Thursday, August 28, 2014

The Daily Links: Security Theater, Terry Gilliam, and Paleo-Eskimos

Posted By on Thu, Aug 28, 2014 at 5:00 PM

Every day we read a lot of stuff. If it's interesting, thought provoking, funny or being shared by everyone we know on the Internet, we share some of it with you. Happy reading.

From Grantland: The Last Temptation of the Ol’ Ball Coach

From Rolling Stone: Insecurity State: The Politics Behind the Drama in Ferguson

From Vulture: Terry Gilliam on 13 of the Most Difficult Scenes He Ever Shot

From The Daily Dot: How the growing generation gap is changing the face of fandom

Continue reading »

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Don Majors is Leaving Jim Cooper's Office to Come Back to the Metro Council

Posted By on Thu, Aug 28, 2014 at 12:55 PM

Don Majors wants to return to the Metro Council.

The former district councilman, who represented the Maplewood area in the 90s and early 2000s, is leaving Nashville Congressman Jim Cooper's local office after nearly 12 years of working in constituent services. He plans to run for one of the council's five open at-large seats next year.

“I’m ready for the next adventure," Majors tells Pith. "And I actually miss the legislative process, having served on the council before. I miss the opportunity to have a hands on participation in the legislative process.”

He says the city's financial trajectory is one of the issues pulling him back to local government.

“I am concerned about the direction the city is going," he says. "I would like to continue that direction, but I am concerned about our financial status down the road and just want to be in a position to make a contribution towards us maintaining financial stability.”

Majors plans to make a formal announcement later next month.

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Listen To The Arguments Against Same Sex Marriage Get Destroyed

Posted By on Thu, Aug 28, 2014 at 12:00 PM

Tennessee's appeals on the same-sex marriage issue were heard a few weeks ago and Wisconsin and Indiana's appeals were up on Tuesday.

By all accounts, it was a brutal day for the anti-marriage equality crowd. The judge who put those states' bans on same-sex-marriage to the sword was Richard Posner, a Reagan appointee and conservative who had no use for the arguments in favor of keeping the bans in place.

Samuelson [state's counsel]: Well, we have, uh, the Burkean argument, that it’s reasonable and rational to proceed slowly.

Posner: That’s the tradition argument. It’s feeble! Look, they could have trotted out Edmund Burke in the Loving case. What’s the difference? [Note: Loving v. Virginia was a 1967 decision striking down bans on interracial marriage] . . . There was a tradition of not allowing black and whites, and, actually, other interracial couples from marrying. It was a tradition. It got swept aside. Why is this tradition better?

Samuelson: The tradition is based on experience. And it’s the tradition of western culture.

Posner: What experience! It’s based on hate, isn’t it?

Slate has compiled a series of Soundcloud clips from the proceedings and if you want to hear what happens when you take a bad argument into a hostile court, take a listen.

Here's a sample:

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The Front of the Book: Sheila Barnett, Lenda Sherrell, Citizen Barrett and More

Posted By on Thu, Aug 28, 2014 at 10:44 AM

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Sheila Barnett: On the cover this week is the story of Sheila Barnett, a single mother of two whose been in legal limbo for three years, facing charges of neglecting a child she didn't know.

Of the five people facing felony charges stemming from the events of June 11, 2011 — the day 8-month-old Kingston White was discovered with a half-inch slice through his tongue — Sheila Barnett stands out.

She is not related to anyone who was in the house that day. Nor was she really friends with them at the time. She had never seen baby Kingston or his twin sister Shakira before. She is not charged with doing anything to the child — in fact she's charged with doing nothing.

Lenda Sherrell: A relative unknown Democrat goes up against Congressman Scott DesJarlais, who wasn't even supposed to survive the Republican primary:

Both candidates have roughly the same amount of spending money on hand — DesJarlais with about $113,000 to Sherrell's $93,500, according to latest campaign reports. The Tennessee Democratic Party says it plans to help out the first-time candidate, but wouldn't explain how.

"We expect to be supportive across a range of activities, but we aren't necessarily going to tip our tactical hand to the other side publicly," says Alan Secrest, the state party's executive director.

So, you're telling us there's a chance?

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100 Percent of Students Passing Social Studies Is A Problem

Posted By on Thu, Aug 28, 2014 at 8:46 AM

Over at Chalkbeat comes the news that they're finally going to change the social studies exam since 100 percent of students passed it while more than half failed in other areas. Too easy? Maybe, but it's also been around for 12 years.

“(The new test is) just going to be more rigorous because of the new standards, so consequently, I think it makes sense to expect that the rate of students scoring proficient or advanced will more than likely drop,” said Jared Myracle, a Gibson County Special School System administrator and former history and social studies teacher who helped develop the new standards. “I hope what happens, if and when scores decline, is that people would say, ‘Why did this happen? I hope that they’d look at the standards and realize that we can’t expect to perform 100 percent on an assessment that actually includes meaningful skills.”

The new standards are based on Common Core standards and focus more on skills like analysis and making connections between different areas and time periods, and less on memorization, Myracle said.

“Social studies will have to be much more than students gathering information from taking notes,” he said. “It should be a much more involved class, engaging with primary sources, speeches, and documents.”

The last time social studies standards, which apply to social studies in kindergarten through eighth grade and history and geography classes in high school, were updated was in 2002. Usually, standards are updated every six years but in 2008, in the midst of a math and literacy standards overhaul, social studies was overlooked, Myracle and Barton said. The TCAP for social studies and history was shorter than ones for other subjects, and cut scores ensured most students would pass.

If you want to read the new standards, they're posted on the state Department of Education site.

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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Daily Links: André 3000, ISIS, and America's Executions

Posted By on Wed, Aug 27, 2014 at 5:00 PM

Every day we read a lot of stuff. If it's interesting, thought provoking, funny or being shared by everyone we know on the Internet, we share some of it with you. Happy reading.

From Pop Sonnets: Livin on a Prayer

From The Toast: The Parable of the Unjust Judge

From Popular Science: Mysterious Phony Cell Towers Could Be Intercepting Your Calls

From The New York Times: André 3000 Is Moving On in Film, Music and Life

Continue reading »

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Barry, Cooper to Host Fundraiser for Gordon Ball's U.S. Senate Campaign

Posted By on Wed, Aug 27, 2014 at 2:11 PM

Tennessee Democrats have a U.S. Senate candidate they're not running away from.

Nashville Congressman Jim Cooper and At-Large Councilwoman, and 2015 mayoral candidate, Megan Barry are hosting a fundraiser for the Gordon Ball for U.S. Senate campaign, Sept. 4 at Mafiaoza's in 12 South. Vice Mayor Diane Neighbors, At-Large Councilman Jerry Maynard and banker Kevin Lavender will also host.

Ball, a Knoxville attorney, defeated another Knoxville attorney, Terry Adams, earlier in the Democratic primary earlier this month. He's clearly getting some Democratic support, which is more than the last Democratic U.S. Senate nominee or their current gubernatorial candidate can say. Still, some prominent Democrats quickly announced their support for Sen. Lamar Alexander's re-election after the senior senator defeated Joe Carr in the Republican primary.

Here's an invitation for the event.

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Why Style Blueprint Should Stick To What It Knows

Posted By on Wed, Aug 27, 2014 at 12:59 PM

People turn to Style Blueprint for advice on "design, fashion, and recipes, in addition to features on local shops and restaurants." Its editors describe it as "your daily dose of girlfriend talk."

It's a good niche and, according to friends who subscribe to their email, they seem to be doing a decent job.

But in a post about an event to raise money for End Slavery Tennessee — great cause, check out the site here — there is one of the most mind-numbingly stupid things ever written about criminals and drug laws.

To wit (emphasis added):

Trafficking is a growing problem. It’s the second fastest growing crime on the planet, as it’s more lucrative than selling drugs and weapons, it doesn’t require a storefront and it’s hard to get caught. Think about it: you only receive funds for drugs and weapons once. The girls or boys being trafficked bring you money every day for years. And, if the police pull a car over with two scared girls in the back who aren’t talking, it’s a far different situation than a stash of cocaine or weapons. Another thing to consider: as marijuana laws change, there is a line of criminals who are being cut off from their money supply. What do you think they are going to turn to in an attempt to make up for that lost revenue stream? With the Internet, the ability to justify being a trafficker, to think it’s normal, is surprisingly easy—it’s the dark side of the Internet, to be sure.

So, let me get this straight. If we decriminalize pot, they're coming for your daughters?

WHAT?!?!?!?!

(And since we're talking about African-Americans being incarcerated at substantially higher rates than whites, we should be watching out for the black guys, right? Nothing like throwing an undercurrent of racism onto the fire there, folks.)

Maybe Style Blueprint should just stick to hawking $188 pillows.

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Affordable Housing Units Face Bankruptcy After Being Hit With Massive Tax Bill

Posted By on Wed, Aug 27, 2014 at 12:00 PM

Massive scoop from Bobby Allyn over at WPLN with the news that two of Nashville's most celebrated affordable housing developments — Ryman Lofts and Nance Place, both on Rolling Mill Hill — have been hit with a completely unexpected $400,000 tax bill.

MDHA maintains more than 5,000 affordable housing units citywide and none of them are taxed. When the projects in question were built, MDHA was expecting the same tax-exempt status to apply. MDHA Director Jim Harbison says the tax bill has put the agency in crisis mode.

“Nance Place and Ryman Lofts are in trouble,” he says. “It could mean possible bankruptcy and trying to sell the properties.”

Because the ownership of Ryman and Nance involve a for-profit partner, the assessor’s office is billing them for property taxes.

When Nance Place opened in 2011, former MDHA Director Phil Ryan said it represented “the latest in a number of projects MDHA has built and supported that create affordable housing opportunities for Nashvillians.” Similar overtures were made about Ryman Lofts when it launched in 2013 using federal Low Income Housing Tax Credit dollars, which were then also applied to Nance Place.

Read the whole story here.

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We Can't Make This Up (UPDATED)

Posted By on Wed, Aug 27, 2014 at 11:07 AM

As the nation discusses the militarization of local police forces, its leading private prison corporation has a message for you:


Now that's dedication.

UPDATE 1:05 p.m.: CCA has deleted the tweet. No worries. Here's a screen shot.

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