Jan 18 2019
03:37 pm

A Russian startup just revealed plans to use swarms of tiny, light-reflecting satellites to create sprawling billboards in space.

The first of StartRocket's space-based ads, shown in a new concept video released by the company last week, could go up by 2021. The ads — a bit like skytyping, only in low-Earth orbit rather than in the atmosphere — would be visible only at night but could be seen from just about anywhere on Earth

This Russian startup wants to put huge ads in space

Gov.-elect Bill Lee has appointed "reform advocate" Penny Schwinn as Commissioner of Education. Schwinn studied at the Broad Academy and is a Teach for America veteran. She also founded a charter school. Schwinn has described herself as "an advocate for public schools and school choice" according to the article.

One of Schwinn's first tasks will be awarding new contracts for TNReady testing services. She was involved in a Texas controversy regarding contract awards.

Schwinn was recently passed over for the same job in Massachusetts, where critics characterized her as a "determined, divisive reformer."



Jan 18 2019
10:30 am

What: Recode update, workshop
When: Thursday, February 7, 2019 - 5:30pm
Where: City County Bldg. Main Assembly Room

City Council will hold a workshop on the Zoning Code Update/Recode Knoxville for Thursday, February 7th, 2019 at 5:30pm in the Main Assembly Room. The specific topics to be covered at this workshop will be announced closer to the workshop date. (This takes the place of the workshop previously announced for Tuesday, February 5th, 2019.)

The Knoxville-Knox County Planning commission recently voted to approve the proposed zoning overhaul and recommended it to City Council for implementation.

Jan 18 2019
10:10 am

Steve Ross (aka Vibinc, one of the Memphis Steves) has an interesting article on the history of the Electoral College and how it gives some states disproportionate power in electing the president...

Time to Get Rid of the Electoral College

(Also, previously at Knoxviews...)

Jan 18 2019
07:13 am

Dominion Development Group will break ground on a new $15 million "loft-style" apartment complex, City South, on Sevier Avenue this spring. City South will offer one-bedroom and studio units with concrete floors and exposed ducts.

City South will be a 121-unit apartment complex just east of Honeybee Coffee at the corner of Sevier and Davenport. Construction should take 14-15 months, estimating a late summer 2020 completion.

Dominion is the developer of the River's Edge apartments near the Island Home community.

South Knoxville is changing, big time.

Jan 18 2019
06:27 am

Florida Power & Light Co. (NextEra Energy) plans to install more than 30 million solar panels around the state by 2030, increasing the company’s solar capacity from its current 950 megawatts to 11,000 megawatts. The dramatic drop in the cost of solar panels and the increased efficiency of solar panels helps make this possible.

The world's biggest solar producer will build Alabama's biggest solar farm in Hollywood, Alabama, in the next two years to supply renewable energy for Google's new data center.

NextEra Energy Resources (Florida Power & Light) will build a new 150-megawatt solar farm near the abandoned Bellefonte nuclear plant and sell the power to the Tennessee Valley Authority to help TVA deliver only renewable energy for Google's nearby facility.

A similar-sized solar farm also will be built by Invenergy in Yum Yum, Tennessee to supply another Google data center being built near Clarksville, Tennessee.

Collectively, the two solar energy companies will put up 1.6 million solar panels on the two parcels, representing the biggest solar installation in both Tennessee and Alabama, capable of generating up to 413 megawatts of electricity at peak periods from the sun.

I think the eventual goal should be to do like California has started doing and "require solar panels for new homes". Eventually, there should be solar panels on all residential and commercial roofs. We need to try and stop taking large areas, if possible.

Jan 17 2019
06:40 am
By: bizgrrl  shortURL

US states are starting to regulate the term "meat".

On Aug. 28, a law went into effect in Missouri that makes it a crime to use the term “meat” to describe any product that does not come from a “livestock or poultry carcass or part thereof.”

Nebraska lawmakers will consider a bill this year defining meat as “any edible portion of any livestock or poultry, carcass, or part thereof” and excluding “lab-grown or insect or plant-based food products.” It would make it a crime to advertise or sell something “as meat that is not derived from poultry or livestock.”

Similar measures aimed at meat alternatives are pending in Tennessee, Virginia and Wyoming. They come amid a debate over what to call products that are being developed using the emerging science of meat grown by culturing cells in a lab. Supporters of the science are embracing the term “clean meat” — language the conventional meat industry strongly opposes.

In response to a request by FDA and USDA for public input on the oversight of cell-cultured meat, GFI and seven cell-cultured meat companies jointly submitted comments.

"Of course, consumers want to know what they are buying, and if cell-cultured meat products were labeled as something other than meat, this would cause confusion and make it harder for consumers to make informed purchasing decisions."

The Food and Drug Administration recently approved one company’s product additive that mimics heme (an iron-containing compound of the porphyrin class which forms the nonprotein part of hemoglobin and some other biological molecule), which gives meat its unique metallic tinge.

The animal products industry has petitioned the FDA to enforce its definitions of mayo.

Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) has introduced a bill that would make it illegal for nondairy products to be called milk.

Meat substitute/alternative, mayonnaise substitute/alternative, milk substitute/alternative.

IMHO, people should know from where their food comes from, easily. If it's meat, it's meat. If it's a meat alternative, then say it is so. If it is so great, own up to it's origin.

Soylent green! It's people!

The Supreme Court appeared ready Wednesday to strike down a Tennessee provision that requires people to live in the state for two years before obtaining a license to sell alcohol.

Supreme Court appears ready to void Tennessee alcohol law in Memphis case

Some history about Tennessee and liquor licenses ..

Jan 16 2019
03:47 pm


I interviewed Eddie Mannis for my newsletter last year, and wanted to share it with y'all here. Eddie is the founder of Prestige Cleaners, HonorAir, and was Mayor Rogero's first chief operating officer. He is an announced candidate for Knoxville city mayor.

An Interview with Eddie Mannis

Jan 15 2019
08:36 am

Starting Jan. 1, a new federal rule requires the nation’s hospitals to post all their full-price charges on their websites. The idea is to introduce transparency into the world of hospital charges. But these newly-published price lists may end up leaving consumers even more confused than ever before.

Hospitals use a chargemaster list of prices for all services, goods, and procedures. The chargemaster price is usually the highest price a hospital would charge for services, goods, or procedures. Most people with insurance do not pay the chargemaster price. Insurance companies negotiate with hospitals to bring down the prices. If you don't have insurance or if a service, goods, or procedure is not covered, I would guess you will have to try and negotiate a lesser price or pay the high price.

Each of the hospital's standard charges sites has a disclaimer to which you have to agree with the understanding that the "information provided on these sites are estimates of the charges for a medical service or procedure. The information does not represent the actual amount you will be charged as many variables are involved in providing the amount."

Locally, UT Hospital uses the CDM code, charge description master. Tennova Turkey Creek uses a SVCCD code (don't know what that is). Fort Sanders (Covenant) uses a CPT code (current procedural terminology) as well as a CDM code.

I found it very hard if not impossible to use the price lists provided by the local hospitals to compare prices for services, goods, or procedures. It was my understanding that CPT codes were the standard for how medical providers identify services, goods, and procedures. However, using Fort Sanders Hospital downloaded file, it appears that there are over 4,000 items without a CPT code.

Besides that it is hard to navigate the price lists to compare prices, many people are covered by insurance and the prices are completely different and you are still unable to compare them.

Ft. Sanders (Covenant) has the best web site for looking up prices. UT Hospital and Tennova have you download a csv file, which can be opened in MS Excel or MS Word or similar software. Ft. Sanders also has an option to download a csv file.

I have yet to find the standard charges information when going directly to the local hospital web sites. I've had to Google hospital name standard charges to get links with access to this information.

Ft. Sanders Hospital Price Transparency

UT Hospital Price Transparency

Tennova Turkey Creek price Transparency FAQs RE Price Transparency

Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Requirements for Hospitals To Make Public a List of Their Standard Charges via the Internet

Jan 14 2019
10:30 am

What: Books Sandwiched In welcomes Dr. Zach McKenney
When: Wednesday, January 23, 2019 - 12:00pm
Where: East Tennessee History Center, 601 South Gay Street

Janesville.jpgBooks Sandwiched In starts the new year welcoming Dr. Zach McKenney for a consideration of Janesville: An American Story by Amy Goldstein, Wednesday, January 23, noon–1:00 in the East Tennessee History Center auditorium at 601 South Gay Street.

"Amy Goldstein provides a harrowing account of the human consequences of plant shutdowns and the rippling effects that they have throughout affected communities," McKenney said.


Jan 13 2019
09:09 pm

MarketWatch: A hedge-fund-backed media group known for buying up struggling local papers and cutting costs is planning to make an offer for USA Today publisher Gannett Co., according to people familiar with the matter.

Not sure what's left to cut.

The Tennessee Wine and Spirits Retailers Association has a case before the Supreme Court. They say that Total Wine & More should not be able to have stores in Tennessee, arguing that Tennessee law requires retail owners to be residents of the state.

The issue:
Does the Twenty-first Amendment permit states to require that alcohol retail license applicants reside in-state for a specified length of time prior to obtaining a license?

The National Association of Wine Retailers has gotten involved, arguing that the right of wine producers to sell and ship bottles to out-of-state consumers should be extended to retailers. Currently 36 states (including Tennessee) prohibit interstate shipping from retail wine shops.

Oh, my. States rights! States rights!

Jan 13 2019
05:38 am

HANNITY: What are the options, though, if you declare a national emergency? The Pentagon also has the funds available that they would be able to help support the building of the wall.

TRUMP: If we don’t make a deal with Congress, which we should be able to. Really just common sense, and there is some compromise needed, and, look, they know that the wall is working. Do you know what works? A wheel. And a wall. They call it a medieval thing.

Well, you know, I’m looking at all these very expensive cars all over here loaded up with machine guns and every single one of them has wheels. A wheel is an old thing. There are two things that they work. A wall would be so effective. It would solve so many killings and so much death and drugs and human trafficking. Where they tape up women on their face. They tape them up and put them in the back of a car or a van and they drive right through our border.

(I am not making this up.)

Jan 12 2019
07:13 am

From VBINC (Memphis), The Tennessee Democratic Party’s State Executive [committee] will elect a new Chair tomorrow, Saturday. The race features three candidates: Current Chair, Mary Mancini, Williamson Co. native Holly McCall, and Murfreesboro native Chris Hale.
Democrats, who used to be solid with rural communities, have been squeezed out as rural America. Rural communities have lost jobs, opportunity, and hospitals. These are issues that Democrats should OWN.

From LeftWingCracker, "If I remember correct, the number of voters will be 72, which means that the winner needs 37 at a minimum. 66 of these voters were elected by their State Senate Districts to the Executive Committee in last August's primary elections. So, even if you got each of those groups to give you their vote, you would still need 32 members of the Executive Committee to vote for you."
... the Blue Dog days are dead forever, and despite what people from those days would tell you, that is NOT the only way for the Democrats to prosper in this state.

Tune into Democratic TV on Friday evening, January 11 at 7:30 PM for a lively discussion with Democratic Assistant Caucus Leader Rick Staples (D-15) and Gloria Johnson (D 13) about their projections for the 2019 General Assembly. Their discussion will be moderated by DTV's Host John Stewart.

DTV can be seen on the following cable channels:

Comcast Channel 12
Charter Channel 193
Wow! Channel 6
ATT U-verse Channel 99

DTV streams live (here!)

Jan 10 2019
07:25 am

Knox Co. Mayor Glenn Jacobs took time out from his busy schedule to participate in a reddit "ask me anything." Hilarity ensues. Who thought this was a good idea? Here's a sampling:


Trump has an unhealthy fixation on making bad campaign performance art into stupid national policy. He's holding government employees and their families hostage to implement an ineffective 15th century solution to an exaggerated 21st century problem.

Congress, well, actually Mitch McConnell, says they can't pass a budget because Trump won't let them without funding for whatever he wants. Wrong. It says right there in the Constitution that Congress is responsible for funding the government. It also says they can override a presidential veto of said funding.

Trump is now suggesting that he can bypass Congress and unilaterally appropriate taxpayer funds for his symbolic wall by making up a "national emergency." Some otherwise rational people are starting to suggest this may be a way out for both sides.

It is time for Congress to act. They can send Trump a message that he does not have the power to shutdown the government. That he does not have the power to appropriate funds. That he does not have the power to dictate policy.

There are Constitutional checks and balances for a reason. Trump is the perfect example. Congress must do its job to rein him in. Pass a budget. Override the veto. End the charade.

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Lost Medicaid Funding

To date, the failure to expand Medicaid/TennCare has cost the State of Tennessee ? in lost federal funding. (Source)

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