Thursday, May 28, 2009

Chasing The Cheese - A Legislative Alternative

The decision-making process in Tennessee government is riddled with partisan bickering and it has always been so. Perhaps we can devise a more competitive method, free from political party labels, to decide the outcome of proposed legislation. A cheese race, for instance.

Taking a cue from the annual Cooper's Hill Cheese Rolling competition in Gloucestershire, U.K., we poise legislators at the top of an incredibly steep hill, roll off an 8-pound wheel of cheese (Volunteer Jack, maybe?) and whoever gets down the hill first to the cheese will get their legislative bill passed. Such competition would surely decrease the number of bills submitted (usually more than 2,500 bills get filed), rely more on the physical prowess and desire of legislators, and be much more entertaining to watch.

The 2009 Cooper's Hill Cheese Rolling event, held this past Monday, offers a preview of what might happen should we adopt this legislative method in Tennessee:

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Shooting Blanks at Obama's Court Nominee

So far, the GOP and their cheerleaders have come up with lame arguments opposing Judge Sonia Sotomayor's nomination to the Supreme Court (such as "her name sounds funny"). Court watchers have a more tempered look at her qualifications:

Objectively, her qualifications are overwhelming from the perspective of ordinary Americans. She has been a prosecutor, private litigator, trial judge, and appellate judge. No one currently on the Court has that complete package of experience."


"The objective evidence is that Sotomayor is in fact extremely intelligent. Graduating at the top of the class at Princeton is a signal accomplishment. Her opinions are thorough, well-reasoned, and clearly written. Nothing suggests she isn’t the match of the other Justices."

More here at the SCOTUS blog.

Turning Interrogation Into Revenge

Despite the cranky defensive opinions of a neutered Vice President, the fact remains crystal clear - waterboarding is torture. One person who scoffed at calling it torture no longer scoffs:

Visit for Breaking News, World News, and News about the Economy

And it is far different to undergo this torture while safe in a radio studio surrounded by people who are taking orders from you. To be forced to endure this torture hundreds of times -- such intensive effort can only be called "revenge".

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Federal Law Needed to Repair Your Own Car?

Does our nation need a new federal law so individuals can repair their own car?

Yes, say advocates of the Right To Repair Act of 2009 (HR 2057). Increasingly computerized engine components make it almost impossible for a car owner or a non-dealer-controlled repair shop to work on a car. In years past, anyone could purchase a book on almost all models and makes of cars and trucks, use their own tools and make repairs, or mechanics with independent shops could be selected to do the repairs. Not so with late-model cars.

The legislation was first introduced in 2001, but heavy lobbying from auto makers has killed the proposal. Once again, the bill has been filed and supporters are organizing online, via Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to spread their message.

Former congressman Bob Barr, along with Ralph Nader called for support of the bill last week:

The most important thing the right-to-repair legislation does would be to require that car manufacturers make the tools and diagnostic information needed to repair their vehicles available to independent repair shops, on the same basis as to their dealer-operated shops. (The legislation expressly protects manufacturer trade secrets from public disclosure.) Its enactment would be a win for small business and for consumers at a time when both need a boost.

Why, then, has the bill failed earlier to win enactment, even though a more limited version of the legislation - relating to emissions-related systems - was passed nearly 20 years ago as part of the Clean Air Act amendments? Clearly, it's not because a significant majority of Americans do not prefer the freedom to have their car repaired at a business of their choice, including independent repair shops. More than 80 percent of younger drivers (those ages 18 to 34) favor such legislation, while older drivers favor it by a better than 70 percent margin, according to research by the Tarrance Group and Lake Research Partners."

Another group which first organized in 2000, the National Automotive Service Task Force, has been working with independent repair shops, car owners and some auto manufacturers to collect and share information and tools needed for repairs:

The National Automotive Service Task Force is a not-for-profit, no-dues task force established to facilitate the identification and correction of gaps in the availability and accessibility of automotive service information, service training, diagnostic tools and equipment, and communications for the benefit of automotive service professionals. NASTF is a voluntary, cooperative effort among the automotive service industry, the equipment and tool industry, and automotive manufacturers."

The NASTF also offers a directory of info on how much information and what tools auto makers are making available and which independent repair shops are likewise supported.

Since auto makers have begged for taxpayer support of their floundering industry, we should also require such aid to ensure a long-held right of vehicle owners: to repair our own cars.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Spy Theme Songs

Wrangling some music onto this page has always been of keen interest, though as I noted earlier, all the posts from the past which included playlists of songs via Seeqpod are all dead links, since Seeqpod has gone into bankruptcy.

So I've been rooting around for other music players I could embed you for your enjoyment and have decided to go with Grooveshark. Their site is pretty comprehensive with a vast library of tunes plus you can upload your own, make playlists and so on.

I had a whole different set of tunes to go for today, then for some reason I got some music from old spy movies and TV shows in my head, so this playlist is all Spy-filled. Jazz bands, stabbing horns, ethereal lyrics and melodies all swirl together in spy music. We'll start with the great guitars of The Hellecasters doing the Inspector Gadget theme (shut up, it's a great tune) and move through a whole range of TV and movie spy songs. (And some private eye tunes too.)