Archive for the ‘Local Interest’ Category

Ugh, powder blue

Friday, June 27th, 2008

Clinton and Obama wore (nearly) matching outfits at their Unity event this afternoon: her pantsuit and his tie were both, according to Politico‘s color-spectrum analysis, powder blue.


Powder blue, of course, used to be a UCLA school color, back when I was at USC. But the Bruins switched in 2003 to a different shade of blue, so I guess I can forgive the Dems for their use of what I’ve always considered a rather distasteful shade of an otherwise fine color. Still… for future reference, I’d recommend either Notre Dame blue or Newington blue. :)

Anyway, here are some more photos from the Obama-Clinton rally in Unity.

A Dodd scandal, and a Courant catastrophe

Wednesday, June 25th, 2008

The Waterbury Republican-American evidently does not believe in God and Senator Dodd. Well, maybe the former, but certainly not the latter. :) In an editorial Monday, the Rep-Am‘s editorial board calls Dodd "Tammany Hall’s senior senator" and scolds the national media — as well as, in a subsequent editorial, the Hartford Courant — for failing to more vigorously cover "the sweetheart mortgages he got from Countrywide Financial CEO Angelo Nozilo." (Countrywide is described as "the Enron of subprime mortgages.") "This scandal has legs," the editors assert.

I haven’t followed this at all, so I have no idea whether it’s a big deal; I just saw the link on InstaPundit, and since it involves Connecticut’s, er, other senator, I figured it deserved a post.

Meanwhile, in other Connecticut news — and speaking of the Courant — the Nutmeg State’s paper of record is eliminating 60 newsroom staffers and reducing the number of news pages in the paper per week from 273 to 206. Here’s the memo to staff. (Hat tip: my dad.)

It’s times like these I’m really happy I went into law instead of journalism.

Big Google is watching you me

Thursday, June 12th, 2008

Google Street View has come to Knoxville.

For instance, here’s the place I just came back from — the Knoxville Visitor
Center on Gay Street, where the WDVX Blue Plate Special takes place
every weekday:

View Larger Map

And here’s a look at the Gay Street Bridge, seen from across the river in South Knoxville, with several downtown buildings, the Sunsphere, and the Henley Street Bridge in the distance:

View Larger Map

(Hat tip: Michael Silence.) More after the jump.


Nature’s fireworks

Thursday, June 12th, 2008

As I mentioned earlier, a severe thunderstorm pounded North Knoxville this afternoon. I had a bird’s eye view of the storm from the parking garage downtown where I park for work, and I was able to capture several still frames of cloud-to-ground lightning from the videos I took with my digital camera. Here’s the best one:


Here’s what the storm looked like on radar at that very moment:


A wider, animated radar view can be found here. There are more lightning pics — and other storm photos — in my Flickr gallery, and several of those photos are highlighted on my photoblog.

UPDATE: One of my lightning videos is now on Flickr as well. You can see several lightning strikes, including the one pictured above.

P.S. The thunderstorm gave way to a beautiful sunset several hours later. Here are a couple photos of that:



Again, visit my Flickr gallery and my photoblog for more.

In welcome (& lucky) bit of comic relief, CT bomb squad detonates IED hidden in poultry

Thursday, June 12th, 2008

In the tony Hartford outer suburb of Simsbury, law enforcement authorities (alerted by a vigilant citizen) recently thwarted a Terror plot whose perpetrator(s) had deployed a Chicken with an unusually sinister Stuffing:

…A motorist on Powder Forest Drive Friday morning noticed what looked like a whole chicken — the kind bought at grocery stores for roasting — with a pipe bomb stuffed inside, police said Monday.

When they arrived on the scene around 9 a.m. officers found the roaster had an improvised explosive device where the fowl’s innards should have been.

They closed the road for part of the morning as the Hartford Police Department’s bomb squad was called to detonate the device, police said.

In its recent history, Simsbury and local residents have had their problems with hungry black bears, roaming coyotes and escaped emus. Now town folks can add store-bought chicken, stuffed with a bomb, to the list of odd animal incidents.

With the chicken and bomb taken care of, police are left to investigate who’s responsible for the strange incident.

Police Capt. Matthew Catania would not describe the bomb Monday, but said it was “capable of causing harm to a person.”…

Which, thank God it didn’t occur, would definitionally have been Worse than the Irreparable harm already inflicted upon the Chicken :>.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Now ~ not to abruptly Pivot to the Negative or anything like that ;> ~ of course the reason Connecticut in general, and our Capital region of Hartford in particular, may Welcome this (only-by-the-grace-of-God) bit of Comic relief ~ is, that over the past week or so we have been quite-understandably Pounded all to Pieces, on the Cablenewsies & the Internets, about the astonishingly-tepid Videotaped response of his Lower Park Street neighbors to the depravedly-indifferent hit-&-run Rundown of Angel Arce Torres, age 78, who (it now develops) will spend whatever remains of his life on a ventilator in the hospital.

Following closely on the heels of various other recent Hartford horrors, including the brutal mugging/beating of 71-year-old former Deputy Mayor Nick Carbone ~ who has probably done more to help All the people of Hartford than any other living person ~ all this has set off some considerable sociological soul-searching in & around the city of my birth, and my son’s. / Also, on a purely Practical level, the Staties are coming in ~ Again ~ to give the Local constabulary a hand. Hey ~ it’s a Start.

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

So. You can perhaps see why we kind of Like the Simsbury Chickenbomb story. At least it has a happy Ending. (Well. Apart from the Chicken. / Fire in the Hole, indeed. :)

Beautiful Knoxville scenery

Wednesday, June 11th, 2008

Don’t you love it when Glenn Reynolds gets a little pervy with his photography? I sure do! But what does Dr. Helen think? ;)

(I kid, Glenn, I kid!)

36 hours in Knoxville

Friday, June 6th, 2008

New York Times travel writer Allison Glock spends 36 hours in Knoxville, which she calls "a place too unassuming to shout about but too comfortable to leave":

Knoxville, cheerfully ensconced in the foothills of the Great Smoky
Mountains and banked against the Tennessee River, has an intrinsically
lazy, soulful feel. The geography is soft, green and rolling. The
climate is gentle, breezy and bright. Locals tend to be not just
friendly — a given in most Southern towns — but chilled out, too. This
is not the Old South of magnolias and seersucker so much as a modern
Appalachia of roots music, locavore food, folk art and hillbilly pride. Or, as yet another city moniker aptly states, “Austin without the hype.”

WDVX’s Blue Plate Special is prominently featured, as well it should be. Photo gallery here. (Hat tip: InstaPundit.)

About that Kevin White thing…

Wednesday, June 4th, 2008

I realize I’m incredibly slow in blogging about this story, but just in case you’ve been living under a rock and haven’t heard, Kevin White is no longer Notre Dame’s athletic director.

Kevin White was hired as Duke’s athletic director Saturday, leaving Notre Dame for a school with an elite basketball team and a football team that has had 13 straight losing seasons and has not been to a bowl since 1994.

Notre Dame appointed Missy Conboy as its interim athletic director. The school said there is no timetable for a permanent replacement.

White will replace Joe Alleva, who was hired as LSU’s athletic director in April after a decade of leading the Blue Devils’ 26 sports programs.

“Kevin White is in the first rank of athletics directors nationally and will make a perfect fit at Duke,” university president Richard Brodhead said.

White had been at Notre Dame since 2000. He hired football coaches Tyrone Willingham and Charlie Weis, and hired former Duke assistant Mike Brey as the men’s basketball coach. …

White helped Notre Dame plan a $26 million renovation of the basketball arena and expand the school’s nonrevenue sports. He and his wife were made honorary alumni three days before switching jobs.

But White was widely criticized by Irish fans because the football team hasn’t won a national championship since 1988 — the longest stretch in school history — and some fans place much of the blame on White.

He gave Bob Davie a contract extension in 2000, then fired him after the next season. White replaced Davie with George O’Leary, who resigned after less than a week on the job after he admitted he had lied about his academic and athletic past. White’s next hire was Willingham, who lasted just three years.

In all, the Irish football team had four winning seasons, three losing campaigns and one .500 finish during White’s tenure.

Her Loyal Sons and Rakes of Mallow have complete coverage of White’s departure and the search for a possible replacement.

I apologize for not blogging this sooner. My parents were in town this past weekend, visiting us and the baby, so my free time for blogging was limited. Even so, as I mentioned in comments on another post, I actually drafted a whole post about this on Saturday, only to have my computer crash before I’d saved it. I then intended to post something Monday or Tuesday, but got totally consumed with blogging about the rapidly changing Hillary Clinton-related developments, and never got around to it.

Anyway. Yeah. Kevin White, gone. I can’t say I’m shedding any tears over it. What do y’all think?

P.S. Duke sucks.

Shark sighting!

Saturday, May 31st, 2008

As I mentioned earlier, my parents are in town this weekend, and tonight my dad and I went to a Tennessee Smokies game. I had totally forgotten that Notre Dame’s Jeff Samardzija is a Smokie (er, a Smoky?), but he is, and there he was, standing in the dugout right in front of us:

I couldn’t resist saying something, so I walked up to the edge of the dugout and yelled “Hey, Jeff!” a couple of times until he heard me and looked over. I then said, “Go Irish!” He responded with a sort of half-smile and quasi-acknowledgment that suggested he gets that all the time from Notre Dame fans who feel so passionately about the Irish that they figure it’s perfectly reasonable to treat famous ND alums like long-lost buddies and thus randomly say “Go Irish” at them. Heh.

Alas, Samardzija wasn’t pitching tonight, but it was cool to see him anyway. He’s got a blog, by the way.

Anyway, the Smokies won the game, 8-3, and we had a good time. Here are a few more pictures:

Baby’s first hike through the Smokies

Monday, May 26th, 2008

Becky, Loyette and I spent Memorial Day communing with nature, as we hiked the Porters Creek Trail, a roughly 7-mile walk through the woods in the Smoky Mountain National Park.

It was very fun, if somewhat exhausting. (The hike to the campsite at the end of the trail was relentlessly uphill; the walk back was, naturally, downhill, and therefore mercifully less tiring.) We carried Loyette in her Kangaroo Korner slings, Becky using the fleece one and me using the mesh one, as we always do. We passed her back and forth throughout the roughly six-hour hike, and whoever wasn’t wearing the baby would wear the backpack. So that worked out pretty well.

Loyette was amazingly tolerant of the long day. She got cranky exactly three times — twice just before taking a long nap in her sling (i.e., she was tired), and once just before lunch (i.e., she was hungry). She’s a great baby that way. :) Throughout the vast majority of the hike, she was bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, and seemed very interested in all the new sights, sounds and smells. Of course, that meant not just the natural wonders of the forest, but also the more mundane “wonders” like the feel of cold condensation on the outside of our water bottle, and the way a plastic bag full of peanuts (a handy trail snack) changes shape when you grab the outside of the bag. To a baby, everything new is exciting and wondrous.

Anyway, the trail we hiked is renowned for its beautiful wildflowers in early spring. Since it’s late May, there aren’t as many wildflowers now, but there are some, and they’re pretty. Here are a few that I photographed:

See also this one and this one.

Oh, and the trail also has a somewhat scary bridge, quite reminiscent of the Bridge of Khazad-Dûm (although with a railing, admittedly):

It’s hard to tell from the photos, but there’s really quite a steep drop-off; the water is maybe 15 feet below you in the middle. And given the narrowness of the bridge, it’s legitimately somewhat nerve-wracking to walk across.

I really wanted to find a large stick, hold it up, and proclaim, “You cannot pass! I am the servant of the Secret Fire, wielder of the Flame of Anor. Dark fire will not avail you, Flame of Udûn! Go back to the shadow! You shall not pass!!!”

But alas, there was another pair of hikers sitting on a rock nearby, well within earshot, so I had to contain my weirdness. :)

I did, however, do what my dad and I call the Indiana Jones pose — notwithstanding the fact that, to my knowledge, Indiana Jones never did any such pose.

Anyway, I’ll upload some more pictures of the hike to Flickr shortly, and link to them here when they’re online.

P.S. I think this photo is cool:

UPDATE: As promised, here’s the Flickr gallery. It’s two pages long. Enjoy!

Steve Ludlow, class act

Monday, May 19th, 2008

Anybody who’s ever had C. Stephen Ludlow as either an English teacher or a tennis coach at Newington High School knows he’s a great guy and a class act. Now the Hartford Courant‘s readers know, too, thanks to an act of kindness toward an arch-rival last week that got written up in today’s paper:

Tom Chauvin called it one of the most moving experiences he’s had in 34
years of coaching the girls tennis team at Bristol Eastern.

what Chauvin called an intense, closely contested 5-2 victory over rival
Newington on Monday, he was talking with his players as they sat on the court.
The victory gave Eastern at least a share of the CCC South championship. Then he
noticed Newington coach Steve Ludlow walking toward his team with his players
lined up and Chauvin quickly told his team to get up.

Ludlow handed
Chauvin an envelope, which contained a donation to a [scholarship] fund that Bristol Eastern
started in memory of former player Holly Getler, who died last summer at 22
after a lifelong battle with kidney disease. … More than $100 was collected. [That’s roughly 5 percent of the total amount that Eastern needs to reach its fundraising goal.]

"It blew us all away," Chauvin said. "I didn’t know how he even knew about it.
We’ve been chief rivals for years now. I call them the New York Yankees of our division.

"This is what sport is supposed to be
about. What those 20 kids or so learned at that moment collectively, that is the
learning value that will stay with them."

It makes me proud to be a Newington alum (and a Ludlow alum!).

P.S. It should be noted that Chauvin isn’t exaggerating about the rivalry — though I prefer to think of Bristol Eastern as the evil Yankees, and Newington as the lovable Red Sox. :) Actually, Michigan-Ohio State is probably a better analogy: like the Wolverines-Buckeyes football game, the Indians-Lancers tennis match is always the last game of the season, and it’s a battle for the conference championship pretty much every year. But anyway, the point is, with CCC re-alignment diminishing the Newington-Southington rivalries in several sports, the NHS-BEHS rivalry in girls tennis is probably one of the biggest and fiercest old rivalries left. So this act of good sportsmanship and kindness by Mr. Ludlow and the Indians is all the more admirable against that backdrop.

Me & Barack

Saturday, May 17th, 2008

Okay, so it's a cardboard cutout. :) It's in front of the Sevier County Democratic Party headquarters in Sevierville, which Becky, Loyette and I are visiting for the Bloomin' Barbecue and Bluegrass Festival.

The Ragin’ Cajun in Knoxville

Friday, May 16th, 2008

As I mentioned previously, Becky and I went to the Knox County Democrats’ Truman Day Dinner last night at the Knoxville Convention Center, where we were treated to a keynote address by none other than than the Ragin’ Cajun himself, James Carville, described in the event’s program as "the most famous political consultant in America" (something I think Karl Rove might take issue with).

Carville was as advertised: bombastic, outrageous, and hilarious. He was also, despite his well-known LSU fandom, dressed in a Tennessee football jersey throughout his remarks:

It was a Peyton Manning jersey, presented to him by the Knox County Democratic Party chairman, and he wore it proudly because, as Carville pointed out, Manning was born and raised in Louisiana. "He was our gift to your state," the native Louisianan said. "Don’t expect any more."

A press release in advance of Carville’s speech said he "will be giving his analysis of the primary campaign of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama," but in fact, he mostly steered clear of that topic, except to mock the hand-wringers who believe the battle is killing the party. "Don’t worry," he said. "We’ll be united." He added, "I’d much rather be in the party that’s got two good candidates than in the party with one bad one."

The Republicans, Carville said, are the ones who are imploding (a theme echoed today by Peggy Noonan, who I’m guessing doesn’t agree with Carville all that often). He then summoned his political strategy expertise and offered some free advice to the Republicans: "PANIC!!!"

But his most memorable jabs were reserved for a former Republican candidate for president, Tennessee’s own Fred Thompson. Carville quipped that Thompson was "the only presidential candidate in history to test positive for ambien." (The audience roared.) Carville also said, to uproarious laughter, that Thompson is a big supporter of President Bush’s education policy: "He wanted to make sure no child was left behind, so he married her." Heh.

I think my favorite line, though, was his reference to the topic that made this blog famous. Carville mentioned that he’ll be giving the commencement address at Tulane this weekend. "I left Louisiana in 1986, and it took me 22 years to get back," he said. "That means I’m getting to Louisiana faster than FEMA got there."

You can read local news coverage of Carville’s visit from the Knoxville News-Sentinel and Volunteer TV, and a bloggy interview at KnoxViews. Also, via Knoxville Talks, here is the local NBC affiliate’s interview with Carville before the dinner:

As always with these sorts of events, you have to sit through all kinds of warm-up acts before the main event, and those included speeches by U.S. Senate candidates Bob Tuke and Mike Padgett, both of whom are vying to take on Lamar Alexander in November. (The primary is August 7; there are six Democrats on the ballot, but Tuke and Padgett are considered the front-runners.)

Both men spoke a little too long, I’d say, mostly repeating similar talking points: the Republicans are to blame for everything that’s wrong with the country, Lamar Alexander has been in Washington for too long and is out of touch with ordinary Tennesseans, etc. Becky thought Tuke was the better speaker by far; personally, I thought Padgett was just about as good, but suffered from the fact that he spoke second, and by that point the audience was getting bored, having already heard all the good anti-GOP lines, and was ready for Carville to speak. Even so, it’s odd that Tuke seemed to connect better with the audience, given that he’s from Nashville whereas Padgett is a local boy.

Regardless, in all likelihood, Tuke and Padgett are fighting for the right to be a sacrificial lamb in November. According to a Rasmussen poll last month, Alexander leads 59% to 30% over Tuke and 58% to 31% over Padgett. But don’t tell that to anyone at last night’s event. It was basically a big pep rally for the Democratic Party, and although one speaker acknowledged that it can be "tough to be a Democrat in East Tennessee," folks at this shindig were incredibly upbeat about their chances in November. Of course, political self-delusion is a well-practiced art (just ask Carville’s favored presidential candidate!), but I can see why there’d be some optimism: between the general national mood (Tuesday’s special election in Mississippi was mentioned numerous times) and the recent scandals in the Republican-dominated Knox County government, it seems like, if there’s ever a year when Democrats have a chance in East Tennessee, this would be the year.

The latest California couple

Friday, May 16th, 2008

Gays aren’t the only new couples in California. USC and the Coliseum have patched up their differences and worked out a deal to keep the Trojans playing at the Coliseum for another 25 years, about the same time Coach Carroll will be ready to retire.

A thought on West Virginia

Monday, May 12th, 2008

There have been a lot of articles published in recent days with man-on-the-street quotes from West Virginia along the lines of, "I heard that Obama is a Muslim and his wife’s an atheist."

Now, I’m not denying that this sort of sentiment is a problem for Obama, nor am I necessarily denying that it’s a particularly severe problem in West Virginia. But can we please take this reporting with a little grain of salt, at least? I’m not sure whether these sorts of quotes tell us all that much about the electoral dynamic in West Virginia, as opposed to the psyche of the reporters writing the stories.

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that, if you’re a reporter, and you conduct enough man-on-the-street interviews, you can find some idiot to say "Obama’s a Muslim" — or even "Obama’s a n***er" — anywhere. You can find racists and xenophobes and conspiratorial crazies in California, New York, Texas, Illinois; you can find ’em all over the damn country.

Can you find them more easily in West Virginia? Perhaps. But you’re also much more likely to publish their quotes in a story about West Virginia, because it fits the storyline perfectly. Indeed, such a quote is precisely what these reporters are looking for when they start conducting the interviews in West Virginia. Whereas in California or New York, they’d probably ignore the random racist quote, in West Virginia they go out, they turn on the yokel-detecting radar, they hold up a microphone to the redneckiest-lookin’ redneck they can find, and — voila! — journalistic magic happens.

Again: I’m not denying the real, genuine significance of racism as a factor in Obama’s problems, nor am I suggesting that Appalachia is devoid of racists. But please, let’s not jump to the conclusion that, when Hillary wins tomorrow’s primary by a margin of 70% to 30%, it means that 70 percent of West Virginia Democrats are racists, just because we read a handful of cherrypicked quotes that seem to validate that preconceived notion.

Hillary Clinton’s supporters prefer her to Obama for a whole bunch of reasons, some of them cultural, some of them political, some of them overtly racial, some of them subconsciously racial, and some of them falling into various other categories. While I disagree with their choice (and I strongly disagree with Hillary’s conscious or reckless exploitation of the prejudices that do exist), it’s an insult to those voters to paint them all with a broad brush and assume the only reason they’ve voting for Hillary is because they hate black people, or people with the middle name "Hussein," or whatever.

It’s possible to condemn prejudice without engaging in it, and that’s what’s called for here. Some people in West Virginia (and elsewhere) are voting on the basis of racism, and that sucks. Most others aren’t, and we shouldn’t assume that they are. And that’s all I have to say about that.

UPDATE: Poblano writes:

I do want to write a little bit more about the
notion that West Virginians are racist. … [T]he short version is: yes,
there are racist voters in West Virginia, but there are racist voters
in every state. The primary determinant of the extent to which racism
tends to be more manifest is education levels, and so the effects may
be more noticeable in West Virgnia, a state with poor academic
achievement. But there is no reason to believe that West Virgnians are
particularly racist, relative to their education levels.

That seems right to me.