Thursday, November 12, 2009

When The Legend Becomes Fact, Print The Legend

A comedy show is often the thorn which punctures the party balloons which masquerade as "news". Jon Stewart this week popped the delusional -- scratch that - the lies - dumped onto the airwaves via Sean Hannity's show on FoxNews for faking it when describing the rally -- scratch that - the press conference - Republicans held to oppose a vote on reforming and re-writing laws about health care in America.

Hannity aired fake footage of that rally/press conference and Stewart called him on it. Hannity was forced to apologize to viewers - though he stopped short of vowing to ensure such fakes are to be absent from now on. (Maybe he was just distracted, all busy organizing his Conservative Dating Service, Hannidate.)

Writer and blogger pegged the real problem of such fakery:

Jon Stewart and his outstanding team of "Daily Show" producers and writers not only "get" the importance of media manipulation and propaganda, but they can take it a step farther because they also have something that most bloggers do not --resources. Their access to large film libraries is what helps them to take down Fox, CNBC, and all the other media types (and politicians, too) when they say the polar opposite of what they were saying a year ago or even a month ago.

You know who else has those kinds of resources? Mainstream, big media newsrooms. But big media pathologically refuses to think of itself as a part of the national narrative, even as the millions of people who watch Jon Stewart or read your top political blogs know better. And until we in the old media can comprehend that, the new media will continue to leave us in the dust. So will the "fake" media.

Rather than the oddity Hannity wanted to place this incident among, Fox producers have used crowds before to add outrage their "reporting", part of the same "rally" Fox promoted in praise of the power of Glenn Beck.

Distorting news is simply part of the news philosophy of FoxNews.

This is the West, sir. When the legend becomes fact, print the legend. " (via)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

UT Football Salaries Vs. Academic Cuts

A report in the USA Today - which is often to newspapers what Highlights magazine is to homework - has a story tracking the ever expanding salaries for athletic programs at the expense of academics. One of the schools mentioned is the University of Tennessee --

USA TODAY's first comprehensive look at the salaries of assistant coaches finds many approaching and even exceeding presidents' compensation and most eclipsing that of full professors. At the top: The $1.2 million Tennessee is paying defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin, an NFL veteran who returned to college football to work for his son, head coach Lane Kiffin.


"At least 66 football assistants, including more than two dozen in the Southeastern Conference, make $300,000 or more, and USA TODAY found that perks once reserved for head coaches are commonplace: multiyear and rollover deals, supplemental income from TV and radio, performance bonuses, retention bonuses, cars, complimentary tickets and country club memberships.

Tennessee's nine assistants earn an average of more than $369,000; Texas' better than $327,000."


"Of the 60-plus assistants USA TODAY found making $300,000 or more this season, 29 are in the SEC and 15 in the Big 12. Tennessee became a pacesetter, handing its head coaching job to Lane Kiffin, who in turn recruited a who's who staff of assistants and paid them accordingly.

"I really think you have to spend money to make money," the younger Kiffin says. "When you go out, get those coaches, that's going to translate into recruiting, winning, ticket sales, your team doing better, (and) I don't think you ever ask those questions again."

He cites Alabama's rise under Nick Saban, who is making $3.9 million this year. "When he was hired ... every article was, 'I can't believe how much we paid Nick Saban at Alabama,' " Kiffin says. "Well, guess what? Nobody writes about it anymore because they win. So when we start winning, nobody is going to write about how much we pay our assistant coaches because, in turn, we're going to make a lot more money by them being there. I don't think it's a big deal."

He smiles. "And I took a lot less so we'd have money for them."

Meanwhile, the cash-strapped UT system warily eyes the expiration of federal stimulus money and the prospect of trimming 500 jobs in two years, two-thirds of them on its Knoxville campus. Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen, chairman of the system's board of trustees, expressed discomfort earlier this year, telling the Associated Press, "When your neighbor's enduring hard times is not the time to flash your Cadillac in the driveway."

The Volunteers athletics department is one of the few able to give its university a financial lift, contributing $10.35 million to the school and university system in September and pledging an additional $1 million a year for the next 15 years.

Still, budget figures show that while athletics salaries and benefits are expected to rise 12% this year, the money Tennessee will spend on academic salaries is projected to fall (from $127.68 million in 2008-09 to $127.18 million)."

See Also:
Michael Silence's take on winning and losing seasons at the Big Orange.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Tea Party Protesters Depend on Government-Run Healthcare

As a few thousand folks lined up to hear the Republican congressmen (most of whom were absent from actual committee votes on public policy) last week, some of those anti-healthcare bill protesters needed some emergency medical help from - gasp!! - government operated medicine providers.

One person suffered a heart attack and several others also needed medical care -- all of it provided by government medical personnel. Other protesters denouncing government-run healthcare likewise benefited from a service they despise, though none refused medical assistance from the Office of Attending Physicians who are always on hand to treat elected officials.

As for the work of the OAP:

Services offered by the Office of the Attending Physician include physicals and routine examinations, on-site X-rays and lab work, physical therapy and referrals to medical specialists from military hospitals and private medical practices. According to congressional budget records, the office is staffed by at least four Navy doctors as well as at least a dozen medical and X-ray technicians, nurses and a pharmacist.

Sources said when specialists are needed, they are brought to the Capitol, often at no charge to members of Congress.


"Members of Congress do not pay for the individual services they receive at the OAP, nor do they submit claims through their federal employee health insurance policies. Instead, members pay a flat, annual fee of $503 for all the care they receive. The rest of the cost of their care, sources said, is subsidized by taxpayers.

Last year, Congress appropriated more than $3 million to reimburse the Navy for staff salaries at the office. Next year's budget allocates $3.8 million for the office, including more than half a million dollars to upgrade the Office's radiology suite. Sources said additional money to operate the office is included in the Navy's annual budget.

In 2008, 240 members paid the annual fee, though some sources say congressmen who didn't pay the fee were rarely prevented from using OAP services"

Funny, but even elected officials who attended the rally say they love the medical care they receive while on Captiol Hill:

On a related note, I can't help but wonder how many of the lawmakers who spoke at yesterday's rally also like to stop by the Office of the Attending Physician -- the elaborate, government-run health care office conveniently located between the House and Senate chambers, staffed with a team of medical professionals who are "standing by, on-call and ready to provide Congress with some of the country's best and most efficient government-run health care."

Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.), for example, hates government-run, taxpayer-subsidized health care, but he just loves the Office of the Attending Physician on the Hill.

I don't imagine this came up during yesterday's speeches. I wonder why."

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Meet Michael Alvis and Buy His Book

I've been most fortunate living here in East TN to have made so many good friends with folks who are also talented artists. It might seem odd to some, but there has always been this very strong and powerful community of artists in our area and it's my pleasure to introduce another to you today.

Michael Alvis currently teaches photography at Carson-Newman College, my alma mater, and he's also a skilled painter too. We became friend when I was a student in the early 1980s and we soon found a shared passion - watching movies. This was back in the day when VCRs were top-loaders and we shelled out way to much money for movie rentals as we would rent massive stacks of videotapes and go on marathon runs which might last for 24 hours or more likely for 48 or 72 hours at a stretch.

Michael is from Rogersville, but has traveled far and wide - visiting every state in our country as well as living for several years in Japan. He was there again this summer and taking pictures of a place and a people which he truly loves. He has now collected some of his favorites for a book, titled "Japan {Shashin}" which is now on sale and you can preview the book here at this website.

I urge you to spend some time looking at the book, and hey, the holidays are about to begin so why not buy a copy or two or three for friends? And here, take a look at some of the other books Michael has for sale too -- you'll see much to enjoy and much to buy, so buy it!!

Michael creates images which I really enjoy - he has this knack for capturing images of our world which are sometimes on the edges of our daily perspectives, sometimes are right in front of us and he makes those images unique. Here, another book I really like is called "Dog Trade", a collection of photos which are all signs - hand-written signs, abandoned signs, and other signs of human life. A sample is below from his online gallery via the C-N Art Department:

Most every day of my post college life was surely shaped by the many hours and days I spent at the Art building at Carson-Newman. No, I was no Art Major, but the people and the ideas I encountered there have been a constant inspiration. Michael and others who call the Art Department home - Department Chairman David Underwood, Artist-In-Residence William Houston, and David's wife Susan Underwood, who is the Creative Writing professor at C-N - are also my friends and folks who made my life much better.

The image below is a portrait of Michael Alvis, and a cover to one of his books, made from the many images he captured in Japan with his camera. Now go and buy his work.