Thursday, November 20, 2008

Tennessee Cracks Down on College P2P File Sharing

Posted By on Thu, Nov 20, 2008 at 3:08 PM

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Sharing is for commies. Last week a press release went out that began thusly:
Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen signed into law today a bill aimed at curbing the disproportionate amount of music theft occurring on state campus networks via peer-to-peer (p2p) services. Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) Chairman & CEO Mitch Bainwol, along with several other members of the music community, participated in the signing ceremony and welcomed the enactment of the legislation, SB 3794, which passed the state legislature earlier this year.
Feel free to read the whole thing at your leisure over at the friendly Recording Industry Association of America website, or just follow the jump. CNET has also picked up the story, as has P2PNET. In essence, the law "requires that Tennessee public and private colleges and universities exercise appropriate means to ensure that computers connected to their campus network are not being abused for the purpose of illegally downloading and distributing copyrighted material through p2p file-sharing programs." The phrase "appropriate means" is what you might call a gray area. There's also that question of how to pay for all the snoopers and the doggy-doggers it's gonna take to peep on P2Ps. And there's also the question of whether there any fucking more important things to worry about at Tennessee universities, some of which may see tuition increases in the neighborhood of 25% this year. But at least there's a law now. I know I feel safer knowing that college kids are going to completely stop downloading music because it's, like, illegal and against the rules. Have any of you college students heard anything from your schools?

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Memphis Cop Indicted on Charges of Beating a Transgendered Woman in Jail

Posted By on Thu, Nov 20, 2008 at 2:30 PM

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Former Memphis cop Bridges McRae The former Memphis cop who used handcuffs like brass knuckles to beat a transgendered woman into insensibility found himself on the wrong side of a grand jury indictment Wednesday. Officer Bridges McRae, court documents say, used unreasonable force and a dangerous weapon to deprive Duanna Johnson of her Fourth Amendment rights after an arrest on a prostitution charge. The unprovoked jail beat-down was caught on tape and broadcast by news stations in Memphis back in July. When Johnson declined to respond to some epithets hurled by McRae regarding her gender identity and sexual preferences, he meted out a little corporal punishment of his own. Sounds like a hate crime to me. It's too bad Duanna never got to see this. She was shot to death earlier this month. No arrests have been made.

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Man B@#es Dog: Now That's a Story

Posted By on Thu, Nov 20, 2008 at 2:25 PM

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If this turns you on, seek psychiatric help immediately. There's a bad joke that's been making the rounds for years: Q: What's meaner than a pitbull with AIDS? A: The guy who gave it to him. It seems the joke has come to life (hopefully minus the HIV). Yes, it's true. A warrant has been issued by Davidson County's Metropolitan General Sessions Court for the arrest of Michael C. Anderson, who allegedly "did unlawfully engage in penile sex with a female pit bull dog." And to Dr. James Dobson, we'd like to point out that at least it was a female pit bull. h/t WKRN's Andy Cordan

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Bredesen Striking Back at Odom

Posted By on Thu, Nov 20, 2008 at 8:55 AM

From Phil Bredesen's press secretary this morning comes the startling news that the governor has "trust issues" with Gary Odom. That's putting it euphemistically. We'd say the governor thinks Odom is a disreputable goofball. As the AP observes, Odom "has had strained relations with Bredesen ever since Odom was a Nashville councilman and Bredesen the city's mayor. Matters came to a head last year when Odom became a vocal critic of the governor's plan to close a tax loophole for family-owned businesses." To be more precise, those were fabulously rich families who own lots of land, and Odom killed Bredesen's attempts to make them pay their fair share of taxes . One example is Nashville’s May family, who tried to pave thousands of acres of tranquil green land in Bells Bend to build a Cool Springs-like shopping paradise. The AP continues:
The failure of that measure forced Bredesen to raid $12 million from the wetlands acquisition fund-a cause he has long championed-to help fill holes in the state budget.
Just to complete the story, Odom then raised a bunch of money from the Bells Bend developer crowd, including $4,000 from the May family, $3,000 from would-be bridge builder Bell Construction, and $2,500 from Waller Landen’s PAC. He gave that money to various Democrats running for the legislature, and he's demanding that they vote for him for minority leader in return. Now, it's time for the governor to pay back Odom, and his aides are working behind the scenes to help Craig Fitzhugh become the new House Democratic leader. See also the view from the unofficial state GOP website.

U.S. Senate Candidate Hank Williams Jr. Loves Some Cadillac Pussy

Posted By on Thu, Nov 20, 2008 at 7:30 AM

Now that's what I'm talkin' 'bout! I must confess that I was taken aback Monday when our No. 1 go-to source for political news, CMT, reported that Hank Williams Jr. intends to run for the U.S. Senate as a Republican in the next primary election. But the more I'm thinkin' about it, what Tennessee really needs is a senator who's down with some Cadillac pussy. You heard me right. Hank Jr. joined renowned Nashville strip club aficionado Kid Rock on Kid's 2003 live album for a rousing version of "Cadillac Pussy," and Hank belted out the choruses with the same inimitable, pitch-perfect gusto he exhibited during this spine-tingling performance of "The McCain-Palin Tradition" at a Sarah Palin rally. In case Kid and Hank's poignant duet was more than you could handle without getting choked up at work, here's the chorus that our prospective senator belts out so passionately.
She had some Cadillac pussy Some Cadillac pussy She had some Cadillac pussy She had some Cadillac pussy Man it would drive you wild
Now seriously, do you think Lamar Alexander knows the first thing about Cadillac pussy? I highly doubt it. Maybe he's down with that uptight Mercedes pussy, but who needs that? And Corker? He's a Camry pussy guy at best. Sure, maybe The New York Times was right about our on'ry, ignernt, redneck ways. But I'm tired of fighting to keep my liberal, diversity-appreciating, woman-respecting ideals intact down here in Dixie. Hank II, you can count on my vote. And those of you still clinging to your failed socialist ideology, don't you dare think of using this as some sort of Jeremiah Wright moment to scare those God-fearing, church-going masses in small-town Tennessee who might be offended by Hank's repeated use of the word "pussy" to refer to a woman's genitalia. Those kind of negative campaign tactics don't work around here, my friends.
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"I'm Hank Williams Jr. and I approved this pus...um, I mean, message."

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Ah, What Passes For News Sometimes

Posted By on Thu, Nov 20, 2008 at 7:03 AM

Daily deadlines. I've been there. Makes news out of crap and mountains out of molehills. For some reason, a dust-up at Hunters Lane High School is front and center. Here's how the headlines should read. Two kids engage in fisticuffs, a crowd swells and shoves and jostles to get a look. An unfortunately assigned school resource officer panics, envisions riots, gang signs as students gawk. News is made. Some scratch heads absentmindedly.

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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

I Got You, Abe: Documentary About Abraham Lincoln Presenters Tonight at Belcourt

Posted By on Wed, Nov 19, 2008 at 2:25 PM

On the 145th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address, wanna see several guys in stovepipe hats, bristly whiskers and long coats in one room? Stop by the Belcourt tonight at 7 p.m. for the screening of Being Lincoln: Men with Hats. In his lighthearted documentary, Nashville filmmaker Elvis Wilson delves into a nationwide subculture of Abraham Lincoln presenters—men who study, dress and perform in character as the 16th president. Their members include several Nashvillians, including Dennis Boggs, a familiar face (heh) at local historical events, and retired home inspector John Mansfield, whose quest to win a Lincoln look-alike contest is one of the movie's narrative threads. Above is a clip of the Lincoln of Lower Broad, Mike Cox. A fixture in the city's boisterous downtown tourist district, where bouncers and bartenders see him as a calming influence—would you pick a fight with Abe Lincoln?—Cox hopes he inspires the people he meets in honky-tonks to reconsider their wicked ways. "I get a lot of satisfaction knowing I've touched other people's lives—maybe they won't take drugs or do whatever they do," Cox says. "When they sober up the next morning, maybe they'll think about changing their lives." Or maybe they'll swear off the bottle if they remember chatting with Abe Lincoln at Tootsie's. Whatever the case, Cox and other Middle Tennessee Lincoln presenters will probably attend tonight's screening, so be sure and make them feel at home. After all, they're bound to be somewhat uneasy attending the theater.

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Freakonomics Co-Author Stephen Dubner Comes to Nashville, Predicts a Big Three Bailout

Posted By on Wed, Nov 19, 2008 at 12:11 PM

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Stephen Dubner, nerd rock star. Last night, Stephen Dubner, one-half of the pop-psych duo behind the 2005 bestseller Freakonomics, spoke at Vanderbilt's student life center. Dubner, if you recall, is Mr. Hyde, the stenographer slash translator to University of Chicago economist Steven Levitt's mad scientist Dr. Jekyll. Together, they're the guys who predicted Jackson and Emma would be 2015's most popular baby names and sought to explain reduced crime rates as a result of increased abortions. Whether they're right or wrong is immaterial. What matters is that they make theories, back them up with data and, as such, provide us lesser minds with countless hours of cocktail-party chatter. Because Dubner asked that the roughly 800 Vandy students and professors in attendance not spill any details about their follow-up (titled, naturally, Super Freakonomics), we're forced to reduce the contents of last night's speech into a handful of truisms: - The big "No Vacancy" sign on Wall Street will force would-be egghead bankers to find different jobs, thus having unintended positive consequences in fields like education - A doctor wearing a tie is the single biggest threat to your health in the hospital - Econ students, and their professors, are cold-hearted bastards And... - Al Gore's method for global climate change is ultimately doomed (shocked face) because it asks for too much behavioral change Basically, if you've never heard an economist, or a journalist who's co-opted an economist's way of thinking, speak, your take-away is this: People are not necessarily good or bad, they're just lazy, incentive-driven creatures. All of which relates to Dubner's final point, after a student asked him his thoughts on the Big Three Bailout. Based on conversations with people in the know, Dubner said there was "no way politically" they'd allow GM to sink into bankruptcy. He also offered an explanation for the automakers self-inflicted wounds. "It's called moral hazard," he said. "If you think someone's going to bail you out, you'll do something wrong. There's no consequences." Freaky, indeed.

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Keeping Republican Promises

Posted By on Wed, Nov 19, 2008 at 12:10 PM

Republicans are promising more openness in state government now that they're running things. OK, I'm willing to buy that until they prove otherwise. But is anyone fooled by all this chest-beating over the fabulous new process for selecting the constitutional officers?
“We are honored and humbled that the voters of Tennessee have trusted Republicans to hold a constitutional majority in selecting these officers, and we take that responsibility very seriously,” said Leader Mumpower. “Tennessee voters asked for change and they are ready for transparency and accountability in government. A new day has dawned on our state and our opening up this process of selecting Tennessee’s constitutional officers is the first step in bringing about a positive change in state government.”
Please. Maybe I'm wrong, but I don't see how the end result here is going to be any different. Republican hacks will replace Democratic hacks in those jobs, right?

Bush Slips in an 11th-Hour Blow to the Environment

Posted By on Wed, Nov 19, 2008 at 11:14 AM

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What is this--a mountainous L.A.? Not that Smoky. Prepare to see the Smokies through a pall of smog. Unless a petition for reconsideration goes through--leaving the final say-so to Obama--the EPA is going to make it a hell of a lot easier for coal-fired power plants, lead smelters and oil refineries near national parks to vomit pollutants with abandon, according to a report by The Washington Post. Ever since the passage of the Energy Policy Act, W. has turned the gatekeepers of our wild lands--particularly the Bureau of Land Management and the EPA--into rubber stamps. I saw it happen firsthand in Wyoming. The BLM issued permits to drill out there like candy on Halloween. The effect: Destruction of sagebrush habitats and the dependent species, and the ruination of ranch land and the ephemeral creeks the high country ranchers so depend on. This is brazen, though. Bush sneaking in an 11th hour pass on pollution. EPA regional administrators are raising a shit-fit. Now when the EPA starts bitching about energy-related policy decisions, you can rest assured it's egregious. Here's what they plan to do, or not do, rather: Spikes in pollution near national parks during peak energy demand used to be illegal. Instead, pollution levels will be averaged over an entire year. Just imagine what energy company math whizzes can do with an imaginative statistical analysis. You know The Who song, "I Can See for Miles?" It hasn't been true for a while in the Smoky Mountains, and if this goes through it probably never will be.

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