We recall TV talking heads having a laugh at the Tennessee legislature when the eating of roadkill was legalized a few years back. (How many Tennesseans does it take to eat a dead possum? Three: two to watch for cars. Chuckle, chuckle.) Now we'll be subjected to the image of a hulking redneck lurking about a barnyard lusting after plump young chickens.
And as Dr. Finney points out, once a pervert begins feeling up small, furry animals, it is impossible to control those twisted urges. Next they'll be fondling pigs, then sheep, then... We shudder at the thought.
But like the roadkill law, there is a practical side.
DNA samples showing exotic genes in Blount County residents have been the subject of a scientific study, which has been hushed up with secret money from area businesses and chambers of commerce. One large, under-the-table donation to the UT Athletics Department from a Knoxville businessman resulted in a doctoral project being ash-canned. The Ph.D. candidate has since left the university vet school and is reportedly living in splendor on Aruba.
The saying that hillbilly family trees don't branch is untrue. The embarrassing problem is that some of the scions display prehensile hands and have a proclivity to swing on kudzu vines.
Like the state solons' faunal bills, getting funky with a monkey is bad for tourism.
1982: Ahead of Its Time
It's not a matter of "if" but a matter of "when" we will give in to mass transit and electric cars and vehicles that get 60 mph because gas will probably be $6 a gallon or more. Who knows, we might have to pave a way for bicycle transportation like some other countries already do.
There is some energy progress being made, but some aren't addressing the real issue. Example? E85 (85 percent Ethanol gas) and E95 gas won't solve the problem of conserving energy; it uses more fuel, as it is less efficient than gas, and it would only barely put a dent in our dependence of foreign oil. It's not a magic pill, and it would drive up the price of corn. E85 and E95 seem to be a smokescreen to the real problem. You will have to buy a new vehicle as older ones won't burn the E85 and E95 properly. Scientists are confirming now what was being said 20 to 30 years ago, that global warming is real. Fuel emissions are contributing to the greenhouse gasses, which in turn are warming our planet.
Why can't Knoxville and Tennessee show the world that we didn't completely lose sight of the energy focus of the 1982 World's Fair and build a monorail system through the Smokey Mountains to help clean up the air there? We would be taking a big proactive step. Since the Smokies is one of the most visited National Parks, wouldn't it be nice to help preserve it and let even more people enjoy the scenery in a relaxed way by way of a monorail instead of fighting the horrendous traffic during the summer months? There could be several "trains" going at the same time and they could stop off at numerous points along the way as well. The energy problem is, unfortunately, here to stay.
Or let's not get excited about anything and wait until we don't have any gas at all, or constantly complain about the gas prices being so high because developing countries are tripling their consumption and making prices here so very high, before we do anything about it.
God Bless the Voice of Reason
No one is trying to take away Bibles or sensor what the religious right can teach their children. The purpose of hate crimes legislation is to protect LGBT people from acts of violence or harassment that are committed on the basis of sexual orientation. If the Christian church did a better job of teaching Christ-like behavior (love, kindness, respect, etc.), then perhaps hate crime legislation wouldn't be necessary. In our plural society, we must keep church separate from state and protect all our citizens.
To Be Fair
But Jack's article failed to deal fully with the fair's stated purpose--to favorably influence energy production and consumption. And the article didn't even mention the fair's consequences (circumstantial or otherwise) for Knoxville's partner city, Oak Ridge.
When he inaugurated the fair on May 1, 1982, President Reagan proclaimed, "It's a great pleasure... to be here... in the shadow of the Sunsphere, a symbol of energy potential... The Clinch River reactor, which will use new breeder technology, and Oak Ridge National Laboratory, not far from here, symbolize our commitment to developing safe nuclear energy and technology to secure our energy future."
Then under construction in Oak Ridge, the Clinch River Breeder Reactor Project consumed $1.6 billion and (as illustrated in Metro Pulse ) was featured on one of the fair's commemorative stamps but was canceled a year later--thus ending American development of nuclear energy.
America's "energy future" has grown steadily less secure since 1982. And the Sunsphere is no longer a symbol of anything but the fair itself.
In an earlier column (which I cannot find online), Jack recalled that most every fair pavilion--except Saudi Arabia's--featured innovative new energy technologies. So far as I can tell, these displays--including those in the U.S. pavilion--had absolutely no effect on production and consumption. America produces less total energy today--and wastes more--than it did in 1982.
Energy was the theme of the fair because of nearby coal and oil but particularly because the Tennessee Valley Authority was headquartered here and because Oak Ridge was the birthplace of nuclear energy.
TVA's fair exhibit was mounted on two barges, which literally sailed away downstream when the fair closed. Today, one of TVA's office buildings stands empty.
Oak Ridge created an "Energy/Environment Loop" to entice fairgoers to drive through the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, tour the historic "Graphite Reactor," and visit new exhibits overlooking both the lab and the K-25 plant (then still enriching uranium). Today, K-25 is closed, ORNL is bigger and better than ever but the public can no longer get close enough even to see its buildings, the ORNL overlook is demolished, and the Graphite Reactor is neglected (except once a day in summer when a few U.S. citizens get to go there on a sealed government bus).
As soon as the fair was over, Congresswoman Marilyn Lloyd (Democrat, 3rd district) immediately recognized its failure and challenged Oak Ridge to do better (relatively speaking). Since it was exactly 10 years until Oak Ridge's 50th anniversary, she created a "Committee of Fifty" to find ways for Oak Ridge to achieve "growth and development" so there would be something real and lasting for Oak Ridge to celebrate in 1992. The volunteer Committee studied many projects, administered a job-training program for a while, and inspired many anniversary events in 1992-93. But it too achieved nothing of lasting value, except for left-turn lanes on Oak Ridge Turnpike, a dozen historic markers, and the International Friendship Bell in A.K. Bissell Park.
Edward W. (Ted) Lollis
Kounty Kommission and Ko.
Happy post-April Fool's!
P.S. Do you know where Kandyland is? It's not on the map. Near Mayor Mikey's house?
The Great Cover-up
Chris is not only a good guy but an impeccable artist. To see him treated no better than a rapist, with his mug shot on the front page of the News Sentinel the same day a West Knoxville meth lab was discovered and an arrest was made in a contract killing case (neither of which were front-page news) was absolutely disgusting to me. Then, to have the city hold a "volunteer to clean up your city's graffiti" by Keep Knoxville Beautiful (or keep Knoxville boring and Fisher Price) day was even worse.
Years worth of urban artistic expression and history have been erased. Beautiful burners and pieces comprised of incredible amounts of work have been treated like simple tags and painted over. What's worse is my neighborhood, The Old City, no longer feels like home without these artistic additions I have enjoyed over the years. I am forced to look at blank, cultureless, emotionless walls. I am aware that graffiti is an illegal art form. I am also aware of the hideous banners, billboards, and signs that (in my opinion) vandalize our town and eyes each election year. Yet these, not an art form in the slightest, are given leeway and importance over our guerilla artists who give personality, culture, and vibrance to our town.
I challenge anyone to pick up a can of spray paint and attempt to recreate some of the burners and pieces that have forever been lost to the depressing cover of white paint. There is no doubt that the individuals whose mug shots resided on the front page of the News Sentinel , amongst those of rapists and murderers, are incredibly skilled and talented artists whose control of a can of spray paint goes much deeper than any of our politicians and many of our citizens understand and are willing to educate themselves upon.
After all, ignorance largely assumes many of these individuals are gang members (I can't begin to tell you how laughable that idea is) and has no idea that graffiti is a highly respected art form worldwide. Companies (ex: Adidas, Nike) have embraced this form of art and popularized it by using it together with their products for decades.
And as our urban art has been destroyed, the commissioned murals of happy people thoughtlessly enjoying happy times still reside on the side of buildings in the Old City. What is it we're trying to cover up here?
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