Sat
Apr 7 2007
12:16 pm

This handsome little fellow is giving me the evil eye because we lost the battle with the house sparrows* for his bluebird house.

We've torn out the sparrow's nest three times, once with eggs in it. I felt awful. But they keep coming back. Haven't had any food out for weeks. But they keep coming back. There's another nest in there, probably with eggs again.

The bluebirds and a chickadee were fighting with the sparrows over the house, but the sparrows won. (The chickadee put up a hell of a fight. He/she still comes around every now and then to harass them.)

A male and female bluebird pair were spotted this week fluttering around the hole in a watering can on the back porch as if they were thinking about that as an alternative. I felt awful.

Is it too late for the bluebirds to try to evict the sparrows, again?

(*House sparrows are actually Weaver Finches, imported from England in the 1800s. Supposedly, the entire U.S. population, estimated at 150-400 million, comes from 100 birds released in Brooklyn in 1851. At least that's what it says on the internets.)

55
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Sat
Apr 7 2007
10:20 am

Earlier in the week there was news that Chrysler's sales were down 5% for March 2007 as compared to 2006. Then came the news that DamilierChrysler was under increasing pressure from shareholders to sell the division. Then it was revealed that Chrysler was indeed on the block, followed by news of a $4.5 billion offer. Shortly thereafter it was reported that 4300 Chrysler workers accepted buyouts in a voluntary reduction in force.

Another report from earlier in the week said that "Toyota's U.S. sales jumped 11.7 percent last month, boosted by record hybrid sales and strong overall car sales, while Ford's sales dropped 9 percent, DaimlerChrysler sank 4.1 percent and General Motors slid 4 percent." The report says that Ford still managed to hold down the #2 spot behind GM, with Toyota coming in a close third.

The same report also says: "In all, Toyota sold 242,675 light vehicles in the U.S., including 140,009 cars, up 19.4 percent from the same month a year ago, and 102,666 trucks, a 2.7 percent increase. So far this year, Toyota has sold 61,635 hybrids in the U.S., up 68 percent from the first three months of last year. That includes 28,453 hybrids last month."

Honda's sales were up as well, posting a 7.3% increase over March 2006 and setting a new record for Honda. Honda only sold 3,199 hybrid vehicles, though, "including 2,813 Civic Hybrids and 385 Accord Hybrids, a combined increase of 6.7 percent over year-ago results."

A report from GreenCarCongress.com says that "US sales of light-duty hybrid vehicles almost doubled in March 2007 from the year before, reaching 34,637 units—an increase of 94% from March 2006." Most of these were from Toyota, which dominates the hybrid market, with the Prius and Hybrid Camry accounting for 70% of hybrid sales in the U.S. Toyota's hybrid sales are up 68% for the calendar year so far. Honda Civic Hybrid sales were up 26%. Even Ford had a 50% increase in Escape/Mariner Hybrid sales.

Check out this graph (the dark blue line at the top represents 2007 hybrid sales as compared to previous years):


(Source: GreenCarCongress.com - click for larger view)

There's a message here somewhere. While waiting for the government and American auto manufacturers to do something about higher mileage vehicles, American auto buyers are voting with their pocket books and Japanese automakers are selling hybrids and other more efficient cars as fast as they can make them.

(At the same time, though, Toyota is attempting to redefine and take over the pickup market with the new Tundra, which gets EPA 15/18 MPG. And they are apparently selling. Toyota sold 13,196 of the redesigned Tundras in March 2007, an 11.8% increase over March 2006.)

I don't know if hybrids are the answer (we're happy with ours, and with our Ford Freestyle crossover that is more fuel efficient than the SUV it replaced), but bigger, heavier cars and trucks with lower gas mileage don't seem to be the answer for consumers or for American automakers any more. How long will it take them to figure this out? Congress should do American automakers a favor and mandate a dramatic increase in CAFE standards so we can finally move beyond the muscle car glory days when bigger and faster were better.

124
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Sat
Apr 7 2007
08:08 am

Wishful thinking would not keep winter from revisiting. It was 30.2 degrees this morning, and in the otherwise blue sky there was one big gray cloud right over our house emitting light snow flurries.

It's my fault. I've been in denial all week. When we went out for our evening walk yesterday it was 51 degrees. I usually wear shorts when it's 50+ and sunny, so I wore shorts and a hooded sweatshirt. But there was a cold northwest wind blowing and by the time we got home it was 49. My final act of defiance was of no avail.

My Mom tells me every year, "don't plant anything until after April 15th." Someday I will learn to listen to my Mom. Hope our blooming azaleas will be OK.

UPDATE: I guess I should be thankful. It could be a lot worse!

56
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Sat
Apr 7 2007
07:48 am

A top aide to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales abruptly quit Friday, almost two weeks after telling Congress she would not testify about her role in the firings of federal prosecutors. Monica M. Goodling, the Justice Department's liaison to the White House, gave no reason for her resignation.

And yesterday: Three lawyers in the U.S. Attorney's office in Minneapolis resigned their management posts and will return to prosecuting case. The moves come as the U.S. Justice Department is under fire for its replacement of eight U.S. attorneys last year.

106
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Fri
Apr 6 2007
09:40 pm

The Bush White House has buried its head even deeper into the sand on the whole issue of climate change. 2500 scientists from around the world met in Brussels and prepared a thorough-going report on the prospects for the planet in the face of changes taking place now.

The Los Angeles Times says "the report paints a gloomy picture of the world's future, region by region. Most of its components were already known, but the accumulation of detail in the authoritative projection carries a much stronger weight than in the past.

"North America can expect more hurricanes, floods, droughts, heat waves and wildfires, the report said, and the coasts will be flooded by rising sea levels. Crop production will increase initially as the growing season gets longer, but climbing temperatures and water shortages will ultimately lead to sharp reductions.

Read more after the jump...

Continued...

88
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Fri
Apr 6 2007
09:37 pm
By: WhitesCreek  shortURL

I tried to make something up that would top this, but...

Easter...Bloody Easter

AS I read the piece, I kept laughing at more and more irony. It is Irony, isn't it? I mean the Truth can't be Satire, right?

50
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Fri
Apr 6 2007
05:01 pm

As if it wasn't big enough contradiction for a big "C" Conservative to propose a tax initiative, Rep. Campfield wants to put the squeeze on erotic speech and press with his Adult Materials Tax. ;)

Rep. Campfield doesn't have any idea that his tax initiative infringes the Constitutional protections of speech & press. IMO the ARKANSAS WRITERS' PROJECT v. RAGLAND case reads that way, but please read it and decide for yourself. (481 U.S. 221 (1987)).

This week, Rep. Campfield made several posts about his tax initiative including the one that finally got me commenting at his blog. The last was one of those roundup entries. It was just too much ...

Continued...

72
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Fri
Apr 6 2007
03:09 pm

Tamara Shepherd e-mails:

I learned just today [ed. note: yesterday on Thursday] what the full scope of this year's Knox County Schools rezoning effort will be: 11 of 12 county high schools, with corresponding changes in middle school and elementary school lines! I spoke by phone with Rick Grubb, Assistant Superintendent of Transportation for KCS, who says a 12,000 piece mailing is underway now. Staff will work tomorrow (although they're closed for Good Friday) and Saturday (also closed, of course), completing the mailing on Monday. All victims should be in-the-know by Tuesday, April 10. It's the biggest rezoning effort here in many years.

Apparently, it involves every Knox County school except South-Doyle. Tamara also notes that there is no public discussion planned for eight of the nine board meetings, and that the public will only have 48 hours to respond before the final vote on May 2nd.

Schedule and more info after the jump...

Continued...

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The AT&T lobbyist sponsored bill HB1421/ SB1933 in the Tennessee General Assembly eliminates local control of cable franchises, regulates local franchise fees, restricts or eliminates customer service and quality standards, provides state regulation of local public right of way for the benefit of cable companies, restricts or eliminates local build-out requirements, and allows cable companies to create statewide franchises.

The House version has been deferred three times, and is currently on the House Commerce Committee calendar for April 10th. The Senate version has been deferred once, and is currently on the Senate Commerce, Labor & Agriculture committee calendar for April 10th.

Click "read more" for a comprehensive update...

Continued...

115
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Thu
Apr 5 2007
07:54 pm

See what the I-Man has to say about the National Championship game

(link...)

115
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Thu
Apr 5 2007
07:10 pm
By: StaceyDiamond  shortURL

I read today's Ear to the Ground in the Metro Pulse that said Betty Reddick asked Mildred Buffler to leave her namesake club day club because she did not support Betty for Democratic Party Chair. While I wasn't there, this seems out of character for Betty and Mildred. There are some old biddies in the Party, but Betty and Mildred are very nice and conduct themselves in a professional way. A couple of months ago the Ear said Jim Gray was running for Chair again. There was not even a rumor about that. A few weeks ago the Ear said Mike Padgett was recovering from heart surgey. I've asked Party people and people from Halls if they had heard that and none had and it has not been in the Sentinel or the Shopper. I've been wondering if that was true, and if not, why they printed it. Stacey

49
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Bush thumbs his nose at Congress with recess appointments. Egalia at Tennessee Guerilla Women has the story and a roundup of reaction.

208
like
Thu
Apr 5 2007
01:09 pm

A recent study by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that 50% of advertising on television shows for children under 12 is for food.

According to the report:

The study found that tweens ages 8-12 see the most food ads on TV, an average of 21 ads a day, or more than 7,600 a year. Teenagers see slightly fewer ads, at 17 a day, for a total of more than 6,000 a year. For a variety of reasons -- because they watch less TV overall, and more of their viewing is on networks that have limited or no advertising, such as PBS and Disney -- children ages 2-7 see the least number of food ads, at 12 food ads a day, or 4,400 a year.

And as you might expect, the advertising is mostly for not-so-healthy foods -- 34% of TV ads aimed at children are for candy or snacks. Only 15% of the ads depict an active lifestyle. Not one of the nearly 9,000 ads reviewed was for fruits or vegetables.

In contrast, the report says that teens see only 47 public service ads per year promoting fitness or nutrition.

Read more after the jump...

Continued...

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In today’s Farragut Press there is one sentence that may forever change the debate on Metro Government in Knox County. It is a quote from Town of Farragut town attorney Tom Hale. When asked about how Metro Government would affect Farragut Mr. Hale responded that Farragut would have a couple options. The first option would be a referendum to do away with the Board of Mayor and Aldermen. Does that mean also abolishing the Town of Farragut?

Here is where is gets interesting. The second option is for a referendum to decide NOT to join Knox County Government. Mr. Hale said, “The decision would really be in the hands of the citizens”.

Would this second option mean seceding from Knox County and taking those Farragut property tax dollars away from Knox County? Does a Metro Government charter allow the people of Farragut to go their own way?

Today Farragut is a municipality in Knox County with property tax dollars going to Knox County. If in fact the people of the Town of Farragut would have the option via referendum to withdraw from Knox County and keep their property tax dollars it would seem that they are the key decision makers concerning any future Metro Government.

78
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Thu
Apr 5 2007
12:04 pm

WASHINGTON Two soldiers killed in Iraq in February may have died as a result of friendly fire, Army officials said Wednesday, not from enemy fire, as the press reported.

The military suspected friendly fire later in February but did not inform the dead soldiers' families of these new doubts.

One of the soldiers died just hours after arriving in Iraq -- and was one of those troops rushed to the country in the "surge" who did not receive full training.

There's quite a lot in this E&P piece.

And Pelosi's trip is playing very well all over the world except for a few red states, by the way.

peace

87
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Thu
Apr 5 2007
11:34 am

If you live in Blount County, TN or you visit the county often to enjoy the Great Out Doors aka GSM- your action is urgently needed.

Next Tuesday, April 10, at 6:30 there a public hearing on proposed changes to zoning in Blount County (link...)

What it boils down to is this-

We don't have a plan.
Yes, we do have a plan.
But, we don't to follow any stinkin' plan.
We will let the public speak out on April 10th but we don't have to listen.

Cause we are Blount County and we can turn this place into Sevier County if we want and you can't stop us.

Why is it that to conserve the land it takes the actions of a liberal but to liberally give way the land to development is done by conservatives?

Well, a question ain’t really a question
If you know the answer too- John Prine

52
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Thu
Apr 5 2007
08:25 am
By: Johnny Ringo  shortURL
Wed
Apr 4 2007
10:58 pm

We bought an Easter Lily for my mom tonight. While I was checking out the cashier mentioned that he always planted his, and they kept coming back. I didn't know that you could plant Easter Lilies. Did you know that?

Here's info on how to plant Easter Lilies from Hortchat.com. (And is it just me, or does Hortchat sound vaguely dirty?) They're not hardy in all parts of the country, but Tennessee is apparently warm enough for them to overwinter.

Topics:
74
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Wed
Apr 4 2007
08:23 pm
By: bill young  shortURL

Thirty-nine years ago today,The Rev.Dr. Martin Luther King,Jr. was shot & killed in Memphis.

52
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