May 24 2018
08:28 am

Technology gets more invasive with facial recognition software used by police. Amazon has sold their facial Rekognition product to the police department for Orlando, Florida, and the Washington County Sheriff's Office in Oregon. As with most of their products, Amazon is starting out selling facial recognition very cheap. With the Orlando Police Department, "for 30,989 images processed, the department only had to pay $30.99, according to a document obtained by the ACLU."

The American Civil Liberties Union and and thirty other organizations demanded "that Amazon stop powering a government surveillance infrastructure that poses a grave threat to customers and communities across the country."

Amazon is not the first company to actively use facial recognition. "Over the last five years a secretive surveillance company founded by a former Israeli intelligence officer has been quietly building a massive facial recognition database consisting of faces acquired from Facebook, YouTube and countless other websites."

How is it that so many are willing to give up their right to privacy these days?

May 23 2018
12:13 pm

Looking to replace my aging desktop and notebook computers, I thought I'd look at the Microsoft Surface to see what the deal is and whether it could replace both. I found out that Dell and Lenovo make similar form factor PCs with newer/better specs.

I was zeroing in on the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Tablet 3rd Generation. Then one day the model I was looking at popped up with a larger hard drive and 10% off, so I went for it. (The next day they were sold out and are still out of stock.)


May 22 2018
03:58 pm

Diane Black is making immigration her top issue in the Governor's race. I didn't realize there was a huge problem in Tennessee, or anywhere else for that matter, but maybe I haven't been paying attention.

Anyway, Black has an ad referring to our "catch and release" immigration policy. Catch and release is what you do to bears and rainbow trout. Not people. But, just like her hero Trump, she apparently doesn't view immigrant families and children as people.

This is racist and dehumanizing. Is that what she thinks Tennessee voters will respond to? Maybe she needs to get out more.

SEE ALSO: Diane Black Introduces Bill to Crowdfund Trump's Wall

Gov. Haslam has signed a bill aimed to limit local options for removing Confederate statues. He also let another bill become law without his signature that prohibits "sanctuary cities" and requires local law enforcement cooperation with ICE to deport undocumented residents. (Haslam said the bill didn't do anything except create "unnecessary fear," so why didn't he just veto it?).

Remind me again how the TNGOP (and Gov. Gomer) are the party of small government and local control? The same party that rejected federal funding for expanded Medicaid? The same party that proposed to arrest any U.S. Marshals or ATF agents attempting to enforce federal gun laws in our state?

Funny how that same bunch keeps passing laws to take away local government control of everything from guns in parks to teacher evaluations, living wage, same-sex partner benefits, cable franchises, vacation rentals, etc. etc. And now this.

The Environmental Protection Agency is barring The Associated Press, CNN and the environmental-focused news organization E&E from a national summit on harmful water contaminants — and guards forcibly shoved a female reporter out of the building.

Pruitt bars media from EPA summit on contaminants, guards push reporter out of building

May 21 2018
10:06 pm

In Monday's case, decided by a bitter 5-4 vote, the conservative majority ruled that employers may forbid employees from banding together to fight wage and other workplace issues covered by arbitration agreements. The court said a federal arbitration statute overrides federal labor law intended to protect workers' bargaining power.

Speaking for the four liberal dissenters, Ginsburg said the decision threatens to return the country to a time in the late 19th century and early 20th when workers were forced to take jobs strictly on the boss's terms and "yellow dog" contracts, forbidding employees from joining labor unions, were common.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg takes off the gloves

May 21 2018
05:44 pm

May 21 2018
06:27 am

Hundreds turned out for the South Knoxville Open Streets party yesterday. The weather was a little more accommodating this time. It was hot but at least it didn't rain. There were people of all ages including lots of families with kids. It was dog friendly (except for the heat), and there were about a million bicycles. Alliance Brewing was party central, and there were booths and food trucks all along Sevier Ave. with the party extending down Foggy Bottom to Suttree Landing Park. Click the photo above for a few more cellphone pics.

May 19 2018
06:47 pm
By: R. Neal  shortURL

So, a country that can produce the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Who, Led Zeppelin and Monty Python AND put on a wedding like that makes me want to be British, at least for a day.

May 19 2018
10:46 am

What: SoKno Street Party - Sunday, May 20th
When: Sunday, May 20, 2018 - 2:00pm
Where: Sevier Avenue in South Knoxville

Open Streets – May 20, 2018 – South Knoxville 2 PM to 6 PM
Enjoy music, activities, food and more.

Open Streets: Free Bike Rodeo, Free Helmet Giveway at South Knox Elementary

May 18 2018
01:45 am

According to this story in the Sentinel, Knox County got hacked election night and the distributed-denial-of-service attack that made the election results unavailable was a smokescreen for a more invasive attack. Somebody hacked a county server and had a look around while everyone was distracted by the election website being down. The FBI and Homeland Security is investigating. It's kind of hard to believe that this elaborate attack was just someone deciding to have a quick look around on a county server.

Tune in to your Community TV channel at 7:30 PM on Friday, May 18th for an interesting program with Mike and John Stewart as they discuss the results of the recently concluded 2018 session of the Tennessee General Assembly. Mike Stewart serves as caucus chair of the Democratic Caucus in the Tennessee House of Representatives and has an up close look at the General Assembly throughout the entire session. Tune in for insights not often seen and expressed on the fate of legislation in the TN General Assembly.

Community TV Knoxville streams live (here!)

or on your local cable provider
Comcast Channel 12
Charter Channel 193
Wow! Channel 6
ATT U-verse Channel 99

May 17 2018
05:11 pm

Sports Illustrated has a funny article about the Celtics.

For the past 15 years or so, Boston has been the sports equivalent of a perfect family. You know the ones I’m talking about—they send out that obnoxious holiday card printed on thick, fancy paper that’s softer than your bed sheets and costs more than your yearly cell phone bill. In the photo, everyone’s outfits are perfectly coordinated (but don’t seem overly match-y), as though they just stepped out of an Instagram ad for How To Be Attractive and Also Successful. They’re laughing and smiling at the camera because everything is perfect and winning is so much fun!
If you aren’t a fan, Boston sports makes you seriously consider putting on a Browns jersey and walking slowly out into the ocean.

I haven't watched any NBA games this year. However, I am sort of a LeBron fan. After reading this article and remembering some of the great Celtics teams, I may have to watch the Celtics play Cleveland.


Vanderbilt poll results...

Bredesen has the highest favorability among all voters. Fitzhugh has a huge name recognition deficit in the governor's race. On other issues, voters favor Medicaid expansion two to one.

May 17 2018
08:25 am

UT endowment investing in Cayman Islands; details kept secret under law approved by legislature in 2017

Why so secret? Warren Buffett discloses his investments. Maybe the endowment, the UT board members and the governor should all have to disclose their investments. Might be interesting to cross-reference them.

May 17 2018
08:24 am

The [Boulder] city council unanimously passed an ordinance on Tuesday to ban the sale and possession of assault weapons, bump stocks and high-capacity magazines — becoming one of a handful of cities nationwide that have taken action to change its gun laws in the wake of the Parkland, Florida, shooting massacre.

The new law requires people to dispose of or sell bump stock devices and magazines that hold 10 or more rounds of ammunition by July 15 and owners of assault weapons, defined by the ordinance as “semi-automatic firearms designed with military features to allow rapid spray firing,” must relinquish or destroy them by December 31.

There is a clause allowing owners of assault weapons to apply for a permit proving prior ownership as long as they pass a background check and are not prohibited by law from owning a gun.


May 15 2018
03:33 pm
By: R. Neal  shortURL
May 15 2018
07:54 am

Amazon is having a one day sale on selected SanDisk memory cards and USB drives.

Funny story. After doing a lot of research, I had just ordered this SanDisk 1TB Extreme Portable SSD on Sunday. It is still in transit and I noticed the lower one day sale price of $250, which is a pretty good deal. I contacted Amazon to see about a price adjustment credit. They said they don't do that, and suggested I return the drive and order another one at the lower price. I said that doesn't make any sense, so as a consolation they upgraded the new order to free overnight shipping. OK, then. Seems like a lot of extra work for everybody v. just clicking a price adjustment button, but whatever.

Anyway these are some pretty good deals on SanDisk products. That 1TB external drive is USB-C 3.1 Gen 2 (also USB-A 3.0 and 2.0 compatible) which means it should be super fast for an external drive, and it's supposed to be rugged. Can't wait to try it out, even if I have to wait another day to save a few bucks.

(Disclosure: these are affiliate links and I get a small referral fee if you purchase through them at no extra cost to you.)

May 14 2018
10:40 am

What: Books Sandwiched In welcomes Umoja Abdul-Ahad
When: Wednesday, May 23, 2018 - 12:00pm

Umoja300a.jpgJoin Umoja Abdul-Ahad for a discussion of Muslims and the Making of America by Amir Hussain on Wednesday, May 23, noon–1:00 in the East Tennessee History Center auditorium. Bring your lunch or pick up something downtown. Drinks are available for fifty cents. Reading the book is optional.

The September 11 attacks and their aftermath have fed a fear of American Muslims, arising from the popular misconception that Islam is a new religion to America.


Brightline, a new privately owned train in South Florida, is hoping to clear up highway congestion by taking some of the cars off the road while still making a profit.

Are private commuter trains the answer to congested highways?


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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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