Tag Archives: Nashville

Happy Thanksgiving From Our Militarized Police

Nashville police will use helicopters “to keep Black Friday safe”. From what? Your guess is as good as mine:

“We can support the ground units with an asset like aviation and that gives us a better view of what is going on,” Sgt. Kurt Knapp said. “We can prevent crime and car break-ins and monitor traffic, especially around Opry Mills and the Nashville West areas.”

Sgt. Knapp is one of four sworn officers who pilot the six helicopters in the Air One fleet. Two private pilots are also a part of the aviation unit.

“I think it’s a great deterrent,” Sgt. Knapp said. “Knowing and seeing that the helicopter is there may make a criminal think twice about doing what they are doing.”

[…]

Two of the helicopters are equipped with Flir, thermal imaging technology, and the pilots all fly with night vision goggles for nighttime operations.

Wow. Nothing says Thanksgiving like the thrum of police helicopters overhead. Maybe deploy some of those SWAT team battering rams while you’re at it, that sure screams holiday spirit, too. All to prevent a car break-in? Calling bullshit on that one.

Jesus Christmas. So this is the new normal? Is it really necessary? Or does our police department just want to play with its fun toys?

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Filed under Holidays, Nashville

Shiny-Sparkly Internet Thingie

Apparently our brilliant overlords think chucking social studies textbooks for, I dunno, Jetpunk geography quizzes and Wikipedia’d history is a great idea:

In a first for MNPS, the district opted not to purchase social studies textbooks this year when the time came to replace outdated versions every six years.

Instead, Metro administrators have asked teachers to use websites, interactive videos and primary resources as the main way to teach history, geography and other social studies topics. Though older textbooks will still be in classrooms, and teachers can use them as resources, they are no longer the central focus.

It’s a “digital classroom” these days, officials say, and teachers need flexibility to use curriculum not offered in the old-fashioned print textbook.

Ah yes, the “digital classroom,” that great beacon of our future. Last time I wrote about this in 2011, I linked to this New York Times piece about the failure of Arizona’s tech-intensive classrooms to actually educate:

Since 2005, scores in reading and math have stagnated in Kyrene, even as statewide scores have risen.

To be sure, test scores can go up or down for many reasons. But to many education experts, something is not adding up — here and across the country. In a nutshell: schools are spending billions on technology, even as they cut budgets and lay off teachers, with little proof that this approach is improving basic learning.

Indeed. It bears remembering that the very people touting the “digital classroom” and education based on computer gimmicks tend to be the same people selling school districts the high-tech gadgetry in the first place. I’ve long suspected that a big part of this push is to basically advertise certain brands to kids, often at taxpayer expense — to create future customers for Microsoft and Apple, for instance, the same way tobacco companies reached kids with their Joe Camel campaign.

It’s also kinda bizarre that we’re going all-in on technology in the classroom on the one hand, while barely two weeks ago we were told how important it is to teach cursive handwriting in Tennessee’s schools. Weird.

But yes, DO remind me how the problem with Tennessee’s schools is teachers and teacher’s unions. I’m all ears.

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Filed under education, Nashville, Tennessee

Checking In With NASH

It was almost a year ago that the country’s first “city-centric” investment fund, an ETF comprised entirely of Nashville-based companies, made its debut. At the time I called it “the stupidest investment idea ever” and also noted that,

You know your investment idea sucks when Arthur Laffer “loves” the idea…

.. and also:

I know I’m just a dumb housewife, not an investment genius like the bigwigs behind this idea, but what is the magic of having companies from diverse business sectors all lumped into one ETF just because they’re based out of Nashville? What does Dollar General have to do with HCA? The fund’s founders say:

The partners say Nashville’s position as an “it” city for business makes it an ideal candidate to launch the unique ETF.

This made no sense to me whatsoever, and it still doesn’t. It struck me as nothing more than a civic marketing campaign involving some local hotshots with too much extra money lying in their overstuffed sofa cushions which they didn’t mind throwing away. That’s fine if you can afford it, but there are some investment-ignorant people out there who actually buy this horseshit who probably can’t afford to lose their retirement money on what is basically a marketing ploy by the local Chamber of Commerce.

But what do I know. So, was the NASH ETF really a lousy idea? Let’s take a look-see:

NASH

NASH opened at $25 per share. Today it’s at $27.88. Its range: $23.75-$28 a share. YTD Return: a whopping 1.10% (inflation rate for May 2014 was 2.13%). Meanwhile, the markets as a whole have been booming. For example:

The NASDAQ composite is up 6.80%:

NASDAQ

The S&P 500 is up nearly 7%:

S&P500

While even the Dow has been up 2,56%:

DOW

Again, I’m no genius about this stuff, maybe I’m missing something, but it still seems like this was a stupid idea and Arthur Laffer is still an economic dunce.

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Filed under Nashville, Tennessee, Wall Street

Today In Church And State

[UPDATE]:

As of Saturday, June 28, the McKnight campaign signs are gone, but the stuff on the church sign is still there.

—————————————————-

Just saw this on my way home from the grocery store this morning:

Nice Tax-Exempt Status You've Got There. Shame If Anything Happened To It

Nice Tax-Exempt Status You’ve Got There. Shame If Anything Happened To It

Amendment One is an anti-abortion measure. I had to Google this McKnight fellow, but he’s a big-time right-to-lifer.

This church isn’t too far from my house. I’ve always referred to it as the Wingnut Bible Church because their signs are always advertising some wingnutty seminar or program: “End-Times Prophecy,” “Justice Sunday” and crap like that. Every July Fourth they put about a dozen or so ginormous American flags on their property, because Jesus was an American and a Founder and Christian Nation and Shut Up. But I’ve never seen them outright politick like this before.

I’m not a lawyer, definitely not a Constitutional one, but I’m pretty sure the IRS frowns on these kinds of outright political endorsements from tax-exempt churches. Don’t they?

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Filed under abortion, church and state, Nashville, religion, religious fundamentalism, Tennessee

Open Primaries Are An Awful Idea And They Suck

If you’ve been to Nashville lately you know we have an election next week, because every house and business seems to have sprouted a garden of campaign signs. Judging by the yard signs and amount of campaign literature flooding our mailboxes you’d think this was a national election. But no: we’re voting for District Attorney and a whole bunch of judges. These are not normally high-interest races, but this year in addition to the constant influx of mailers we’ve been inundated with robocalls, door-to-door campaigners, television ads, etc. Oh and let me add, Tuesday’s elections are for the primaries; the actual election is in August.

We haven’t seen this level of interest for judicial primaries since, well, ever. This time, however, early voting numbers have doubled what they were the last time we elected judges.

All of which I find really interesting. So, with that in mind, this caught my attention:

Dread

Adam Dread is the poster boy for why having open primaries is stupid and lame and should be changed. Dread is running in the Republican primary for judge but he apparently did not vote for himself because he chose to vote in the Democratic primary instead. He can do that because his race is uncontested and we have open primaries in the state of Tennessee.

Adam Dread is a vocal Republican. He has always been a vocal Republican. He has name recognition in this city because before going to law school he was a local stand-up comedian and college radio DJ who developed a douchey “Man Of Leisure” personae where he got to spout his sexist and racist BS in local media. He tried to run in the Democratic primary this time out and got busted for it. So he basically got shamed into running as a Republican, even though he is a Republican.

Such are the trials of being a Republican in true-blue Nashville/Davidson County. Though Tennessee is very, very red, Nashville is not. If you are a Republican in Nashville you swim in a very small pond. This is abundantly clear when you see the Republican primary ballot for Tuesday’s election: an endless list of “no candidate qualified” non-choices and non-contested races. Sucks to be you.

So the solution for Republicans is to sometimes run as Democrats instead, which Dread tried to do before he got busted. I’m sure we have more than a few Republican “Trojan Horses” on the Democratic primary ballot, and weeding them out is hard because there’s very little information on a lot of these folks. Let me add: I really don’t get this strategy. You will have a chance to go head-to-head against the Democratic candidate in the general election in August. Why wouldn’t you want to do that? I guess they want to take the easy way out, try to beat the Democrat in the primary and then coast to an easy victory as an uncontested candidate.

But even worse are all the Republicans who are voting in the Democratic primary this time out and supporting Democratic candidates. People like notorious Republican moneybags Lee Beaman, who has funneled bazillions of dollars to conservative groups like Americans For Prosperity, the Club For Growth, not to mention the RNC and related Republican committees.

Beaman is supporting Democratic candidate Glenn Funk for DA. As a result, I’ve seen Glenn Funk campaign signs in the yards of people I know to be Tea Partiers — people who supported Newt fucking Gingrich in the last presidential primary, fergawdsake. I mean, c’mon, people.

Why should Lee Beaman, an outspoken, prominent Republican, and his minions be selecting the Democratic candidate for DA? Again: these folks can vote for whomever they want in August. But these people are not Democrats. They should vote for a Republican candidate in the primary, and if the GOP can’t find one, well, sorry. Now you know how we Democrats feel every time we go to the polls for state and some national elections.

Let me add, I’m sure there are quite a few very red counties in this state where the tables are turned and Republicans dominate the local elections and Democrats are picking Republican candidates. This is wrong.

Also, just a little tip to all of you Republicans who plan to vote in Democratic primaries: you are now listed as a Democrat in the Election Commission data base. That data base will be used by canvassers in future elections. If you don’t want to be asked for money by the Democratic Party or receive mailers and door-knockers for Democratic candidates, do not vote in a Democratic primary. (I cannot tell you how many people told me they “didn’t know how they got on the Democratic Party’s solicitation list” when I was doing campaign work. I do: you voted in a Democratic primary, idiots. So don’t do it.)

I don’t think Republicans should be picking Democratic candidates. I don’t think Democrats should be picking Republican candidates, either.

I want this changed. Republicans should want this changed, too.

19 Comments

Filed under elections, Nashville, Tennessee

Is This A New Healthcare Scam Or What?

As you may recall, I recently went for my annual mammogram, which was quite an adventure. But now, dear friends, the adventure continues!

We’ve got really good insurance from BlueCross/BlueShield, so my annual exams of this type have always been covered 100%. But this time, for the first time ever, the hospital’s billing office called me prior to my appointment to “pre-check me in,” and also to let me know the cost would be “around $150.” I let them know my insurance has always paid for this in full and asked if they were sure about the charge? The woman on the phone sounded unconcerned, like this is something they routinely tell people without checking what their insurance plans call for, just a heads’ up of what they might need to expect. Or not, as the case may be.

I found that totally weird. If I hadn’t been doing this every year for a while and knew I was never charged, I might be a little freaked out. I’d especially be panicked if $150 was a make-or-break amount of money for my monthly budget, which it easily can be for a lot of folks. Especially the kinds of people not accustomed to shelling out large amounts of money on regular health services like mammograms. For example, people new to the healthcare market, thanks to Obamacare. Just sayin’.

As it happens, I get my mammogram and there’s no charge, as usual. The office said they’d file with insurance, as usual.

So imagine my surprise when about 4 days later I get a bill from the hospital! Again: this has never happened before! I assumed it was a bill I could ignore because BlueCross/BlueShield typically takes months to process claims. But the bill showed a discounted amount of around $143, and I’d had that phone call saying I should expect to pay around $150 … so I was a little confused. Again: if I hadn’t done this before and known not to be worried, I’d be in a panic.

So I called the hospital’s billing office and asked WTF is this thing I got in the mail. And get this: she says, “Oh, we just send that out in case you want to pay it. You don’t have to, but if you want to.”

Whaaaa…???

I asked her to clarify what she meant. “You mean, pay it and then have you pay me back when the insurance company pays?” Yes. That is what she meant. If I wanted to. But I didn’t have to.

People, I ask you: who the fuck would want to do that?

Now might be a good time to remind everyone that this service was performed at the for-profit HCA (now TriStar) hospital in Nashville, Centennial. And I just have to wonder again if this isn’t some kind of scam they’re running trying to get money out of people who are new to dealing with hospital billing departments and insurance, now that ObamaCare has brought thousands of newbies into the system.

It just seems a little sleazy to me. I absolutely would not be surprised to learn that staff at Centennial are given a bonus for every “early payment” they coerce out of patients.

Meanwhile, BlueCross/BlueShield has started sending me a stupid newsletter it calls “Healthy Options,” filled with recipes and coupons for Kellogg’s Frosted Mini-Wheats, Minute Maid Light Lemonade and other crap made out of toxic waste I wouldn’t touch with a ten-foot fork. I don’t know when my health insurance company got into bed with ConAgra, ADM and the rest of our Big Food Overlords but I find this an ominous sign and I’m pretty sure it can’t be good for anyone. I just really don’t want to be marketed to by these people. Seems like there might be something better to do with that money.

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Filed under HCA, health insurance, healthcare, Nashville

It City Status Officially Revoked

Yesterday Nashville tore down this gorgeous 135-year-old mansion on Music Row to make way for Richard Branson’s new Virgin Nashville Hotel:

safe_image.php

Sorry I don’t have a better picture. Nobody saw this coming. Maybe if we’d had a heads’ up someone could have gone down there to get a goddamn photo before the bulldozers arrived, y’know? As it is, we’re forced to rely on Google Street View to be the official record of Nashville history.

So, this is progress? No thanks. Real “It Cities” respect their history. And Rebecca Hamilton, trustee of the estate, who sold out and conveniently hid behind “no comment”? Giving you a one-fingered salute, honey.

[UPDATE]:

In an email, the Metro Historical Commission tells me they’d been talking with the building’s new owners since December in an effort to get them to incorporate the original building into their design. This tells me they’ve known the wrecking ball was coming for months and never clued anyone else in about it: not the community they’re supposed to serve, not preservationists, not the news media.

As I said, if anyone had a heads’ up we could have at least got a goddamn picture. But no. So, major fail for another city agency.

Would love to know who’s financing this project. If it’s a local Nashville bank you can expect to hear from me and my middle finger.

4 Comments

Filed under Nashville, Tennessee