Friday, May 26, 2006


Posted By on Fri, May 26, 2006 at 8:54 AM

Our nephew is going to Iraq next month. He will be commanding officer and chief gunner on an Apache attack helicopter. He says he loves to fly. He's less sure about killing, but certain of his duty.

He's a college boy and a graduate of Montgomery Bell Academy. He paid for his college with an ROTC scholarship, and one thing has led to another until he has arrived at the front line in a very brutal war. He is 23 years old and just married.

None of the men who started this misbegotten war have children or family members fighting it. Virtually no members of congress have either. The soldiers themselves seem to have no purpose in the war other than to survive it. Euripides said it 2000 years ago: "Young men fight the wars that old men make."

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Five Alive (Zoinks)

Posted By on Thu, May 25, 2006 at 4:11 PM

Considering how fondly my friend--we'll call him "Kevin"--speaks of his Roomba, like a proud father bragging on his child to the neighbors, I guess I'm not so surprised to hear the Reuters report that soldiers are forming emotional bonds with combat robots. According to the article, "one group of soldiers even named its robot 'Scooby Doo' and grieved when it was blown up after completing 35 successful missions defusing improvised explosive devices." I wonder how loosely the word "grieved" is being used here.

Kevin's Roomba, by the way, is named Theodore (as in the Pulsars song "My Pet Robot").

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Iran, Welcome To Your Past.

Posted By on Wed, May 24, 2006 at 3:54 PM

The chickens are coming home to roost. Maybe Iran will self-destruct like the Soviet Union.

Getting Warmer

Posted By on Wed, May 24, 2006 at 11:10 AM

Al Gore's film about global warming, an inconvenient truth (directed by Davis Guggenheim), opens today in New York and L.A., with screenings in many other cities set for June. Yes, that all-lower-case title screams 'edgy' to me, too. Try to contain your excitement, but the film has a blog. A worthwhile profile of the 2006 edition of Gore appears in the current issue of New York magazine.

Meanwhile, over on the right, Fox News interviews a policy guy at a conservative think tank (one with a history of oil industry funding) who equates Gore with Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels. Fair and balanced. One eagerly anticipates more of this kind of rational, enlightened discourse on the film and its important subject.


Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Poem of the Week

Posted By on Tue, May 23, 2006 at 6:48 PM

A few years ago, The Scene had a feature, stuck off in the back, called "Poem of the Week." Lamentably, the series was abandoned after a short time. I thought I'd revive the practice on the blog. It won't necessarily be every week, and it won't always be poetry, but it will be something from literature which, to me at least, is pleasing to the eye and ear and carries some engaging thought.

The first piece is a poem about reading/writing by Jeff Daniel Marion, poet-in-residence at Carson-Newman College in Jefferson City, Tennessee. Marion was born in Rogersville, Tennessee, and he has lived in East Tennessee for all of his life.

Tight Lines

First read the water,
then cast toward pockets,
the deep spaces between
the cold print of rocks.

It's the flow that beguiles--
what's beneath that lures.

But when the line goes
a dark, waiting presence
will flash
and weave its way,
throbbing, into your pulse.


Posted By on Tue, May 23, 2006 at 4:04 PM

Amir "?uestlove" Thompson, drummer and de facto leader of the rap band The Roots was rumored to be playing a DJ set after The Roots/Blackalicious show coming this weekend (the 27th). It was on again/off again, now it is on. Hit up Kazu's after the concert. Dress code: afro comb with fist on the handle optional.

US National Futbol Team tonight!

Posted By on Tue, May 23, 2006 at 3:14 PM

Last Week the Scene featured a fine piece in the super special summer pull-out on the impending World Cup. The local angle is cool, however, it will not sufficiently prepare you for the upcoming friendly our US World Cup squad will play here in Nashville tonight, nor the Cup itself. Many around this part of the world may not care, but get this: the US team is ranked number 5 in the world. Since we tend to only support winners, here's your chance to get on the bandwagon now.

Here's my short take on some names you need to know if you want to look like an expert.

Continue reading »

God Bless You Mr. Hentoff.

Posted By on Tue, May 23, 2006 at 1:11 PM

Why doesn't the left pays more attention to the principled observations of Nat Hentoff and less to self-serving posturing of spotlight-junkies named Clinton or Gore? Nat gets it correct again.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Supreme Denial

Posted By on Mon, May 22, 2006 at 2:53 PM

The U.S. Supreme Court this morning declined to hear the appeal by Tennessee death row inmate Abu-Ali Abdur'Rahman. His lawyers were challenging the three-drug lethal injection procedure that critics say is cruel and unusual punishment because of the use of the paralyzing agent pancuronium bromide (aka Pavulon). The Court doesn't comment when it declines to accept a case, so no indication on why it didn't fly. It was thought to have a good shot because this is an issue percolating in several circuits. Lyle Dennison writing at SCOTUSblog had this to say:

Abdur'Rahman v. Bredesen appeared to be a clear-cut test of that method, in a case with a full record and the lack of a last-minute challenge before an execution. The Court's denial was thus a clear signal that the Court is unprepared, for now at least, to review the claim that the particular drug protocol can result in severe pain to the individual being put to death.

An AP report has Richard Dieter of the Death Penalty Information Center speculating that justices may want to wait until judges in several states finish hearings on the drug combinations that are used before accepting a case.

We're talking here about the use of a chemical as part of the execution of humans that is so objectionable that American Veterinary Medical Association guidelines reject its use in euthanizing animals. The state of Tennessee should cease and desist spending our tax dollars on legal battles defending this disgusting practice, and simply announce that it won't use the chemical. You'd think that's something on which death penalty advocates and opponents can agree.

Sunday, May 21, 2006


Posted By on Sun, May 21, 2006 at 2:52 PM

So Barry Bonds has just tied Babe Ruth's record for home runs. Long ago he established himself as the premier whiner and drug abuser in the National League. Which makes the loss of the heroic Barbaro at Saturday's Preakness all the more tragic. Barbaro was the real thing, a horse with heart, a horse who had bested the fastest quarter ever run by the fabled Secretariat, a horse with a genuine shot at the first Triple Crown in more than thirty years. For anyone who saw him pull up lame, and still try heroically to run on three legs, the effect was simply heartbreaking. Barbaro didn't whine, and he would have run until he fell if Prado had not pulled him up. And he was clean.

Writing of the Kentucky Derby, William Faulkner said, "Other beasts and their guardians merely supply man with food ... while what the horse supplies to man is something deep and profound in his emotional nature and need." Goodbye, Barbaro.

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