Friday, May 18, 2007

Camera Obscura - 100 Movies, 100 Quotes, 100 Numbers

Think you're a movie fan? Test your abilities with the following little video quiz which is also just fun to watch and marvel at it's creation. This clip was made available online in February of this year, but I found it via MetaFilter last night. More fun than a monkey knife fight!!

You'll see 100 movies and 100 quotes, each quote, from very well known movies, includes a number and the clips countdown from 100 to 1. Some of the selections were just brilliant - I loved the movies chosen for the numbers 8, 30, 31, and 45.

And not to brag - well, wait, yes I will brag - I watched this clip last night and with no outside help or cheating I was able to name 93 out of the 100 movies. That's why I am the Master of Motion Pictures, The Keeper of Useless Knowledge. The clip is below, try your best, and I'll include a complete list of answers in the comments on this post. Good luck!!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Gas Pains Evoke The 'Blamethrower'

The response this week from oil companies to questions about skyrocketing prices at the pumps was pure arrogance.

Thier investment strategies aren't to blame. It's all the consumer's fault, or some other group. They won't increase refineries because the government is pushing for decreased consumption over the next 10 years:

John Felmy, chief economist for the American Petroleum Institute, said in a phone interview that whenever the industry tries to add refining capacity, it faces opposition from surrounding communities. Moreover, Felmy questioned why the industry would make expensive refining expansions when President Bush is calling for a 20 percent reduction in gasoline use by 2017.

"But the Consumer Federation's Mark Cooper said the refining industry hasn't even tried to build new refineries and has instead closed 50 since the 1990s rather than make investments to make them comply with pollution laws.

Oddly, crude oil prices are lower now than last year at this time.

Cooper goes on to say:

This is just mismanagement," he said. "But they get away with it because there is no competitive discipline."

And in the Consumer Affairs statement prior to the congressional hearings this week:

Thirty-three states and the District of Columbia now have average prices at or above $3 a gallon with Kentucky, Florida and Maryland the latest states to join the list.

Consumers are feeling the gas price bite as the average U.S. household is spending $1,000 more per year on gasoline than it did five years ago, according to several consumer groups.

Rural households have been hardest hit because they spend about 20 percent more on gas than urban residents, according to Labor Department figures.

A group representing U.S. motorists is asking Congress to investigate current gasoline refinery problems that have caused a painful spike in prices at the pump.

The American Automobile Association says lawmakers should look at the link between these supply shortages and rising oil company profits."

There were also claims that the changeover to "summer blend" gasoline was part of the supply problem, though last year that excuse emerged in March not May. All excuses are valid in the minds of big oil.

Even with profits up 39% last year, oil companies say they are helpless to affect the market.

But it's consumers that are helpless - and big oil uses the 'Blamethrower" to deflect criticism. It's your fault and it's no one's fault.

I've noticed the usual "let's boycott gas for a day" movements attempting to bring attention to the issue. I've been thinking we should start designating one day a month for the next year as boycott gasoline day. Within a few months, the boycott might just catch on. Especially since gas is headed over the $3 mark for the rest of the summer.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Gonzales and the Chaos In Justice Dept

The ever-shifting landscape of memory and action from Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has become a muddled mess, with facts bobbing up and then sinking away as nearly daily accounts of troubling scandals change and move and shift.

While some neo-con pundits have cried "Nothing to see here!!" regarding the firing and hiring of US attorneys, the swirling contradictions could easily cloud man's mind like Lamont Cranston tackling evildoers in some episode of "The Shadow."

Gonzales has claimed "I am accountable even though I don't know what my department does" about the problems, claimed no solid memory of the series of events, and this week has claimed his deputy, Paul McNulty is to blame for everything.

And even more ugly beans were spilled yesterday when details were presented to Congress about how Gonzales was pushing for continuing a lawless wiretap program in the intensive care ward of John Ashcroft:

Even his colleagues and fellow grads from Harvard bought an ad in the Washington Post which blistered the man and his actions:

I’m sure he is a very fine fellow, but it’s really troubling what he is standing for and what the administration of George W. Bush is standing for. We couldn’t stand by this any longer."

If Congress does not demand Gonzales' resignation very, very soon then the chaos and the stink of this mess may follow them all back home. Likewise, those who claim there is "nothing to see here" are deceiving themselves and everyone else at the nation's peril.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Fave Restaurant Meme

It's a most intriguing question, presented to me by the lovable Tits McGee -- name your five favorite places for dining out. It must be noted that her food blog makes me delirious with hunger. I'll happily offer my faves and then ask some other bloggers to play along with this list-madness is they wish. Or if you, dear reader, can suggest your faves, I'll be equally happy to receive your input.

There are many challenges in answering her meme about my favorite places to dine out, as the selection of restaurants in Morristown is truly bleak. If you love fast food or the omnipresent buffet/trough menus (sheltered dining via a sneeze-guard), you're in heaven in Mo'town. (Which Hardee's location do yo like best? The one on the East end of town or on the West end?)

Otherwise, there just isn't much to recommend. There are some non-chain/franchise choices, but sadly, none that ever made me want to say "I love to eat there!"

Some years back while working in Prison Forge -- I mean Pigeon Forge, sorry -- we would often go to a local cafeteria, whose name I have erased from my memory. It only had two good points - it was very close to where I worked and it had the funniest staff. Every time we ate there, some scowling woman would yell at us "Havin' a meat???" I just loved that. The food wasn't very good, but for some reason "Havin' a meat???" always made me feel great.

So I go most often into Knoxville, where there are also many fast food or chain options, but also many unique places too. Some of my favorites are no longer in operation, I fear, like La Paz, where the food portions were huge and the pitchers of Margaritas were endless. Anyway, in no particular order, here are my choices:

1. Nama Sushi Bar - great sushi and Japanese food, which The Editor took me to on my last birthday. I was in swooning from the food and the plating there was a notch above most places (hell, they actually have plating). In fact, I plan to go there in the next few days and experience it again.

2. Tomato Head - if there is a food I never get tired of, it's pizza. Tomato Head makes the best in East Tennessee. Period. The End.

3. Ridgewood Barbecue - this place is legendary and worth every legend. It's a small place to dine, in a small building on the Elizabethton Highway near Bluff City, but they have the best barbecue in the state in my opinion. You must order a side of their beans. Better than words can say.

4. Italian Market and Grill - another long drive out to west Knox for this place, but every time I go inside the place, my eyes water from the aroma of garlic. That's a fine thing. I could almost fill up on their fresh bread, which you must dip into some olive oil and black pepper.

Obviously, I am going to have to go sample some new places, as I cannot list 5 places, only 4.

And I'm really hungry now, writing about food. The one other place I always like to eat is my kitchen. Whether it's a burnt-weenie sandwich or something off the grill the food here is always fine. Cooking meat outside is always a pleasure.

For five folks to tag to add to this meme -- here ya go:

The Editor needs to jump in on this one.
So does her sister in California, Valley Grrrl.
The Vol Abroad gets a tag too. I wanna know where she goes in London.
And Alice at 10,000 Monkeys And A Camera gets tagged.
And Mack gets a tag at Coyote Chronicles.

Remember, I need suggestions too. so add yours in the comments!

More on The Student Field Trip Gone Wrong

The school motto for Scales Elementary? It's Always About The Children!

This story of school faculty faking a gun attack on 6th grade students is being widely reported and late yesterday the school announced the suspension without pay of two faculty members, who are suspended for a few weeks until the end of this school year.

From accounts I've been reading, the "prank" is a regular feature of these student trips. It's worth noting these days that any "prank" committed by students is likely to lead to disciplinary actions, so the faculty cited at Scales should not be surprising.

And while the event is being called a 'fake gun attack' or a 'common hazing' on students, it reminds me of the frat I joined in college. I was reluctant to join any frat, but what sold me was the fact that Lambda Chi Alpha outlawed hazing at their chapters in the mid-1970s. Hazing is meant to do just one thing - humiliate new members. And there was no way I was going to volunteer to be treated like crap in order to join any organization. It's mindless and pointless and wildly dangerous - and the average behavior at any frat can turn crazy-dangerous anyway, so why create a chance for even more danger?

Perhaps parents nationwide should just be grateful that 'gun attack drills' aren't a common part of the school year, though I won't be surprised when that does become common. Parents perhaps would be better served if school faculties were given some sort of disaster prep training - but given that most schools already have security teams working, then it's those security forces which need proper training.

I find it rather astonishing that someone from Scales attending the week-long trip did not stand up and say to the planners of the fake attack that is was a bone-dumb and dangerous idea. Doesn't the state mandate anti-bullying codes and procedures? Did the faculty at Scales feel they were above reproach?

I'd bet most students past the 3rd or 4th grade would tell you they endure copious amounts of discomfort and challenges from their peers and their daily experiences in the system. Much of those types of events certainly inform students that you have to be tough on the outside, be able to walk away from some hateful times and learn to cope with stupid and mindless rituals.

Aunt B pegged it very well with her response to Kleinheider's claim that this event was good, manly behavior by the now-suspended school faculty:

It’s not good clean manly fun to take a bunch of eleven year old kids into the forest and pretend like, no matter how briefly, you’re going to kill them".

Monday, May 14, 2007

TN Student Field Trip Turns National News

6th-grade students from Scales Elementary in middle Tennessee and their teachers have been making the cable news networks reports following an incident last week while they were on a field trip to Fall Creek Falls State Park. The KNS article reports it like this:

Staff members of a Murfreesboro elementary school staged a fake gunman attack during a school trip, telling them it was not a drill as children cried and hid under tables.

Parents of the sixth-grade students at Scales Elementary were outraged after learning about the prank that occurred Thursday night during a weeklong trip to a state park.

Assistant Principal Don Bartch, who was present, said the scenario was intended as a learning experience and only lasted five minutes.

"We got together and discussed what we would have done in a real situation," he said."

Over at Volunteer Voters, Kleinheider weighs in with his take:

What this incident tells us is that we cannot treat young men and women like what they need to become — adults. What we are telling each other is that children need to be coddled and sheltered from anything that approaches a deviation from “the way things are done.”

We have, all due respect, become a feminized and sissified culture. I’m no alpha male, but I know that much to be true.

Our elementary schools are run by women, by and large — they are, they have been and they will continue to be. Not only do our kids have to get by the overemphasis on security in our culture, not only to they have to try and emerge as true men and woman in a therapeutic culture, they have to deal with the fact that they may go through many, many years of elementary school and even middle school without ever encountering a male teacher."

Brittney responds to VV, sensing some oddness to his perspective.

What say you?

Shhh!! Ethics Committee Quietly Appointed

Hamblen County Commissioners met last week to appoint members of their new Ethics Committee.

But, as mandated by the state's Sunshine Law, did the public have any notification the meeting occurred? The answer appears to be No.

Linda attended the meeting last week, and did raise the question and reports on what happened here:

How can you conduct public business in public if you don't tell the public that there is a public meeting and if you don't provide notice as to when and where the meeting will take place?

There wasn't any Sunshine at the May 8th meeting even though it was an especially important meeting--a special called meeting during which appointment of the Hamblen County Ethics Committee would take place. The only other item on the agenda was termites in the Courthouse.

Mayor David Purkey, as expected, appointed commissioners Stancil Ford and Joe Swann and Trustee Bill Brittain to the Ethics Committee. Joe Swann then jumped in and nominated Jack Cartwright and Jim Harrison for the "regular citizen" positions."