Thu
Apr 12 2007
06:39 am

Breaking news out of Alabama about an amazing new technological discovery:

Some of Alabama’s nastiest coal-fired power plants may be cleaning up their act with some new technology called a "scrubber" that was unveiled by Alabama Power Company executives Wednesday.

The mechanism, expected to be operational in 2008, is designed to strip some of the worst pollution out of power plant emissions.

Dangerous sulfur dioxide, called SO2, is stripped from the plant's emissions through a scrubbing process that works like a shower. Pollution is mixed with limestone powder and water, which strips gases out of the plant's emissions before they're released into the air.

Wow, I wonder if TVA has heard about this new "scrubber" technology?

Wait a second. This sounds familiar. Oh, yeah, now I remember:

Most modern power plants — and all plants built after 1978 — are required to have special devices installed that clean the sulfur from the coal's combustion gases before the gases go up the smokestack. The technical name for these devices is "flue gas desulfurization units," but most people just call them "scrubbers" — because they "scrub" the sulfur out of the smoke released by coal-burning boilers. [..]

In most scrubbers, limestone (or another similar material called lime) is mixed with water and sprayed into the coal combustion gases (called "flue gases"). The limestone captures the sulfur and "pulls" it out of the gases.

Maybe the mule train hauling the mail got waylaid by bandits and the news about this technology has just now reached Alabama.

But seriously, it's hard to say which is worse -- Alabama Power Company executives trying to suggest this is "new technology" when in fact they should have installed it 30 years ago, or a "senior TV news reporter" who just transcribes what they say without bothering to check it out.

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Thu
Apr 12 2007
05:47 am

Kurt Vonnegut, the satirical novelist who captured the absurdity of war and questioned the advances of science in darkly humorous works such as "Slaughterhouse-Five" and "Cat's Cradle," died Wednesday. He was 84.
...
"We probably could have saved ourselves, but we were too damned lazy to try very hard... and too damn cheap," he once suggested carving into a wall on the Grand Canyon, as a message for flying-saucer creatures.
...
"My father, like Hemingway, was a gun nut and was very unhappy late in life. But he was proud of not committing suicide. And I'll do the same, so as not to set a bad example for my children."

What a great writer. Books that make you think.

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113
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Thu
Apr 12 2007
12:30 am

The U.S. Senate passed the latest stem cell research bill, 63-34 (with Senators Dodd, Landrieu, and Johnson not voting). Do the veto math.

Senator Alexander (R-TN), voted Yea. Senator Corker (R-TN), voted Nay.

[Recall that Senator Frist last voted in favor of funding the research.]

So we're apparently stuck one vote short with a freshman senator who opposes funding research. Wonderful.

58
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Wed
Apr 11 2007
08:37 pm

Last night Pink sung her song "Dear Mr. President" on Jimmy Kimmel. She told Jimmy that he was the first talk show host who had allowed her to sing that song and that the radio announcers wouldn't touch it. Its a folksy sounding song similar to the Dixie Chicks sound and mostly asks legitimate questions, "how could you take your daughter's rights away, would you hate her if she were gay?" Questions about Katrina, "Hard work" etc. The only nasty party is "you've come along way from booze and cocaine." Not anything that should make it forbidden IMO. On Imus again, I still think him saying what he did is not on the same level as if Tim Russert had said it, as a conservative blogger said, people should consider the source and move on. On Limbaugh, what he said about Michael J. Fox was horribly mean but he was not called to be fired by Jackson or Sharpton. I totally agree with Rush that folks like Jackson and Sharpton are part of the "industry of the offended," who would be out of work if folks like Imus didn't work people into a hysteria.

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This is a really quirky, beautifully written article about Costco's recent decision to sell caskets along with their TVs and pillows.

(link...)

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49
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Wed
Apr 11 2007
05:29 pm

MSNBC will no longer broadcast the simulcast of the Imus radio program.

55
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Wed
Apr 11 2007
01:12 pm

Taking a break from monitoring the mortgage meltdown (which is now seeping into the Alt-A level, BTW), I came across this neat doohickey on the NYT site for measuring renting vs. owning. Related story, radio bit.

It seems to confirm my own prejudices (and deep-seated resentment...I'm a renter) that home ownership is often overhyped and oversold as a financial solution for all circumstances, and is part of the reason the bubble is bursting. Thoughts?

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Wed
Apr 11 2007
01:02 pm

Blount County Commissioner Wendy Pitts Reeves thanks the public for their participation and speculates about what might happen next.

49
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Wed
Apr 11 2007
12:02 pm

Gene Patterson has some great World's Fair stories and seeks yours for an upcoming retrospective on the 25th Anniversary of the 1982 Knoxville World's Fair and Energy Expo.

53
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Wed
Apr 11 2007
11:54 am

Joe Lance, who blogs at Tennessee Ticket, has a column on the proposed state-wide cable franchise bill in the latest edition of the Chattanooga Pulse: "Guard your local cable franchise like it's your remote!"

The latest status of the bills: HB1421 re-referred yesterday to the Utilities, Banking, and Small Business subcommittee of the Commerce committee, SB1933 deferred yesterday until 4/17 by the Commerce, Labor & Agriculture committee.

46
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Wed
Apr 11 2007
11:00 am

Fred Thompson has announced that he was diagnosed with lymphoma two years ago. I guess he needs to get it out there now for his run (maybe) for President. Good for him and I hope he remains healthy. As for his chances for President, I'd offer 7 to 1 right now.

51
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Wed
Apr 11 2007
10:10 am

The Knoxville News Sentinel has a package on the Knox County schools rezoning. KnoxViews contributor Tamara Shepherd is quoted. The right side bar has links to maps and more, including this article about a proposed sales tax increase.

160
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Wed
Apr 11 2007
09:56 am
By: Bill Pittman  shortURL

For any & all interested, Fourth & Gill will be hosting their "Historic Home Tour" on April 22nd. All pertinent information may be found at:

(link...)

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54
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Wed
Apr 11 2007
08:47 am
By: michael kaplan  shortURL

Here's my letter on the subject, published today in the Knoxville News-Sentinel:

To the Editor:

By stating that "the pact leaves the bulk of the revenues with the company," your editorial supporting the red-light cameras (March 22) offers the best reason for opposing the system. The millions of dollars Redflex will take in over the next few years are, in most cases, hard-earned dollars that will not remain in Knoxville but rather find their way to corporate headquarters in Arizona or Australia. Whatever the city hopes to gain will be offset by a net loss to our local economy.

As for accident prevention, the red-light camera locations provide a 'worst' list of the poorest-designed intersections in the city where accidents continue to occur. For example, the intersection at Western Avenue and Henley is so wide that I've actually seen an 18-wheeler make a U-turn within it. The one at Clinton Highway and Tillery Road has a turn-light sequence so out of sync with traffic conditions that it's nearly impossible for a driver to complete a turn on a green light, if you're lucky enough to get the chance to turn. What we need is better street and traffic light design rather than the band-aid fix that the cameras provide.

Finally, in a town filled with tourism-related traffic and tourist-drivers unfamiliar with the street system, it is hard to understand why the city would install the cameras in and near the downtown. A ticket resulting from a camera 'catch' can only serve to make a few bucks for the city, while alienating Knoxville's guests. Why would they ever want to return?

Michael Kaplan
Professor of Architecture, Emeritus
University of Tennessee

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50
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Wed
Apr 11 2007
08:17 am

So, I am headed into my building yesterday afternoon here at Rutgers. It is on the same college (Livingston) as the basketball arena. Media was everywhere. It was very disruptive. Anyhow, this would have been about an hour after the Rutgers presser about Imus's remarks. I had ran over to Tillet Hall to snag some lunch at the faculty dining room ($5.00 with a tea). Some photog was out grabbing "man on the street" bits with Rutgers students. She comes rushing over to me with her camera and asks if she could get a couple of comments from "an average Rutgers student." I told her that I wasn't an average Rutgers student and she said, "Oh, you know what I mean." Hoo boy.

FWIW, I am white, male and 37 years old. I was also wearing a UT sweatshirt, though not a full-on orange explosion. I didn't catch who she was with as there weren't any logos on the camera and the whole exchange lasted about 30 seconds. She was probably a stringer.

In honor of Dearly Departed Les Jones:

Word of the Day: Lustration -- the process of being cleansed after sinning.

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Wed
Apr 11 2007
07:59 am

As a follow up to last night's report, here's more on last night's public hearing re. proposed Blount Co. zoning changes.

The Maryville Daily Times files this report. They estimate there were 300 people there. The Knoxville News Sentinel files this report.

The controversy boils down to this:

(Read more after the jump...)

Continued...

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Wed
Apr 11 2007
12:04 am

Hello Knox View Readers,

I just sent an email to my constituents regarding the proposed high school re-zoning. I am hosting a community forum on this issue at Fulton High School on Wednesday April 25th, 7pm. Here's a link to some FAQs about the proposal:

(link...).

Thanks to the one poster who actually claimed to be pleased with the proposal!

Indya Kincannon
Knox County Board of Education
2nd District (North Knoxville and Fountain City)

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168
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Tue
Apr 10 2007
11:40 pm

A short post on this because I didn't take notes.

Awhile back MPC did a study, with lots of input from a local task force (on which my spouse served) on improvements to the Chapman Highway corridor. These dealt with both strictly transportation issues, but also with land use issues. That study is available here. It was approved by MPC, City Council, and County Commission.

As the MPC website states, "Upon completion of MPC's study, the Tennessee Department of Transportation contracted with Palmer Engineering to conduct a transportation planning study that would make recommendations on short-term improvements to ehance the safety and operations of Chapman Highway."

The results of that second study were presented Monday night and tonight in two meetings in south Knoxville. Since this was a TDOT study, it addressed transportation issues only.

All ideas are for short-term improvements to Chapman Highway, basically "low hanging fruit," although Jeff Welch of the regional TPO stressed that as of yet no funding was available for any of them.

They included things like reducing the # of curb cuts, adding a turn lane to the section just south of Stone Road, improving road alignments with Chapman Highway (especially where there was a "jog" at the CH intersection), and adding to the existing street grid to make more "frontage" routes along the highway.

In general I was pretty impressed by what I saw.

I doubt this is available on the web anywhere because we were looking at info on some pretty large maps, but if you are interested, Rene Davis at MPC is the local contact for the Chapman Highway study and should be able to direct you to more info. I also hope there are others out there who attended and who might add to my brief synopsis.

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Tue
Apr 10 2007
08:18 pm

It's been taken over by leftists and is no longer relevant to East Tennessee.

OK, then.

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196
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Tue
Apr 10 2007
07:50 pm

Just got back from the public hearing on the proposed "sports complex" zoning changes in Blount County. The meeting, which was scheduled to begin at 6:30 and last 30 minutes, was a little late getting started and was still going on when we left after 8 PM.

To sum it up, there was overwhelming public opposition to the proposed changes. Participants were vocal, and there was enthusiastic applause and cheering for those who spoke in opposition.

We estimate there were 250 people there, maybe more. It was standing room only and spilling out into the halls. 32 people signed up to speak. When we left, 23 had addressed County Commission. Of those, 18 were opposed to the changes, and five spoke in support. Of the five, four were developers or builders, including Simmerly, the sports complex developer.

(We sat right next to County Mayor Jerry Cunningham and developer Darrell Tipton. They did not seem to be happy campers.)

The buzz we heard from one person who had spoken to some commissioners was that the zoning changes would likely not pass.

One surprise involved a small private airport adjacent to the proposed site of the sports complex. The owner pointed out to County Commission that the relaxed building height restrictions would interfere with takeoffs and landings and would not be within regulations that close to his runway. He said it would create a safety hazard that could shut down his airport. He also noted FAA restrictions on flight over open assemblies such as would occur at outdoor athletic events. This is, I believe, a new wrinkle.

I will have more notes tomorrow. I will say, though, that we were pleasantly surprised to see so many smart, progressive Blount Co. residents in one place. This issue has the community mobilized.

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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.

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