Thursday, July 2, 2015

The Daily Links: Robert Frank, Foo Fighters Photos, and Jaques Pepin

Posted By on Thu, Jul 2, 2015 at 5:25 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 New York Times: The Man Who Saw America: Looking back with Robert Frank, the most influential photographer alive.

From The Washington City PaperWhy We’re Not Photographing the Foo Fighters

From The DissolvePixar’s films put technology and storytelling hand-in-hand

From SlateThe Most Exciting Part of the Tour de France Is the People Who Watch It

From WashingtonianPolitico Has a “Culture of Fear,” Could Have Union Election Soon, Reporter Says

From GQThe Chef Who Saved My Life

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

click to enlarge PHOTO: AMIEE STUBBS

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Tennessee Supreme Court Stops Electric Chair Suit, But Allows for Future Challenges

Posted By on Thu, Jul 2, 2015 at 4:42 PM

The Tennessee Supreme Court will not allow death row inmates in the state to move forward with a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the electric chair. At least not until the state announces plans to put one of them to death in it. 

Tennessee's default method of execution is lethal injection, with a protocol adopted in 2013 that calls for the use of a single drug — pentobarbital — instead of the old three-drug cocktail. Soon after that change in protocol, a group of death row inmates filed suit, challenging the constitutionality of the single-drug protocol.

In May 2014, Gov. Bill Haslam signed into a law a bill bringing back the electric chair as a backup option in the event that lethal injection was not available — whether by court ruling or due to the scarcity of the required drug. Several months later, the inmates sought to challenge the chair as well, by amending their initial suit against the state's lethal injection protocols. That started a legal back and forth that led all the way to the state Supreme Court.    

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Anna Shepherd: School Board 'Denied My Constituents Representation'

Posted By on Thu, Jul 2, 2015 at 10:57 AM

From the department of Continuing Fallout, Anna Shepherd says she is still reeling from the "total lack of consideration and arrogance" shown by her colleagues on the Metro school board, who took up a controversial vote on the interim director of schools Tuesday night in her absence. 

In an email to the entire school board and some media, Shepherd prefaces a letter with this note:

After ruminating over your actions these past few days I felt compelled to share with you the reaction of some of my constituents. I am still reeling from your total lack of consideration and arrogance.

Here's Shepherd's letter, attached under the heading They Denied My Constituents Representation:

In a 5-3 vote last Tuesday night my colleagues denied my vote in the appointment of an Interim Director for MNPS. In a 5-3 vote they denied my constituents their representation.

All nine of us have an equal say around the MNPS Board of Education table but my vote was denied last Tuesday night.

Last Friday when the board chair, Sharon Gentry, called an "emergency" meeting I immediately let her know that I would not be there as I had a surgical procedure scheduled for Tuesday morning. My doctor's orders precluded any driving, working, or making any legal decisions for 24 hours.

I sent her several emails requesting that she reschedule. She never replied. I asked for a phone call. She said she would call but never did. This "emergency" meeting was held anyway. I watched from home.

Jill Speering made the motion to delay this crucial vote until I could be there. Amy Frogge passionately made the same request and read a statement that I had written. There was much discussion. All fell on deaf ears.

It is difficult for me to believe that my colleagues thought that their votes were more important than mine. Their arrogance is astounding.

I have been ruminating over the actions of my colleagues for the days since this total lack of consideration. I am sharing these thoughts today after hearing from many of my constituents expressing anger and disbelief that my colleagues arrogantly, and wrongly, believed their vote was more important than mine.

Whether or not we agree with each other is immaterial. We all have an equal vote around that table. To undermine someone's ability to vote, and their actual vote, is criminal. Indeed. Their actions were criminal.

If the argument is that the outcome would not change since my vote would merely make it 5-4, then that begs the question, was this vote already discussed and agreed to prior to the “emergency meeting”? The point is that the views of the people who elected me to represent district 4 were not allowed to be heard. Their arguments for or against reconsideration of the previous decision were not allowed to be heard. Who knows if those arguments may have changed the outcome of the vote? The email and other feedback I received was not allowed to be heard by five of my colleagues who voted to deny me the opportunity to represent the views of my constituents.


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Your Sex Is on Fire: Former Swingers Club Burns After Dark

Posted By on Thu, Jul 2, 2015 at 8:08 AM

The former home of The Social Club — Nashville's famous swingers club which faced a massive public backlash when it tried to move to Madison and responded by reclassifying as a church — caught fire Wednesday night. 

Congratulations to The Tennessean for securing the best few paragraphs of a news story we've read in some time:

Pour House owner Ted Shelton saw white smoke coming from the building at 700 Division St. just before its roof burst into flames.

"I called my friend Capt. Bubba Long and told him, 'Y'all need to get down here,' " he said. "Right about that time, flames came out the roof."

Shelton called around 8 p.m., and firefighters responded in about a minute and a half to the location, he said.

Long said it took longer to find the fire than to put it out.

"It was weird in there," Long said. "It was like eight-by-eight prison cells all through it."

Hey, function over fashion, ya know? 

The daily adds that most of the building – which is scheduled for demolition soon – only sustained smoke damage. 

Nashville Fire Department spokesman Brian Haas confirms to Pith that the building was vacant at the time and adds that it was locked when firefighters arrived on the scene. Haas says the department is "investigating it as a suspicious fire that may have started in a utility room near a furnace in the building" but that the exact cause is still under investigation. 

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Nashville: The Home for Wayward Architecture

Posted By on Thu, Jul 2, 2015 at 7:00 AM

click to enlarge opus_31_text.png

Over at the Nashville Post, William Williams has a story about a new apartment complex going in on 31st. Somehow, he managed to get through the whole story without typing in 30-point letters, "Why, God, Why?!"

These things are butt ugly. They don't look like a place people in a city live. They look like all those apartment complex monstrosities that ring the city, which I can only hope crumble in an earthquake after everyone living there has a premonition that they should go outside right this second. Is it too much to ask that developers hire an architect who doesn't hate us to design the buildings we have to look at until they crumble?

31st Avenue between West End and Charlotte is rapidly becoming a showcase of the blandest, most boring buildings our city can throw together.

I say that buildings should not look like each floor was designed without consideration of the other floors. I say that you should not have two colors on the outside of your building that could accurately be called "sand," especially if one of the other colors on your building is "buff."And I especially say that you should not have two different colors of bricks that don't at least form some kind of interesting design.

Developers, build us some buildings that don't look like something you'd find hidden at the back end of an office park in Dallas!

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Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Obama Visit Gets Thumbs-Up From Those Most Affected by ACA

Posted By on Wed, Jul 1, 2015 at 6:29 PM

click to enlarge PHOTO: ZACK BARNES
  • Photo: Zack Barnes
On Wednesday afternoon, President Barack Obama addressed the challenges in health care facing the nation, both at the federal and state level, as he spoke to an audience of 150 about the Affordable Care Act in the cafeteria of Madison's Taylor Stratton Middle School.

Flanked by a hand-painted “Welcome to Nashville President Obama” in one corner of the room, and the U.S. and Tennessee flags behind him, President Obama briefly talked to and took questions from elected officials, staffers, health care executives, and community members affected by the Affordable Care Act, all seated in cafeteria seats.

The president arrived in Nashville shortly after 12:30 p.m. on Air Force One, accompanied by Congressman Jim Cooper. Mayor Karl Dean greeted the president on the tarmac.

“I want to say how gratified I am that the president chose to come to Nashville,” Mayor Dean said. “It’s an honor. The fact that he has been here over the last two years, it’s wonderful. Because of the energy that was generated by last week’s Supreme Court decision, people are anxious to hear from him.”

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The Daily Links: Nicholas Winton, Guacamole, and #WhoIsBurningBlackChurches

Posted By on Wed, Jul 1, 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 New YorkerRace and the death penalty in a Louisiana parish.

From The Intercept: What Justice Breyer's Dissent On Lethal Injection Showed About The Death Penalty's Defenders

From The New York TimesNicholas Winton Is Dead at 106; Saved Children from the Holocaust

From The Los Angeles TimesAnother black church burns after NAACP warns about suspected arson attacks

From The Washington PostDylann Roof’s eerie tour of American slavery at its beginning, middle and end

From The New York TimesGreen Pea Guacamole

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

click to enlarge PHOTO: AMIEE STUBBS

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Bitterly Divided MNPS Board Opts for Henson Over Steele as Interim Director

Posted By on Wed, Jul 1, 2015 at 11:50 AM

After appointing Chief Academic Officer Jay Steele as interim director of schools a week ago, a bitterly divided Metro School board retracted that vote Tuesday night and made the district's Chief Financial Officer Chris Henson interim director instead. 

Bitter division is nothing new to the board, whose recent history has been marked with it. But the way it came about in the past seven days was nevertheless unusual. 

The board had voted last Tuesday to appoint Steele as interim director, on a 5-4 vote. Pith reported on the peculiar nature of that meeting and the vote to appoint Steele. In particular, Steele, who had been a candidate for the permanent superintendent position, had recently been left off the short list of candidates from the search firm hired by the board. Beyond that, the vote brought together five board members who previously had not been aligned, and it came after several members had either stepped out of the meeting or been absent for significant portions of it. Finally, the board voted without any discussion. 

Days after that meeting, Zack Barnes, a middle-school teacher in MNPS and founder of education blog Tennessee Education Report — and who has, for full disclosure, contributed to the Scene but not on education issues — filed an ethics complaint with the Tennessee Comptroller’s Office of Open Records Counsel. Barnes, who was not present at the meeting, alleged that board members had violated open meetings law. Board chair Sharon Gentry responded by calling the emergency board meeting.  

Over the weekend, Pith published an email from board member Will Pinkston in which he blasted Gentry's reaction to the complaint. In the letter, Pinkston wrote that Gentry, who had voted against Steele's appointment, was using the opportunity to re-litigate the vote. 

That criticism continued Tuesday night.

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Oh, Sure, Special Session to Thwart Gay Marriage, but Screw the Uninsured

Posted By on Wed, Jul 1, 2015 at 6:45 AM

Tuesday afternoon, leading state Republicans huddled together to try to find some way to thwart gay marriage. David Fowler and Bobbie Patray of the Tennessee Eagle Forum met with them to rile the troops.

According to an article in the Wilson Post, State Rep. Mark Pody is attempting to somehow nullify the decision:

"We are trying to say that because the federal government doesn't have jurisdiction in this matter, each state should be allowed to decide" if they are going to honor same-sex marriages.

"As it has been proven in many other situations, the federal government can not force the state to enforce federal law," he said. "They would have to enforce it themselves with their resources, and they couldn't use state resources."

In this case, Pody explained, if a state official refused to perform a same-sex marriage ceremony, the federal government could not force the State of Tennessee to enforce the federal law.

This is truly great and I hope it does come to pass, because I'd love to see every state official who discriminates against gay people as they're trying to get married hauled before a federal court. It'd be a huge waste of taxpayer dollars for state officials to have to defend themselves in federal court, cases they are surely going to lose, and I love how skipping the state courts basically assures the least sympathetic hearings ever.

According to the Tennessean, "Rep. Andy Holt of Dresden and Bryan Terry of Murfreesboro reject the court's ruling. It's still unclear what that means, but the pair recently announced they're working on legislation to 'protect' religious clergy from being forced to officiate same-sex marriages."

Of course ministers will be able to refuse to marry same sex couples, just as they can now refuse to marry interracial couples or couples of different faiths. But, sure, why not burn time on that?

On Twitter, Andy Sher writes, "Rep Lynn says public officials able to perform marriages but refuse SSM could get rough treatment from rascally news orgs." As well they should. I would hope they would also run into legal trouble, since they would be acting in their capacity as representatives of the state.

But boy howdy is David Fowler excited! Rick Locker reports that Fowler says , "If you decide to have a special session on this, it will be a war unlike any you have seen since perhaps the income tax fight."

Locker also reports Rep. Lynn's utter misunderstanding of marriage: "Rep Lynn says marriage was a construct of the church. The only reason governments started registering marriages was so they had a record..." This is not true. I mean, for starters, people have been getting married longer than there's been Christianity and people in the United States have been getting married since the founding of this country who weren't Christian.

I cannot believe that state legislators are taking time to figure out how to defy the federal government when it comes to gay marriage, but can't make the time to deal with our insurance crisis. It's hilarious.

I don't think this is going to be like the income tax fight, for one good reason. No politicians were secretly paying a Tennessee state income tax. If this gets as ugly as the income tax fight, not only will we lose, because, duh, states can't nullify federal law, a few people are playing chicken with a train.

That's not a threat. That's just a statistical fact.

It's obvious to anyone who pays even a little attention to Tennessee politics that Republicans have had a hard time adjusting to being the ruling party. They've thrived and gotten into power by throwing themselves repeatedly against a seemingly insurmountable foe—Tennessee Democrats—only to eventually and thoroughly surmount them. And they have floundered around, without a united front or coherent plan since they have no enemy to come together against.

So, I see the appeal of going on this Quixotic quest against the federal government. But, damn, if I were a Republican leader right now, I'd be concerned about who might have a skeleton or two "in the closet," so to speak.

Why would you, as a party, risk shooting yourself in the foot over a settled issue?

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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The Daily Links: Hitler's Bed, Chris Christie, and Church's Taxes

Posted By on Tue, Jun 30, 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 New York TimesSurveillance Court Rules That N.S.A. Can Resume Bulk Data Collection

From GrantlandGirls in Trucks: In 2015, female country artists are stymied by the radio industrial complex at a stunning rate. Why is the genre so bro-centric? And can it ever change?

From the GuardianThe man who sleeps in Hitler’s bed

From The AtlanticThe 2016 U.S. Presidential Race: A Cheat Sheet: New Jersey Governor Chris Christie was once seen as a frontrunner. As he starts off his campaign now, he’s near the back of the pack.

From FusionDoes your church ban gay marriage? Then it should start paying taxes.

From National ReviewYes, Churches that Oppose Gay Marriage Should Still Get Tax Breaks

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

click to enlarge PHOTO: AMIEE STUBBS

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