School Choice in Nashville

There’s a cool event going on at the Nashville Zoo next Thursday for those in the midstate area.  The 2008 Friedman Legacy Event is a free event presented by the Tennessee Center for Policy Research in support of homeschool, charter school, and private school rights.  They’re even providing chaperones so that your kids can have fun at the zoo instead of sitting through all that boring talking!

The event is named in honor of Milton Friedman–more details are available on their site.

Let’s Call it Two Million Hundred Dollars

Maybe that would have been an easier PR sell for the UT Athletic Department. Then they’d only be dealing with hundreds of dollars instead of millions. That may be a little easier for people to swallow.

And this facility is used how many times a year? Seven? Let’s be generous and call it ten since the Knoxville Marathon finishes in the stadium and there’s a chance Kenny Chesney may play there. And let’s assume that the investment is stretched out over ten years, or 100 days of use.

That means these upgrades will only cost $2,000,000 for each day they are in service.

“We’re being as careful as we’ve always been to make sure we spend these dollars wisely that Tennessee fans and donors invest,” Currie said.

It must be nice to have money.  I’m just glad it’s not my money they’re spending.

Neyland face-lift: $200M.

Chemical Spill Shows Us the Sequatchie Valley

We didn’t pay much any attention to the news while visiting the midstate over the weekend, and were really surprised to find I-40 east closed from Cookville to Knoxville because of a chemical spill.  There are a couple of ways to react to something like this.  One is to kick yourself in the ass for not paying attention before you left.  We did that for about 30 seconds, but it’s not very productive.  The suggestion from safety workers was to travel down highway 111 to Chattanooga, then head back north on I-75 to Knoxville.  Coming down 111 into Dunlap I remembered that my buddy used to live there, so I gave him a call and ask the fastest way to Knoxville from there.

Sequatchie ValleyEven though it took us a lot longer than we’d planned for our trip, we really enjoyed the scenery of the Sequatchie Valley by taking Hwy 27 to Hwy 30 and over to I-75 at Athens.  It’s really beautiful and quiet down there, and if I didn’t know that everyone in the world reads this blog I’d recommend the drive, but I don’t want to cause a major traffic jam, so I’ll stop short of doing that.

Parenting for Adults

When (if) my kid(s) decide to go to college as adults, I expect they’ll do some pretty stupid things during the first couple of years and beyond.  To me, making mistakes and dealing with the consequences are important aspects of the learning process; part of acquiring an education.  Luckily, the State of Tennessee now has taken it upon themselves to get involved in my chosen method of nonparenting, if my kid adult decides to drink a couple of cold beers on campus.

Let’s take this to its logical end.  Why not also notify the parents when they skip class, jaywalk, or get thrown out of an intramural floor hockey game for beating down an opposing player while protected with full goalie gear?  Not that I ever participated in any such activity as a student.  I did, however, have a friend who talked filthy talk at a football game once.  Luckily for him, his parents weren’t notified.

It’s nice to see that while State universities don’t have the ability to support actual academic programs, they still have the ability to parent effectively.

Maria Bartiromo All Oiled Up

Maria BartiromoMaria Bartiromo was my big crush at the turn of the century.  My daily schedule was to get up really early to work out, take a nap, and then get up to watch her for the opening bell at the NYSE on Squawk Box.  She’s super smart, and not too tough to look at either, so I didn’t have much trouble staying awake to hear what she had to say.  A couple of naps later and I could check her out again in the afternoons on Street Signs.

Then the .com bubble burst and I had to get a real job.  Oh well.

Last night Maria Bartiromo hosted a special on CNBC on America’s Oil Crisis.  There were a few really interesting points and ideas on why we are in the situation we’re in right now and what’s going to happen in the future with oil and other energy sources.  For instance,  I was surprised to learn that George Bush doesn’t get up early every morning to set the prices at the pump of each and every gas station in the United States.

So who is to blame?

Speculators, for one, are getting a big part of the blame for creating something of an oil bubble.  I didn’t realize that you only have to come up with 5% of the purchase price on oil, and a lot of folks are saying that margin should be raised.  I’m good with letting some speculators get stuck when the bubble (if there really is one) bursts myself, just so long as they aren’t going to get bailed out for borrowing money to purchase over priced oil.

Where does the government’s share of the blame come in?  No real energy policy, disallowing drilling in the US, continuing to devalue the currency and weaken the dollar.  I guess those could have some effect, huh?   Now there are pending threats of taxes on windfall profits on oil companies to boot.  Talk about some incentive to increase production–just tell the producer that you’ll charge them more to allow them to do the work.  Makes total sense.

It was interesting that 15% of the viewers polled put the blame on the consumer for not changing consumption habits.  It makes me wonder–what is the price per gallon of gasoline that would make you carpool?  Downsize in car?  For me that was the $2 mark in 2002.

Bartiromo, the naughty capitalist that she is, slants a lot of her questions in favor of letting markets work these things out, but there were plenty of people interviewed on the show who are in favor of heavy government intervention, hinting at times that gas should be subsidized.  I guess we have a right to state provided gas now too?

East Tennessee High Schools Among Best In Country!

From the KNS:

Three East Tennessee schools are among the top 1,300 U.S. public high schools, according to a 2008 ranking released this week by Newsweek.

Oak Ridge High School in Anderson County is ranked 892, Farragut and West high schools in Knox County are ranked 1,031 and 1,042 respectively, according to the listing.

3 out of 1300?

0 out of 891?


Is this article supposed to be a pat on the back for area schools or a hit piece?  Lots of people are asking about Maryville High School in the comments.  Why wasn’t it included on this list?  Supposedly it is the pinnacle of high school football education in this state.

Remember that girl in high school that everyone thought was hot, mostly because everyone else thought she was hot?  Did you ever go back and look at your yearbook and realize that she wasn’t all that pretty?

Just wondering…

CoWorking in Knoxville. Why Not?

Although I didn’t get any work done, this was one of the most productive afternoons I’ve had in a long time. Today I met up with some fine folks to discuss the idea of CoworkingKnoxville. Of course, as the name implies, the general idea is that we actually will get some work done eventually. But today turned into more of a discussion of ideas centered around coworking and its possibilities in this area. For more information on coworking, a great place to start is Alex’s site, but the general idea is a shared space where people with different skill sets and backgrounds can gather to collaborate (or not) on ideas using shared resources, making everyone’s work time more productive and efficient.

The group of five who met today all came from different backgrounds, but without a doubt there is a common thread running through the collective consciousness. Although it’s an idea that all of us have in some abstract form in our minds (ok, it’s pretty firm for Alex), it’s still a little hard for me to get my own mind completely wrapped around at this point. But to me, that shared idea is “why not?

Why can’t a guy who works for a large corporation while remaining a blogging powerhouse out of his home office share workspace with a freelance marketing research consultant recently transplanted from LA? And why shouldn’t they have access to another guy who works a job locally but is tied into the local web development community? And wouldn’t it benefit everyone to sit next to an altrupreneur who is in Knoxville by way of San Francisco and may be here for a month or a year? Why can’t all of these people share internet access, and a conference room, and a big whiteboard?

Why can’t this movement grow to the point that people are actually attracted to come here to be a part of it? Why can’t we make Knoxville a place people flock to looking for this exact thing? After all, Knoxville is loaded with talented people and the cost of living is negligible compared to the West Coast.

Why can’t we make this happen? I think we can.

Smoking Still Legal Near Hospitals

From the KNS:

Burchett and the House sponsor, Rep. Johnny Shaw, D-Bolivar, said the measure would help protect the health of hospital patients, their families and medical staff.

That’s funny, because every time I drive by a hospital I’m utterly amazed at the number of supposedly educated health care professionals who are standing outside puffing away and turning their faces into catchers’ mitts and cooking themselves from the inside.

The real shame is that hospitals don’t currently have the legal right to decide where people can smoke on hospital property, right? Right?

Hospitals already have the power to block smoking on their property if they wish, he said.

Power? Wish? This guy makes it sound like the hospital could handle this on their own. How preposterous! How can anything be decided or handled without the gov’ment?

I’m not complaining…this measure failed. I just can’t believe it was ever even considered.

Big Oops for Former Electrical Engineering Professor

J. Reece Roth was allegedly involved in providing sensitive data to the Chinese.

I had professor Roth for a class.  Here’s how remarkable the guy was–I’m not 100% sure what class it was.  Plasma engineering maybe?  All I remember about him is that he was slightly on the tubby side, the suits he wore included a vest, and he seemed very disinterested in dealing with undergrads.

My class attendance record probably insures that he remembers even less about me.

Wine At The Grocery Store?

HT to Michael Silence for this.

Sen. Bill Ketron and Rep. Randy Rinks introduced a bill (SB3139/HB3451) at the beginning of the legislative session. The proposed legislation would allow wine sales only in municipalities that currently allow package sales.

Just another one of the many things I don’t understand:  we need legislation to allow wine sales in grocery stores?  I understand the concept of legislation that disallows something, but I don’t get the need for laws that allow things.  Why not just repeal the law that keeps grocery stores from selling wine in the first place?

And what was the original purpose of keeping wine out of groceries?  The only benefit I can see is for the liquor stores have the market cornered currently.

Yeah, I know we live in the Bible Belt and that’s just the way things are, but was there a problem with people showing up to church wine-drunk on Sundays because they stopped to get bread and eggs on their way and were seduced into buying a bottle of cabernet?

Apparently there’s a mini-movement going on to expand wine sales to food retailers.  I’m not much of a wino–the headache just isn’t worth the great taste, but I wouldn’t mind being able to buy some high gravity beers now and then without having to make an extra stop.  Either way, what do I care if someone else buys wine?  How does that affect me?