Shots Across the Bow

A Reality Based Blog

 
Wednesday, April 30, 2003

The first rose of spring

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Sometimes, you just have to stop and smell the roses.

I can't believe this bush came back. It died back to the ground last year after a disastrous attempt at pruning. Nature is certainly resilient.

Posted by Rich
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Knoxville Radio

You know, we have it pretty good here, despite a lot of complaints. Yes, we have our generic syndicated stations, playing all the latest crap pouring out of Hollywood, prepackaged for mind-numbing hours of drool-inducing listening, interspersed with adds for the latest sugar infested treat or designer tampons and what-not. Star 102.1 and B97.5 spring to mind

We have our university station, carrying NPR and classical music, where all the DJ's sound like they're on tranqs and decaf, unable to get excited about anything.

We also have the "Classic Rock" stations who've kept the same play list for the last 30 years, although the DJ's have changed, the music hasn't.

Before I joined the Navy in 1984, I used to listen to WIMZ. They played the best mix of rock, carrying all the latest cuts. When I came back to Knoxville in 1995, they were still playing the exact same songs.

The word pathetic springs to mind.

Then there's 104.5 The Bone where you can practically hear the mullets growing.

So that's the downside of Knoxville radio. But there is an upside.

We'll start with WDVX, a very small, independent station that plays just about any music under the sun, with a strong leaning towards roots music, Americana, blues, bluegrass, alternative country, and anything else that feels right. You can count on hearing something different there. They are publicly supported, and are setting up a fundraising music festival in my neck of the woods at the Dumplin Valley festival Grounds. A quick look at the acts they have lined up will give you a good idea of what this station is all about.

Next is a long time Knoxville radio station that's recently gone in a new direction. WOKI has become 100.3 The River, and abandoned the classic rock format to bring an eclectic mix of new and old, blues and rock, Americana and reggae to the Knoxville radio scene. Longtime Knoxville DJ Phil Williams returned to radio at the River with new partner Frank Murphy. It's nice to listen to a local morning show, rather than some syndicated zoo that has nothing to do with Knoxville. WOKI brings local programming together with some of the best syndicated programming available. Locally, they produce the Americana Cafe, a weekly tour of the bet and latest offerings in Americana music. Syndicated offereings include Acoustic Cafe, House of Blues Radio Hour, and E-town, all featuring music heard only on the River.

One of the things I like about the station is that they play new music from old artists. For example, Tom Petty's latest album, The Last DJ has gotten extensive airplay.

But the strength of the station is in new music from new artists. Jack Johnson, Norah Jones, Susan Tedeschi, Lucinda Williams, and John Mayer have all been introduced to Knoxville listeners by WOKI. Even better, The River has sponsored concerts by most, if not all of these artists, many of them free.

It doesn't get much better than that.

WDVX and WOKI both support local musicians, providing venues for acts that otherwise would have to rely on word of mouth to get their music out. Both stations have studios that they use for live performances, and sponsor events around town.

Glancing at the AM side of the dial, we have WNOX, Newstalk99. The format is tried and true; news, weather, and sports, with a heavy accent on the sports, please. What's different is that while many talk radio stations have cut down on original programming in favor of syndicated stuff, WNOX has moved in the other direction. Mornings are run by Hallerin Hilton Hill, followed by Frank Cagle for a 6 hour block of local programming. After three hours for Rush Limbaugh, local programming resumes with Sports Talk with John Wilkerson and Jimmy Hyams, then a variety of local shows until 9PM, when syndicated shows take over, including the bizarre but entertaining Coast to Coast AM. If you want to know what is going on in Knoxville, this is the station to turn to.

There may be some other good radio stations out there that I'm not listening to. If so, let me know and I'll give them a chance.

Anything to avoid Britney and Christina, n'sync, and all their clones...

Posted by Rich
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More on SARS

I was listening to NPR on my way into work and they had an update on the SARS epidemic in China. According to the report, Biejing is averaging 100+ new reported cases per day, and that is not counting the cases in rural areas where tracking is scarce. She reported that the mass exodus from Beijing has exported the disease to those rural areas, and new infections are appearing there.

She also brought up an interesting point that the seriousness of the epidemic is in no small part due to the attempts of the Chinese gov't to cover it up.

Also, Fox is reporting that some patients in Hong Kong have suffered relapses after being pronounced recovered.

Here are the latest figures from WHO on the SARS outbreak While the disease appears to have peaked in most areas, it's still roaring through China. I expect that when the full extent of the rural cases is known, the total number of cases will explode upwards. Given that care in rural areas will be significantly less than that in Beijing, we can also expect the death toll to rise.

Posted by Rich
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Monday, April 28, 2003

Living glass

I first learned of Dale Chihuly through Ben, an artist friend of my ex wife. He had taped a special on the artist, and we watched it one night over at his house.

Chihuly turns glass into living, breathing sculptures of light and fantasy.
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Entry to one of his studios.

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Another ceiling installation.

I'm not much of a fan of most modern art; it leaves me cold. I don't know the vocabulary, and too many of today's artists feel insulted if you expect them to provide a glossary. Chihuly makes pieces that grab your eye, and bring you inside the art; he stil,subscribes to the old school, that art is about beauty.

I can get into that.

Take a stroll through his site, and see just how soft and warm cold, hard, glass can be when shaped by a master.

Posted by Rich
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Todays post…

... is over at HobbsOnlineAM. Here's a taste:
A newspaper is supposed to report the news, not distort the news. In a move worthy of the worst of the tabloids, the News-Sentinel took Sen. Burchett's comment out of context, stating that he was calling for the deportation of all who voice their dissent, which simply was not the case. When a journalist slants his coverage so baldly, he sacrifices his credibility, his stock in trade. He causes the paper he works for to lose credibility as well, and once a paper has lost it's credibility, what is it good for?


I write a blog. I am not neutral or unbiased, nor have I ever claimed to be.

But I am honest, a claim which seems to me the News-Sentinel cannot make.

Posted by Rich
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Saturday, April 26, 2003

A puzzle

There are 9 people in the picture below. How many can you find?

9people.jpg


from Grand Illusions

UPDATE: I've added a potential solution in the comments. If you want to solve it on your own, don't read them. If you find something different, let me know...

Posted by Rich
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Friday, April 25, 2003

I’m convinced…

To prove they were sincere in their apologies to President Bush, the Dixie Chicks posed naked on the cover of Entertainment Weekly.

I know I always take women more seriously when they're naked.

Posted by Rich
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More on SARS

Yesterday, I posted a piece making fun of Michael Fumento, who downplayed the significance of SARS. Also yesterday, as part of the Volunteer Tailgate Party, I linked a piece by manish of Damn Foreigner, who argued that SARS is not a significant threat.

Diversity is a wonderful thing, but even more wonderful is the fact that we both are correct.

How?

Well, it's a matter of perspective. My problem with Fumento is he was arguing that the reaction to the SARS outbreak was driven by greed, not any genuine concern, and that SARS was a minor problem. Manish argued that the individual has relatively litle to fear from SARS, at least right now. The two arguments don't conflict, because they are from different perspectives.

Manish argues from the individual point of view. 140 cases out of a population of 4.7 million means that the average person has little to fear. The risk is negligible.

However, from an epidemiological stand point, a virus with a mortality rate of 15% is quite serious indeed. Particularly when the virus mutates as frequently as this one does. While the variants today appear to be diffcult to transmit, that could change quickly, leading to devastation equal to the pandemic of 1918. Therefore SARS is a quite legitimate concern for the WHO and CDC.

It's all in the perspective.

Posted by Rich
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Thursday, April 24, 2003

Volunteer Tailgate Party

Welcome all to the Volunteer Tailgate Party. We hold it every two weeks, rotating among the members of the Rocky Top Brigade, a group of bloggers from Tennessee. We cover the spectrum from political commentary to fine arts, and everything in between. We count lawyers, homemakers, programmers, students, and artists among our members, and while we all share a Tennessee connection, our far flung membership extends from Canada to California, and from East Tennessee to Australia. But enough of my blather; follow the links below and enjoy some of the best of the Rocky Top Brigade. I'll meet you again when you're done.

  • First up is Andrew from Pathetic Earthlings, who shares his thoughts the day after the Columbia broke up.
    For fifty years, engineers could tell us how to get to Mars. But people need to tell the politicians and the contractors why. If one good thing is coming out of Columbia and the loss of her crew, itís that we're ready to tell our politicians: because we can, because itís there, because weíre Americans.

  • Next we have a Southern Belle by the name of deb at Sugarfused. Deb shares her dietary downfall, then cruelly tempts the rest of us to join her.
  • Now we turn to sayuncle, who shares two entries. First, he condenses the conundrum of abortion, then has a brief discussion of The Agonist and plagiarism
  • Next up is Barry, from Inn of the Last Home, who writes a nice piece about overly zealous Christians, who drive people away from the church with their high pressure recruitment.
    [O]ne's decision to become a Christian is always an internal one - you can't be baptized and become a Christian, anymore than taking communion or just attending church - it's a deliberate, personal decision. It can't be coerced, it can't be bargained for, it can't be threatened and it can't be bartered.

    Barry's links may not work (thank you blogspot) If the link fails, go here, then scroll down to April 14.
  • Now we come to Rex Mundi of Damn Art Diary, an artist and teacher to be, who poses a biblical puzzle . Again, if blogspot misbehaves, go here and scroll down to Mysteries of the New Testament
  • Next up is Troy, from Jaded Journal and Troy Sounds Off. Troy shares his feelings immediately after Sept 11, 2001, feelings that are relavent today, as we work towards building a new Iraq
  • Our next contributor is manish from Damn Foreigner, who posts about SARS, and the near panic reaction
  • Next we have the founder of the Rocky Top Brigade, an anonymous gentleman who goes by the name of South Knox Bubba. He favors us with a parody of the newly updated and expanded Patriot Act. At least, I think it's a parody. These days, who can be sure?
  • And last is me, your friend and humble narrator, I'll leave you with this remembrance of Easters past, affectionately called Easter Eggs and Pump Organs


And that's all for this edition, folks. See you again in two weeks.

Posted by Rich
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Fumento strikes again!

Remember Michael Fumento? He's the guy who says the Atkins diet doesn't work.

Well, he's at it again. He now claims that SARS isn't really a threat, that it's a scam to scare up more dollars for biotech companies.
But there's fame, fortune, and big budgets in sounding the "emerging infection" alarm and warning of our terrible folly in being unprepared. The classic example is Ebola virus, which is terribly hard to catch, remains in Africa where it's always been, is now usually non-fatal, and – despite what reporters love to relate – does not turn the victims' internal organs "into mush."

Yet you'd almost swear that every outbreak of Ebola in Africa is actually taking place in Chicago. Laurie Garrett rode Ebola onto the bestseller list and talk show circuit with her book The Coming Plague: Newly Emerging Diseases in a World out of Balance.
Since then, the U.S. government and various universities have also seen these faux plagues as budget boosters. The CDC publishes a journal called Emerging Infectious Diseases, though in any given issue it's hard to find an illness that actually fits the definition.


Apparently, the WHO is jumping on the scam bandwagon.
As a result of ongoing assessments as to the nature of outbreaks of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in Beijing and Shanxi Province, China, and in Toronto, Canada, WHO is now recommending, as a measure of precaution, that persons planning to travel to these destinations consider postponing all but essential travel. This temporary advice, which is an extension of travel advice previously issued for Guangdong Province and Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, China will be reassessed in three weeks time.


As is the Chinese government:
It said all primary and secondary schools in the capital would be closed for two weeks from Thursday, a move which will affect an estimated 1.7 million children.


Armies of disinfection squads in masks and rubber gloves and armed with spray guns spritzed down airports and planes, buses and terminals, trains and stations across the nation.


Earlier, the government shortened its Golden Week holiday in early May to discourage travel and prevent the further spread of SARS. But that will mean far less expenditure during one of the country's most popular vacation times.


Who knew the WHO was in league with the pharmas and biotech companies? To say nothing of the Chinese government which will lose billions in revenues over the SARS flap.

Current WHO estimates assign a mortality rate of 6% to SARS, while Fumento prefers a more conservative 4%. Others put the number much higher, as high as 15-20%, which is comparable to the flu epidemic which killed 20 million in 1918. For the sake of argument,let's use Fumento's number. He implies that 4% isn't all that bad, and that seems reasonable until you look at the the mortality rate in the US for all flu/pneumonia cases, which is .024%. Suddenly, 4% looks a lot bigger.

Fumento passes this off as due to poor healthcare availability, yet Canada is facing a greater than 10% mortality rate, with 15 deaths out of 140 reported cases.

To be fair, Fumento wrote his article before the Chinese gov't came clean and admitted the true extent of the problem, but I haven't seen or heard him issuing any retractions or clarifications.

I'm beginning to think that Fumento takes up a contrarian position reflexively, rather than from conviction. After all, you don't get headlines by agreeing with everybody. I think his credibility ranks right up there with The Center for Science in the Public Interest. They're the geniuses who figured out that fast food is bad for you. On second thought, they were right about that. Fumento slips further down the credibility ladder. Next stop, used car salesmen.

Posted by Rich
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Slow posting today

I'm getting the Volunteer Tailgate Party together. If you haven't sent me an entry yet, hurry!

You don't want to miss it...

Posted by Rich
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Wednesday, April 23, 2003

Get those criminals out of my living room!

Bill Hobbs has a story on a Tennessee version of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act. Apparently, the MPAA isn't satisfied with ramming federal legislation through, they want to hit the states as well.

If you use a firewall, if you archive music, if you listen to CD's on your computer, if you time shift shows off cable or satellite, if you think you have the right to wtch what you want, when you want, and that it is nobody's business what you watch, then you have a stake in stopping this legislation.

I have about 10 gigs of music files on my computer. They come from my CD collection (somewhere north of 300) and my cassette collection (also north of 300, although with some duplicates). Once I get my turntable repaired, I'll archive my albums as well. (Albums were round vinyl discs used to play prerecorded music before CD's took over the market. Ask you dad; he'll tell you all about them. Ask about 8 track tapes too.) These archives are perfectly legitimate under the fair use doctrine. It would also be legit for me to generate new CD mixes using these archives for my personal use.

However, this new legislation will require manufacturers to put security measures in place that would make it impossible. Bill has the links; contact your congress reps and senators and tell them to kill the state DMCA.

Posted by Rich
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Get those criminals off the streets!

Yep, our police force has taken steps to make the streets of Knoxville safer for all of us. They are arresting and jailing parents whose kids skip school.

From KnoxNews.com:
Garren warned the children that they could be charged with truancy if they're 14, 15 or 16 years of age. She also warned parents that they could be summoned to court and put on probation to assure that their children attend school. About two dozen parents have violated that probation and have had to serve five or 10 days in jail, most on the weekends, she said.


The fact that our police spend any time on this, not to mention jail space for the parents, is ludicrous.

With jail space at a premium, shouldn't it be reserved for the ones who need it, you know, murderers, rapists, robbers, investment bankers, and other scum? Why waste a cell on some poor schmuck working two jobs to make ends meet whose kid sneaks out of class?

Yes, parents need to be accountable for the actions of their children, but is jail really the answer?

Posted by Rich
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Tuesday, April 22, 2003

Shots from the home place

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Just thought it was time for something a little different.

"Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it."

There's an easy one for ya Bubba!

Posted by Rich
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A sad day on Rocky Top

Felice Bryant, the lyricist who wrote Rocky Top with her husband Boudleaux, died today.

She and her husband wrote songs for everybody from Buddy Holly to the Grateful Dead. Their music formed the soundtrack of a lot of lives over the years.

She was 77.

Posted by Rich
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