Tuesday, September 30, 2014

In Which I Complain about Nashville Traffic

Posted By on Tue, Sep 30, 2014 at 7:00 AM

I know that complaining about traffic is just one step up from complaining about kids today (looking at you, Bret Easton Ellis), but come on, people! Must we all drive like complete fuckers?

I'm not claiming to be the world's best driver, but let me offer some tips that would improve Nashville traffic for everyone.

1. If you only feel safe and comfortable driving 65 on the interstate out in the country where the speed limit is 70, you aren't a good enough driver to drive 65 through town, where the speed limit is 55. Please slow down. The number of times I pass people on the interstate doing 70 — yes, just the speed limit, like the giant nerd I am — out in the middle of nowhere and then am passed by those same people once we get to town is innumerable. Just turn off your cruise control and go with the flow of traffic.

2. Relatedly, all of our interstates run roughly parallel to a slower road. I-40 has U.S. 70, 1-65 has 31, I-24 has 41. They go the same places. So, if you only feel safe driving 45 miles an hour, get off the interstates and take one of the roads where a person going that slow would be welcome.

3. When someone is attempting to merge into traffic from the on-ramp, either get over to the left, slow down, or speed up to let them in. Why do so many of you just sit right next to the car trying to get on the interstate?

4. Stop responding to any changes outside — rain, snow, night falling — by either speeding up or abandoning your cars. We can pick one — something happens outside and we all decide to speed home or something happens outside and we all abandon our cars like the Rapture came and got us — but we can't continue to do both.

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Monday, September 29, 2014

The Daily Links: Florida Men, CIA Starbucks, and the White House Fence

Posted By on Mon, Sep 29, 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 Rolling Stone: The Florida Farce: Rick Scott Vs. Charlie Crist

From The Washington Post: At CIA Starbucks, even the baristas are covert

From The New Yorker: Rand Paul has fought to go mainstream with the ideology that he shares with his father. How far can that strategy take him?

From ESPN: Lawsuits show MLB's gender problem

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#Lamarwatch: Gordon Ball's Website A Greatest Hits Collection Of Other Senate Websites

Posted By on Mon, Sep 29, 2014 at 1:19 PM

So, who should we blame for revelations that Gordon Ball, the Democratic party's sacrificial lamb against Senior Senator Lamar Alexander, apparently has a website that is mostly just playing the hits from other Democratic senator's sites?

The candidate? After all, he approved this message.

The staff? Because somebody over there decided that it would be okay to take huge chunks of Joe Manchin, Elizabeth Warren and Sherrod Brown's talking points on major issues.

Joe Carr? After all, he set the standard already in this race by stealing whole cloth from the Heritage foundation for his beliefs on complex issues.

The state Democratic Party? Because they're so inept at putting together statewide campaigns that apparently it's alright to just cut and paste stuff instead of doing a little writing of your own.

The plagiarism allegations from Buzzfeed:

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Pulaski Reckons With Its Past

Posted By on Mon, Sep 29, 2014 at 5:30 AM

Tony Gonzalez's story in Sunday's Tennessean about Pulaski, best-known for being the birthplace of the Klan, trying to become better known for some other things is just flat-out tremendous.

So while Gardner's legacy faded — builder of schools for black children, minister to three churches and a prolific farmer of 300 acres until he died in 1943 — the rise of the Klan became synonymous with the south central Tennessee county and especially with the city of Pulaski a few miles north of his homestead.

Now people in the community want to take Gardner's porch back — and a lot of other things, too. In doing so, they hope to reclaim the history of a place that runs much deeper than the hate-mongering terrorists whose robe-wearing, cross-burning activities were born here.

A place that was home to real heroes.

What makes this story so good is that it's not coy about how hard this work is. The whole community is pulling together to tell other stories about Pulaski, about the people who stood up to hatred and what that cost them, and it's very hard to make that profitable. Visitors aren't turning out in droves to wander through the Trail of Tears museum or to go out to see the home of Matt Garder. They have a hard time staffing enough volunteers and certainly no money to pay people.

I think we often look back at our history and want to feel like we know what to make of it. Sometimes we do this through mastery of fact — if I can tell you where each of these soldiers fell, I know what the Civil War means. Sometimes we do it by clinging to our myths — that the Civil War wasn't really about slavery, like the real meaning is hidden like evidence of ancient aliens, available only to those who can ignore the secession documents of the Southern states, and decode the "real" clues. But it's a lot about distilling things down to the "truth."

What Pulaski is up to doesn't seem to fall into that trap. It's not like Pulaski is setting about to debunk its history — it's not claiming that it has no connection to the Klan. It's saying, yes, and. Yes, the Klan and its victims. Yes, the Trail of Tears and a river fit for baptizing.

I don't know if it will work, since it's not how we usually do history. But I hope so. I really do. Because it seems like an approach we could all benefit from.

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Friday, September 26, 2014

The Daily Links: TV Writing, Denzel Washington, and Ello

Posted By on Fri, Sep 26, 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 Buzzfeed: Here’s Why The New York Times Television Coverage Is So Bad

From Grantland: The Good, the Bad, and the Denzel: Washington Does Cool Justice in ‘The Equalizer,’ While ‘The Guest’ Is a Smartly Stupid Thriller

From Sports On Earth: Why Bill Simmons Needs ESPN

From Medium: It’s Finally Time to Stop Caring About Lauryn Hill

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A Walmart Security Guard Shot a Man in East Nashville for Stealing Beer

Posted By on Fri, Sep 26, 2014 at 2:21 PM

We repeat. A Walmart security guard shot a man who was trying to steal beer in East Nashville last night.

WSMV reports that, according to police:

The man allegedly went into the Walmart at 1220 Gallatin Ave. around midnight, grabbed the beer and ran to his car.

That's when the security guard chased after him, firing a shot into the car, which struck the man in the back.

The station adds that the man was taken to the hospital in serious condition but with non-life-threatening injuries. Also: "Police are investigating whether the security guard was justified in using his weapon."

(Note: When asked about the incident by Pith, Police said they will be providing more information today.)

Pith's preliminary investigation — which included reading the WSMV report three times — has concluded that no, the security guard was not justified in using his weapon against a man trying to make off with a cold one(s). And by the way, Walmart security guards are armed?

(Update 2:26 p.m.): WSMV reports that the security guard told police his gun fired accidentally, and also that "he didn't remember firing the weapon into the car."

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Jon Meacham and Joe Klein to Talk Politics at Parnassus

Posted By on Fri, Sep 26, 2014 at 1:10 PM

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Author and historian Jon Meacham and Time Magazine columnist will be chit-chatting about politics tomorrow afternoon at Parnassus Books.

We've had our fun needling Jon Meacham here at Pith, particularly earlier this year when he took his turn declaring Nashville the best city since the last best city (OK, he actually went with "The South's Red Hot Town"). But if you're going to hear someone shooting the breeze about politics, you could do far worse than the author of American Lion, the Andrew Jackson biography for which he won the Pulitzer Prize. More recently, he released the bestselling Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power. Joe Klein is the author of a number of books himself, perhaps most notably Primary Colors, the roman à clef based on Bill Clinton's first presidential campaign, whose author was initially anonymous.

The free town hall discussion starts at 4 p.m. Saturday.

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#Lamarwatch: Did Gordon Ball Challenge Lamar to a Duel?

Posted By on Fri, Sep 26, 2014 at 11:12 AM

Buried down in the unsurprising news that Lamar Alexander won't debate Gordon Ball (outside of whatever it is that the Farm Bureau is doing), is Pith's favorite news of this campaign: Did Ball challenge Lamar to a duel?

Via Der Kaiser:

Ball in a weekend speech to Democrats made light of the NRA rating, issuing what he called a "challenge" to Alexander: "His piano versus my Glock."

Alexander, a former two-term governor who also ran for president twice, is a piano player who often played at campaign events and other public appearances.

Observers were quick to note that the Tennessee Constitution disqualifies anyone who fights a duel - or issues a challenge to one - from holding public office.

Wait ... what?

Sure enough, it's in there:

§ 3. Duelists holding office

Any person who shall, after the adoption of this Constitution, fight a duel, or knowingly be the bearer of a challenge to fight a duel, or send or accept a challenge for that purpose, or be an aider or abettor in fighting a duel, shall be deprived of the right to hold any office of honor or profit in this State, and shall be punished otherwise, in such manner as the Legislature may prescribe.

Now Ball says he was kidding and there's pretty much no way Secretary of State Tre Hargett is going to touch this (if for no other reason that this provision, like others, may not actually be enforceable), but can't we have a duel for the Senate seat anyway? It would be MUCH more entertaining than a debate, even if they just use super soakers.

We're not sure why Ball is shying away from the idea. It may be the best chance he's got.

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Five Takeaways From Register's Visit to Kirkpatrick Elementary

Posted By on Fri, Sep 26, 2014 at 7:00 AM

Jesse Register’s tour of low-performing schools brought Metro's Director of Schools to Kirkpatrick Elementary Enhanced Option on Thursday for a second round in so many days of parent input into his plan to consolidate, close or convert schools ranked at the bottom in the district.

Register had earlier visited Bailey Middle School and, on Wednesday, Inglewood Elementary. Eight more schools are scheduled for his tour that runs sporadically through November, all at schools that have landed among the state’s bottom 5 percent.

Here are five things to know from last night’s community meeting at Kirkpatrick Elementary:

1) Register is floating the idea of merging or converting the 380-some student school into a charter school with the Martha O’Bryan Center. The poverty resources center, barely a stone’s throw away from the school, offers “cradle to college to career services” in the neighborhood. It currently runs East End Preparatory charter school and is approved to open a second charter next year. When pressed about how serious he is about partnering with the Martha O’Bryan Center at Kirkpatrick, he backed off the idea, saying he hasn’t made any definitive plans, yet.

2) Regardless of what decision he makes, Kirkpatrick parents are very loyal to their school. Despite seeing charts that show less than 15 percent of students were on grade level in last year’s TCAPs, parents said they love their school, principals and teachers just the way they are. They told stories — one noticeably bringing some parents to wipe away tears — about the effects the teachers have had on their children’s lives in a community they acknowledge includes neighbors who are uninvolved or don’t care about their children's education and kids who struggle with poverty as their parents do.

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Betty Nixon: Vote NO on Amendment 1

Posted By on Fri, Sep 26, 2014 at 5:30 AM

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[Editor's note: Pith is always happy to hear from former Metro Councilwoman and mayoral candidate Betty Nixon, who's taken to writing us on occasion about matters of public interest. We received her latest dispatch yesterday, regarding the subject of the Scene's current cover story: the proposed anti-abortion Amendment 1.]

If you or someone in your family were faced with an agonizing decision regarding abortion, who would you trust to help you make the right decision? Would you consult your family, your doctor and your pastor, or would you ask your state legislator to make the decision for you?

Even the people who support Amendment 1 agree on what the amendment does. In a letter to the editor of the Tennessean on Sunday, Sept. 21, a supporter of Amendment 1, urging readers to vote yes, wrote, “Amendment 1 could allow common sense abortion regulation, through our elected state representatives and senators.”

Exactly! The amendment removes all constitutional protections in the Tennessee State Constitution, thereby allowing the state legislature to pass laws limiting or prohibiting abortion under any circumstance, including rape, incest and the life and health of the woman.

“Common sense?” Really? Whose common sense? Your state legislator’s? Or yours and your family’s, your doctor’s, your pastor’s?

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