Comments by DumbOldLocal

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Written on Letter: Here Come the Letters Pt. 1:

I have no interest in re-fighting the American Civil War, in attempting to dumb down our national history by coloring it with only black and white, or in destroying things in public bonfires. I would, however, like to point out to Ms. Huff the irony of her post. You see, the actual veterans of this, America's most lethal war, didn't react to it the way she has. Though they had actually lived through the hell of it, had seen friends and loved ones slaughtered by people in the other side's colors, they began coming together in "Blue and Gray" reunions not long after the war was over, a tradition that continued with the ever dwindling numbers of survivors through the 1930's. Old Confederates showed up in their old gray and butternut uniforms, proudly held aloft their old flags, and shook hands, swapped stories - a few of them even partially true, and told dirty jokes with their counterparts in blue with their stars and stripes held aloft. If the veterans of Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) were not infuriated by the presence of their old foes at national celebrations, perhaps you might someday be so generous in spirit as to not revile those who fondly remember those who fought and perished honorably and bravely in a losing and misguided cause

Written on Letter: Here Come the Letters Pt. 2:

The appropriateness of most anything depends upon its context. It's appropriate to sing Green Day in the shower, not so much during a Sunday worship service. Context, you see. If Knoxville is suffering a brain drain - losing many of its best and brightest - within any demographic group, it's entirely appropriate to talk about it and find ways to stop the leak. That works for the overall good of the community. You suggested a conference on young whites leaving Knoxville. If this is a legitimate problem in this area, then such a conference would be entirely appropriate. It's good for the whole community to keep our most productive local citizens local. When your most productive citizens are fleeing the area, only the vulnerable, the criminal, and the least able to make it on their own remain behind. You get... Detroit.

The greater Knoxville metropolitan area has several institutions that attract productive, creative, and innovative people into the area at least for a time. It would be a good thing to find ways to convince more of them to stay longer. One effective way to do that is to target your marketing - custom campaigns geared toward various demographics.

As for the requisite, sentimental, and utterly misguided "let us all come together without race and just be Americans" remark... Hogwash. America wasn't built by people abandoning their original cultures as they came here. It was built by people learning how to adapt the strengths of their cultures to the opportunities before them in this new world. Prejudice always has to be overcome, but nothing overcomes prejudice like success. My own ancestors showed up in the New World in the 1750's. But even after all this time, I'm not just a non-hyphenated American. I'm proud to be Scots-Irish on my dad's side and German-American on my mom's. Just how it works here.

Written on Park-’N’-View Movies:

It's a good idea, but the film industry is destroying the modern drive-in resurgence, intentionally or otherwise. After this year, movies will cease to be made on film. Everything will be digital. They've been pushing in this direction for years, and now it looks like it's a done deal. Given that drive-in's are seasonal, weekend only, and have a very limited number of screens, the cost of updating their equipment is simply prohibitive. Enjoy Parkway and Midtown while you can. There might not be a 2014 season.

Written on Clang Went the Trolley: Knoxville's Terrain Remains a Barrier to Tying Downtown Together:

I never fail to get laughed at every time I mention this, so I might as well be laughed at on a public forum. I've thought a lot about the steep hills and how they divide downtown into discrete subzones and make it difficult to traverse the whole of it. And ever since I read this admittedly far fetched idea on, I can't seem to rid myself of the idea of a chairlift running up the north side of Summitt and another one running along the western side of the City-County building. They get millions of skiers up much steeper slopes than ours. It seems silly, but it's quick, efficient, dedicated to the purpose and economically viable. Okay, I'm finished. The laughing may safely commence.

Wired article:

Written on Ho Hum Council Races:

On a positive note, eight year terms with no opposition are still an improvement over thirty year terms with no opposition. I guess the juice of being on city council or county commission just isn't worth the squeeze of having to campaign.

Written on Restaurant Report: The Coop Café:

For anyone reading this and thinking about trying the place, you might want to travel down WoodLAND instead of trying to figure out how to bend South Knoxville across the river and attach WoodLAWN to the big Tennova campus.

Happy Eating!

Written on Proposed School Budget Hike Includes Unprecedented iPad Program:

If Knox County has the foresight to combine the iPad program with an initiative to replace printed textbooks with electronic versions, then this program comes a lot closer to being cost neutral. It also makes the school system more environmentally friendly and saves the backs of thousands of students.

One important question not addressed either by the lengthy missive on the school's web site or any subsequent articles is how the school system proposes to absorb obsolecence costs for such an expansive and expensive commitment to technology. An iPad, like a personal computer, has around 3-5 years of active life before software requirements begin to exceed its capacity. A replacement program, including the recycling of the obsolete units, needs to be clearly detailed in the program's outline.

Written on Test Driving the Nissan Leaf:

The vehicle type is independent of the fuel technology. While both the Leaf and the Volt (and the Prius) are sized and provided with the amenities of a typical compact car, it would be just as easy to make EV's that are sports cars, full size luxury sedans, pickup trucks, or SUV's. One of the real positives of the EV solution is that it does not necessarily come into conflict with America's longstanding love affair with big, powerful vehicles.

Written on Is Knoxville Ready for Electric Cars?:

The future of electric vehicles lies in their ability/inability to follow the Blue Rhino model for propane tanks. When I can pull over at any service station or convenience store and quickly swap my depleted battery for a fresh, fully charged one and keep on going, then electric vehicles are ready to seriously compete with liquid fuel vehicles. As long as the fuel souce (the battery) remains an integral part of the product (the car), the future of the EV is, at best, as a family's second car.

Written on Knoxville Modernism and Architect Bruce McCarty:

If there is a "failing" to modernism, it's that the form tends to ignore the psychology of architecture, the need to generate an emotional response in those who look upon it. This is not unversally the case by any means, but far too often modernism gets so lost in its austere functionality that it fails to consider the statement - especially of the whole. Usually, there's nothing within the exterior to arrest the eye, to capture one's attention, at least not in an aesthetically pleasing way. Oddly, that is by design and definition. It is, by its very form, the architectural equivalant of plain white rice.

As an engineer, there are elements of our Civic Coliseum I adore. I think the covered breezeways and skyways from the parking garages and Marriot are brilliant, for example. On the other hand, the structure itself is a squat, hard, uninviting lump of concrete as seen from the outside. It's not an "ugly" building (See Thompson-Boling Arena for an example of a truly UGLY arena), but it is plain, unexceptional, utterly functional... a great example of Modernism.

Modernism, I think, is trapped in an era. Unless one is attempting to create a "period" feel, it's not something likely to enjoy a revival. Like enormous tail fins on cars, it's never coming back. There's nothing wrong with that, of course. The turreted and gabled Victorian mansion and the streamlined opulence of Art Deco are also trapped in their respective eras. There are beautiful examples of all these styles to be preserved and treasured, but we're unlikely to see a renaissance with new construction in those styles.

Written on New City Councilman Nick Della Volpe Ruffling Political Feathers:

Well, the rookie is dead right on the school system and where people choose to live or not live. I grew up in North Hills. I went to Belle Morris, Whittle Springs, and then Fulton. Having come up through that path, there was no way I'd put my child into those schools. So I moved to Farragut.

A few years back, a fine old home at the corner of North Hills Blvd and Washington Pike (facing North Hills) was up for sale. I'd admired that red brick home with its double wings and classical symmetry all my life. I had the financial means to buy it. I thought long and hard about it. I wanted to do it. But I knew it would mean putting my child into some cloistered private school somewhere because the TCAP scores at Belle Morris were unconscionable - as was the physical state of that beautiful old school building. Old Principal Bell is surely still spinning in his grave over the current state of that place. So I stayed put. Out west. I wasn't prepared to risk my child's future to go play urban pioneer.

I admire the wonderful changes that have come into the Old North and 4th & Gill areas and that are still underway in Park Ridge and even sliding up into Lincoln Park. But you can only do so much revitalization utilizing empty nesters and private or home schoolers. To really finish revitalizing close in North Knoxville (Della Volpe's district) you have to attract those upper middle class and low end affluent families who send their kids through the public school system. Attracting them absolutely requires tremendous improvements be made to the three schools I attended.

So keep giving them Hell Nick!

Written on Republicans: Choose Life:

I think that may qualify as the silliest commentary I've ever read. Mr. Carlson, do you seriously mean to suggest the Republican Party adopt the ideology of the Democratic Party, content itself with trying to moderate "waste neglect and outright fraud," and accept permanent minority status? Do you seriously mean to suggest that the halls of Congress should not be a place where our elected representatives come together to argue the path our nation should take, but rather a place for them to quibble over the details?

Much like the Republicans in 1981 and, especially, after Reagan's unbelievable landslide in 1984, you pretend the debate is over, the direction is established, the people have spoken and etched their words in stone tablets. Hardly, sir. The will of the American people is, at best, written in sand. The Republicans eventually pushed the American center a little too far out of their middle-of-the-road comfort zones and President Obama was elected as a true progressive leaning Democrat (Bill Clinton being a centrist). Assuming even that our current left turn endures for more than four years, it will also inevitably, eventually, push those same middle-of-the-road Americans in the center too far out of their comfort zones and America will turn right again.

You see, Mr. Carlson, at the heart of it, we are a very large, very populous democratic republic. As such, the United States of America must be governed from its center. There is simply no enduring way for any ideological bent to hold sway fully or for very long in this country. The Conservative Republicans, unchecked by their more moderate members, pushed their right leaning ideology a little too far for a little too long. Progressive Democrats, left unchecked by the Democratic moderates, will inevitably do the same.

The answer for the Republican Party, then, is not to abdicate all that they stand for and bring to an end meaningful political debate in this nation; it's simply to correct their course slightly and return to the core of the message that resonated with the American people.

The real question before us, Mr. Carlson, is not how the Republican Party should redefine itself; it's how far to the left the Democrats will be able to push this nation before they, in their turn, get slapped back to reality by the same center that dismissed Mr. Bush and his would be successors. I hope President Obama manages to use his time in the sun to put in place some of the best planks of the Progressive platform - things like Labor Reform and National Health Insurance - rather than fritter away this very brief moment on things easily undone and of mostly symbolic importance. If he and the Democrats in Congress recognize the election of 2008 represents a window of opportunity and not a permanent state of being, they may choose wisely. Time, as always, will tell.

Written on Original Louis' Drive-In: Shaky Reputation:

Okay, that's it. Turn in your credentials and surrender your access to any and all word processors. You call yourself a food critic, yet you go to Louis' and don't even order Spaghetti? Would you also go to Peter Luger's and not order the porterhouse?

You see, some places are all about "one thing." It's what they do. Sure, to appease those who don't like the "one thing," but are nonetheless obliged to accompany those who do, these establishments may make some halfhearted attempt to offer other things. However, to judge a restaurant on the basis of these silly concessions to the unlearned is akin to judging a restaurant on how well it maintains its parking lot. It's entirely, utterly and inexcusably beside the point.

Louis offers the finest plate of non-traditional spaghetti to be found on this planet. I say that without fear of contradiction by those who know. Spaghetti is entirely about the sauce, and Louis brings you a generous amount of the richest, meatiest, spiciest sauce you could ever hope to experience. The stuff sits about halfway between a fine marinara and a full blown chili (ala Cincinnati). It is a unique and special flavor not be had anywhere else. Over the years, I've become entirely spoiled by it. I cannot abide the spaghetti found in any other restaurant now, especially the fancier Italian places in town with their miserly dollops of thin, watery tomato paste - little more rice cakes in cheap ketchup.

Oh, and if you must have something other than a huge oblong platter of Louis spaghetti, go for the old "Louis Plate Number 4." You get a generous helping of the legendary spaghetti with a broiled chicken breast parmigiana - a thick, tender chicken breast unspoiled by unnecessary breading and untouched by a frying pan. Delicious.

Finally, two other quick points. That not at all garlicky garlic bread is only there to help you sop up any sauce that might remain on your plate once you're done with the spaghetti. Judged by that singular function, it performs admirably. And you really, really shouldn't have said anything about that shredded iceburg salad. Unless you are inimately acquainted with both the Original Louis and Louis Inn and the devotees of each and their reasons why... you really didn't want to open up that sore topic.

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