Sun
Mar 11 2007
06:55 pm

Just went to get my weekly fix of Betty & Sandra and discovered they've redone the website. I now have to open a 6M pdf just to read these two columns.

Nagonnadoit.

I am not a happy camper.

58
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Sun
Mar 11 2007
04:11 pm

Randy's house feels big and empty this balmy, sunshine-y Sunday afternoon. I'm guessin' folks are out on the back porch, where I've been, and where I came across this Thought-for-the-Day, matted under glass made grimy by winter:

The Meaning of Life

To know and serve God, of course, is why we’re here, a clear truth that, like the nose on your face, is near at hand and easily discernible, but can make you dizzy if you try to focus on it hard. But a little faith will see you through. What else will do except faith in such a cynical, corrupt time? When the country goes temporarily to the dogs, cats must learn to be circumspect, walk on fences, sleep in trees, and have faith that all this woofing is not the last word. Time to shut up and be beautiful, and wait for morning. Yahooism, when in power, is deaf, and neither satire nor the Gospel will stay its brutal hand, but hang on, another chapter follows. Our brave hopes for changing the world sank in port, and we have become the very people we used to make fun of, the old and hesitant, but never mind, that’s not the whole story, either. So hang on.

What keeps our faith cheerful is the extreme persistence of gentleness and humor. Gentleness is everywhere in daily life, a sign that faith rules through ordinary things: through cooking and small talk, through storytelling, making love, fishing, tending animals and sweet corn and flowers, through sports, music and books, raising kids—all the places where the gravy soaks in and grace shines through. Even in a time of elephantine vanity and greed, one never has to look far to see the campfires of gentle people. If we had no other purpose in life, it would be good enough to simply take care of them and goose them once in a while.

--Garrison Keillor

B'leive I'll wipe the glass clean, tuck it under my bed pillow, and try to carry that thought on into Monday.

56
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Sun
Mar 11 2007
03:42 pm

The KNS web site has a "news quiz" today in which they ask five multiple-choice questions about burning issues of the day - important stuff such as the role Renee Zellweger plays in her new movie and which Food Network chef will be at the Women Today Expo.

I flunked it, of course. I was prepared to answer questions such as the name of the first fired US Attorney to testify before the House committee and why he was subpoenaed, who was named the chairman of the new Knox County "ethics" committee, has Lumpy moved a single car from his used car lot this week? You know, substantive newsy type stuff. They just didn't ask the right questions.

62
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Sun
Mar 11 2007
11:57 am

Is the new mea culpa strategy working for the Republicans?

Every time you turn on the tube these days you see someone caught doing something illegal or amoral admitting they have done wrong---then they promise to do better. After Katrina, the Department of Homeland Security did it. Last week, the Veteran’s Administration went before a congressional hearing and tried it. Yesterday, the FBI confessed their wiretapping abuses. Now, even George W. Bush, the original Mr. Never-Admit-Anything, has jumped on the bandwagon. The formula goes something like this: cop a plea, say seven hail Mary’s and admit you sinned. Then, once you have been absolved, make a statement saying the situation has been examined and that changes are being made. Once you have done all that, everyone is supposed to admire you and forgive your sins.

The right-wing Christian coalition, a group that sometimes has trouble thinking for itself, is being told it is noble to confess, that Jesus forgives all sinners, and that once you have done this, you’re absolved of all responsibility. Fox News commentators also push this belief. “Well,” they say, “Bush has admitted he made some mistakes. But, he acted on bad intelligence. He said the situation in Iraq is intolerable, and he’s doing everything he can to make sure things will be better now.”

Oh, yeah! Great! Amen! But with more than 3,000 soldiers already dead, Bin laden chuckling somewhere in a cave, and Afghanistan beginning to boil over again, is just saying “I’m sorry” enough?

There’s an old saying: Sorry in one and spit in the other. Historically, the word sorry hasn’t carried much weight, but lately strategists in Washington have raised its status to one of biblical importance.

Next time you listen to the news, just count and be dazzled. Every day some new illegal or immoral act is being discovered. These incidents are rising faster than bones in a Louisiana graveyard. And, the first word you will hear out of the mouth of the guilty will be mea culpa, mea culpa—I’m sorry.

There is something noble about confession. Assuming responsibility for your actions has always proven better than hiding them, but if the list of things you have done is long and continues to grow after you’ve knelt in the corner to delivery your obligatory Hail Marys, even God might grow weary of listening to your hollow words.

The fact that the Bush administration has discovered a new strategy to avoid being held accountable for their many sins won’t save them in the end. Like all their other calculated but stupid moves, this one will soon be seen for what it is—just another clever attempt to bamboozle their constituents into thinking they are honorable men.

Lying, corruption, war, secret prisons, the Katrina disaster, Abu Grad, billions of dollars worth of contracts in Iraq not cancelled when the work wasn’t done, the FEMA trailers still sitting empty in a field of mud, veteran abuse—just how much forgiveness can these guys expect?

Sorry in one had and spit in the other--someone ought to say that to the next government official who tries to wiggle out of responsibility. Does anyone really give a darn if everyone connected to Bush is suddenly sorry? If those known liars assure us they are being truthful now? I don’t think so.

61
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Sun
Mar 11 2007
11:11 am

I cleaned up the blogrolls a bit, removing some dead links, fixing up new site addresses, and adding a couple of new ones.

I also reorganized the RSS feeds column, which appears under the "Discussions" column (which used to be called "Latest Comments").

I added a couple of new feeds, and organized the RSS feeds into "Blog-O-Rama" for blogs, and "News-O-Rama" for news media feeds.

In the "Blog-O-Rama" category, I also separated the "paid bloggers" (who generate prodigious numbers of blog posts which sometimes dominate the blog feed headlines) to give "regular folks" equal time.

Topics:
58
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Sun
Mar 11 2007
10:51 am

The AP reports from Uruguay:

President Bush asked Congress on Saturday for $3.2 billion to pay for 8,200 more U.S. troops needed in Afghanistan and Iraq on top of the 21,500-troop buildup he announced in January.

[..]

The budget revisions come as many lawmakers opposed to the buildup in Iraq are debating funding for the war. But in a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Bush proposed canceling $3.2 billion in low-priority defense items to offset the extra money needed to support the additional troops.

Meanwhile, Congress debates withdrawing authorization for the war.

53
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Sat
Mar 10 2007
05:09 pm

Here's an interesting and timely AP article:

Though laws in every state say government records and meetings must be open to all, reality often falls far short: Laws are sporadically enforced, penalties for failure to comply are mild and violators almost always walk away with nothing more than a reprimand, an Associated Press survey of all 50 states has found.

It appears Tennessee isn't the only state with open government issues.

The survey was published to coincide with Sunshine Week, which starts tomorrow.

UPDATE: Jack Lail notes in comments that the Knoxville News Sentinel has this report on Tennessee's Sunshine Law, plus this interactive state-by-state graphic summary.

Jack also provides a link to the Tennessee Coalition for Open Government, which has this interesting survey of state lawmakers.

58
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Sat
Mar 10 2007
03:47 pm

If y'all are over in the Rockford/Alcoa/East Maryville area, check out Patty's Place Cafe for breakfast or lunch. But make sure you're hungry.

We stopped by for a late breakfast. I had...

Continued...

55
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Sat
Mar 10 2007
11:39 am

Haste makes waste.

The TN Senate voted to approve a law (SB0139) making it a misdemeanor (amendment) if your dog goes off premises even if the dog's owner was not at fault. For example, your dog is in your fenced in backyard. A worker enters your backyard and upon leaving forgets to secure the gate. Your dog runs into the street. You can then be charged with a crime.

Now I am all for responsible animal ownership. We own a pup, or it owns us, not sure which. Our pupster is definitely pampered and we take extreme care to ensure her safety as well as the safety of others around her. In her ten years of existence she has escaped 3 or 4 times. I cannot imagine being arrested for such a misdeed. Neither of us have never been arrested for anything. I think this is just a step too far.

I suppose my next step is to ask what problem resulted in the introduction of this bill. And, hey, if dogs then why not cats? They can do damage too. I jest. Just because there is a bad bill does not mean we need to make it worse.

H/T KNS

74
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Sat
Mar 10 2007
11:01 am
By: WhitesCreek  shortURL

I marched in several protests when I was younger...a lot younger. But I don't remember any fellow protesters who made their point as well as this one.

(hey it's News...get over it. really)

57
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Sat
Mar 10 2007
10:57 am

Oil Innovations Pump New Life Into Old Wells:

Within the last decade, technology advances have made it possible to unlock more oil from old fields, and, at the same time, higher oil prices have made it economical for companies to go after reserves that are harder to reach. With plenty of oil still left in familiar locations, forecasts that the world’s reserves are drying out have given way to predictions that more oil can be found than ever before.

“It’s the fifth time to my count that we’ve gone through a period when it seemed the end of oil was near and people were talking about the exhaustion of resources,” said Daniel Yergin, the chairman of Cambridge Energy and author of a Pulitzer Prize-winning history of oil, who cited similar concerns in the 1880s, after both world wars and in the 1970s. “Back then we were going to fly off the oil mountain. Instead we had a boom and oil went to $10 instead of $100.”

Topics:
60
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Sat
Mar 10 2007
10:36 am

Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne and National Park Service Director Mary Bomar are starting a listening tour with the first stop at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park maintenance area this Tuesday. The maintenance area is about 1/2 mile behind the Park headquarters, but you can park at the Sugarlands Visitor center and enjoy a nice evening stroll with the additional hours of daylight. They will be listening from 6-8pm. Wouldn't it be impressive if hundreds turned out on a work day to a remote location in order to express support for the Park? Details from the Tennessean.

Update: The NPS press release indicates the meeting will occur at the W.L. Mills Conference Center in Gatlinburg, which makes a whole lot more sense.

56
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Fri
Mar 9 2007
10:13 pm

If anyone still has any doubts whether we are one step away from living in a police state you have obviously not been watching the news. First, just as many predicted an audit came out today reporting that the FBI has been violating the Law to the point of possible criminal charges. Exactly where would we be if W had gotten his way and blocked the audits?
We have the ACLU pointing out that Habeas Corpus no longer applies to ANYONE due to the fact that all of us can now be classified as a "Domestic Terrorist". And in case you think that surely this could not happen to a US citizen just remember the treatment of Jose Padilla. Incidently it was reported that the video of his last interview has "mysteriously" disappeared.
Recently news surfaced that the FBI is using a new computer program to read our emails, and track out internet usage. And in case that does not work the Justice Department and the GOP are reviving an attempt to force all ISP's to track all users activities forever. Don't you feel safer already?

63
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Fri
Mar 9 2007
08:35 pm

Circa 1970, student activists organized massive demonstrations on the U.T. campus to protest the Vietnam war. Angry hordes of pot-smoking, free-loving hippies along with a few mostly respectable faculty members (and frat types looking to score with the free-loving hippie chicks) descended on places like Circle Park chanting "One! Two! Three! Four! We don't want your f**king war!"

Missing in action for decades, a resurgence of student protest was spotted on the U.T. campus this week, where student activists and community leaders gathered to chant: "What do we want? TENURE! When do we want it? NOW!"

According to this KNS report:

Janis Stewart, a UT sophomore, read the protest rules to the group of about 75-100 students with members of community organizations among them. No fighting. No disrespecting the police. And stay on the sidewalk on the march to UT's Alumni Memorial Building.

Apparently, "F**k the pigs!" is no longer acceptable protest protocol.

In related news, a group of approx. eleven Sixties-era protest veterans were recently spotted at the O'Conner Senior Center chanting: "What do we want? Repeal of the Alternative Minimum Tax and permanent extension of Section 179 accelerated depreciation. When do we want it? NOW! By any means necessary!"

As they filed away to their minivans from the protest venue, a few were heard quietly singing an adapted version of a popular John Lennon song from their era: "All we are saying, is give Medicare Part D pharmaceutical company negotiations a chance."

(But seriously, it sounds like assistant history professor George White Jr. is getting a raw deal. The U.T. Administration apparently learned their lesson in the sixties and has since figured out how to keep these radical professors in line.)

Topics:
67
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Fri
Mar 9 2007
08:14 pm

This will be short and to the point. I received from a friend in New Mexico a letter from Gov Bill Richardson's office. The heading was Stop being ashamed. It urges Americans to contact their govenors and ask them to find state monies to help care for the returning wounded.
This sounds like a marvelous idea to me. We need to step up to the plate and take care of these folks with or without the bush administration (I never cap those when used together in a sentence). Thanks, MartyD, Houston, Tx

Topics:
53
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Fri
Mar 9 2007
04:26 pm
By: StaceyDiamond  shortURL

When I saw WATE last night I finally knew why my house shook yesterday afternoon, the blasting over near 4th and Gill. No wonder the 4th and Gill residents are worried about damage. I'm on the other side of Braodway at least a mile from the site and felt it pretty strongly. Stacey

55
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Fri
Mar 9 2007
03:47 pm

Here we go with the committee which I predict will accomplish nothing helpful for Knox County citizens. I am still hopefull though, that some good will come of all this nonsense.

The newly appointed County Ethics Committee held its first meeting today and made a point of electing officers that have no connection with Knox County government.

Read the full N-S article.

This post needs a poll. How many people think the ethics committee will be effective?

58
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Fri
Mar 9 2007
02:52 pm

About new Commisioner Charles Bolus from a KNS story this morning about Billy Tindell and his new job:

Bolus was a compromise candidate after Tindell and the 2nd District's other commissioner, Mark Harmon, couldn't agree on a candidate.

That's certainly an interesting way to describe what happened. Was Ms. Ferrar perhaps channeling Scoobie?

248
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Fri
Mar 9 2007
01:30 pm

A while back, KnoxViews was asked by the J-Lab Institute for Interactive Journalism and the Knight Citizens News Network to participate in a survey of "citizen media" site operators.

The results of their survey are here.

I found this section on "To Edit or Not" particularly interesting, and especiallly this:

At sites where threads get personal or hostile, she said, "The first people to leave are the women, then the people over 55. I don’t want to have a site exclusively of young men." Williams asks posters to observe Three T’s: truthfulness, tactfulness and transparency. Many of the tact violators "are the passionate people. I’ll write and say, 'I want you on the site, but could you dial it back a tiny bit?'"

Emphasis added.

55
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Fri
Mar 9 2007
11:35 am

In the People's Republic of Illinois, an elderly couple converted their Volkswagen to run on vegetable oil. Apparently, that requires a license and payment of a fuel tax at either the gas or diesel rate:

The agents informed the Wetzels that they were interested in their car, a 1986 Volkswagen Golf, that David Wetzel converted to run primarily from vegetable oil but also partly on diesel.

Wetzel uses recycled vegetable oil, which he picks up weekly from an organization that uses it for frying food at its dining facility.

"They told me I am required to have a license and am obligated to pay a motor fuel tax," David Wetzel recalled. "Mr. May also told me the tax would be retroactive."

Since the initial visit by the agents on Jan. 4, the Wetzels have been involved in a struggle with the Illinois Department of Revenue. The couple, who live on a fixed budget, have been asked to post a $2,500 bond and threatened with felony charges.

Continued...

Topics:
57
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