Friday, September 02, 2005

Gas Price Checker

ANOTHER UPDATE -- Checking gas prices online is useless right now, but I will leave this post in place for the other comments I made. Also, if you suspect (as I do) that consumers are being blasted by price gouging at the pumps, you can call this number to report it in Tennessee: 800-342-8385 or 615-741-4737.

UPDATE -- This price checker is still days behind, but I am leaving it in place for now. Prices are about one dollar higher than they were on Monday here in ET. Back when prices only changed once a week, it was more useful in helping you find the lowest prices. Low prices are part of the past.

Just one more note -- I've noticed wide-spread denials already about the dire warnings from the last 2 years concerning much-needed safety improvements in the Gulf Coast requested from FEMA and the U.S. Army Coprs of Engineers. Read the posts from Wednesday to see some of those reports.

I received a link from Mr. Smith down Georgia way a few days ago which can give you info on the prices at the gas pumps near you. Click here. But one note -- they currently show the prices as of Wednesday nite and today those prices are about 50 cents higher or more. It shows you where we were but it is updated overnight and checks some 90,000 stations nationwide.

Not far from me, an independent station and market on Kidwell's Ridge Road, had up a sign a week or so ago that said - "Price of Gas - An Arm and A Leg". Today it reads - "An Arm and A Leg and Your 1st Born." At least we have some humor to go with this enormous increase. Several people I talked to today all say they had gas in the tank, but they 'topped off" just to be sure, which is bound to take a bite out of current supplies.

Camera Obscura

September will see a massive 3 and a half hour documentary by Martin Scorsese on Bob Dylan which goes on sale Sept. 20th and will air on the American Masters series on PBS later in the month. A new bootleg compilation CD goes along with the movie and it sounds most impressive. A concert review last month noted how much more relaxed Bob is on stage these days. The documentary tracks that volatile time in the early 60s when Bob moved from acoustic folk to electrified rock and roll, a change that still generates arguments and debates. I could not name a time when I did not like Dylan's music (well, maybe that gospel period).

Another lost gem from Bob is the movie "Masked And Anonymous," from 2003, which got lousy reviews but holds some fantastic musical numbers. Most critics and fans were befuddled by this one, with Bob as Jack Fate, who is released from a nameless prison in a nameless country engaged in a nameless (and seeminlgy endless) war. A concert-benefit (benefitting who?) is the reason Jack gets out, but he is a stranger in an even stranger land. Pop culture, old hippie culture, celebrity culture all get zapped here. The real meat is served up when Tom Friend (Jeff Bridges), the Eternal Rock and Roll Journalist, gets mean and nasty with Jack about -- well, about Bob Dylan's career. The way Jack/Bob handles Friend is a very telling, autobiographical event. Most viewers will not enjoy it, but for those who know -- it is a fine satire. And a great chance to show off tunes like "Cold Irons Bound."

Strange events are also on hand as Pulitzer-prize winner Sam Shepard continues to make bizarre film appearances (such as this summer's god-awful "Stealth"). Latest news says Sam is co-starring in a new Jesse James pic with Brad Pitt, "The Assassination of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford", and the so-far untitled thriller with Sarah Michelle Gellar (Buffy rules!!), and "Bandidas" with Penelope Cruz and Salma Hayek. In October, "Don't Come Knocking", a film Shepard wrote, directed by Wim Wenders, is set for release.

Looking at Shepard in a cowboy hat reminds me of some reading I've been doing this week, as I have finally started the massive "Dark Tower" series by Stephen King, with the first volume, "The Gunslinger." In the newest edition of the paperback, King intros the story with references to a movie that I'd rank among the best ever made - "The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly." King talks about his first viewing and I remember mine - the enormous landscape of a drive-in theatre welcomed this Sergio Leone movie like a favorite lover. A shoestring-budget, an unforgettable music score, those close-ups on the filthy faces, the epic-scope of a simple treasure-hunt story -- Leone blends all these elements into cinema history. You can taste the sand and smell the tang of gunpowder in the air all thru this bona-fide opera about Greed. Lee Van Cleef is a casual, brutal killer in a way that still shocks audiences. Eli Wallach gives one of his best performances - "When you have to shoot, shoot. Don't talk." (And if you didn't know, Eastwood's character does have a name - Joe.)

Reading King's introduction also reminded me of one of his best works and one of the best books about movies ever published, "Danse Macabre." It's a history of movies and American culture covering about 30 years, from the 50s to the 80s. King takes the reader thru a thrill-ride of horror movies in this excellent volume which should be on every movie lover's shelf.

If you have a movie you'd like to see discussed here, or maybe recommend one for me to review, add it to the comments section. A weekly movie contest on Fridays will begin very soon.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Money Diverted From Disaster Preparations

In 2001, FEMA warned about the reality of weakness in preparation for hurricane damage, especially in New Orleans, ranking it among the three most likely, most catastrophic disasters facing the United States.

Consecutive years of record cuts to programs promoted by the Bush administration which meant full funding of efforts geared for improving levees, and the operations of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers would not occur. The Louisiana probelms were reported.

Yet after 2003, the flow of federal dollars toward SELA (Southeast Louisiana Urban Flood Control Project) dropped to a trickle. The Corps never tried to hide the fact that the spending pressures of the war in Iraq, as well as homeland security -- coming at the same time as federal tax cuts -- was the reason for the strain. At least nine articles in the Times-Picayune from 2004 and 2005 specifically cite the cost of Iraq as a reason for the lack of hurricane- and flood-control dollars."

Additional cuts threaten Tennessee's Nickajack aging dam and lock systems for managing river traffic in the state, which leads to tens of thousands of new 18-wheeler transports annually.

UPDATE: More and more news sites are reprinting and reminding Americans about the steady dismantling of FEMA by the Bush administration. Not to say Bush's policies led to a Hurricane, but programs meant to handle disaster-response and informed development plans in the Gulf coast were abandoned. Now that this lack of planning is helping create gas shortages, I wonder (paranoid me) if this was incompetence or part of a larger effort to destabilize a secure oil industry.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Tennessee's Lyin' Dance

Today's Memphis Commercial Appeal notes the FBI investigation of state government is spreading to the County government level. Can any resident who has followed the state's government be surprised by this? Al least the Memphis paper has been reporting the story!

n an Aug. 9 interview with The Commercial Appeal,[County Commission Chairman] Hooks was asked at least seven times, in a variety of phrasings, if he'd taken money in the E-Cycle sting.
He called the questions "bizarre'' and "ridiculous'' but never denied taking money, and at times, pumped a reporter for details.
"If you know something I don't, you want to tell me?'' he asked."

Maybe we should start calling this TN Waltz investigation the Official State Lyin' Dance.

Between this investigation, the 3 to 4 year investigation into drug trafficking and money laundering by County law enforcement and Police from Putnam to Cocke County dubbed Operation Tarnished Shield, one has to wonder how deep the infection runs thru this state.

FEMA. SKB and Underplanning

Tons of information about relief for victims of this week's Hurricane are concisely provided by R. Neal, aka SKB, at Facing South. Neal points out the valuable Jimmy Carter creation of FEMA in 1979.

President Carter's 1979 executive order merged many of the separate disaster-related responsibilities into a new Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Among other agencies, FEMA absorbed: the Federal Insurance Administration, the National Fire Prevention and Control Administration, the National Weather Service Community Preparedness Program, the Federal Preparedness Agency of the General Services Administration and the Federal Disaster Assistance Administration activities from HUD. Civil defense responsibilities were also transferred to the new agency from the Defense Department's Defense Civil Preparedness Agency."

Much of FEMA today has been side-tracked by Homeland Security issues. However, how the coastlines of the South have never considered major storm damage in their lust for development is just sad. Other stories at Facing South show how Poverty is the constant theme in Southern Economic Development.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Speak Out on TennCare

I noticed on Monday the Hamblen Democrats web page indicates their is to be a public meeting at Rose Center in Morristown on Sept. 1 to address issues regarding TennCare. The link will take you to their web site and then to the announcement itself. The meeting says it is for Hamblen and surrounding counties.

The Show That Never Ends

A new study shows that even a single Cup of Joe benefits your brain and your body, with more antioxidants than anything else in the American diet. Gotta get more Joe in your world, no doubt.
Be warned -- there are attempts underway to imitate yours truly on the local radio station which gave me the boot back in May and boy, will it suck.
Accept no imitations for the Real Cup of Joe.

Nice roundup of the news from RTB member Whites Creek Journal, from the Green Day boys to the Lies of Limbaugh. How do you tell if Limbaugh is lying?? He is speaking. (And coming back to a radio dial near you!)

The constant news of corruption in TN government is no news to the residents of the state, according to one casual survey. Later this week, I'll have more information about just how local politics in East TN is just as conflicted. The information is there for most anyone to notice, too bad the local "so-called media" simply kisses ass and ignores the Truth. Economic Development in Hamblen County?? You got a billboard that says it's all great, what else did you want? Jobs???

Tennesseans and Southern folk in general already knew it, but statistics show the South is front, center and the majority when it comes to the War In Iraq or most any other conflict.

Stay tuned -- and welcome to the Show That Never Ends.

UPDATE -- And how about that new masthead?? I now have a choice of fine art and design to choose from, with the latest created by Reenie Mooney. Thanks for all your help with this web log.