Thursday, November 26, 2015

Public Service Announcement: How to Avoid a Fried Turkey Disaster

Posted By on Thu, Nov 26, 2015 at 8:00 AM

Happy Turkey Day, Pith readers. From our family to yours, we hope today is filled with good cheer, lots of food and no deadly fires. Speaking of which, below is a public service announcement from your friendly Nashville Fire Department on how to fry a turkey without destroying the home you're so thankful for. 

We'll be under the influence of tryptophan, among other things, for the rest of the week so things will be a bit sleepy around here. Stay safe and Happy Thanksgiving. 

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Talking Politics at the Thanksgiving Table with My Family

Posted By on Thu, Nov 26, 2015 at 7:02 AM

I'm not the only member of my family with strong political opinions. Since my dad is here and he has stuff to say, I thought I'd give him a chance to share his opinions with the world.

Hi Dad, most families shy away from political conversations at Thanksgiving, but we’re not most families. Let’s have a political discussion!

Were you a hippie?

Only according to you kids. Otherwise, no. According to my children who make fun of our wedding pictures…

What differentiates you from the hippies?

My hair wasn’t that long.

Did you do drugs?


What differentiated me from the hippies? Let me tell you. That meant conforming and I don’t conform to nothing. Did I have good friends who were hippies? Yes. Did I have a good friend in the SDS [Students for a Democratic Society]? Yes. Did I have a friend who warned me that his phones were tapped and I didn’t care? Yes.

You seem to have two political crackpot children [My youngest brother recently ran for Senate against Lamar Alexander]. Does that disappoint you?

Only that all three of you aren’t.

When did you first become politically aware?

I believe it was during the… when was Eisenhower running for president? When was that? ’52? I was in first or second grade and I was walking to school and two of my neighbor boys were safeties. They had corners and they were standing there yelling “Boo on Ike. Yay for Eisenhower.” And I knew they were idiots. That’s when I learned there were idiots in the world.

Were your parents political?


How so?

My dad was a Democratic precinct man for years. My mother was outstanding Republican woman of the year several times. But that did not stop them from voting. They didn’t believe they were cancelling each other’s vote out.

That’s why I don’t make your mother vote the way I vote [laughing].

You say that when I cuss in my Pith posts, I sound like your dad. Did your dad have a marvelous, girly voice?

He could talk in any voice. [laughs] You know he had a German ogre’s voice. But you know my dad would never put anything like that in writing. I tried to teach you kids not to put anything in writing you would be embarrassed about some day.

But did he have any good cuss words I haven’t been using? I try to use old-school ones like ‘poltroon’ sometimes.

I didn’t listen! Who listens to their dad? You kids never listened to me. Call Uncle Jim or Uncle Gordon and ask them.

So, you were telling me at dinner that you had some thoughts on the Syrian refugee crisis and the Irish and the Italians. Care to go over it again for Pith readers?

Yes. There was no great outcry in the Christian communities in America during the Troubles in Belfast in Northern Ireland about one of the sides not being Christian. But then we’re yelling because Muslims around the world aren’t raising a cry over everything that happens in the Muslim world.

We as Christians knew it wasn’t Christian behavior, but that doesn’t mean that the rest of the world did.

That was the Belfast point.

Do you really want to take on the Italians? My opinion on the Italians is that we need to deport them, because they brought the Mafia and, if that isn’t terrorism, what is?

But one of your oldest friends is Italian.

A lot of my friends are Italian. I like them. I’ll miss them.

[Laughs again.] Be sure to put a disclaimer at the bottom so they know your dad is going by the name ‘Lefty’ because I ain’t right.

So, you’ve always been something of a rabble rouser. Tell me about your college escapades with the student newspaper.

Being a relatively liberal college, because we had a Master’s of Social Work and people who are working with people tend to be more liberal, being a liberal college, our newspaper was getting lots of rants and raves on liberal issues, but lacking anything on the other side — we didn’t call them liberals and conservatives then. We called them John Birchers and communists — being trained in debate in high school (and learning that you don’t do what you’re trained to do or you’ll make the girls cry, which prepared me for marriage. I’ll tell you that story another day.) I created a case for each side.

Using one pseudonym for one side — I never used my name. I stole the moose head. I squirted the president with water. I stole the dummy they were trying to burn in effigy. I didn’t have credibility. But my pseudonyms did — and another for the other. It started people responding on both sides of the issue.

You lived in Chicago during all the unrest in the ‘60s. What kinds of things were you involved in?

I ducked a lot.

We went to protests which ended up getting me audited after I was married, because the auditor was a member of my church and told me this was a harassment audit, that someone had been taking names at the protests.

The advantage of being poor was that whatever penalty they could give you wasn’t much of a penalty. So, if you’re young and poor, that’s the time to get into demonstrations, if the FBI is still running around taking names and feeding them to the IRS.

Was Mom also politically active?

Well, she was the town drunk…

No, she wasn’t.

Was Otis on Andy Griffith politically active?

[Mom] I had a chance to be politically active because my friend Ralph was a member of the SDS.

[Dad] Ralph was the smartest man I ever knew, because he moved into the basement of the girls’ dorm.

[Mom] No, I was oblivious.

Mom, have you ever even had a drink in your whole life?

[Dad] Our first trip to her college was her showing me all her favorite bars. I had to dry her out.

No you didn’t!

[Dad] You’re supposed to be interviewing me. No one care about your mom’s drunken ramblings.

[Mom] I was not drunk!

[Dad] So you did that stuff sober?

[Mom] I did used to say that I had two years of my life I couldn’t tell you about or I’d have to kill you, but that was just to make me seem more interesting.

[Interview breaks down into bickering about things that happened fifty years ago.]

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Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Donate to the #HolidayScenery Second Harvest Virtual Food Drive

Posted By on Wed, Nov 25, 2015 at 12:00 PM

click to enlarge culyck9wcaio3aw.jpg-large.jpeg
If you're following along with our Holiday Happenings calendar (click here to get it!), you already know that today's activity is to donate to Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee.

According to Second Harvest, one in six adults and one in four children struggle with hunger every day in Tennessee, and it just take $1 to supply four meals to those in need.

To make it extra easy for you, we've set up a virtual food drive through Second Harvest, and we'd love for you to join us in raising $500 by Dec. 1. That'd supply 2,000 meals! Of course, we'd love to raise even more. So head over to to throw a few bucks into the pot — let's help ensure every Nashvillian has plenty to eat this holiday season.

(If you want to set up your own virtual food drive for your office, school or even just between you and your family and/or friends, click here. It's fast and easy to do.)

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Sources: Steele On His Way Out of MNPS

Posted By on Wed, Nov 25, 2015 at 11:16 AM

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Jay Steele, Metro Nashville Public Schools’ chief of academics, plans to step down from his post at the school district, multiple sources tell Pith. 

Once thought next in line to run the school system, Steele apparently intends to vacate the post after several messy failed attempts to snag the school district’s top job after the June retirement of Jesse Register.

Sources throughout the district agreed to speak to Pith only on condition of anonymity, for fear of losing their jobs.

Some say Steele, at times a polarizing figure in the district, had planned to announce his departure during a principals’ meeting the first week in November. That timing was thwarted when News Channel 5 came out that week with an investigation critical of high schools’ grading and testing practices. Steele, the district's chief academic officer and former director of high schools, has refused to comment on the series. 

Continue reading »

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A Night of Peace at the School Board

Posted By on Wed, Nov 25, 2015 at 9:01 AM

After weeks of Metro Nashville Board of Education meetings where board members couldn't avoid talking charter schools, a night of relative peace came Tuesday.

The board saw a presentation about Gov. Bill Haslam's signature program, Tennessee Promise, from executive director of the initiative, Mike Krause. It also heard from Tony Majors, chief support services officer for Metro Nashville Public Schools, about PASSAGE, a program that is working to address discipline disparity in schools.

Here are the Twitter highlights from Tuesday's meeting, after the jump.

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Traveling Gun Owners Give Thanks for Diane Black

Posted By on Wed, Nov 25, 2015 at 8:10 AM

Congresswoman Diane Black was inconvenienced at Nashville’s airport, and now she's literally making a federal case out of it. She forgot her driver’s license and—shock of all shocks!—TSA agents wouldn’t let her use her handgun carry permit to board her plane. So now she’s decided it’s urgently important to change the law to make handgun carry permits an acceptable form of identification for clearing airport security.

It’s not about Black showing TSA who's boss for delaying her briefly while she rummaged around for her congressional voting card—an acceptable form of ID. Oh no, Black explains in this Fox News article, this is all about ending rampant discrimination against our nation’s citizen gunmen, who have been treated like dirt by that damn Obama administration.

We all understand the need for tough security measures at our nation’s airports, but these policies must be rooted in logic and fact, not someone’s political agenda.

One in three Americans own a gun and there is no reason to make them feel like second class citizens when traveling. …

After seven years of hostility from this administration towards Americans who exercise their Second Amendment rights, passage of the TSA Act should be a simple, bipartisan step we can take to stop the government’s marginalization of gun-owners and alleviate confusion for millions of American travelers this holiday season.
With the threat of terrorism rising, you’d think Black could stop pandering to the NRA for just a little while and focus on larger issues than easing travel headaches for handgun carriers who’ve forgotten their driver’s licenses. How about trying to stop terrorists from buying guns in this country? Just a thought. 

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The Daily Links: A Police Execution, the Downed Russian Jet, and Magnificent Bears

Posted By on Wed, Nov 25, 2015 at 5:00 AM

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 The New York TimesThe Origins of Jihadist-Inspired Attacks in the U.S.: All of the Sept. 11 attackers entered the United States using tourist, business or student visas. Since then, most of the attackers in the United States claiming or appearing to be motivated by extremist Islam were born in this country or were naturalized citizens. None were refugees.

From the Chicago ReporterHow Chicago tried to cover up a police execution

From The New YorkerThree Questions About the Downed Russian Jet

From Rolling StoneTwo Insane Days on Tour With Tyler, the Creator


From The blog of Annukka Mäkijärvi: The Magnificent Bears of the Glorious Nation of Finland

Those are the links. This is a lynx... 


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Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The Daily Links: Chris Hayes, Black Lives Matter, and a Galaxy Far, Far Away

Posted By on Tue, Nov 24, 2015 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 the International Business Times: Chris Hayes Is Still ‘All In’ At MSNBC, Even As Everyone Counts Him Out

From The New York TimesActors of ‘The Big Short’ Talk About the Debt Crisis, in Beverly Hills

From JezebelDaddy Don't Go Shows the Havoc Poverty Wreaks on Struggling Single Fathers

From DeadspinTitans: Please Cheer For Us

From The AtlanticThe 5 Black Lives Matter Protestors Shot in Minneapolis

From NBC NewsAt Least 12 Dead in Attack on Tunisia Military Bus

From Google: A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away

From New YorkTrey Gowdy on Hillary Clinton, the PR Disasters of the Benghazi Committee, and Why He’s Had It With D.C.

Those are the links. This is a lynx... 


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Ozment: Why Jim Cooper's Vote on Syrian Refugees Was Wrong

Posted By on Tue, Nov 24, 2015 at 12:45 PM

We received this essay from Elliott Ozment, an immigration attorney who speaks and writes frequently as an advocate for immigrant rights.

I’ve known Jim Cooper for years. I’ve attended his receptions and given money to his campaigns. All this only multiplied how stunned I felt when I learned of Congressman Cooper’s support for the Republican bill that would effectively stop Syrian and Iraqi refugees coming to the United States.

And yes, Congressman, I’ve read H.R. 4038. Your claim that passage of this resolution will result in a “happy ending” because President Obama will still be able to admit 10,000 Syrian refugees simply doesn’t hold water. This law will require three cabinet-level officers (FBI Director, Secretary of Homeland Security, and Director of National Intelligence) all to certify personally and unanimously that each of 10,000 Syrian refugees “is not a threat to the security of the United States”. Then, the Inspector General of Homeland Security must do a risk-based review of what his boss has already certified (along with two other cabinet-level officers). Finally, the Secretary of Homeland Security has to send a report each month to twelve (12) different congressional committees.

Think for a moment how preposterous this is: if each cabinet officer spent just five (5) minutes reviewing the paperwork for each of 10,000 Syrian refugees, then each would spend a total of 833 hours (21 weeks) on just this certification job and nothing else. Since each would have to wait for certification by the other two, unanimous certification would take at least 63 weeks if they devoted every working hour to this project. Uh, . . . Congressman, . . . President Obama only has about 60 more weeks in office.

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Crowd Pushes Back Against Lawmakers' Calls to Turn Away Syrian Refugees

Posted By on Tue, Nov 24, 2015 at 11:38 AM

click to enlarge People pause for a moment of silence during a rally for refugees at Legislative Plaza on Monday night while gathering in support of the Syrian refugees coming to United States. - PHOTO: MARTIN CHERRY
  • People pause for a moment of silence during a rally for refugees at Legislative Plaza on Monday night while gathering in support of the Syrian refugees coming to United States.
A few hundred Middle Tennesseans gathered in front of the steps of the War Memorial Monday night decrying recent statements by state legislators about suspending Syrian refugee settlement.

Balloons, some of them with “What if I was a refugee?” scrawled in black Sharpie marker, floated above the diverse group of protesters.

The crowd huddled together in the cold, many holding white vigil candles. A young bearded father fed his baby on the steps as a refugee from Somalia told his story of coming to the United States in the early ‘90s.

And when the co-executive director of the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition (TIRRC), Stephanie Teatro, said the name of ol’-round-’em-up Rep. Glen Casada, a steady stream of boos rang out from the otherwise peaceful crowd along with a singular “Fuck him!” from one man in the multitude.

Continue reading »

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