Friday, May 30, 2003

We Have Met the Bigots, and They Are Ours

In this week's Metropulse (Knoxville's requisite alt-weekly rag-that's-more-than-a-rag), Vanderbilt Law and English Professor Willy Stern waves poetic on suffering the effects of bigotry. However, he's a straight, white male - how could anyone possibly hold bigoted opinions about him? Oh, he's a Republican.

Socially Accepted Bigotry

"Scarcely a week has gone by since I hit 7th grade at Edgemont High School during which somebody did not make a derogatory comment about Republicans in my presence. I hear them, well, practically Starbucks, at job interviews, and while picking up my son at Congregation Micah, Nashville's open-minded reform synagogue. I hear them in the hallways of Vanderbilt University (where I teach part-time), around the copy machines at the Nashville Scene (the alternative newspaper which employs me) and in the carpool line at the University School of Nashville, (the progressive private school which my older child attends).
Mr. Stern continues to make an impressive case on how bigotry comes in many, less obvious forms:

"There is no group better qualified to answer that question than the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), a not-for-profit group respected around the globe for its authoritative work to counteract discrimination and anti-Semitism. So are comments like "All Republicans are assholes," expressions of bigotry? According to Caryl M. Stern, ADL's associate national director (and no relation to the author), the answer is yes.

Using rather clever definitional contortions, these tolerance and oppression experts found ways to absolve those that make bigoted statements about Republicans en masse from the charge of bigotry. Their arguments are predictable. [Their reasoning:] Unlike women, African-Americans or homosexuals, Republicans have chosen to be Republicans; one cannot be bigoted towards a group that is self-selecting.

Republicans do not stand to be hurt by bigoted activity. Since the derogatory words do not trigger actual harmful behavior towards Republicans (who clearly can look after themselves), there is no bigotry. No harm, no foul.
However, his argument seriously derails when he begins offering explanations for why Liberals make these types of bigoted generalities:

"The bigotry of America's Left-leaning intelligentsia is based upon cold logic that unfolds in the following predictable, if venal, fashion: I'm very smart. I'm well educated. So are most of my friends. I give generously to liberal causes. I'm a kind and caring human being. I defer to nobody in my exemplary set of values. I care about equality. I believe in a just society. These values are integrated into the core of who I am. I work diligently to teach these values unto my progeny. And these are just the values that, generally speaking, have been represented by the policies and actions of the Democratic Party.


In short, the justification for bigoted comments directed at those with whom the educated Left disagrees politically is based on two foundations: 1) We're a lot smarter than they are; and 2) We're better people than they are. That logic leads to three inescapable conclusions: We're right. They're wrong. QED: All Republicans are assholes.
He then ends his discussion with the impression that it's part of the Democratic/Liberal philosophy that causes them to be bigoted toward Republicans, and implies that is the rule rather than the exception.

Earlier in the article, he mentions a private game he used to play:

"When somebody makes a prejudicial comment about Republicans in my presence, I play a private game. I replay the sentence in my mind—only I substitute a word like "black" or "lesbian" or "Mexican" in place of the word "Republican." In performing this verbal sleight-of-hand, it becomes increasingly apparent that the speaker of the sentence may harbor views not generally considered to be tolerant or open-minded.
Unfortunately, his big mistake is not also substituting the word "Democrat" or "Liberal" for Republican - because that is also an unfortunate reality that a lot of people have to deal with, especially living in East Tennessee. I would bow to SouthKnoxBubba to outline the instances and reasons why Republicans can be and are bigoted toward Democrats, but I think it would ultimately be fruitless - you see, it's the same all over. It boils down to, "I'm better than you, and your ideas are garbage. Therefore you suck, and my friends think so, too, and it's accepted by our culture and our social circles to say so."

In exposing the bigotry he is confronted with and not looking at the other side, Mr. Stern engages in bigotry of his own.

You can see this extends to all forms of bigotry: racism, homophobia, sexism, politicism - it's all the same. I Am Better Than You, and I'm not going to let you forget it.

I can't count the times I've hesitantly turned on Limbaugh/Hannity/Medved/Godhelpme-Savage (hey - I try to keep an open mind), then quickly turned the station after some venemous diatribe against "thu lib'rals". If they'd been talking about blacks, they would've been kicked off the air - but it's allowed because: a) it builds ratings, and b) the stations, their managers and their sponsors tacitly agree with them. And it's not just national radio either - Tony Basilio, a local sports talk/novice political pundit and his cohorts do the same thing. I've blogged about their Dixie Chick "protest" before. In this part of the country, it's tolerated just like the "n" word was tolerated even 50 years ago because too many people believe in it.

I offer these examples from my own experience, but the point is this: It's not a Democrat thing - it has nothing to do with the ideals of the "Left-Leaning intelligensia". It's not a Republican thing - it has nothing to do with the ideals of the "Knee-jerk right-wingers with low IQ's". It's a nasty stain of human nature that a lot of people - Republican, Democrat, black, white, male, female, gay, straight, Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Pagan - have thankfully come to recognize. Unfortunately, there's not enough yet, and we haven't progressed quite enough as a society or as a species to look beyond political differences.

Witness political bickering in Congress. Almost every case of partisanship on the rampage is this same type of bigotry: "My team's better than your team, I'm better than you, and I'm going to win." And of course, rarely does anything get done that reflects a true concensual view. Whichever party has the most seats usually wins, because most members of the party vote how the party wants them to.

Maybe one day we'll grow up. I hope so, because I want my kids to inherit a world where this is the last real popular bigotry.

Always Looking on the Cynical Side of Life

Bill Hobbs apparently woke up on the cynical side of the bed this morning. Case in point:

"Look At Me! Look at Me! I'm Still Relevant!"

"Thus whineth Al Gore. If a past-his-political-prime tree-hugger mouths off in a press release, does anyone care to hear it?"
The link is to this article:

Gore opposes Midstate uranium enrichment plant

"Former Vice President Al Gore took a public stand today against a $1.1 billion uranium enrichment plant proposed for Middle Tennessee.

''I have been involved for nearly 30 years in the discussion about nuclear energy as a sustainable energy future and I can say with no hesitation that this facility is not in the best interest of Middle Tennessee,'' Gore said in a prepared statement released late this afternoon."
The article continues to explain Gore's interest in the matter, mainly that he still owns land in Smith County, right next door to Trousdale County where the plant is proposed to be built. He has also for years, as we all know, been a champion for environmental services - dating back to his Senatorial days and beyond.

Bill updates his original post to hint that polls are suggesting Gore would return to a large popularity if he decided to run again in 2004. "Look at Me! Look at Me!" indeed."


Like so many other pundits, he believes any headline in which Gore or Clinton is mentioned or quoted is a blatant, calculated bid for political relevency. It doesn't really matter what the story says, as long as any former political adversary reemerges into the public eye, it must be solely politically motivated. defines "cynic" as:

cyn·ic n.
  1. A person who believes all people are motivated by selfishness.
  2. A person whose outlook is scornfully and often habitually negative.
  3. Cynic A member of a sect of ancient Greek philosophers who believed virtue to be the only good and self-control to be the only means of achieving virtue.

Source: The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition
Copyright © 2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.

Websters says, "cynic: Given to sneering at rectitude and the conduct of life by moral principles; disbelieving in the reality of any human purposes which are not suggested or directed by self-interest or self-indulgence; as, a cynical man who scoffs at pretensions of integrity; characterized by such opinions; as, cynical views of human nature.
Source: Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary, © 1996, 1998 MICRA, Inc.

While it's important to be aware of people who are trying to lead us down the wrong path, at least they should be given the benefit of the doubt until proven otherwise. We're all human.

More New Members of the Rocky Top Brigade

Welcome to Dingbust, Rushlimbaughtomy (another Barry), A Smoky Mountain Journal, AlphaPatriot, and Resonance.

Ok, I'm out of the closet now - Dingbust has shown me the light. I don't drink, and could care less about the quest for the perfect single malt Scotch whiskey for under $20....I want a vanilla malt! I feel so free!!!

Oh, and for those who read Rushlimbaughetoereteajtoetomey (whatever) and if and when he comments around the RTB - remember, there's liberal and then there's Liberal. Hey, I'm just sayin', so there's no confusion. ;)

Final thought - is it just me, or is the RTB starting to look like one big mega-Crossfire episode?

UPDATE:Also welcome Frank Cagle of News Sentinel/Van Hilleary/Knoxville Government/WNOX Newstalk 990 fame.

Discrimination? What Discrimination?

Clayton Cramer points out a first hand experience by Eric Muller regarding one of the historic simulations presented at Colonial Williamsburg. Having spent a week there almost this exact time last year (oh, to have been blogging then - what stories I could have shared...), this immediately piqued my interest.

Start here and scroll up (and read the comments) - he has several other posts on the the subject.

My take, and this seems to agree with some of his commenters: While the actor/bailiff was in character in enforcing the rules of the reenactment, it seems that if a tourist who didn't fit the criteria for a justice (ie, he wasn't white, male, Protestant, or old enough) but really wanted to participate would be allowed to. I think the bailiff character set out the rules and mistook Eric's admittance of being Jewish as turning down the offer in character and continued on. If Eric had said, "I'm Jewish, but I'd really like to participate anyway" I would imagine the bailiff would have let him do so.

Our experiences in Colonial Williamsburg were wonderful, although the sweltering 100+ degree heat of the afternoon we spent there made it less than ideal.

Thursday, May 29, 2003

New Recruits for the Rocky Top Brigade

Welcome to BusyMom and Les Jones as they join the ranks of the Rocky Top Brigadiers.

Check them out - early and often!

NASA and the No-Win Scenario

Kobayashi Maru "No Win" Scenario Debated at NASA

"Star Trek movie series fans will recall the Kobayashi Maru scenario when Star Fleet Cadet James T. Kirk beat the "no win" and cheated what was otherwise a certain virtual reality simulated death.

Kirk reprogrammed the simulation computers --- he cheated the Star Fleet Academy death simulation earning him a commendation for original thinking instead of expulsion and reprimand. But that was science fiction.... in reality there is the Columbia scenario.


Should NASA train astronauts with the Kobayashi Maru?

The ill-fated de-orbit catastrophic loss of the US Space Shuttle Columbia is causing many inside and outside the space agency to make a serious judgment call on human life. And not how to find it or even save it, but how best to train to end it.

Should American astronauts be informed that the chances of their safe return to Earth are nil --- their real "Kobayashi Maru? " Should the astronaut training program train with certain death virtual simulations?"

I think the arguments for informing the crew far outweigh the arguments against. In another interesting parallel, in this case the needs of the few outweigh the needs of the many....

Wednesday, May 28, 2003

To Mayor, or not to Mayor?

OK, all you folks in the Knox County area. I know I've been out of pocket on and off the last few weeks, but someone tell me this:

When did the office of Knox County Executive change to the title "Mayor"? All of a sudden County Executive Mike Ragsdale is Knox County Mayor Mike Ragsdale?

What was the genesis behind this change? Who gets to make it? As the holder of the highest public office in the county, can the County Exec/Mayor change his own title? Is it up to County Commission? Or does it require a state mandate?

And on a personal note, the term "Mayor" just doesn't fit the concept of a county. Mayor should denote leadership of a municipality, a primarily urban area with surrounding suburbs. To be sure, Knox County contains Knoxville but it also contains Farragut, an incorporated town of its own right.

It just sounds very odd, and seems to invite confusion with the position of the Mayor of Knoxville. When someone said "the Mayor" did this, you knew it was the Mayor of Knoxville, and when they said "the County Executive" did that, you knew it was Knox County. Now both will require qualifications when used.

See what happens when my attention is distracted? Things just go downhill.... But I'm going to pay attention from now on, so pardon me while I go watch UT play in the College World Series.

Here and There

Light entries the last few days. I was hit by a stomach bug the end of last week, then my little girl got sick and that shot Memorial Day...

Everyone's more or less better now, thank you.

Thursday, May 22, 2003

Volunteer Tailgate Party - Vol. III

Manish at Damn Foreigner has the 3rd Volunteer Tailgate Party, a bi-weekly compilation of the best and brightest blatherings of the Rocky Top Brigade. Check it out.

President Palmer

What the US needs is President David Palmer from 24. Smart, decisive, fair, merciful,

That Dastardly Cable Communication Plot - Or Is It?

Bill Hobbs, Rich Hailey, Instapundit and South Knox Bubba have been bouncing around this communications bill the Tennessee legislature (SB 213 and HB 457) is considering. It's been panned by the Consumer Electronic Association (CEA), Philips, and Sharp Electronics.

Rich says:

"Let's think about what this actually says. Any device that can connect to a communication services without the consent of the service is unlawful. That includes everything folks! Can a VCR acquire a cable signal without the consent of the transmitter. You betcha! It would be unlawful under this definition. Same for a Tivo. Heck, it's the same for a home theater sound system."
Bill says:

"Under HB 457 and SB 213, if the cable company or telecom does not expressly authorize you to connect a device to their service, the legal inference is automatically created that you intended to defraud the service provider. What follows could then be civil and/or criminal legal proceedings against you."
Glennapundit says:

"As I wrote in my TechCentralStation column yesterday, this kind of legislation undercuts FCC Chairman Michael Powell's argument that the openness of the Internet means that we don't need to worry about media concentration. If Powell were busy defending the Internet against this sort of intrusion, I'd feel a lot better about his claims."
But then Bubba sez:

"So what's the big deal? All this does is provide better protection for phone companies, cable companies, and ISPs from theft of their services by hackers and crackers and other criminals.

There is NOTHING in the proposed changes that would outlaw home networks, smart refrigerators, and so on. There is NOTHING that would make it illegal under state law to hook up one or more computers through a cable modem without notifying your cable company. That would depend on your cable company's terms of service."
Ok. At the surface, this is all seems just a bit silly. It appears likely to me the law was designed to do exactly what it seems: to keep people from illegally recieving cable services by hijacking a line. Clearly that would be "without the consent of the service".

To infer that a TV, cable box, or even a Tivo, home stereo or an XBox could be considered an "unlawful communication device" would negate the purpose of cable in the first place. When you sign up for cable service, wouldn't the cable company expect you to actually use it? What possible purpose would there be to prohibit devices from using the cable? It'd be like the phone company outlawing phones. I think regardless whether or not the measure passes, if the cable industry were actually to invoke such restrictions it would be a PR nightmare for them, plus if they tried to outlaw ownership of Tivo's in favor of a home-grown system...well, you think Microsoft had problems....

Hrmmm, those guys can punt this around all day if they like - I just find it interesting that three conservative bloggers - Rich, Bill and Insta - are concerned it will curtail some of our electronic freedoms, while the liberal blogger - Bubba - thinks it's being blown out of proportion. I haven't seen it mentioned on other blogs, so I may not have enough of a baseline to draw a conclusion, but it seems pretty much status quo: Conservatives expect the worst from people and organizations, but prepare for it; liberals expect the best from people and organizations but are slow to recognize deception. Which is better? Depends on the circumstances. (It would've been interesting to see a couple of the guys take opposite opinions on this issue).

It seems our key argument here is: Ok, if the bills pass the cable industry might have the right to make certain access devices illegal. The question is: would they? Yes or no, you decide - just don't base your opinion because of which side of the aisle you sit.

UPDATE: Bubba publishes a novel on his latest research in cable anti-theft legislation. Pull up a chair for this one - I think he's been channeling Steve Den Beste.

Wednesday, May 21, 2003

Some Random Thoughts on my Trip to Las Vegas

  1. Spectacle, spectacle, spectacle. I do loves spectacle. Erupting volcanoes, dancing fountains, pirate ship attacks, scale replicas of the Eiffel Tower, Empire State Building, Statue of Liberty... There was a 3-D IMAX ride that took you to the heart of Atlantis, starring the (late, sadly) Michael Jeter that was a complete hoot - plus the fantastic animatronic show outside the theatre was amazing: live fire and water effects, multi-media, the works. I get such a kick out of attractions with imagination, like the better rides at the Disney parks, or Busch Gardens. If I ever had a chance to work as a designer of those types of attractions I'd jump at the chance, except of course it's a nightmare being a Disney Imagineer these days under Uncle Mikey.

  2. I've never before been that far west - it was surreal seeing an interstate sign that said: Las Vegas (--> This Way), Los Angelas (<-- That Way). Also, it was the first time I'd been in the Pacific Time Zone. It was incredibly odd walking around at 9pm, knowing my family and much of the rest of Knoxville had been in bed for a couple of hours. Plus I kept waking up at 4:30am, at 5:30am, etc.

  3. I was under the impression the lunar eclipse on Thursday would last only a few minutes, and was seriously bummed at about 8:15 and realized the moon was on the opposite side of the hotel we were eating dinner in. However, it lasted much longer and we got to see it as we walked down the strip. Flawlessly clear sky. What was most striking that in the midst of all that artificial spectacle, floating above it all was something only nature could provide. Wish I'd had a camera, I had a perfect shot lined up. Oh well, at least I remember it.

  4. Being without an internet connection was nigh upon unbearable. I don't own a laptop, nor do I have access to one at work. Amazingly, at an Intranet Communications conference there was nobody with an internet connection hooked up that I could find. WebTV was available in the hotel room at Caesar's Palace, but it was expensive - and the Business Center was even more so, plus I didn't have expenses allowed for it. So, half watching CNN Headline News Friday morning while I dressed, I noticed in the crawl: "Tennis Ball sized hail strikes Knoxville". I was unable to find out any details until I got home.

  5. The food is incredible. With so many restaurant choices available, it was hard to choose. My coworker who was with me is a vegetarian, so it was tough for her to find things but she did ok.

  6. Boobies everywhere. Everywhere you look - boobies! And some even had clothes covering them! No, just kidding. Actually the cocktail waitresses - while fairly scantily dressed - were not as skimpy as I had imagined. Walking down the Strip, young Mexican teens hovered everywhere handing out visually explicit pamphlets and...well, I call them trading cards - they weren't, but you get the picture - to passersby. I guess whatever makes you a buck.

  7. Got zapped by the old sensor wand on my way home - apparently there are metal supports in my shoes, and the metal detector at the LV airport didn't like it very much. They took my shoes, searched them for bombs/weapons/spy phones, injected a tracking device in them by order of Homeland Security and sent me on my merry way. Hmmph. Quite embarrasing. Least they could've done was buy me dinner.
Well, that's it. I have more stories if anyone wants to hear something specifically - especially the one about how my coworker was fooled into, can't tell that one - she reads my blog :)

Tuesday, May 20, 2003

It All Comes Down to this

The season finale of "24" is on tonight. There's been a nuclear bomb detonated on US soil, the country is rioting, the president's been deposed, the ex-first lady's been stabbed, we're about to attack three Middle Eastern Countries, and it's time for the Jack Bauer Power Hour. He's survived a plane crash, a nuclear blast, near-fatal torture and is in the middle of having a heart attack....Even if you haven't seen an episode of the series before, tape the other half of the "Hitler" biopic and watch "24". You'll be glad to you did.

My bet for those in the know: We'll see Nina before the hour is over. Just what was that scar on her back all about anyway?

UPDATE: Three things I learned from tonight's finale:
  1. Be forgiving to your traitorous turncoat advisors.
  2. Use two-team snipers
  3. Always use HandiwipesTM after shaking hands with strangers.
This is what is officially called a Holy Crap Ending.....

More Things in Heaven and Earth

Newly discovered (by me, at least) blogger Michael Totten has a great discussion on the true "idiotarians" - they're on either side, and they're each more idiotic than the other. Here's a sample:

"There has been a lot of talk in the blogosphere about idiotarians. They are people motivated primarily by conspiracy theories and hate. They are the jerks with a pathological hatred of George Bush; the hilarious and self-mocking Bush=Hitler crowd. They are also the creeps who have such a vein-popping hatred of liberalism they think God ordered the September 11 attacks to punish us for gay sex and feminism. They blame all the world’s woes on Americans and Jews. Just get rid of Jews, Americans, Republicans, liberals, gays, whatever, and everything will be instantly perfect."
You see, that's all I'm sayin'.

You don't have to be Democrat or Republican (or Libertarian or Green or...) to get sucked into political dogma. It can happen to anyone. But it seems to me that the more absolutely certain you are of the validity and veractiy of your own argument, the better chance that you may actually be wrong.

Far Righters and Far Lefters are convinced their philosophies are absolutely correct, and there is no margin for error. One obvious place this manifests itself is in Conservative Christians, of which we've seen many examples.Now, I'm a Christian but I'm not hardly conservative - I read the Bible, and I believe God's Word but I decide for myself based on the teachings of people I respect. I'm not spoon-fed ideas that would cause me to bash young Pagan girl's into school lockers because they're not Christian. I don't berate them for not believing the same thing I do. I think everyone's free to believe what they want, as long as they let me believe what I want.

It's the same on the Left, as well. You don't hear it much anymore, but how many environmentalists have chained themselves to trees to protest logging, or driven metal spikes into the trees to destroy cutting equipment (and injure and kill workers)? How many threw themselves in front of advancing US forces in Iraq, to protect a devilish regime - simply because to them violence was not an option?

Michael also says:

"Unlike Democrats and Republicans, anti-idiotarians have no party line. Rather, anti-idiotarianism is a disposition, a state of mind. Anti-idiotarians reject conspiracy theories, hatred, bigotry, and stupidity. They reject dogma, including that of the people they vote for. They reject the cult of terror-apologism, anti-Americanism, anti-Semitism, and general illiberalism. They span the political aisle and dismiss the political margins. They are comfortable with disagreement and have no time for partisan ferrets."
I think the only hope we really have is if more people break free of the hold that the extremes have on them. Life is not black and white, it's many colors and shades - only by recognizing and accepting the possibilities that you might not be exactly correct can we ever learn anything and move forward.

""There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy."

--From Hamlet, Prince of Denmark - 1601 - Act I. - Scene 5.

Sunday, May 18, 2003

The Illustrious News Sentinel Article

Thanks anyway. Apparently I didn't seem to make the cut, even though I sent in my answers.

Here's the text of my response, for what it's worth...

I'm doing a story on bloggers post-war. They got a boost during the war but where do they go from here?

Since blogging was active long before the war, I think they need to continue to do what they have been doing - keep bringing stories into the light that may have been otherwise buried, continue the healthy debates between all sides, and most of all keep improving this new art of internet communication and sharing of ideas. I can't count the number of opinions, controversies, and other pieces of information that have been bounced from blog to blog - discussed, picked apart, added to and clarified by the collective minds and life experiences of the writers. In doing so, information is shared to more people than ever before and more people are enlightened about the world around them.

When we know each other better, we're stronger than when we keep our opinions and knowledge to ourselves. In a lot of cases I've found our offline peer groups tend to think just like us, and conversations and discussions may not offer a lot of insight to a problem. On the web, you have thousands of people with vastly different experiences, backgrounds and points of view that can add their own selves to the issues. That's important to seeing all sides and understanding that we may not always see eye to eye, we have to work together to solve our problems.

Also, TN is well represented in The Truth Laid Bear Blogoshpere Ecosystem, which as you know ranks blogs based on links. Why are we apparently so active in blogging? Is the fiercely independent nature of our state, especially ET?

That's a good question, and it's one I've asked myself. As most people know, East Tennessee has a history of conservative politics and thinking. The mix of ET bloggers, especially those in the Rocky Top Brigade, is very healthy on all areas of the spectrum - right, left, middle...some we're not sure where they are :) When a society has strong traditions attached to it - family, religion, manners, etc - sometimes people need a sounding board or a method to express themselves that might not be encouraged otherwise. I think ET is a prime place for this, because we have so many creative people who (like me) have been brought up in the genteel Southern tradition to "not make waves", "don't rock the boat", "clean up your room"....weblogs are an outlet to express ourselves that is civil (mostly), organized, and still community based.

ET was built on communities, and I think some of us recognize the importance of it and extend it online. We have "Blogger Bashes" where we'll meet for dinner every once in a while. Some of us know each other offline, some don't, but when one's in trouble the others come to their aid. We recently had a member of the RTB that lost her brother, and was grief-stricken. She doesn't live in ET (she has ET connections, however), but a number of us offered support on her blog until she was able to return to posting. East Tennessee is a community, and we've taken the best part of that and offered it to the rest of the country, through our own daily accounts.

East Tennesse has family, it has concern, it has community and it cares - that's what it's about.

Feel free to add any other thoughts and observations you have.

I hope people that have not read weblogs realize that a) we don't talk solely about war and politics, and b) we don't just post daily observations about our cats. Everybody has their own life experiences, and we all want to make the world a better place for everyone to live. If by bringing attention to issues that need to be addressed, and offering opinions and possible solutions to them in a form that's accessible to everyone, then we've improved our world a little bit.

Still Solvent

I'm back, and I didn't lose the house. Las Vegas is amazing, and I'd like a job designing some of those multi-media, multi-everything attractions...

Lost a grand total of about $4, ate at some great restaurants, learned little from the conference. All in all a great trip!

Tuesday, May 13, 2003

So Long, Screwy! See ya in St. Looey!

Back Saturday. Ya'll don't go nowhere, k?

Seeking Tennessee Bloggers

From Bill Hobbs at HobbsOnline A.M.TM :

"Michael Silence, a reporter at the Knoxville News Sentinel, a reporter who seems to "get" blogging, is looking for Tennessee bloggers for a story about blogging. His email address is"
I sent Michael a note with my so-called "blogging philosophy", which I'll try to post in its entirety when I get back this weekend. He seems like a pretty nice guy, and I enjoyed corresponding with him.

Alleged Coed Slayer May Have Been a Blogger

In the 5/13 Knoxville News Sentinel:

Clues sought on Web site: 'Life' essay, photos posted by slaying suspect on Internet

"When Aaron Lee Skeen allegedly decided to post an essay online during the past year, he decided to title it "Why I Hate My Life."

Skeen, 20, is accused of kidnapping, raping and murdering University of Tennessee student Sandy Jeffers, 25, last week.

According to Blount County Sheriff James Berrong, authorities are looking at the Web site as part of their investigation with the Maryville Police Department into Jeffers' death."
The article doesn't give his website address, or even its name, but I tried every Google combination I could think of and came up with nothing. Since many bloggers don't use their real names, there wasn't much use concentrating on that anyway.

Still, it's interesting, and food for thought - what you type today can always come back to haunt you in the future. Hopefully nobody who reads my blog, or whose blog I read will commit homicide, but remember when you're commenting that if their site comes under investigation you could be contacted.

Now, since nobody has anything to worry about from me - comment away!

UPDATE: Ok, the lousy skunk SayUncle found the pages. Their just personal websites, not blogs, but you can look in the comments to see the links. Scary stuff, and once again begs the question - did nobody that knew this guy recognize what he was?

My New Favorite Blogger

Michael Totten has a great weblog. He seems to be fighting the same fight I'm currently thrashing around with: that of a liberal who's constantly ashamed of the actions and philosophies of the far left-wing, and bewildered and bemused by the actions of the far-right. He recently posted an examination of the differences between conservatives and liberals entitled "Builders and Defenders", which has gotten a lot of blogplay. Read it, and read as many of the followups and commentaries as you can. It's a great start to what I feel could be a fascinating and fruitful discussion.

Thanks to Donald Sensing of One Hand Clapping for bringing him to my attention.

Now This Explains Everything...

Typing Monkeys Don't Write Shakespeare

Now the truth can be told who designed the websites for Aint-it-Cool-News and The Drudge Report.

Monday, May 12, 2003

Light Blogging this week

....because I leave Wednesday morning for Las Vegas on business. I don't know if I'll have internet access there (I don't have a laptop) so there probably won't be any on-location blogging.

I will, however, post something if I have a William Bennett sighting.

UPDATE: I'm planning on doing the Star Trek Experience Wednesday night, but other than that is there an attraction that simply must be seen? I know there's a pirate show outside one hotel somewhere.

I am not seeing Celine Dion, although it would be a good concert. She's playing at the brand new Colosseum at Caesar's Palace where I'll be staying.


I am actually going on business - a 2-day Internal and Employee Communications Seminar. Lest any of you think there's to be any pleasure on this trip. Ha! I laugh, ha!

Oh wait...Siegfried and Roy!

Thursday, May 08, 2003

Salam Pax - real or not?

Ok, ok. I'm the only one maintaining the lonely vigil suggesting he's an imaginative fabrication. But says this:

In his recent posts, Pax names someone who could identify him: He writes about interviewing with John F. Burns, a veteran reporter with The New York Times, to be a translator.

Pax's account of the interview at the Meridian Hotel in Baghdad details a long conversation on topics ranging from architecture in Beirut, Lebanon, to Iraqi reconstruction. Pax didn't get the job, but apparently Burns signed a note written on the newpaper's stationery that certified Pax and a friend who accompanied him were "good."

At press time, Burns hadn't responded to a request for comment.
If John Burns confirms this, then I'll be happy to believe it. Until then....still waiting for proof.

P.S. - to some of my fellow liberals out there, that's what would be called having an open mind. Just in case you missed it. Actually, that would apply to some conservatives, too. Boy I'm alienating everyone today!

Here's a more pleasant thought - Butterfly Meadows...aaaaahhhh...

Bill Hobbs, wunderblogger

Bill Hobbs of HobbsOnline evidently has the blogosphere enraptured today because of his refutation of Bush's AWOL record. He's been Instapundited not once but twice, plus numerous other references on other sites. I have no opinion either way, really...

I just would like for Bill to join the mainstream and put comments on his site so people can publicly refute or support some of his claims. I know Glenn's style of blogging doesn't really lend itself to regular commenting, but he's the only one I've seen besides Bill who doesn't use them - and Bill's style does suggest commenting. Not that he's reading my site, anyway, but hey - Bill - wassup?

Dixie Chick "Protest" Update

Dixie Chicks protesters cluck their disapproval - Fans refuse to be egged on at demonstration hatched by radio host
"Most concertgoers smiled or simply ignored the protest, which was held by the entrance ramp at the east end of the arena."
No word as to when people will start boycotting the radio station that inspired the protest.

Here's an exercise for you: see how many quotes you can find from people during 1992-2000 who said they were ashamed to be from Arkansas. You can probably find dozens of examples if internet records went back that far, but even if you could you wouldn't find any so-called "patriots" protesting against their businesses and ways of life for "disrespecting the presidency". Heck, it was a popular Republican party game to disrespect the presidency back then.

I love this quote:

"A 20-ish guy with a crew cut and a "USMC" T-shirt was among the ticket dumpers. He wouldn't give his name and declined to be interviewed. But he may have spoken for some fans disappointed in the Chicks' stance when he said: "I'd be going in there if they hadn't ran their mouths."

Wednesday, May 07, 2003

A Local Gang of Idiots

Seems like local sports talk show braintrust Tony Basilio and his usual gang of mouthbreathers are planning to set up shop this afternoon outside Thompson Boling Arena and protest/heckle people coming in for the Dixie Chicks concert tonight.

Yesterday on his radio show people were calling in offering to bring signs and even bragging about whatever misshapen poetry they're planning to write on them to try and convince concertgoers that the Dixie Chicks are nothing more than nasty skanks (their words).

Interesting. An American is exercising his rights to freedom of speech (and freedom of assembly) to protest another American practicing her right to free speech.

Let me get this straight: All one of them said was that she was ashamed the President was from Texas like her? Is there something more she said that I just missed to elicit all this anti-Dixie Chick controversy? Does anybody out there actually agree with their sentiments?

Freedom of Speech is great, as long as you say what I want you to say.

Tuesday, May 06, 2003

What ever happened to...

  • That Afghan convoy we were supposed to be closing in on that supposedy was carrying Osama Bin Laden a week or so before the Iraqi War started? We were getting closer...and closer...and closer...and nothing.
  • The THP Deputy that shot the dog in Cookeville? Was anything ever done to reprimand him?
  • The Anthrax attack investigation?
  • Khalid Sheikh Mohammed? Did he ever give us anything useful?
  • My musical career--oh, wait, that's personal. Never mind.
  • Patriot Act II - is there a SINGLE PERSON in America that's in favor of this besides Ashcroft? I've never seen a single news item, editorial, column, pundit or blogger come up with a defense of this....
  • Oh, yeah - Salam Pax. Still hasn't turned up, hm? Interesting with restoration of power and internet access in Baghdad he hasn't contacted any of those friends he was in contact with earlier....right.
I just hate loose threads....

UPDATE - SayUncle mentions that Salam Pax's site was updated -- just today (5/7/03)! Somebody must have been listening... I'm still not convinced he's on the level - so far it's just words on a screen (although I haven't read all his 15 new posts that just appeared).

Why We Can't Let Go

South Knox Bubba has a great outline of the evidence supporting the fact the 2000 presidential election was not legit. There are a lot of good comments back and forth on both sides.

Here's my take, since my comments would likely get lost in the shuffle, and hey...who reads this blog anyway?

What conservatives will never understand is that a lot of people believe there was a terrible, illegal, unjust and conspiratorial based coup to win the presidency in 2000. It may not have been planned "en tota" the way it came off, but SKB and others feel a lot of circumstances fell the right way to allow them the opportunity to manipulate the results. There are also people who believe Democrats and others should just "get over it", and "move on", and "let it go".

No one should EVER get over this kind of thing, if it isn't answered to their satisfaction. This isn't sour grapes, it's not partisan bickering, it's not whining or crying for God's sake it's the LEADERSHIP OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.

Asking anyone to "let it go" is like asking a Kuwaiti in 1990 to forget about the Iraqi invasion and just "let it go". Asking someone to "get over it" is like asking a woman who's been raped to just "get over it". Asking someone to "move on" is like asking an Enron stockholder who's lost his life savings after the brass steal the big bucks to just "move on".

If Gore had done the same thing to GWB, and the same ambiguity and evidence pointed to wrong-doing on his, his family's, and his party's part I would be just as upset because there are things that should go beyond self-righteous bickering, and that is integrity, honesty, and doing what's right and just.

And you want us to just "let it go"...geez..

Reporting Live from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea...

A quick tour round the Rocky Top Brigade offer many insights and commentary into how Tennesseeans deal with storms and bad weather.

Monday, May 05, 2003

My True Feelings

I just want to say to all those out there who love sitting on the porch, listening to the sounds of a thunderstorm as it comes across the valley, reveling in the cool breezes and soft air while nature's fireworks light up the sky to the wonderment and majesty of it all....


I hate storms. I hate lightning, I hate thunder, I hate the vaguest threat of tornadoes, I hate strong rain, I hate driving in it, I hate listening to it, I hate losing power, losing cable, losing internet access, I hate it I hate it I hate it.

I hope I've made myself clear. We now return you to your regularly scheduled assault from the depths of hell.

Please Remember

Tornados kill at least 14 in Jackson, TN

"Several tornadoes and heavy winds killed at least 14 people in Madison County. The fatalities were reported in rural Denmark in the southwest part of the county, to Lincoln Courts and Parkview Courts in the heart of Jackson.
My wife and her parents are all from Jackson, and she still has dozens of relatives and friends there. So far, none of them appear to have been injured.

I hate tornadoes.

A Couple Years Too Late...

'Virtual' colonoscopy wins patent

"A "virtual" colonoscopy could take some of the angst out of what is often a rude procedure."
Oh, sure. NOW they come up with this....

So Tired...So Desperately Tired

Company is over, final performance was yesterday afternoon after a three-show weekend. Drove directly from there to children's choir rehearsal at my church for 1-1/2 hours, then to the ballpark for a long softball practice.


Friday, May 02, 2003

Today is our Independence Day!

Commander in Chief lands on USS Lincoln

"President Bush made a landing aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln Thursday, arriving in the co-pilot's seat of a Navy S-3B Viking after making two fly-bys of the carrier.

[...]"Yes, I flew it. Yeah, of course, I liked it," said Bush, who was an F-102 fighter pilot in the Texas Air National Guard after graduating from Yale University in 1968."
Well, this is a big comfort to me now. In case the Earth ever gets invaded by aliens, we actually do have a Commander-In-Chief who can defend us flying a fighter jet.

Randy Quaid, call your service.

P.S. Ok, call me a geek. Every time I see that movie, I tear up at Bill Pullman's rally speech to the pilots and troops near the end....*sniff*