Mon
Mar 19 2007
12:38 pm

Apparently there's a growing llama liability situation in Tennessee, and State Sen. Tim Burchett (R-Knoxville) aims to fix it.

SB2097 (PDF format) would absolve "llama professionals" and "llama activity sponsors" from any liability arising from the "inherent risks of llama activities" to llama activity participants, including "riding, driving, inspecting, or evaluating a llama belonging to another" or "trimming the nails of a llama."

No, seriously. I'm not making this up.

Speaking of llamas, here's a cool story about the annual Mt. LeConte supplies airlift, which is supplemented throughout the season with perishables delivered by... llama!

84
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Mon
Mar 19 2007
11:35 am

Regardless of whether you are a conservative or a liberal, people don’t care for hypocrites. But there are vary degrees of hypocrisy. Every once in a while someone wins the prize and this Sunday was one of those times.

The Editor of the Knoxville News Sentinel Jack McElroy has outdone himself in an Editorial column he wrote Sunday titled, “Ombudsman would help shine light”. In this championship Pot and Kettle column Mr. McElroy makes the case that since the Knox County Commission is so corrupt and untrustworthy that they need an Ombudsman to keep them on the straight and narrow so they won't violate the Sunshine Law.

Editor McElroy writes, “That's why the News Sentinel is suing the County Commission over its violations of the Tennessee Open Meetings Act. It's also why the plan to create an open-government ombudsman is a good idea.”

God help save us from reformers that have blinders on.

Where there violations of the Sunshine Law by the office of the Knox County Mayor during the wheel tax? How about during the Midway Industrial Park fiasco?

Where was the Reformer Jack McElroy then? Surely this is not a one way street is it?

The Pandora’s box of this is that if Reformer McElroy wins his lawsuit against the Knox County Commission a precedent will be set and more lawsuits will follow. Will Gary Sellers sue to have a redo on the Wheel Tax? Will the people of the Thorngrove Community sue to have a redo on the vote for the Midway Industrial Park? Will the Knox County Mayor have to sit through hours of depositions?

There is a need for an Ombudsman, but that need is at the Knoxville News Sentinel. Someone needs to take the blinders off the Reformer McElroy. Maybe a look at the News Sentinel's Ethics Policy would be a prudent move also.

136
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Mon
Mar 19 2007
10:39 am

Hey folks, read in this morning's paper that Ticketmaster - the company that brought you $300 Stones seating and a corporate lock on any recording artist that tries to thwart their plans for world domination - is planning to buy the Nashville marketer behind many country acts' fan club websites.

So. Now Ticketmaster will be able to set ticket pricing, control where artists can perform concerts, and dictate how and when bands can stay in touch with their fans. And the worst part is, a quick search on Opensecrets.org yields the information that most of TM's corporate donations are to Democrats, who haven't done scratch about any of this.

Wonder what it's going to take...maybe a massive artist boycott of TM...but given that it would take higher-profile (i.e. insanely wealthy) artists to pull something like that off, it's probably a lost cause, eh?

Oh, and here's a couple articles on TM's practices, if you don't get why I'm teed off about this.

(link...)

(link...)

50
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Mon
Mar 19 2007
10:27 am

Mark Twain once wrote, "Buy land, they're not making it anymore".

KCDC has turned its tender mercies to I-275 corridor. If you have a less than attractive home you rent or own in that area good luck. You may be in for a long and discouraging fight.

With a new wave of Urban Renewal an old lesson must be learned again. If the government wants your property you are pretty much screwed.

Might makes right, on the shining City on the Hill.

69
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Mon
Mar 19 2007
10:20 am

Don't waste your money. There's some amazing race footage and a couple of scenes that are almost funny, and Sacha Baron Cohen (a/k/a Borat, Ali G, et. al.) as the gay French Formula One turned existentialist NASCAR driver, but otherwise it's a complete waste of time. Even the fake scripted "outtakes" are embarrassingly bad. Jane Lynch (Best in Show, Mighty Wind) is pretty good, but I feel sorry for her for getting mixed up in this mess.

I don't get the appeal of Will Farrell at all. He plays "Ricky Bobby". The movie explains that he's got two first names, in case you didn't get the hilarious irony of that. Or maybe pointing it out is supposed to be hip self-referential parody? This is is only one of many scenes where the movie explains obvious "jokes", making them even more not-funny.

My general policy had been that I wouldn't waste time on a Will Farrell movie, but I made an exception this time because of the enormous potential for hilarity that might ensue from poking fun at NASCAR and other Southern culture stereotypes. I guess you have to understand something to make proper fun of it. This movie reminds me why I had a No Will Ferrell policy in the first place.

Topics:
41
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Sun
Mar 18 2007
01:42 pm

I have an old friend who refers to her personal driving method as "Braille Driving." She goes forward until she hits something, then she backs up until she hits something.

This article in The Daily Times regarding the BCSO Dive Team truck leaves me speechless.

(link...)

51
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Sun
Mar 18 2007
10:57 am

Rachel-

I personally question the merit of the Summit/Henley/Main area having urban qualities which deserve special codification. However, to my knowledge none of the downtown development community, including me, object to any of the proposed guidelines. We just are not certain that the facts on the ground warrant making the process of restoring or building with Downtown more difficult. we have endorsed the concept of mandatory urban design guidelines (standards which affect how buildings address our streets and sidewalks) but advised caution before instituting additional layers of bureaucratic and political involvement in the building permitting process. Particularly since there are no private restoration or new construction projects completed in the past 20 years, which are egregiously inappropriate to their context or Downtown at large. Essentially we are saying, "why make it more difficult for those of us who have to live with these regulations, when there is no clear evidence that a problem exists?"

Read more after the jump...

Continued...

47
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Sun
Mar 18 2007
09:52 am

Don Jacobs at the Knoxville News Sentinel had a pair of related articles yesterday with some new information on the McClung fires.

The first one is about the KFD shutting off the sprinklers at the Ernie Gross property moments before the fire reignited and consumed the building.

The second says that sprinkler systems had been shut off sometime prior to the incident at the two other warehouses where the fires originated. According to the article, KFD is investigating.

The first article has controversy regarding "why", the second has controversy regarding "who" and "when".

Also, compare and contrast these quotes.

From the first article:

Knoxville Fire Chief Robert Key Sr. disputed Gross' assertion that his sprinkler system would have saved the building.

"The way that fire grew so fast, I don't know the sprinklers could have put it out," Key said.

From the second article:

"If the building where the fire started had a sprinkler system, we would not be having this conversation," said Knoxville Fire Marshal Roger Byrd.

"Sprinklers are 99.44 percent effective. Statistics show when they're operable, they work."

The KNS leaves it up to you, the reader, to reconcile these remarks.

43
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Sun
Mar 18 2007
09:42 am

I am not a lawyer, but I am not stupid.

(4) The term "covert agent" means -
(A) a present or retired officer or employee of an
intelligence agency or a present or retired member of the Armed
Forces assigned to duty with an intelligence agency -
(i) whose identity as such an officer, employee, or member
is classified information, and
(ii) who is serving outside the United States or has within
the last five years served outside the United State

Note item ii: "has within" means "has within."

Wingnuts demonstrate you SAT reading comprehension skills here.

50
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Sun
Mar 18 2007
09:01 am

State Sen. Raymond Finney responded to our letter re. SB1933 and says he will vote against this bill that would allow statewide cable franchises.

Regarding the other three bills to help expand broadband access, Sen. Finney says he has not studied them sufficiently to make a decision but that he will.

More info here:

Legislative Alert: Broadband access and statewide franchises

126
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Sat
Mar 17 2007
08:12 pm
By: StaceyDiamond  shortURL

In 6 days the Sentinel has run at least 6 articles and 2 editorials begging Fred Thompson to run for president.And they say Don Williams focuses too much on one subject...Stacey

47
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Sat
Mar 17 2007
01:56 pm

Thanks to Mello for introducing us to Wendy Pitts Reeves and for bringing our attention to Wendy's blog, which I have finally gotten around to adding to the blogroll.

Ms. Reeves is a Blount County Commissioner representing District 4 (Chilhowee View, Montvale, Fairview City & County). She was elected last August as one of the few Democratic challengers against Republicans running unopposed in most districts.

She is a refreshing progressive voice for Blount County. As far as we know, she is the only blogging elected official in Blount Co.

She said at the breakfast today that it's time to start thinking about running more progressive candidates for Blount Co. County Commission. We agree.

88
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Sat
Mar 17 2007
12:09 pm

Speaking of breakfast, thanks to Up Goose Creek for organizing Breakfast at Patty's and to everyone who showed up.

We had RedmondKR, Mello, Up Goose Creek, Betty Bean, Rikki, friends of RedmondKR's who came later and I apologize I don't remember their names, the Mrs. and me, and Mello's special surprise guest, Blount Co. Commissioner Wendy Pitts Reeves.

(Oh, and Caner1 stopped by and revealed herself. She runs the gifts and antiques shop next door to Patty's and apparently does a pretty good business on eBay.)

There was a whole lot of yakking and gossip going on with this bunch, and it was great meeting some of the new folks in person for the first time.

It was fun, and the food was great. The pancakes were as huge as they were the first time we were there, and I don't think anyone finished them. And special thanks to Up Goose Creek for the custom made tin-foil hat and the I (heart) South Knox badges.

47
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Last week I had the pleasure of showing Michael Kostroff, the mean lawyer on the HBO hit series "The Wire" around Knoxville. Apparently, he has a couple of friends who want to get out of LA, and they've been considering the Mid-south. Always eager to recruit more artistic people to our area, I proudly cruised him around our downtown area and North Knoxville--the West side of Knoxville is another planet to me, too strip-mallish, too suburban, too far to drive for city folks used to living in a downtown neighborhood.

Some of Kostroff's favorite places were the Tomato Head, Oodles, the Time Warp Tearoom, Carpe Librum Bookstore, Market Square, and the Riverwalk. He did point out however, and I have to agree with him, that the one thing missing in downtown Knoxville or even North Knoxville was a good old fashioned urban breakfast joint.

You know the kind I mean--tables and a counter with red and chrome stools, CHEAP prices, a place that makes corn beef hash and serves lox and bagels, a place where you can hang out and read the Sunday Times while enjoying a homemade blueberry muffin. The kind of deli where regulars go every day and everyone, like in the Cheers bar, "knows your name".

We do have the coffee shop in Old City, but it's only coffee and pastries there. We also have Rankin's on Central Avenue. It's got the right physical space, but the menu is classic "homestyle" meaning the home-fries are so-so and the waitress probably thinks lox should be on doors, not on top of bagels. When asked if they had corned beef hash, she just looked puzzled.

Don't get me wrong, I love places like Rankin's. I'd probably starve to death without them, but they're just too un-urban to satisfy my need for a good old fashioned breakfast joint.

The food at the Cracker Barrel is okay, but it's always too mobbed on the weekends, and you have to pass through the jungle of trinkets, the cabbage-shaped tea pots, and hummingbird wind chimes to reach the dining room. That can be a little unnerving early in the morning.

The Waffle House is--well what can you say about a place that serves homefries that looks like shredded strings---

I wouldn't call Panera Bread a breakfast joint.

There is an interesting homestyle restauraunt around the corner from the Fellinni Kroger's (a name Kostroff loved by the way). It serves breakfast, but on styrofoam plates. They have gospel singing there too. On weekend nights, the parking lot is packed. I've always wanted to go in there some night because I imagine they have great music, but frankly I'm kind of afraid they all might start laying hands on me, and I'm not exactly eager to be possessed by the Holy Ghost or anything else.

After touring the city, Kostroff was definitely impressed with Knoxville. Especially the price of homes and apartments here. He loved the Tennessee Theater, and he's played some of the best theaters in the country when he toured with The Producers and Les Miserables.

I think maybe Harold's Place was the kind of urban deli we would have enjoyed, but Harold's is now all closed up and gutted.

I guess all I can do is wait for some clever business person, not a chain, not a corporation, just somebody with a few bucks who wants to make a good living, to open an urban deli downtown. Surely, with all the condos, lofts apartments and new retail shops, they would draw a lot of people.

If anyone knows of a place I've missed please let me know. If the atmosphere is right and the eggs (two over easy please with home fries, coffee, and toast) are under $4.00, I'll be there every morning.

62
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Sat
Mar 17 2007
10:23 am

The FDA has announced a major pet food recall. Menu Foods, Inc. makes store brand pet foods for several large chains and some brand-name pet foods. Here's a link to the FDA's press release that has a link to Menu Foods list of recalled items.

(link...)

Topics:
47
like
Sat
Mar 17 2007
12:32 am

I found this site while searching for material on Ludwig van Beethoven. In the days before photography it was quite common to prepare life, and death, masks of prominent persons. I was surprised to find this life mask made as late as 1955. At first glance it appears to be a police composite. I would never have guessed that this was James Dean. Now I wonder if Beethoven really looked like that Beethoven. And look at the sad life mask of Abraham Lincoln.

48
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Fri
Mar 16 2007
06:35 pm

Couric lead tonight with the locked-upedness of Alberto Gonzales' firing. Rove's fingers are all over this one too. Subpoenas on Plame and the Attorneys? You betcha. The current talking point on the attorneys is "They serve at the pleasure of the President." No kidding. You don't engage in spurious investigations meant to give vent to political grinding of axes, then we are not pleased with you.

Note: I have no idea why I was watching Couric. Seriously. First time I had watched network news in years.

38
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Fri
Mar 16 2007
03:13 pm

In wingnut world that is. Where are all those who would deny Valerie Plame's covert status? They certainly talked a lot of shit not very long ago. What's the matter, rule of law got your tongue? Just to recap, Ms Plame sez that she was a covert agent for the CIA working on WMD containment. Her coworkers at the "Company" say that she was a covert agent. Non-specific "senior" officials of the Bush administration caused her cover to be blown so as to punish her husband, heroic former ambassador to Iraq Joseph Wilson, for disagreeing with the administration on manufactured reasons to attack Iraq.

Nevermind, today let's let the traitors bask in what they have done in quiet "dignity".

CAFKIA

47
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Fri
Mar 16 2007
02:22 pm

In case you missed it, Buzz Goss forwarded the letter (PDF format) a group of local developers and architects sent City Council re. the new design guidlines.

The letter is signed by:

Buzz Goss, David Dewhirst
Patrick Hunt, Mark Heinz
Larsen Jay, Cherie Piercy
Keith Stewart, Russ Davidson
John Boudreau, Jeffery Nash
Deno Cole, Leigh Burch
Trinity McDermott, Mark McDermott
Anne Marie Tugwell, Albert Ritchie
John Sanders, Brandon Pace

NOTE: To comment, See Rachel's previous post on this where the discussion is taking place.

53
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Fri
Mar 16 2007
12:14 pm

(click to embiggen)

A Red-winged Blackbird, through the window.

I like these birds. Maybe because it's one of the few I can identify by its song. (I swear I think they used it for some of the bridge sound effects on Star Trek.)

We have at least three hanging around. This one and another appear to be immatures, although they are getting blacker ever day.

Continued...

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