incoming (2007-08)

The good old boys and the good old girls were taking care of one another. They seemingly had no interest in community forums where input could be solicited from the neighborhoods. Don't bother us with special elections, we know best. In the process they proved only one thing. They know how to take care of their backsides. There was nothing subtle about it. It was a blatant disregard for the democratic processes. I can only assume that they have operated so long in this manure that they cannot recognize it when it is waist-deep.

The only good thing that I can see is that term limits will eventually move these good old boys out. There were commissioners who tried to inject principle and integrity into the process, but they were outnumbered by the Scott "Scoobie" Moores and the Greg "Lumpy" Lamberts who seemed determined to bring about the reincarnation of Cas Walker.

Vaughn Nave

Wiki Woes

The first problem that jumped out at me is the writer's belief that Wikipedia is a "multi-million dollar company [that] can induce thousands of people around America to volunteer millions of hours of free time every year to improve its product." This is very far from the truth. Wikipedia is administrated and funded by the 501(c)(3) non-for-profit Wikimedia Foundation, which is funded solely by the generosity of its supporters. Mr. Neely also stated that he would be happy to help correct the Knoxville article for a cut of Wikipedia's advertising profit. I am sure that the Wikimedia Foundation would be glad to comply, as any fraction of its advertising income would be on the order of $0.00. As his always enjoyable and informative Secret History shows, he is in an excellent position to help!

Also, the writer heavily criticized the omission of important people and events from the article, as well as its emphasis on certain parts of history--like the Civil War--over others. While being valid criticisms, they fail to account for the strength of Wikipedia, which is how it is made. Certainly, an online encyclopedia made only by professionals and experts could also be free of charge and open to everyone, and as a matter of fact, the direct forerunner of Wikipedia, the Nupedia project, attempted to do just that. Unfortunately, the rate of growth was anemic. The project died off after having only compiled a few hundred articles. While Wikipedia is certainly open to the flaws of poor organization and error, its openly editable nature allows it to grow far more rapidly while being built on a far larger knowledge base. In addition, it has very strict policies regarding the construction and modification of entries, including proper citation and neutrality among others, just like printed encyclopedias that cost thousands of dollars, such as Encyclopedia Britannica. Extending this comparison with more traditional encyclopedias, Nature recently published a study which showed that on average, Wikipedia was nearly as accurate as Encyclopedia Britannica. It should also be noted that the hyperlinked nature of the articles means that while important topics such as the University of Tennessee are covered only briefly in the Knoxville article, they receive a much more complete treatment in their own articles, which can be easily visited with a click of the mouse.

The primary purpose of Wikipedia and the Wikimedia Foundation can be inferred by the first sentence on the WF's front page, "Imagine a world in which every single human being can freely share in the sum of all knowledge." Wikipedia uses the combined knowledge of many thousands of volunteers in order to approach this ideal more closely each day. There are over a million and a half English language articles and a total of five million articles in distributed over the 200 languages currently supported by Wikipedia. Five-thousand new articles are submitted daily to the project, 1,500 a day to the English version alone. All of this knowledge is freely available and sharable under the GNU Free Documentation License (a.k.a. "the copyleft" license).

While it is not perfect by any means, I think it is clear that Wikipedia is a project worthy of the support of everyone who believes that knowledge should be free and openly available to all who seek it--especially volunteers with some free time and useful information to contribute!

Richard Hatcher

Faith Restored

Around midnight I realized my purse was gone. I had not so much as taken it off my arm all night. I began looking for it when one of the staff, Jason (I think), asked me what I was looking for and began to solicit help from other staff to help look for the purse. He asked for a description of the purse and what it contained. I informed him there was a debit card, license, around $100 cash, keys and lipstick. Jason proceeded to turn the place upside down for the better part of an hour trying to find it. We did not find the purse. Jason said he was sorry this had happened in the club, and I thanked him for his help then proceeded to leave.

I left the club feeling terrible about loss but thanked the staff for looking so diligently. After arriving home at 1:30 a.m. my phone rang. It was Blue Cats letting me know that someone turned in my purse and from my description... everything seemed to still be there. Even the cash! They said they would lock it up for me until they reopened the next night.

I had my debit card stopped just in case. What are the chances someone didn't take advantage? The next night I went back to Blue Cats to retrieve my purse and several staff members brought it out to me. I checked the contents and everything I came with was still there. I couldn't believe it! I thanked them many times but how do you thank an establishment enough for this? I went to my bank as soon as they were open to check the use of my debit card. Not even one transaction!

I know the Old City gets a bad rap most of the time because the only thing we read is about thefts or assaults. I hate that people are still afraid to visit the area because of infrequent violence that always seems to get publicized. I just want everyone to know that there are still good people in the world and they live right here in Knoxville. I would love to thank whoever turned in my purse on Friday night at Blue Cats. Only they know who they are. I would also like to thank Blue Cats for their help and professionalism. My faith in "good people" has truly been restored.

Julie Langley

Attention Bush-haters

The Democratic Party claims to be the party of the poor, the downtrodden, of woman and minority rights, yet this seems to ring hollow when viewing the progress made in Iraq and Afghanistan. How do you reconcile your anger with your professed ideals? You blatantly ignore images of smiling people proudly showing their blue-dyed fingers, women attending schools for the first time, and the sad testimony of witnesses at the trial and brutality that was the Saddam regime.

I find this Bush-hating behavior puzzling and contradictory. George W. Bush is trying to advance universal freedom to secure peace for generations. You may not agree with his way of going about it but he is on the right side of history.

John A. Guerin

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