Court that legalized same-sex marriage throughout the nation.

The resolution...

Oct 3 2015
11:44 am

Huffington Post: Why Some Tennessee Women Are Afraid To Give Birth At The Hospital

A year ago, when Tennessee passed a bill allowing women to be charged with assault if they use narcotics while pregnant, health advocates warned that the law would deter women from seeking vital medical care out of fear of being prosecuted. Their concerns are now coming true.

“We are getting lots of anecdotal information about women not seeking critical prenatal care, and avoiding going to the hospital to give birth, because they are scared of being arrested and having their baby taken away,” said Allison Glass, state director of Healthy and Free Tennessee, a nonprofit women's advocacy group. “Not only does the current law do nothing to help those who may, in fact, need treatment, but it’s actually having a negative public health impact.”

Oct 2 2015
07:36 pm

• Annual revenue of gun and ammunition manufacturing industry: $13.5 billion, $1.5 billion in profits

• Annual revenue of gun and ammunition stores: $3.1 billion, $478.4 million in profits

• Estimated overall economic impact of the firearms and ammo industry in the U.S.: $42.9 billion



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