Saturday, August 16, 2008

Camera Obscura: Call It No Music Television (NMTV)

Man, I know I'm about two days older than dirt since I often land on the MTV channel and wonder "Where the heck are the music videos?" Oh sure, there are reruns of America's Next Top Model, The Hills, and a variety of Uncomfortably Forced Dating Shows Which Are Mostly Scripted, and the phenomenally narcissistic My Parents Are Skeezy Losers For Not Spending Half-A-Jillion Dollars For My Birthday Party And Did Not Invite The Jonas Brothers To Dance Nekkid For Me.

Still, the network is hoisting ads for their annual Video Music Awards. So are they awards for videos one could see on YouTube or see on a DVD you bought at Target?

(I am not too ancient - I thought the new album this summer from Beck, Modern Guilt, is a very fine thing, and you can sample some of the tracks here. So I'm not totally in the yard yelling You Kids Stay Offa My Lawn!).

I did a quick look-see at their daily schedule for the next week and saw not one listing for anything about music videos. There was mention of TRL, which is a studio-filmed teenage angst/hysteria as celebs appear to promote their movies. And I did see something the other night called FNMTV, which is a cringe-inducing collection of "hosts" who have emo hair cuts (aka The Em-Over, a teen equivalent of the Comb-Over) and did show a clip of some "new" video and heaps of "live" performances by music groups/lip-synched soliloquies, where you can't really see much other than a foreground forest of fists sporting cell-phone hoisted mini-screens.

I did actually see at Miley/Hanna/Whatever Her Name on that show doing a rockin' tune called Fly On The Wall, which had the li'l superstar in a wee school-girl uniform singing about how she knows ya wanna see/know/touch her. Just yer basic I-Rock-You-Suck tune.

I know, I know, you say I should watch MTV2, which is where the videos are -- but just barely. I see videos to be played between 3 am and 5 pm and then a day chock full of the "reality-buddy" show called Rob and Big. (Did these guys rob the station of the videos? I dunno 'cause I ain't watching that crap either.)

So now the MTV folks are promoting their Video Music Awards show. Press reports say li'l mamma Britney Spears has a video up for an award and some BBC comedian is hosting, named Russell Brand. Never heard of him. I know he had a part in a movie out this year called "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" and that Adam Sandler thinks he's a comedy genius. And when he tried to get on the David Letterman show he got booted by immigration because of his old heroin possession arrests, so I guess that makes him popular/rebellious.

In reading about the VMA show, I see that Brit has a video called "Piece Of Me", a video in which she eschews dancin' for some shoulder-wiggling and sings about how the magazines want pictures of her butt. And another video in nomination was for a band called The Ting Tings, "Shut Up and Let Me Go", which looks like an ultra-cheap bad early-80s video and the tune made me think of Romeo Void's "Never Say Never (I Might Like You Better If We Slept Together)", which has a finer-tuned sense of bored irony.

And I know I'm old because a band called The Ting Tings reminds me of George and Judy Jetson and Jet Screamer (aka Howard Morris, aka Ernest T. Bass) singing that groovy 60s tune, Eep Opp Ork Ah Ah:

Friday, August 15, 2008

Davs Finally Concedes He Lost Re-Election

Given the total lack of support from the leadership of the Tennessee Republican Party, and the rather dubious legal claims of his challenge and the likewise weak "anecdotal" evidence of voting hijinks, 1st District Congressman David Davis has awoken to smell the coffee and has dropped his plan to challenge the outcome of the election in which he lost to Phil Roe:

I am announcing today that even though I have the law on my side, I have decided not to pursue an election contest with the Republican Primary Board. I love East Tennessee and I love America, therefore it is in the best interest of everyone concerned that I concede the election to my primary opponent. I have contacted Mr. Roe and made him aware of my decision."

(via Tenn Views)

DeMarCaTionVille points to a report, too.

Now it's time to rally for Rob Russell.

UPDATE: TNGOP spokesman Bill Hobbs forwarded an email with a press release from Robin Smith cheering Davis' decision (which, as I mentioned previously is proof the state party wanted Davis to back away from his challenge):

"Congressman Davis’s decision to let the voters of the First District, rather than a parade of lawyers, courts and committees, have the final say on who they wish to represent them in Congress represents the best traditions of American democracy,” said Robin Smith, Chairman of the Tennessee Republican Party.

“State law permits voters to declare at the polling place which party’s primary they wish to participate in, a system that allows Tennesseans to vote for the man or woman they believe is best for the job and, unless an election result has been compromised by actual voter fraud such as false identity or votes cast by the dead, we believe the will of the voters as expressed at the ballot box on election day should be respected,” Smith said. “David Davis has served his community honorably and with distinction first as a state legislator, then as a member of Congress, and now by his decision to let the people’s vote stand without challenge.”

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Debating Student Rights and Southern History

UPDATE: Judge declares mistrial in the case due to jury deadlock.

Can a school system's dress code policy curb your free speech? An Anderson County student says so and is suing over the way he was treated because he wore clothes with images of the Confederate Flag, and he wants to change the policy and seeks punitive damages to boot.

The Supreme Court has weighed in on the issues of students' rights and those of school officials several times, with varying results.

Today, the KNS reports the jury in the case is rather stumped on what approach to take to the case:

Is there a better way to resolve this than common sense?” the jury foreman wrote.

The panel also asked whether wording in various legal definitions and instructions had connotations other than the typical definitions or understandings of those words, which included material and substantial.

Attorneys on both sides said they were uncertain how to answer the jury’s query.

“I don’t know if the case law answers this,” attorney Arthur F. Knight III said. He represents school officials.

Defoe’s attorney, Van R. Irion, remarked, “These words are in the dictionary. I don’t know how to answer this question to the jury. I suppose the answer is keep talking about it.”

Varlan agreed. He sent back a note to the jury with the following instruction.

“Please continue to consider all the instructions as a whole given you.”

The flag certainly has a context of history, but like it or not, that history also includes the emblem being used in bigoted attacks. To see only part of the history is the student's right, but don't schools historically have the right to determine dress codes?

The comments from folks at the WBIR website on the story is full of heated talk, argument and sheer hysteria.

It reminds me of a something a friend told me a long time ago - "High school is tough, but I got over it."

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Republicans Tell Davis To Drop Election Challenge

Republican bloggers as well as Republican officials are calling for 1st District Congressman David Davis to wise up, admit defeat and walk away from challenging primary election returns.

He isn't taking their advice -- yet.

Blogger Rob Huddleston:

It will only come back to hurt you - and your party - in the end."

And David Oatney says:

As distasteful as it might be in many cases, it isn't against the law for outside groups to "influence" an election so long as they don't attempt to do so less than 100 feet from a polling place. Do I think it is good that there may have been some "outside influence?" No, but I have my doubts as to whether Davis will be able to prove that such influence existed in large enough quantities to question Roe's victory in any sense, let alone a legal one. David Davis' notion of how Tennessee election law actually works is a blatantly false one."

GOP leader and Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey advises him to end it, telling him his challenge is a "major mistake."

Election officials say Davis' challenge is full of holes.

Davis released a press statement anyway, calling the election "perverted":

I believe that there is clear and overwhelming evidence that the integrity of this primary was violated unlawfully by huge numbers of Democrats voting to change the outcome of the Republican primary,” said Congressman David Davis."

Huge numbers of Democrats in the first district? Just over 6,000 took part in the Democrat Primary, compared to a low turnout of some 50,000 for the Republican Primary.

The current law gives political parties the authority to challenge outcomes and call for recounts, but someone has to pay for that:

As recently as last year, two Republican candidates challenged primary results - one in the 1st Congressional District and one in a state house race. State Republican Party officials says both matters were resolved without a full recount because either the candidate couldn’t pay for it or because the committee ruled it inappropriate."

On the plus side, Davis' complaints have brought more attention to the 1st District than I've ever seen. For much of his term in office, Davis found it effective to blame Democrats for just about everything. At least Davis is consistent.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Maglev Train Project In Tennessee

The cost of a high-speed maglev train from Nashville to Atlanta is estimated at over $5 billion and could take a decade to complete.

A report in today's Tennessean says the project is not a high priority yet, more likely one from Las Vegas to Anaheim will be the first.

This news arrives as the state is considering privatizing parts of the Department of Transportation in a money-saving effort. Could the savings be diverted to the rail project?

Kitchen Sink Bath At Burger King

A young man with funky hair and lots of tattoos (known as Mr. Unstable) working at an Ohio Burger King decided to take a bubble bath in the BK's kitchen sink. And is videotaped. And posts it to MySpace. Firings and sterilizing follows.

The video is here, along with the local news report on the event.

I like the lady stopped at the drive-thru who says after being told of the bubble bath episode "I don't want to eat my sandwich now."

Thank God the internet allows stupid to be shared on a global scale.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Rep. Davis Still Can't Believe He Lost

Still refusing to admit he lost his re-election bid, 1st District Congressman David Davis is continuing to seek scapegoats and claiming laws were violated. But Brook Thompson, state election coordinator says these efforts are all wrong:

Thompson said he is sure that Davis is referring to a law whereby "somebody can be challenged based on their party affiliation when voting in an election."

But, the state election official stated, "The process is to challenge them at the polls on election day."

An election-day challenge would involve poll-watchers who, based on their own knowledge, could challenge someone who has always voted in one party's primary when that person suddenly seeks to vote in the other party's primary.

"It doesn't happen very often at all," Thompson said. "That's the law I'm sure he's referring to."

The state coordinator said the law allows for challenges on election day, but not afterward, adding, "I don't know of any election that has been challenged after the fact based on that law."

While Johnson City Mayor Phil Roe won the primary over Davis, my advice to voters is to cast your vote this fall for Rob Russell.

Cloned Pups Owner Has Strange History

I gave only a passing glance to the story of an American, Joyce McKinney, who paid a South Korean firm $50,000 to clone her dearly departed dog, Booger. This weekend the story got really strange. Seems she had been accused of kidnapping a Mormon missionary and kept him as a sex slave some 31 years ago, a story so lurid and strange it was bound to rise again. It did.

"When that young Mormon took a missionary trip to England, authorities say McKinney hired a private detective so she could locate and follow him.

She and a male accomplice were accused of abducting the 21-year-old missionary as he went door to door, taking him to a rented 17th-century "honeymoon cottage" in Devon and chaining him spread-eagle to a bed with several pairs of mink-lined handcuffs.

There, investigators say, he was repeatedly forced to have sex with McKinney before he was able to escape and notify police.

In a 1977 court hearing mobbed by the British press, Joyce McKinney said she'd fallen head-over-heels in love with the Mormon man and acknowledged tracking him to England. "I loved him so much," she told a judge, "that I would ski naked down Mount Everest in the nude with a carnation up my nose if he asked me to."

But she denied a sexual assault, saying the young man was a willing partner.

In her call to the AP on Saturday, McKinney repeated the same argument her lawyer made all those years ago: There's no way she could have overpowered the young Mormon because he was much bigger and stronger.

"I didn't rape no 300-pound man," she said. "He was built like a Green Bay Packer."

McKinney and her accomplice spent three months in a London jail before being released on bail.

Press reports at the time that said the pair then jumped bail, posing as deaf-mute actors in Ireland to board an Air Canada flight to Toronto and eventually a bus to Cleveland, where investigators lost their trail."

Read the full story here.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Gas Explosions Shatter Toronto Suburb

"My girlfriend, Lisanne, said ``That isnt thunder`` and we both got up to look out the balcony window. We were completely shocked to see a huge pillar of fire that appeared to be 10-20 stories tall, and a black cloud of smoke that spanned the sky eastward toward Earl Bales park. My mind raced in a panic to understand what was happening. It looked as though a plane had crashed or a bomb had fallen. Could it be a terrorist attack? After a few minutes of watching, we were completely shocked to witness an amazing mushroom cloud explosion of flame and black smoke that terrified us entirely. I have never seen anything like it. It was so loud and big that for a moment I thought it was a nuclear explosion."

A horrifying and enormous series of explosions at a gas depot just outside Toronto rocked residents and forced evacuations, as others nearby filmed what happened (one huge explosion looks like a sunrise at the 1:50 mark in the video below). Reports are still incoming and no word yet about any fatalities. (More astonishing images and reports are here.)

Weekly Best Of Tennessee Blogs

I hope you take some time to read the best of Tennessee bloggers in this weekly roundup via TennViews:

• 10,000 Monkeys and a Camera: Regarding Edwards ("Perhaps if he had taken a look around once in a while, at all the good people who were helping him up, he might have realized that he didn't get where he was all alone. Then perhaps he wouldn't have felt so much like superman.") and Wordless Wednesday

• Andy Axel: Wires and Wood

• BlountViews: South Blount Utility: Consider bottled drinking water ("A resident in the South Blount Utility District said they got a notice of violation of safe drinking water standards indicating their drinking water was contaminated with high levels of lead.")

• Carole Borges: First Lady aka Miss Buffalo Chip ("It was a touching moment and a lovely display of Republican family values. Cindy blushed of course and looked flattered. You could almost see her already measuring the thongs she will wear in the White House.")

• The Crone Speaks: Racism Thriving?!? ("The very sad thing is, there are people that one wouldn’t readily categorize as being racist in any other situation, that do feel that Obama being president would "end" this country.")

• Cup Of Joe Powell: Davis Not Conceding To Roe ("One thing about Davis - he has consistently blamed Democrats for all the national and regional ills, and now he blames them for not being re-elected. Perhaps there were some cross-over votes, but he simply need look in the mirror to discover the reason for his loss. His inability to accept the outcome of the vote, to accept responsibility for himself, says volumes about his failings.") and Thoughts on Alexander Solzhenitsyn

• Don Williams: Bush puts Double-I brand on the Olympics–Insulting Incoherence ("Taking a stand against China’s big redemptive PR show by declining to attend would’ve been consistent and coherent. But complaining all the way to the show, and even at his reception in China this morning, smacks of incoherency, bad manners and outright hypocrisy.")

• Donkey's Mouth: The Dems Respond

• Enclave: But the tallest candle stick ain't much good without a wick ("Let's set aside the question of whether our expectations have sunk so low that we actually give kudos to politicians for just doing the right thing.")

• Fletch: Elkmont In August and Cool

• KnoxViews: KAG, signing off ("Katie Allison Granju signed off for the last time at Knoxville Talks yesterday. She did a fantastic job creating a great new local media sponsored blog and set the bar high for her successor.") and WBIR declares Bryant winner in Commission 6-A? ("Katie's only been gone one day and look what happens!") and Green Route Alert, Again! ("There is too much money to be made "developing" and paving the state for people who care about sprawl and the ruination of east TN to stay indifferent.") and Technology corridor not working out ("High tech companies aren't going to move to an area that doesn't support education and only graduates people qualified to work in call centers.")

• Lean Left: Send a Message in a Language They Understand ("Glenn Greenwald, along with Jane Hamsher of firedoglake and a variety of other pro-democracy bloggers and activists, is helping establish a new organization dedicated to targeting vulnerable Democratic candidates who work against progressive interests and civil liberties.")

• Left Of The Dial: Olympics Freak ("Only I would be watching judo, badminton, Chinese women lifting weights and some dude trotting around on a horse doing half-circles simultaneously, live from Beijing on a Saturday morning.")

• Left Wing Cracker: An open letter to Nikki Tinker ("How amazing it was to watch as you turned within 48 hours from an attacking Congressional candidate to a national pariah; "Worst Person in the World", indeed. As Vito Corleone once said, how did things ever get so far?")

• Liberadio(!): The Not-So-Veiled Partisanship of Congresswoman Blackburn ("And speaking of honesty, she and her friends standing in the dark in the House chamber might want to stop claiming that off-shore drilling will give us immediate relief from high gas prices. 'Cause it won't.")

• Loose TN Canon: Republicans obstruct vote to lower gas prices ("Once again, the GOP leadership sided with oil profiteers and used their power to help keep oil prices and profits high, while hurting the average American.")

• Nashville for the 21st Century: Election Day Is Here ("If passion alone won elections, it would be a landslide for Tuke this fall should he get the nomination.")

• Newscoma: Grief Brings Out The Best In People ("This is my second funeral in three weeks of people I grew up with. We drove our cars fast, hid out on back roads talking about our future and drank beer bought by those a couple of years older than us in corn fields still smelling of a fresh harvest. We were going to take on the world. We wanted to own it.") and Personal Reflections On Edwards Scandal ("Baby Boomers in politics amaze me. I’m not one of them, but I have to say, they have changed the world. I don’t necessarily mean that as a compliment.") and Advice To The Young 'Uns ("Don't sweat the small stuff. Treat other people the way you want to be treated. Do things you are afraid to do. Don't listen to Bill Hobbs, and eat more fruit.")

• The Pesky Fly: Delusions of Adequacy ("If this is the Chairman's take on the craziest sh_t to come down the pipe since, oh, I don't know, a member of the TNDP Executive Committee accused the Democratic presidential nominee of ties to terrorism, it will be very revealing indeed when Mr. Sasser finally does find something that puts a fire in his belly.")

• Progressive Nashville: Thank heavens for the white kids ("Thank heavens the white kids in Nashville's public schools are doing so well academically. If they weren't, our schools would look much worse.")

• Resonance: CBS News: "Bicycle Mania!" ("The piece discusses the increased interest in bicycling that has accompanied higher gasoline prices. I have noticed more people riding on the roads this summer; unfortunately, a few of them appear to have not yet mastered safety rules on riding with traffic.")

• RoaneViews: My letter from the Roane Alliance ("I have trouble understanding the separation between the Roane Alliance, a County Government function supported by our tax dollars, and the Chamber of Commerce.")

• Russ McBee: Knox County voters fall asleep ("Today's message is simple: all the GOB's have to do is wait long enough, and the voters of this county will forget whatever transgressions may have angered them in the past.") and Justice denied ("To shield itself from public accountability, the White House crafted rules which ignored centuries of legal precedent and tossed aside even the barest semblance of justice in favor of a system automatically tilted toward the prosecution.")

• Sharon Cobb: John Edwards: You're A Piece Of Sh*t ("Politics aside, let me tell you about Elizabeth Edwards.") and Let The Games Begin ("Also, please ask whomever is your choice for President why he bought 5-6 million dollars in advertising during the Olympics, knowing what China is doing in Darfur, Tibet, Berma, and other human and animal rights violations.")

• Silence Isn't Golden: Tyson Caves To...Someone ("Sorry wingnuts, you still lose.")

• Southern Beale: Tyson Plant Revises Holiday Plan AGAIN ("Of course the Malkin-tents are going to claim another victory, but hey, look at it this way: we liberals can snicker at them for defending a holiday with communist/socialist origins founded by the evil labor unions.") and 22 Days & Counting ("Here in Nashville I saw $3.69 at a Pilot station earlier this week. That’s a 40-cent drop from the high of $4.09/gallon back in July. Funny none of the stories about that Republican kabuki theater on offshore oil drilling bothers to mention that.")

• Tennessee Guerilla Women: NBC Says Bill Clinton Will Speak at Convention in Order to Get Media to Shut Up ("Gawd. Can we please get term limits for the pundits?") and Hillary: 18 Million Cracks in the Glass Ceiling (Video)

• TennViews: The ballots are set and we're off to the races ("We've updated the TennViews 08 Candidate Central database to advance the primary winners and set the field for November.") and Volunteer State 39th in Volunteering ("Forty-five percent of volunteering in Tennessean is performed in the religious sector, whereas that number is 63% in Utah. Are Tennesseans heathens or is that just a Mormon thing?")

• Tiny Cat Pants: Like a Coat You Somehow Slip On Without Noticing ("This, this I believe explains the virulent anti-Mexican sentiment here in the South. Who doubts Faulkner, right? And when he says "The past is not dead. In fact, it's not even past." don't we believe him?")

• Vibinc: Cashing in at MCS ("In an editorial over a the CA newly installed Superintendent, Kriner Cash lays out his plan to help the districts most at risk students find success. The prescription, 2000 college aged tutors. I have to say, this is a brilliant idea.")

• West Tennessee Liberal: I'm Proud of Memphis ("I'd hate to be an incumbent Republican in two years. It's going to be a bloodbath.")

• WhitesCreek Journal: Yeah! ("The whole world loves Barack Obama. He's really popular. That's why we shouldn't vote for Obama.")

• Women's Health News: HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt Issues Blog Post on Proposed Regulation ("Regardless of intent, the regulation certainly could functionally allow the defining of contraceptives as abortion.") and Lying Liars Who Lie (About Reproductive Health) ("I've come across several blog entries recently that recount stories of women being lied to by their healthcare providers and/or being lectured on the basis of their provider's personal values.")