Sun
May 13 2007
02:02 pm
By: Andy Axel  shortURL

This June, Memphis Tennessee's very own Stax Records turns 50.

What began as a tiny record store in an old movie theater at the corner of McLemore Avenue and College Street in Memphis, Tennessee, grew to become one of the most important music recording studios in the world. When the modest Capitol Theater in the heart of Soulsville USA was transformed into Stax Records in 1959, it began launching the careers of unknowns who would become icons, cranking out a massive catalog of smash soul hits by the likes of Isaac Hayes, Otis Redding, the Staple Singers, Wilson Pickett, Luther Ingram, Albert King, the Bar-Kays, Booker T. & the MG's, Johnnie Taylor, Rufus and Carla Thomas, and dozens of other artists whose influence remains vital in the music of today. On its many and varied labels, Stax Records also recorded such legends as Big Star, Rev. Jesse Jackson, Bill Cosby, Moms Mabley, and the Grammy-winning comedic genius Richard Pryor.

To commemorate their golden anniversary, there's a gala concert in Memphis featuring many of the acts which made Stax Records a worldwide phenomenon. Announced so far:

* Booker T & the MGs
* Isaac Hayes
* Angie Stone
* William Bell
* Eddie Floyd
* Mavis Staples
* Mable John
* Soul Children
* Rance Allen

You can find tickets by going to (link...) .

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Sun
May 13 2007
11:29 am
By: Bbeanster  shortURL

I found this story one of the odder things I've come across this weekend.

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Sun
May 13 2007
11:07 am

Not.

An invite to her May 22 campaign kickoff was in Saturday's mail, and it's not going to bring much comfort to potential opponents.

Continued...

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Sun
May 13 2007
09:08 am

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Sat
May 12 2007
09:02 pm
By: rocketsquirrel  shortURL

We got a email today from our friends in Paris, who report on the aftermath of the Sarkozy election. It appears Nick Sarkozy is not a man of the people after all. Parliamentary elections in June. Interesting.

We are so sorry that Segolene ROYAL did not win ..... Maybe next time (in 5 years)!

Our new president, Nicolas SARKOZY, started very well. He spent his first night after the election in a Palace in Paris (close to the Champs Elysees), then he went for a few days of vacation on the island of Malte (he went there with a private plane .... of course!) and the yacht he's spending some days in costs almost 150.000 € a week!

As he was telling everybody, right after the election, that "everybody could have a job, nobody would stay on the side of the road, we have to work more to earn more .... " Good start, don't you think !!! And what a shame for all these people with no job, no money, who trusted him. Pictures of him and his family on the yacht are just a shame!

I'm not in a good mood since he's a president ..... as you can see. It will be ok in a few weeks (we have new elections in June for our "Députés" in "Parlement" ... Still a small hope that the majority of the Deputés could be from S. Royal side ..................

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Sat
May 12 2007
06:44 pm
By: R. Neal  shortURL

Dolly Parton, in today's Knoxville News Sentinel:

Back in the 1940s, a doctor named Robert F. Thomas rode his horse into our holler, and this loud-mouthed little girl was born. My daddy paid him with a sack of cornmeal. I guess that was all I was worth.

[..]

The Robert F. Thomas Foundation and Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center are working toward building a new, modern hospital in Sevierville that will serve all of the people here in East Tennessee, not just in Sevier County.

I have always been a firm believer in working hard for what is right and for making your own breaks if you want things to change. With that in mind, my Dollywood and Dixie Stampede companies are donating $500,000 to this cause. I am also performing a benefit concert on May 20 at the Smokies Stadium to help raise money for this $100 million hospital project.

I want to challenge all of you to help in any way you can to support this important project for all of East Tennessee.

They couldn't have gotten a better spokesperson for the project.

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The New York Times real estate section has this article on the South Waterfront project and downtown residential development. Is that like the cover of Rolling Stone for real estate?

(By way of Michael Silence)

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Sat
May 12 2007
03:14 pm

While we are talking about those Nashville Law Makin' folks.... I lifted this right out of the TCA.

That portion of new State Highway 95 in Loudon and Blount counties from the Fort Loudon Dam to its intersection with U.S. Highway 129 at Morganton Road

Is Morganton Road from Greenback to Maryville now called TN RT 95? It can't be!

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Sat
May 12 2007
10:14 am

I laughed at this. Moyers is obviously getting to them and they have to go on the attack. Be sure to watch it all the way through.

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Sat
May 12 2007
09:00 am

The safest place in Tennessee as far as gun violence s concerned is in a Tennessee Park. I know...let's let people carry their guns in there...that'll make it safer?

Jim Fyke works his tail off from my personal observation. If he comes up for air and makes a public comment on gun law at the risk of going against certain NRA backed state legislators, its because he(and the gov.) feels its an absolute necessity.

“Families with children make up the majority of our park guests,” Fyke said. “We simply cannot be assured that every gun owner is a responsible gun owner. The stakes are too high in our public parks by putting visitors, especially children, at risk..."

Commisioner Jim Fyke

The baseball quip comes from:

The Tennessean

More

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Sat
May 12 2007
08:57 am

In my previous post about CFL bulbs I mentioned that dimmable CFLs are hard to find. I couldn't find any locally, but a good source on the internet for dimmable CFL bulbs is TopBulb.com.

The bulbs are a little expensive ($24 ea. for the ones we bought), but they work and they will pay for themselves in energy savings over the 10,000 hour rated life of the bulb (if they last that long).

We got 15w (2700K color temp.) replacements (made by Technical Consumer Products, also known as "Springlamp" brand) for two 60w kitchen lights. Actually, we were using 54w long-life bulbs, so the 15w CFLs are a little brighter. They work fine with the dimmer but won't dim as low as incandescent (the CFL dimmable range is 100% to 20%).

It's odd that the package says "DIMMABLE" all over it, but the fine print caution says "not for use with dimmers". I called TCP to ask about this, and the customer service person agreed this was odd but said no one had ever asked about it and as far as they know it's just a misprint on the packaging. What I do know is they work fine with our dimmers.

Another good online source for less expensive (with lower lifetime rating) CFL bulbs is EnergyFederation.org.

28
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Sat
May 12 2007
08:03 am

Wes Smith of the Orlando Sentinel provides timely advice to recent grads. To help you make the adjustment from high school or college life, we have compiled this list of hints and suggestions. Feel free to scoff and laugh; a sense of humor will be your best weapon.

First things first: Pull up your pants and stop flashing your drawers!
...
Having a drink every night after work with the boys or girls is not a good idea. Notice the boss isn't present. That's why the boss is the boss and the boys and girls are still the boys and girls.
...
Even after all these years, the customer is always right.
...
Revenge of the Nerds, former comedy, now a reality. Be nice to the dweebs.
...
It is now expected that you pay for your half of the golf cart.
...
Job security has gone the way of the VCR, the eight-track tape and the dime Snickers Bar. Keep a resume polished.

....

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34
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Sat
May 12 2007
08:01 am

Billions are missing.

The corruption that seems to be a staple in Iraq is beginning to fray on my nerves. The contractors have made goodgollybillions over there, and the government we have installed to run Iraq is almost as corrupt, maybe more.

Our soldiers are dying in Iraq while pirates and rogue corporations steal the country (and us) blind. Is this supporting the troops? They'll be there forever if the rampant corruption is not stopped.

Siphoning gas off the pipeline means no revenue for Iraq to rebuild itself, which in the end means us taxpayers will have to work harder to defray the cost. Apparently, no one seems to know where the missing oil went. The huge amount of our money already spent on rebuilding the oil fields has not achieved what it should have. Why? Corruption. What else? The Bush administration of course blames everything on the insurgents, but contractors here and corruption by Iraqis themselves seem to play a major part.

"The discrepancies in the Iraqi oil figures are broadly reminiscent of the ones that turned up when some of the same energy department experts examined Iraq’s oil infrastructure in the wake of the oil-for-food scandals of the Saddam Hussein era. In a United Nations-sponsored program that was supposed to trade Iraq’s oil for food, Mr. Hussein and other smugglers were handsomely profiting from the program, investigations determined."

Now, because we need to know more about this. Shell Oil (oh, yeah, they're certianly a reliable ally of us little Americans) has signed a contract to "study" the problem. I wonder how much they will get paid for that?

Studying stuff has become an enormous industry. All you have to do is pick a topic and somebody is getting paid a lot of money to "study" it. Studies however are often totally unreliable. There are studies that prove it's okay to drill in the Alaskan oil reserves. A few years ago they proved taking hormones was a life-saving thing for women. Studies have often proved our military has not done anything wrong in cases of abuse overseas, and some studies show global warming is non-existant fantasy dreamed up by Al Gore for political purposes. How much did those studies cost?

This missing oil is truly a scandal, but I'm sure Shell oil will "study" it well. Shell will make a bundle just to speculate what goes wrong. It sounds like a nice job if you can get it.

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91
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Fri
May 11 2007
03:17 pm

A plot of land with the same single family home for 80 years or so on lovely Spence Place, in the wonderful, historic Island Home neighborhood, is apparently now up for a small subdivision. The land, approximately 1.9 acres, can now be divided into 6 lots, 3 of which are on the river/lake.

Is nothing sacred?

21
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Fri
May 11 2007
02:42 pm

Some fat Welshman heaps big praise on Budweiser.

His case appears earnest, but I suspect it's really an anti-American manifesto in disguise. But he'd deny that, of course. I hope it earns the crafty bugger a spot on the no-fly list.

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20
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Fri
May 11 2007
01:51 pm

Some items of note from the Tennessee General Assembly...

• Sen. Roy Herron (D-Dresden) sponsored SB1566 that bans hunting while under the influence of drugs or a blood alcohol level of .08 (the same as DUI). A first offense will get you 48 hours in jail, a fine of between $350 and $1,500, and the loss of a Tennessee hunting license for one year. A second offense will get you 11 mo. 29 days in jail and a fine of up to $3500. The bill includes an "implied consent" provision for anyone hunting. The Senate passed the bill unanimously and it is now pending in the House. What's amazing is that this wasn't already the law.

• In related news, Sen. Tim Burchett (R-Knoxville) and Rep. Frank Nicely (R-Knoxville) sponsored HB2184 to allow carrying a handgun in state parks. The bill was passed by the House Judiciary Committee, and is on the Senate Judiciary Calendar for May 15th. Along the way, it was amended to eliminate prohibitions on carrying handguns on
"the grounds of any public park, playground, civic center or other property owned, used or operated by any municipal, county or state government, or instrumentality thereof, for recreational purposes," and a second amendment requires posting a sign to that effect at parks, playgrounds, civic centers, etc. What a bunch of yahoos.

So now, visitors to the beautiful State of Tennessee and our parks and our civic centers would be greeted with a sign informing that anyone and everyone there could be armed. How pleasant. I guess the gun nuts are happy, though, because they would be able to protect themselves from that guy peeing over there in the bushes who might be a terrorist or a child molester.

But wait. The commissioner of the State Department of Environment and Conservation says that out of 50 million visits to state parks in 2005 and 2006, there were only 12 reported crimes against state park visitors. And the Tennessee Association of Park Rangers says that handguns are not compatible with the family friendly atmosphere at our state parks.

UPDATE: In what must be a sign of the Apocalypse, SayUncle tends to agree.

• Sen. Rosalind Kurita (D-Clarksville) and Sen. Raymond Finney (R-Maryville) co-sponsored SB0116 which requires the Department of Economic and Community Development to establish energy and lighting efficiency standards to be enforced by local governments. It establishes the 2003 International Energy Conservation Code as the minimum energy conservation standards for new residential construction in Tennessee beginning January 1, 2008. Current law requires the usage of building codes established in 1992. The bill passed unanimously in the Senate, and is pending in the House. If she can get it passed and to the Governor, this would be some redemption for Kurita. As for Finney, it moves him up from around -9 to -8 on my approval scale of 1 to 10.

• "Tort Reform" proposed by SB2001 sailed through the Senate but hit a snag in the House when Rep. Rob Briley (D-Nashville) tried to amend it to change some rules regarding expert testimony. It's now back in the House Judiciary Committee. Here's our take on why this is bad legislation.

• A Tennessee minimum wage bill has once again failed, except this time it was pulled by its own sponsor in the Senate, Sen. Doug Jackson (D-Dickson), who said "I want there to be a loud discussion and debate in the early days of the next session." SB1668 doesn't even increase the minimum wage, it just sets it the same as the Federal minimum wage with provisions to change it if the federal minimum is not changed for five years. This is weak and embarrassing.

80
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Fri
May 11 2007
12:42 pm

It appears Randy and I both are reviewing the budget. I am working line-by-line and this is a something of a midway report on the things that I must question further. By the way, it looks like I'll be one of the guests on this weekend's news analysis program on WATE.

The full budget files may be found at (link...)

Sec. C, p. 26. Why spend $130,200 on sheriff dept. auto allowance? None allocated in last budget. Sec. A, p. 41 has a $20,000 allowance for Mayor's office. Can we delete both and save $150,000?

Sec. C, p. 26. Why the ten-fold increase in fringe benefits?

Sec. B, p. 7. Why the increase in payment to the Tennessee Valley Fair, from $2000 to $16,000?

Sec. B, p. 6. Why $400,000 to the ChamberPartnership? Can't this be cut some or entirely? These guys could be weaned off some govt. dollars.

Sec. A. p. 50. Why the $2,385,000 increase in cost of the mayor's education summit?

Sec. A, p. 15. There's a jump in the county clerk office service contracts from just less than $400,000 to nearly $600,000. What justifies this?

I'm not ready to propose amendments, but will continue to explore, seeking answers to oddities. --Mark Harmon

64
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Fri
May 11 2007
12:15 pm

Knox County Mayor Mike Ragsdale announced his proposed FY07-08 budget on Wednesday. Some highlights from the Mayor's budget speech (PDF format):

• Without question, this has been the most difficult budget I have experienced in my 13 years as either a County Commissioner or Mayor. [..] I am asking our County Commission to approve a $57 million bond issue to cover the initial cost of the Sheriff’s Pension plan. This is the best way to cover an expense of this magnitude. This needs to be addressed by July 1 to ensure it is fiscally sound for Sheriff Department employees.

• County employees work hard to meet the needs of our citizens. This budget includes a 2% raise for employees and a one-time $500 bonus for all full-time workers.

• Well, now the question comes…what about taxes? I am pleased to announce that we can accomplish each of these initiatives with no tax increase whatsoever!

• I want to personally thank Sherry Witt, Billy Tindell, and John Whitehead. These countywide officeholders agreed with my recommendation to freeze or reduce the size of their staff. I’m working with them and others to increase the fees turned over to Knox County government. Over the past 5 years, we have reduced the size of government by 159 employees. We will do more this year, without any reduction in services to our citizens.

• Our Chamber Partnership’s JobsNow! Program, combined with the efforts of the Knoxville Tourism and Sports Corporation, is producing, what I like to call, economic results. We have created over 22,000 new regional jobs. By creating better jobs, we have seen family incomes rise by nearly $4,000 per family. We have had $2.5 billion in capital investment, and it is great to continue to have one of the lowest unemployment rates that you will find anywhere in America.

• I am pleased to report that our children’s scores on the American College Test or ACT are now higher than the state average and the national average.

• Additionally, we have placed almost $6.5 million in the budget for the Great Schools Partnership. This will allow for additional programs for our birth to kindergarten initiative and Pre-Kindergarten classes. The budget allows for a new magnet program at Beaumont Elementary and an expansion of the advisor-advisee program. It allows for the expansion of the TAP program to another elementary school.

• Going forward, we are going to make certain that the quality of a child’s education is never determined by their zip code. (Ed. Note: They mayor recognized three teachers of the year. They are from A.L. Lotts Elementary, Holston Middle, and Farragut High.)

A summary of the Mayor's budget proposal is here (PDF format).

Among the highlights:

• Total budget is $613,997,237, a 5.6% increase over FY06-07.

• General Administration budget is increased 28.7%

• Public Safety budget (including Sheriff's Dept.) is increased 18.5%

• Public Library budget is increased 5.9%

• General Purpose School budget is increased 3.6%

• Public Health and Welfare budget is reduced (5.4%)

• Administration of Justice budget is reduced (10.1%)

• Other General Government budget is reduced (26.7%)

The Mayor also announced a hiring freeze. The requested headcount for FY08 was 8351 full time and 232 part time employees. This was a decrease of two full time employees and an increase of 32 part time employees compared to FY07. The Mayor's proposed headcount is 8309 full time employees and 213 part time employees, a decrease of 44 full time employees and an increase of 13 part time employees compared to FY07.

Some other notes from the budget…

• While increasing school funding by $12 million, or 3.6%, the Mayor proposes to increase Great Schools Foundation funding by 60% to $6.3 million while reducing the School Board's request from $350.6 million to $344.2 million, which is about $6.4 million. According to the Great Schools Foundation's most recent annual report, they spent the bulk of their funding (which came from TN Department of Education, United Way , and Great Schools) on targeted Pre-K and Kindergarten "intervention" programs to assist 900 children in 650 families and operate 13 pre-K classes. Some have criticized the program as a "shadow" school board, whose funding should be included in the School Board's budget and its operations managed as part of the Knox County School System.

• One of the curiosities in the Mayor's proposed budget is an 850% decrease in "Miscellaneous", a cut of $6.1 million. The requested budget was $1.6 million (over FY07's $726K), but the Mayor proposed $5.4 million decrease. Perhaps someone knows what this is all about?

• There is a 200% increase in Sheriff's Administration budget, of $5.5 million as compared to $2.7 million for FY07. There is a sharp increase in the proposed Sheriff's Administration headcount from 15 full time employees to 157 full time and 3 part time employees. Perhaps some employees are being reclassified?

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It's pretty tough to be odiously evil in an administration that includes Dick Cheney, who skews the grading curve so wildly one is bound to look good in comparison. But Condoleeza Rice manages to hold up remarkably well. And because she's much slicker than Mr. Snarl, she generally gets away with it.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Continued...

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23
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Fri
May 11 2007
10:29 am

Ah, what a great week this has been. The Hairy / Downy woodpeckers are now bringing their baby to the tree next to our suet station. Right now a pair of mockingbirds and their sole offspring are right outside my window in the new flower bed. Boy howdee is that a noisy child! The brown thrashers still come several times a day but always together so I don't think they have nested yet. No sign of the female towee but the male feeds at the same time as the single dove. The RB grosbeaks have all moved on. The male cardinal continues to feed the little woman before she flys off to the nest.

Continued...

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