Friday, October 17, 2014

The Daily Links: GamerGate, Modern Medicine and Horror Moview

Posted By on Fri, Oct 17, 2014 at 5:41 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 Deadspin: The future of the culture wars is here, and it's GamerGate

From New York: Modern medicine changed the way we die, and not always for the better

From California Sunday Magazine: Ruth Thalía, a teenager from the outskirts of Lima, Peru, became an overnight sensation on a hit television game show. Then, she disappeared.

From New York Times Magazine: When women became men at Wellesley

From Buzzfeed: How "New Nightmare" Changed The Horror Game

From Boing Boing: Psychedelic rock and roll posters from San Francisco, 1966-1971

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

  • Amiee Stubbs


The Front of the Book: Why Metro Schools Are Failing, Ad Wars, and Two Pee Wees

Posted By on Fri, Oct 17, 2014 at 7:30 AM

Why Metro Schools Are Failing: On the cover this week is part one of a three-part series from Andrea Zelinski on "the issues that face the beleaguered school district, the people they affect, and the district's reaches for success." Part One focuses on Nashville's immigrant population, the district's English Language Learners, and the challenge's they face navigating the city's public school system.

After a year in Metro Nashville Public Schools, Mishell struggles to learn a language still foreign to her, in a world where it's far too tempting not to speak English. It's a struggle some 24,000 students here face daily, trying to master a new language (and decipher what it means) while their family speaks their native tongue at home. She and more than 11,575 other beginning English language learners — referred to as ELLs — carry that burden on their shoulders as they walk the halls of Metro Nashville's public schools.

Mishell attends Overton High School, considered one of the entry points for Nashville's immigrant population into the public school system, and hence into American life. It's a stone's throw from tony private Franklin Road Academy, and just three minutes from the governor's mansion.

But it might as well be in another country. The school is bursting at the seams, and a staggering 70 percent of its student body — that's 7 out of every 10 kids — comes from a low-income family.

That hurdle is compounded by a vast communications gap. At Overton, which serves South Nashville's sprawling mix of immigrant cultures, some 38 separate languages are spoken. At nearby high schools Glencliff and Antioch, according to the state report card, more than 1 in 6 students are trying to learn English while speaking another language at home.

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Thursday, October 16, 2014

Metro Pulse Dissolved After 23 Years

Posted By on Thu, Oct 16, 2014 at 10:12 AM

Tennessee's alternative news scene is poorer today, after the news that the staff of Knoxville's Metro Pulse has been laid off and the alt-weekly will "be merged with" According to the Knoxville News Sentinel, the Scripps Media daily which owned the Pulse, is "the paper’s Friday entertainment section, to create a new, comprehensive guide to activities in the metro area" — sounds to us like a bastardized version of the Pulse, minus its vital news coverage and unique voice. Blegh.

The KNS laid off 23 employees in all, representing six percent of the paper's workforce. More from the paper's statement about the layoffs, after the jump:

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Mary Overton is Not a Witch, Which, Yes, Is Kind of a Bummer

Posted By on Thu, Oct 16, 2014 at 6:00 AM

If you've been over to Travellers Rest in the past year or so, you've probably noticed that they have an awesome herb garden and a sign that says, "According to tradition, Mary Overton, wife of Judge John Overton, was a talented herbalist. All of her eight children lived to adulthood, a rare occurrence in the early 19th century considering the constant threat of disease."

"Talented herbalist." That's often the kind of language polite people use to mean "She was a witch or a hoodoo woman!" And it being October, I thought I'd go over and get you all a good true story of early Nashville weirdness for Halloween, objectively our nation's best holiday.

On Tuesday, Tonya Staggs, the education director for Travellers Rest, was kind enough to sit down and talk to me about Mary Overton who was, it turns out, not a witch. The stories that Stagg told me about Mary Overton and her relationship to her herb garden, ended up being really interesting, if not spooky. Mary Overton was less witch and more scientist.

Mrs. Overton was, originally, Mary White, the daughter of James White, the founder of Knoxville. She was born in 1782. Her father greatly valued education and, by all accounts, Mary was very well-educated for a woman at the time. She was a life-long reader.

She met her first husband, Francis May, a Nashville doctor, after he fled town and hid in Knoxville after he killed another doctor, Frank Sappington, in a duel. You'll be unsurprised to learn that May was a personal physician of Andrew Jackson and often accompanied him when he was dueling with people. Mary and Francis eventually were able to return to Nashville and the May house still stands at 631 Hill Road (and is for sale, if you have a few million dollars lying around). She was very interested in and supportive of May's medical career and I think it's likely, considering her love of learning, that she picked up a lot from him.

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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The Daily Links: Chemical Weapons, Cheap Beer, and Dudes With Drones

Posted By on Wed, Oct 15, 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 The Guardian: Kesha's lawsuit against Dr Luke and the murky history of pop svengalis

From GQ: My Name Is David Chang, and I Hate Fancy Beer

From The Atlantic: Dudes With Drones

From The New York Times: The Secret Casualties of Iraq’s Abandoned Chemical Weapons

From The New York Times: Bill Simmons’s Return Sets Intrigue in Motion at ESPN

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

  • Amiee Stubbs


Cooper Denounces Voter ID in Wake of GAO Report

Posted By on Wed, Oct 15, 2014 at 1:40 PM

Congressman Jim Cooper and representatives from groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union and the League of Women Voters Wednesday denounced Tennessee's voter ID law as an affront to one of "our most fundamental rights," and impugned the motives of those who supported the law, in light of a new report showing its effects on turnout.

A 200-page report released last week by the Government Accountability Office found that voter turnout dropped by at least 2.2 percentage points in Tennessee in 2012, the first election after passage of the new voter requirements. Based on the data, The Washington Post estimated that 88,000 Tennesseans likely would have voted, if not for the new law.

Tennessee's Secretary of State Tre Hargett has disputed the report, calling it "fundamentally flawed" and arguing that, unlike Tennessee, other states analyzed in the report had hotter issues or races that attracted voters. Cooper singled out Hargett for criticism Wednesday, both for his response and the design of Tennessee's new line of "I Voted" stickers.

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Report: Secret Service Asked Metro Cops to Fake A Warrant

Posted By on Wed, Oct 15, 2014 at 10:30 AM

In a letter to members of a congressional oversight committee, Metro Police Chief Steve Anderson said local agents of the U.S. Secret Service asked his officers to fake a warrant last year, News Channel 5 reports.

Phil Williams has the details:

In the Nashville case, a Secret Service agent made a frantic call for backup to Nashville police after he and another agent went to the home of a Nashville man, investigating threatening comments on Facebook about the President. The man who posted them had refused to let the agents into his house.

"He shoved the door in our face and went around the corner. Looks like, we're not sure if he ... possibly he had a gun in his hands," the agent told a 911 operator.

In a letter that he first sent to Secret Service headquarters, the Nashville police chief recounted what happened.

"The resident refused to come outside and shouted back, 'Show me your warrant,'" Anderson wrote.

So "one of the agents then asked a [police] sergeant to 'wave a piece of paper' in an apparent effort to dupe the resident into thinking that they indeed had a warrant."

Secret Service Director Julia Pierson resigned earlier this month amidst multiple reports of security lapses by the agency charged with protecting the president.

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Charter Schools Enter Fray in East Nashville Plan

Posted By on Wed, Oct 15, 2014 at 9:16 AM

Hundreds of people were at Bransford for last night’s Metro Nashville School Board meeting, but in case you couldn’t make it — or left because there was nowhere to sit — here are five major takeaways.

1) There’s a new parent club in town. They’re snapping their fingers and donning powder blue, and they crashed East Nashville United’s party Tuesday night. A group of charter school families and advocates calling themselves “East Nashville Believes” and giving out blue t-shirts has formed as a second force to be reckoned with as the district weighs whether and how to address persistently lackluster schools in East Nashville.

The new group arrived in mass more than an hour before the school board meeting, occupying nearly every chair in the room. The result was boxing out parents clad in orange and maroon from East Nashville United who came to the district's Central Office after weeks of attending school meetings as Director of Schools Jesse Register toured communities east of the river.

The situation left a bad taste in ENU’s mouth, with many parents saying they felt the showing from the charter school community group was hostile. An official spokesman for ENU says there’s no hard feelings and the showing speaks to parents wanting a say in the area’s future. But Matt Pulle, a founder of East Nashville United says, “I’m not going to say they’re a real group, I’m not going to say they’re a fake group. We’re going to find out. If they keep on showing up, then they’re a real group. If this is just a one-night thing, then its a one-night thing.” (Editors note, for full disclosure, Pulle is a former contributor to the Scene).

ENB says they wanted to get a more diverse group of families driving the conversation as Register floats his idea for an “all choice zone” in East Nashville while consolidating, closing and chartering various schools. Pulle agrees ENU lacks the kind of diversity to reflect the community, but says they have many people of color on their team.

“We have a lot of diversity. The fact is though, our founders, the people who founded East Nashville United, are middle class and white,” he said, adding that black teachers have joined the group but are afraid to speak up for fear of their jobs. “We should be more diverse and that’s a legitimate criticism.”

The other key difference between the two groups is their view on charter schools — ENB believes “choice is power because when you have an opportunity to choose, your kid may get into a better position,” said John Little, an staple organizer in the charter school community who said he attended as a parent and to organize other parents. ENU is publicly agnostic about charter schools, with an undercurrent among some parents that charter schools are destabilizing education in the area.

"The important thing is what the administration decides to do with all this," said John Haubenreich, a spokesman for ENU. "Whether or not they understand that East Nashville parents and families and community members are organized and demanding a seat at the table, and demanding a substantive seat at the table."

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If the Geist House is Refurbished, Could We Finally Find Timothy Demonbreun?

Posted By on Wed, Oct 15, 2014 at 8:00 AM

One of the long-standing mysteries of historical Nashville is just where the heck the final resting place of local fur-trading playboy diplomat Timothy Demonbreun is. There's a marker for him up in a cemetery in Cheatham County, just south of Little Marrowbone Road. But most people assume he ended up in the "old city cemetery." The hiccup to that theory is that the cemetery we now think of as the old city cemetery is not the oldest, old city cemetery. As we talked about when I warned that it was inevitable that there would be things of archaeological significance right where we're putting our new baseball stadium, the first city cemetery was just about where Jefferson and 4th meet, because white settlers put their dead where the people who lived here put their dead. In other words, right where the Geist Blacksmith Shop is.

The complications arise, as so many complications in Demonbreun's life did, because of women. Demonbreun had a church wife, Therese, he married back in Kaskaskia and a frontier wife, Elizabeth, he informally took up with here. He traveled between the two of them until, family lore says, his church-wife insisted on moving to Nashville in the 1790s, thus necessitating the quick legal marriage of Demonbreun's mistress to one of Demonbreun's friends in 1793. The family lore is that Therese died in 1808. I don't think there's any reason to disbelieve this. There's also some lore that her remains were sent back to Kaskaskia or possibly to Quebec. I think we have plenty of reason to discount this. Moving a body through the wilderness in 1808 either one of those distances would have been impossible—the smell alone would have been insurmountable. You were buried where you died. If Therese died here, she is buried here. If she died in 1808, she was in that first city cemetery.

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The Girard in Ron Ramsey's Office

Posted By on Wed, Oct 15, 2014 at 6:00 AM

Painting by William Washington Girard
  • Painting by William Washington Girard

You may remember a little while back when Jim Hoobler at the Tennessee State Museum was kind enough to show me a painting — William Washington Girard's "inept" mountains. Well he also let me know that, if I wanted to see an enormous painting of some birch trees — Girard's favorite subject—there was a very large one in the reception area of Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey's office.

I wasn't sure what would happen to a liberal such as myself if I ventured into Ramsey's office. Would I be forbidden from entering? Arrested? Made to disappear? Doused with holy water? But when things need looking at, they need looking at, so I put my fears aside and went to see the painting on Friday.

It was, yet again, just as promised — large, full of birch trees, and painted by Girard. "Large" might be kind of understating it. I would estimate that the thing is seven feet across and maybe four feet high. Because of its size and the uniform spacing of the trees, there's something pleasantly ominous about the image. If you stay on the path, you should be fine. If you get off into the wood, though, who can say? I think the slight weirdness of the painting might also have to do with the fact that you can't see the tops of the trees that are closest to you, so your eye goes to the roots. Are they firm? Could the trees tip over on you? Plus, the regular spacing between the trees makes it look like they've been intentionally planted. And who would do such a thing?

Anyway, it's a cool painting and it was nice to see it on display where people can enjoy it. I read that Wash, as he was known, spent the last years of his life being a drunk and watching baseball at Sulfur Dell (Note to the Sounds: "Girard's Birch Tree Burnt Orange" is not taken as a color name.), relegated to the obscurity appropriate for a man who was too talented to be considered a folk artist and not talented enough to be considered a great artist. But, as is apparent in his poetry, the man had a sense of humor. So, I have to think that he, a staunch Democrat and union-supporter, would get a kick out of knowing his painting is placed where it can exert its subtle influence on the Republican Lieutenant Governor and his staff.

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