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We just wrapped up the Team Frog Whirlwind Stateside Road Trip, which was a quicker-than-usual drive through the usual stops (Chicago! Carbondale! Paducah! Nashville! Maryville-Alcoa! Knoxville! Erlanger, Kentucky!) due to some tighter than usual work schedules at home. Random thoughts follow:

1. Be in my welcome video

I flew to Honolulu last January, about ten days before the inauguration, so Obama was still POTUS at the time. While I was standing in the passport control line, I noticed the TV monitors playing a welcome announcement from Presidente Obama welcoming visitors to the US. As I watched, I thought: “I wonder what the new video will be like?”

So I kept an eye out for it this time when I arrived at passport control in Chicago.

There was no welcome video.

Which speaks volumes, perhaps. Granted, D. Trump has been busy his first 13 weeks, what with making America great again and his busy golf schedule, so maybe he hasn’t had to film one. Still.

2. Signs O’ The Times, Side 1

I saw an awful lot of “now hiring” signs this trip. Seems just about every restaurant, café, retail store or any other place of business I entered was looking to hire more help. Which is surprising, considering what terrible shape America’s economy is supposed to be in, according to D. Trump. Guess he fixed it?

3. There’s only one thing worse than being talked about …

Naturally, it was tough to have a conversation without D. Trump coming up. I’ll qualify that by adding that (1) almost every state I drove through was a state he won (the exception being Illinois), and (2) I did not meet a single person who voted for him or even liked him – and I’m including Republicans. Even my mom – who adored Reagan and Thatcher in the 80s – literally couldn’t bring herself to address him as President Trump, saying (and I quote): “He doesn’t even deserve the mentioning of that title.”

Anyway, while the topic of Trump was inevitable, it was interesting that I didn’t hear a lot of extended rants about him. Most people agreed that the country was still in a state of shell-shock – the reality hasn’t quite settled in that this guy is actually in charge of the country and is making bad decisions about important things almost daily. It’s almost like everyone’s waiting for the episode where he finally gets voted off the island or something.

4. Signs O’ The Times, Side 2

Apart from the “Now Hiring” signs, once I got down to the Kentucky/Tennessee areas I also saw a lot of signs that were pointedly in support of the police. Sample billboard: “Welcome to [town name], where we fully support our police”. Which I guess is the 21st Century equivalent of “N*****, don’t let the sun set on you here.”

Okay, that’s unfair. But it’s pretty obvious that it’s intended as a statement against #BLM and a veiled warning for anyone who supports that movement, based on the false assumption that to support #BLM is to NOT support the police, because as we all know, Law And Order depends on supporting law enforcement 100% at all times no matter how many unarmed black guys they kill. Anyway, I didn’t see any signs like that when I drove through the same places in October 2015, and Trump happened between then and now, so it’s clear some of them felt the need to make that statement to the point of paying for billboard space (and that’s assuming the billboard owner didn’t waive the fee).

5. With the radio on

Our rental car was blessed with a free satnav this time around, but not free satellite radio. Which meant station-hopping from city to city again, and it seems the state of commercial radio programming hasn't improved in the last year and a half – at least not on our route. Granted, neither has the state of commercial music. So, as college radio is also dying, we kept it either on NPR or classic rock stations.

One thing I can confirm: Boston is still terrifically popular in the heartland.

6. Come McKay with me, punker

As usual, I stocked up on books, although not as many as I might have, since we skipped Books-a-Million this year (membership isn’t all it’s cracked up to be), and a couple of other places we usually hit have closed.

Still, there is always McKay’s, and we hit the ones in Nashville and Chattanooga. Here’s my haul from both.

Nice, eh?

Okay, that’s all I have.

There and back again,

This is dF
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re: our US tour in October (which I was supposed to be doing a series about, but was too busy with other things to get around to until now):

Our ultimate destination – by way of Chicago, Carbondale, IL and Nashville – was Maryville-Alcoa, Tennessee to visit my family for a week.

As you might imagine, there’s not a lot to do in Maryville-Alcoa and the surrounding area unless you enjoy college football, hayrides, Dolly Parton and mountain tourist traps.

Which is probably how my sister talked us into driving 100 miles to score some t-shirts from the Piggly Wiggly in Spring City, TN.

It’s a kind of family in-joke, albeit one I wasn’t really aware of until this trip.

As you may or may not know, Piggly Wiggly is a grocery store chain that everyone who isn't from the South or Midwest thinks is fictional because it was mentioned in Driving Miss Daisy. People laugh at the name, but it actually has an interesting history. The first one opened in 1916 in Memphis, and it single-handedly invented the self-service supermarket concept at a time when most towns had general stores. Checkout lanes? Shopping carts? Price tags on every item for sale? Piggly Wiggly basically invented that.

Anyway, we ended up making the drive twice – once at night, which ended up with us failing to find the store due to bad directions from Mapquest, and once the following day.

Did I mention there’s not a lot to do in Maryville-Alcoa?

Anyway, here’s what we drove an aggregate 400 miles for.


The things I do to entertain you people.

Some pig,

This is dF

defrog: (45 frog)
As you may have guessed, there are some novelty records in my 45 collection. 

But only one of them is a slice of Tennessee history.

In the late 70s, Governor Ray Blanton was caught signing pardons for convicts – some of them multiple murderers – who had bribed state officials, including two from his office. Blanton was never charged with anything directly related to the pardons-for-cash scandal, but he was eventually convicted in 1981 for unrelated mail fraud, conspiracy, and extortion for selling liquor licenses, and served 22 months in the federal pen.

The pardons scandal remains the biggest political corruption scandal in state history. And at some point, when all this was making the news, Brian Blue Christie and the Gitch Your Own Band cut a record called “Pardon Me Ray” – set to the tune of “Chattanooga Choo Choo” done in a mod-country style. It was a major hit on Nashville radio.

And of course I bought a copy. Thus began my interest in political humor (possibly).

BONUS TRACK: Ray Blanton is rated one of the ten most corrupt politicians in US History by RealClearPolitics. (Note: by “corrupt” they mean “use of power for financial profit”, which is why Dick Nixon isn’t on it, but Spiro Agnew is.)

I wanna get my money’s worth for what I’m buying,

This is dF

defrog: (Default)
I’m from Tennessee. I don’t talk about it much – not since it started becoming known for its political landscape where voters tend to nominate pro-life, homophobic batshit conspiracy theorists for the US Senate.

And that’s just the Democrats.

Seriously. The Tennessee Democratic Party has just nominated its candidate to challenge Republican Bob Corker for one of the state’s two Senate seats – Mark Clayton, a guy who is vice president of Public Advocate of the United States (the conservative group led by Eugene Delgaudio, the guy who thinks TSA patdowns and Muppets are part of the Homosexual Agenda) and who spent much of his previous Senate campaign in 2008 talking about the dangers of national ID cards, the NAFTA Superhighway, and how Google was deliberately censoring search results on his web site by order of the Chinese govt.

Also, he reportedly believes Arnold Schwarzenegger is trying to get the Constitution rewritten so he can become the new Hitler.

So. That’s the Democrat nominee.

To be fair, the TN Democratic Party has completely disowned Clayton, and is urging party voters to write in a more suitable candidate.

On the other hand, their explanation for how Clayton won the nomination in the first place does not reflect well on Democrat voters as a whole:

“Many Democrats in Tennessee knew nothing about any of the candidates in the race, so they voted for the person at the top of the ticket. Unfortunately, none of the other Democratic candidates were able to run the race needed to gain statewide visibility or support.”

In other words: we couldn’t be bothered to actually get the word out on any of our candidates, and our constituents were too lazy to bother checking first, and so Clayton won by virtue of being the person who’s last name comes earliest in the alphabet.

So in that sense, it’s kind of hard to feel sorry for them.

And it probably doesn’t matter anyway – Sen. Corker is pretty standard-issue GOP material, which in the current state political environment means he’d probably be looking at a comfortable second term no matter who won the Demo nomination.

On the other hand, some of the laws the state govt has been passing lately, especially the ones intended to stop the Gay Muslim Takeover, are fuelled by the same batshit mentality that Clayton displays. So maybe Corker is TOO standard-issue by 2012 conservative standards, in which case he may have to up his Batshit game to keep up with Clayton.

Sane by comparison,

This is dF

defrog: (Default)
And now, Robert Mitchum sings the Ballad Of Thunder Road!

Moonshiners! Revenoors! The Devil! Kingston Pike!

FUN FACT: A different version of this song served as the theme song of the film. Mitchum recorded his version later.

FULL DISCLOSURE: This is one of my favorite Robert Mitchum films.

DISCLAIMER: That's not actually Kingston Pike in the movie, which was filmed in Asheville, North Carolina. 

Quench the Devil’s thirst,

This is dF

defrog: (Default)
Somewhere on Kingston Pike in Knoxville:

MADONNA DIET VIAGRA GIRL SCOUTS, Kingston Pike, Knoxville, TN, May 2012

Don’t ask me. I’m just the photographer.

Don’t go there,

This is dF

defrog: (Default)
And finally, here’s a photo taken inside McGhee Tyson airport outside the news kiosk: a photo of a Tennessee volunteer statue surrounded by the 50 Shades Of Grey pseudo-bondage trilogy.

50 SHADES OF TENNESSEE, McGhee Tyson Airport, May 2012

Which I find amusing, all things considered.

For my next trick I’ll need a volunteer,

This is dF

defrog: (Default)
I eat food.

There was much of it this US trip. Too much, actually. Which is typical of my stateside trips – a friend ordered a small salad and it came on a plate the size of a large pizza.

Also, as usual, most of this took place in the kinds of restaurants where the servers are yr new BFF to the point where you want to punch them. Especially Chili’s. But they are designed for hanging out with actual friends for a couple of hours, which was what I was doing there in the first place (otherwise I’d be eating at, I dunno, Sonic or something).

I’ve already covered the IHOP in Santa Clara, so here are some bloggable highlights from the Tennessee leg of the trip:

1. Bel Air Grill

CLASSIFICATION: Bar and grill with pseudo-50s décor and a pseudo-50s menu.

BLOGGABILITY: the gratuitous pseudo-Elvis statue out front.

BEL AIR GRILL 01, Maryville-Alcoa, TN, May 2012

THE FOOD: I had an overpriced chili dog. It was pretty good.

FUN FACT: I passed by an antique store in Nashville, and there were about four identical pseudo-Elvis statues out front. I’d have bought one if it wouldn’t have put me well over my baggage weight limit.

2. Rafferty’s

CLASSIFICATION: Ostensibly a steakhouse, but if you've ever been to Ruby Tuesday's, TGI Friday's or Shooters 52, you pretty much know what's on the menu.

BLOGGABILITY: The gratuitous rack of flatscreens.

SCREEN BANK, Rafferty's, Madison, TN, May 2012

One screen was tuned to the World Poker Championship (or something involving poker, anyway). Cat, Suzie and I couldn’t stop giggling at it, especially when they showed the guy wearing the Brazilian flag as a cape and looking bored to death.

THE FOOD: I had a bacon burger drowned in BBQ sauce. Tasty!

FUN FACT: The server was a good sport who pretended to get my Thin Lizzy references.

3. Misaki

CLASSIFICATION: A Japanese steakhouse – the kind where you get yr own chef grilling meat with knife-fu, juggling utensils, throwing bowls into his hat, setting the table on fire, etc.


THE FOOD: I had the ribeye and teriyaki chicken with veggies and fried rice. Very tasty, but way too much of it.

FUN FACT: I’d never actually been to that kind of restaurant before, and my sister was keen to take me. Entertaining, it was.

And there you are.

Check please,

This is dF

defrog: (Default)
I rent cars.

Sometimes they're not cars so much as pick-up trucks.

DEERSLAYER 01, What a deer did to my rental car. Maryville-Alcoa, TN, May 2012

I should stress it was the only thing available. But it is handy when yr renting a car in East Tennessee, because you just blend right in (provided you put a Tennessee Vols logo and a window sticker praising Jesus on it).

Anyway, I hit a deer with it on I-40 East.

DEERSLAYER 02, What a deer did to my rental car. Maryville-Alcoa, TN, May 2012

DEERSLAYER 03, What a deer did to my rental car. Maryville-Alcoa, TN, May 2012 DEERSLAYER 04, What a deer did to my rental car. Maryville-Alcoa, TN, May 2012

You should see the deer.

In a weird way, I was lucky on just about all counts except for the part about actually hitting the deer. For a start, it happened at 1:30am in the middle of nowhere, which meant no nearby traffic, so I had all the room in the world to swerve and avoid a head-on collision, albeit not enough time to miss it completely – I clipped it with the right front corner of the truck. You see the result.

Apart from that, I was lucky that I was able to drive away from it, and that I was driving a truck in the first place. (Ford trucks really are Built Ford Tough™, you know.) If I’d been driving (say) a Chevy Aveo, even a glancing blow like that could have potentially crippled it (and possibly me). I speak from experience – I hit a deer with a 1988 Subaru Justy on a two-lane blacktop at 60mph. The repair bill was $3,500.

So all in all, I got off light.

But then again, maybe not. I have no car insurance (as I don’t own a car), and after forgetting to sign up for the cheap full-coverage plan offered by Priceline, I was dumb/cheap enough to opt for the lowest insurance plan offered by the rental car company – which, I’m told will probably only cover the cost of a new grille. I’m also told that car rental companies can be pretty ruthless about this kind of thing. So I’m expecting the worst, and to be a lot poorer before all this is over.

Fucking deer. Where’s Ted Nugent when you need him?

BONUS TRACK: Oh, and when I came back to HK last night, United Airlines was kind enough to lose my luggage. 


The hits keep on coming,

This is dF

defrog: (Default)
Remember that proposed Tennessee bill that would ban teachers from talking about “sexual gateway activity”, potentially to include holding hands and smooching?

Well, it’s the law now.

The good news (such as it is) is that the final version of the bill reportedly doesn’t allow parents to sue teachers who mention such activities. They can, however, sue the hell out of sex ed instructors that are outside of the school system – like, say, Planned Parenthood:

[David Fowler, president of the Family Action Council of Tennessee] also pointed to a Planned Parenthood-organized program at a school in Knoxville, where students were directed to a web site "that actually lists as possible methods of birth control things like oral sex and anal sex play that I think most Tennesseans would find inappropriate."

By “most Tennesseans”, I assume he means “Me and the state government”. Which is close enough for them.

Anyway, everything I’ve said about it before (and what Stephen Colbert has said about it before) still applies.

Meanwhile, you may like to know that while Gov Bill Haslam was signing that one, he also managed to sign two other bills into law: one that makes getting an abortion harder by requiring abortion providers to have admitting privileges at a hospital in the county where they perform an abortion or in a neighboring county, and another where anyone who beats up a pregnant woman can be charged with assaulting her embryo (or murder if she miscarries).

See what they did there?

EXTRA CREDIT: For more on the admitting privileges issue, see this story about a similar law just passed in Mississippi and signed by Gov Phil Bryant, who has some interesting theories on what liberals think about all day.

Small govt, bitches!

Barefoot and pregnant,

This is dF

defrog: (Default)
I’m from Tennessee. I don’t talk about it much. Except when I have to.

Which seems to be more and more often, now that the state govt is busy transforming Tennessee into a gun-owner’s paradise where the Bible counts as science, no one has sex until they’re married, and when they do, it’s hetrosexual sex only, even if yr just talking about it.

Their latest proposal:

I’m from Tennessee. I don’t talk about it much.

I should point out that I got that headline from Addicting Info, which means it’s both overwrought and misleading.

But not entirely false.

The bill in question, SB 3310 (which passed 28-1 in the state senate) and HB 3621 (now on the floor), is an update of Tennessee’s current abstinence-mostly sex ed law. The new law does NOT say you can’t mention hand-holding or kissing. Not specifically, anyway. What it says is that teachers cannot “promote any gateway sexual activity or health message that encourages students to experiment with non-coital sexual activity”.

“And what exactly counts as a gateway sexual activity?” you may ask.


It doesn’t say. But it does say that if a teacher mentions any “gateway sexual activity”, parents can sue them. So if yr a teacher in Tennessee, it’s probably better to err on the side of caution and not say anything except “here’s where babies come from, now don’t do any of this or anything that could conceivably lead to this til yr wedding night.”

So theoretically, yes, if yr conservative enough (and if yr a Tennessee legislator, judge, police officer, or parent, there’s a good chance you are), that could include kissing or holding hands.

Or dancing, even.

Stephen Colbert is here to give you an idea just how far this logic can go.

Needless to say, I think the idea of “gateway sexual activity” is silly. But then I think abstinence-only sex ed is a bad joke, and I don’t particularly buy the “gateway drug” argument that beer leads to heroin, so I would say that, wouldn’t I?

ADDENDUM: Oh, that part in the headline about banning teaching about contraceptives? That’s not accurate either. The law says that you can talk about them, provided you do so in a “medically accurate” way that’s consistent with the abstinence-mostly message.

Whatever that means.

And if you don’t, parents can sue you for that, too.

See what they did there?

And that’s why I don’t talk much about being from Tennessee. Though there are worse states to be from, I guess.

Don’t look at me,

This is dF

defrog: (Default)
I’m originally from Tennessee, a state that doesn’t make national headlines very often, and when it does, it’s usually because of Republicans passing bad, atavistic laws.

Like allowing guns in bars. Or making it a felony to share yr Netflix account or post anything online that might offend anyone. Or allowing businesses to discriminate against gay people. Or banning teachers from mentioning gay people in any way, except when they’re acting on their moral convictions by denouncing gay students as demon spawn.

On the bright side, at least they haven't legalized the teaching of Creationism in science classes, which would –


Never mind.

It's called Senate Bill 893, and while it doesn’t permit teachers to swap out evolution for Creationism as a scientific explanation for man’s origins, it does permit students to ask about it in class, and once they do, teachers are now required by law to discuss and explore Creationism – presumably for as often as the students bring it up.

And TN being what it is, and fundamentalist conservative parents being what they are, it’s a fair bet it will come up often. It only takes one kid to put Creationism on the table – a point I’m sure isn’t lost on the people who came up with SB 893.

Is this that big a deal? I think so – at least as far as public schools go. I’m a big believer in making Rick Santorum vomit church/state separation, and that includes using publicly funded schools to promote religious beliefs. And Creationism definitely counts as a religious belief. Conservatives can dress it up as science all they want. It’s still a religious belief. So SB 893 looks to me like a fairly obvious dodge to get around the church/state issue so Creationism can be taught in schools.

Not that I’m not 100% opposed to that. I’m certainly in favor of Creationism being mentioned in courses like History, Social Studies and Political Science in the context of, say, illustrating the church/state debate and the tactics deployed by fundamentalist Christian politicians to get around that separation. I’m even okay with Creationism being mentioned in science classes, if only to give students a textbook example of what is science and what is DEFINITELY NOT BY ANY STRETCH OF THE IMAGINATION science.

But SB 893 is a bad way to enable that because it empowers students, rather than teachers, to determine their science curriculum, even if it’s not science. Which isn’t a problem if yr a science teacher who thinks Creationism is science and evolution is bunk (in which case, yr not much of a science teacher).

Class dismissed,

This is dF

defrog: (Default)
Previously on Senseless Acts of Bloggery:

I’m from Tennessee, but I don’t talk about it much.

I would, mind you. But every time I mention it, people bring stuff up. Like how it’s
legal to bring weapons into bars. Or our capitalist fire departments. Or Pigeon Forge, home to the Nastiest Hotel in America.

And – more recently – why we’re so afraid of gay people.

State Sen. Stacey Campfield (a Republican) has been pushing a bill for the last six years that would
make it illegal for teachers to mention homosexuality in any way whatsoever at all to students in kindergarten up through the eighth grade. Last week, the bill was cleared to go to the Senate floor for a vote.

And now it’s been approved by the House Education Committee.

My opinion on the bill hasn’t changed. But it does get me wondering how this is going to play with the Other Gays Is Scary Law that state Republicans are promoting.

No, not the It’s Illegal To Make It Illegal For Businesses To Discriminate Against Gayz one.

Rather, I’m talking about the It’s Okay To Bully Gayz As Long As You Do It For Religious Reasons b/w It’s Not Okay To Bully Christian Kids For Hating Gayz bill.

It’s essentially the same bill as the one in Michigan, and I feel the same way about both.

Anyway, if both bills pass, it presents an interesting conundrum.

Basically, the Don’t Say Gay bill says you can’t mention homosexuality in school at all. The Selective Anti-Bullying bill says you have the religious freedom to express negative opinions about homosexuals in school.

Which I think means that it’s okay for Christian kids and teachers to criticize and insult gay people on religious grounds so long as they don’t actually say why they’re criticizing and insulting them.

Or something.

Well, look, no one ever said bigotry had to make sense.

Anyway, good luck with that conundrum, Tennessee.

Southern discomfort,

This is dF

defrog: (Default)
I’m not entirely sure yet, but it’s possible that the best album I’ve heard this year is going to be by a Nashville underground legend so obscure that even I’ve never heard of him. And I’m from there.

I’m speaking of Dave Cloud.

He and his band the Gospel Of Power have been around since the mid-90s, and he’s built a rep at the Springwater Supper Club And Lounge (a classic dive bar in West End) as a sort of garage-rocker/karaoke-crooner/psychedelic-shaman.

He’s also been in a couple of Harmony Korine movies, if that helps. Also, if yr old enough to remember those Budweiser commercials with that band playing bespoke instruments (also directed by Korine), that was Cloud as their Col. Parker-type manager.

Anyway, DC&TGOP have a new album out, and thanks to a distribution deal with Fire Records in the UK (and an ad in Uncut magazine – never underestimate the power of advertising), I managed to find out about it. And as I say, it’s possibly the best album I’ve heard this year.

Musically, it’s lo-fi garage-rock, with Cloud’s words and vocal style a sprawling blend of Beefheart, Mark E Smith, Kid Congo Powers and Johnny Dowd. Which means it’s in the same ballpark as The Fall, but weirder. Or at least sleazier.

Oh, hell, just listen.

Granted, this kind of thing is not for everyone. But it’s sure for me.

Sharing the Gospel,

This is dF
defrog: (Default)
How Nashville prays:

DISCLAIMER: Yes, I realize he’s probably making deliberate references to both Talladega Nights and local boy Darrell Waltrip. And the fact that I actually caught the Waltrip reference means I’m in no position to judge. And, all right, if you gotta pray in public, you might as well have a little fun with it.

Still, product placement in prayer is kind of a sadly apt metaphor for the state of the nation right now.

Boogity boogity boogity,

This is dF

defrog: (Default)
Judging from my F-list – and the fact that it’s a big national news story – you don’t need me to tell you that gay marriage is now legal in New York.

It’s also possible you don’t need me to tell you that this is (as Andrew Sullivan calls it) a BFD in part because NY is controlled by Republicans, and yet somehow the law passed because just enough of them changed sides.

One interesting angle is one of the reasons why enough of them changed sides – a provision in the bill that preserves the right of churches and religious groups not to facilitate gay marriages if they don’t want to.

In other words, it’s legal for The Gayz to get married in New York, but that doesn’t mean yr guaranteed a church wedding if that’s what you want.

It’s an interesting distinction, because basically it preserves discrimination to a point – it’s all right to discriminate against The Gayz as long as you do it for religious reasons. Which should make for an exciting court case when the marriage registry office clerk turns out to be a Mormon and starts turning down gay applicants. And you can pile that on top of all the other legal challenges that will probably be filed against the new law. So in that sense the debate in NY is probably far from over.

I also wonder if it’s always possible this is as good as it gets in a country where religious freedom is written into the constitution, and if this is a trade-off worth taking, at least for now. I’m sure some will argue that churches already have to follow the law of the land, and that should include anti-discrimination laws, so the religious-freedom provision is bullshit, etc.

Maybe. But the problem with all-or-nothing strategies is that they take a hell of a lot longer to achieve, especially when they involve undoing thousands of years of social intolerance. Personally, I’d rather see a NY law that legalizes secular gay marriage and allows enough marriages to normalize it and show the dingbats that their fears of straight-marriage degradation and the collapse of society as a result of gay marriage are largely unfounded. Then we can worry about what the Pope thinks about it.

Well, anyway, the good news is that if you DO want a church wedding in New York, you’ve got at least over 430 venues to choose from that might accommodate you.

Either way, of course, we’re a long, long way from convincing the other 44 states to go the same route. Not every Repub is going to accept “maximal religious liberty” as an acceptable trade-off – especially the ones who don’t believe in a secular state, and especially the ones in Tennessee, where … oh, YOU know …).

Or am I ruining the victory party?

Sorry. Never mind. You kids carry on.

Love is in the air,

This is dF

defrog: (Default)
ITEM: The state of Tennessee makes it a crime to use a friend's login to listen to songs or watch movies from services like Netflix or Rhapsody – even if you have their permission.

The bill expands an existing law used to prosecute people who steal cable television or leave restaurants without paying for their meals. It adds "entertainment subscription service" to the list of services protected by the law. […]

On the one hand, I’m fascinated by the argument that using someone else’s Netflix account is similar to sharing cable TV with the neighbors (which is of course not only illegal, but also likely a violation of yr ToS). From a cable-TV theft POV, using someone else’s Netflix account (outside of your home, at least) is a little harder to justify.

On the other hand, the law doesn’t distinguish between hackers who sell passwords in bulk and someone using their mom’s Netflix account, and knowing the MPAA and RIAA, they’re not really going to care. As far as they’re concerned, sharing a Rhapsody account is no different from selling pirated copies of Ke$ha CDs out of the back of yr car (or, for that matter, breaking into EMI’s bank account and stealing all their money).


For me, the best way to evaluate laws like this is to ask the following question: does the remedy solve the problem?

If the problem is piracy and financial losses for the music and film industry, the answer is “no”. Actual criminals who steal and sell passwords are already breaking the law, so making more laws isn’t much of a deterrent. And people who can’t or won’t pay for media services generally will not become paying customers just because you outlaw ways to get it for free. You might get less people to use someone else’s account, but I seriously doubt you’ll get them to pay for their own. And a lot of people will keep sharing accounts anyway.

Conclusion: it’s a law that creates new ways to put people in jail without remedying the problem it proposes to fix.


Access denied,

This is dF

defrog: (air travel)
No matter where I travel, I’ll find my way into the nearest book store or CD store. When I travel to Nashville, it’s inevitable that I’ll make a stop in the two coolest such stores:

Grimey’s, a local independent record store.


And the Great Escape, which has been dealing in new and used comics and related merch, as well as used music and books, for 30-odd years.

Which is worth a separate entry because this trip I paid my last ever visit to the original location of the Great Escape on 21st and Broadway (above), where I spent much of my youth buying comics and obscure punk records. They’re closing it down this weekend due to unaffordable rent in favor of the new store on Charlotte Ave.

It’s great the business will continue, but sad the original store will be gone. I have a lot of memories invested in that place. (FULL DISCLOSURE: I was employed at their Madison branch for about six weeks.)

Meanwhile, I also went to McKay, a similar store in Knoxville (though no comics apart from graphic novels), which was impressively big. I’d never been there before, and a friend took me to check it out.

Did I buy anything? Let’s just say there’s a reason we came back with an extra 50 lbs of luggage.

Next: Big shoulders!

No escape,

This is dF
defrog: (air travel)
Did you know there’s a Titanic Museum in Pigeon Forge, TN?

Neither did I. But there is. It’s even shaped like the Titanic.




My sister’s family had been there and she wanted to take us. And – having been interested in the Titanic long before James Cameron invented it – I was game.

I have to say, it’s put together pretty well. Not many artifacts from the actual wreck, and most of it was old territory for me, but they put together the narrative well, with minimal reference to the movie (which also meant no Celine Dion, for which I was grateful). They even hand you a card with the name of a passenger on it, and you find out at the end whether or not yr “character” survived ot not. (I was Harvey Collyer, and I drowneded.)

The other interesting bit is the part where you can go out onto a deck mock-up and dip yr hand in water that’s 28ºF – the temperature of the water in the North Atlantic where the ship went down. Hold yr hand in that for 10 seconds, then imagine doing that for the four hours it took for the Carpathia to arrive to rescue survivors. You can also experience the slope of the ship as it sank to get an idea of how long you’d be able to hold on for yr life before you dropped into that 28º water.

On the downside, the whole experience all falls apart when you enter the gift shop at the end, where any emotional impact of the tragedy is drowned in cheap, gaudy commercialism.

Much like the rest of Pigeon Forge.

The upcoming ice-carving content is also in questionable taste.

Next: The end of an era!

Going down,

This is dF
defrog: (america fuck yeah)
By the way, if you didn’t hear the news, Basil Marceaux Dotcom will not be the next president of Tennessee. Out of 720,000 Republican votes in the GOP gubernatorial primary, Basil got 3,520.

Which is predictable, I suppose. Of course if YouTube hits counted as votes, he’d have won easily. But most of those were probably from out of state, and in any case, most of his “fans” were people who thought he was the perfect poster boy for GOP hayseed idiocy.

If so, Basil might be having the last laugh on that score – according to the Washington Post, he claims that video was more calculated than it looks.

"I hate to say this, but I set the Internet up," he said. "I set the Internet up so they would talk bad about me because it's the only way to get hits."

It would figure, wouldn’t it? Still, it’s hard to hold that against him. But it’s also a good lesson in Web 2.0 Politics: viral doesn’t always translate into votes. If YouTube was democracy, Keyboard Cat would be president. Etc.

It’s probably as well since near the end, Basil was also suggesting that everyone who looks Mexican should be rounded up and shipped there and allowed to return if they have a green card. Which isn’t as funny as ending slaving at traffic stops.

In the meantime, the good news is that the two candidates with the heaviest backing from the Tea Party – Ron “Islam is a cult” Ramsey and Zach “Let’s secede again, what could go wrong this time?” Wamp – also lost, and lost badly. So now we just have to find out if Bill Haslam is going to woo the Tea Parties with the usual bugaboos.

Life goes on,

This is dF


defrog: (Default)

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