Saturday, March 28, 2009

Space Smells Funny, Astronauts Say

Is that funny ha-ha or funny strange?

Of course, NASA warns 'please do not open your helmet to get a big whuff.'

Wonder if there are funny smells inside the space station?

Friday, March 27, 2009

5 Reasons To Watch The New G4 Underground Series

The G4 cable network jumps into the TV news magazine biz on Sunday night with a new series called Underground. I've always enjoyed the network and I'd like to give you some reasons to check out this new show.

First reason to watch: If you read this blog and I amuse, entertain, inform or enrage you, then you must tune in because I'm personally connected to the show. One of the producers is a longtime friend and a most talented producer of great TV. Here's her IMDB listing. She's also a fellow alum from Carson-Newman, once worked as a DJ in Morristown radio, is a sharp-eyed pop culture whiz and is a fine mom and wife too.

Second reason to watch: Two words - Morgan Webb.

Third reason to watch: The stories you'll see here won't be found anywhere else. Take the premiere, which tackles the world on online pornography and porn amateurs, plus a segment on real-life, honest-to-pete people who dress up in costume to be super-heroes. Future reports include exposes on ninja schools and the world of urban spelunking. (NOTE: If you are searching for info on "caseynjennifer", please see the comments on this post.)

Fourth reason to watch: It's better than other news magazine time shows - there's no eyebrow-heavy Andy Rooney and sometimes, the stuff they cover is kinda illegal. More info on those items here.

Fifth reason to watch: If you watch and talk about what you see, your friends and co-workers will know you are on the cutting edge of cool. Don't be left out, people, I'm trying to help you here. Check out this teaser below:

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Red Light Cameras - A For-Profit Business

Michael Silence points to a report that the city of Morristown is fighting against proposed legislation from Rep. John Litz and Sen. Steve Southerland which would mandate statewide more time for a yellow light to last. The city is unhappy to see a challenge to their red light revenue cameras program, saying such a change would create massive traffic delays.

There are plenty of studies which note these revenue cameras often cause more accidents than they create safer driving. Mississippi has banned them statewide. Debate rages:

Red-light cameras may sound great on paper, but they're an idea whose time may never come. There's no room in the system for manual inspection (the automation is what keeps it cheap), the officials in charge of the program inevitably come under pressure to milk this marvelous cash cow they've discovered, and the cameras are easily spoofed or sometimes just plain wrong."

Since the effort to ticket drivers who run red lights has been a low priority for law enforcement for a variety of reasons, the reality sinks in that cities are in essence sub-contracting law enforcement out to for-profit companies.

Safety and traffic flow is certainly a concern for cities, but revenue cameras are not the way:

If intersection controls are properly engineered, installed, and operated, there will be very few red-light violations. From the motorists' perspective, government funds should be used on improving intersections, not on ticket cameras. Even in instances where cameras were shown to decrease certain types of accidents, they increased other accidents. Simple intersection and signal improvements can have lasting positive effects, without negative consequences. Cities can choose to make intersections safer with sound traffic engineering or make money with ticket cameras. Unfortunately, many pick money over safety."

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

It's Now A Crime To Report Pollution

Attempting to assist residents in Roane County following the catastrophic coal ash spill from TVA and attempting to monitor or report on pollution is apparently a crime.

"I was threatened with up to one year in jail for my work with the air monitoring program. Truthfully I love yall but it sorta freaked me out today to hear that I may spend a year in jail because I put up an air monitor.

TVA is very scared about the samples that we are taking with this air monitoring equipment and they are willing to threaten me and other UMD volunteers to keep this valuable field work from being done. We need your help. UMD volunteers have listened to your concerns about air and water quality, we have done the sampling, and we have been threatened with jail time because of our scientific monitoring."

The court system should be ashamed for adding muscle to TVA's intimidation.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Rep. Roe Clueless On Economy

My congressman, Rep. Phil Roe (R), told the local press he was "astonished" to learn that the unemployment rate in Morristown was over 10%, It stands at last report at more than 15%.

To which I say, "Sir - the unemployment rate was 13% last summer, when you were running for office. You weren't aware of that? Then you have been in Washington voting NO on economic stimulus packages and mortgage-preservation programs and bailouts with no concept of what life was like for the people you represent."

Sunday, March 22, 2009

NYTimes Eyes Morristown, Immigrants, and The Economy

Caught in the endless down-spin of the economic spiral, Morristown and Hamblen county has seen many a factory close up and move south of the border in the last ten years, even as residents from south of the border have come in record numbers to this small southern community seeking work.

On Saturday, the NYTimes told some of the tales from this economic battlefield in a story titled "A Slippery Place In The U.S. Workforce".

Slippery, indeed.

Factory wages have always been lower here than many places, and millions and millions in state and federal grants have been spent here to attract more and more factories. Most recently, stats show the unemployment rate is above 15%.

Too bad we see so little effort given to creating a local economy built on something besides the ever-shifting tides of companies on the hunt for lowest paid workers they can find.

SEE ALSO: The Crone Speaks has links to the NYTimes video report on this story and adds some timely wisdom to this story:

These real live people highlight not only how the recession has hit all of the residents in Morristown, TN, it also makes a statement on the right-to-work employment structure of the state. Right-to-work is a misnomer for employers exploiting workers, and something that Sen. Corker truly supports , as we saw in his lambasting of the US auto industry. And, why not support the exploitation of workers? Afterall, that is how he made his millions.

As the nation sets about trying to dig out of the recession, states like Tennessee will have to take a good long look at getting rid of the right-to-work structure, which has only benefited the elite in this state."