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Shots Across The Bow

News and opinion from an East Tennessee perspective

Published: 2008-07-20T14:58:24-05:00


I'm Not A Racist


So I'll call this guy an idiot lacking the brains to pull down his pants before he takes a crap.

That way he won't be offended.

Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics


Let's talk about smoking for a minute. I don't smoke and never have. Probably never will unless I'm on fire. And there's nothing that can ruin a good dinner faster than somebody lighting up in a booth nearby.


There's some fundamental dishonesty going on in the camp of the anti smokers,and it's resulting in some very bad law.

Let's look at the numbers with a little bit of reality.

According to the CDC, for 2007

  • 458,000 deaths in the US can be attributed to smoking.
  • There are 45,300,000 smokers in the US

So, by these numbers, 1000 smokers per 100,000 will die from it each year, or about 1%.

Hmmm. What about the other 99%?

We'll get back to them in a minute. First, let's see where they get all these scary numbers, like smoking will increase your risk of death by lung cancer up to 10 or 20 times.

The CDC tells us that roughly 36% of deaths due to smoking are cancer related, and of those, 78% are lung cancer deaths.

1000(deaths due to smoking)X 0.36(percentage of smoking related deaths due to cancer)X 0.78(percentage of cancer deaths that are lung cancer)=281 lung cancer deaths due to smoking per 100,000 people.

We need one more piece of information. The average lung cancer rate among the non smoking population is about 16 deaths per 100,000 people. ( average of men 17.1 and women 14.7)

281 (lung cancer deaths in smokers)/16 (lung cancer deaths in non smokers)=18.

This means that smokers are 18 times more likely to die of lung cancer than non-smokers.

Ok, so the scary commercials are right. But only partially. The initial risk of lung cancer, 16 per 100,000, is so low that multiplying it by 18 still means that 99,719 smokers will not die from lung cancer.

Hardly compelling is it?

"But Rich, what about all the other smoking related deaths that aren't cancer? Won't that change the numbers?"

Yep. But now we're back to those 99,000 smokers out of 100,000 who aren't dying from it each year. (Incidentally, these numbers include deaths from secondhand as well as primary smoke.)

The truth is that smoking does not result in death for the vast majority of those who smoke, yet you will never hear that during any debate on smoking laws.

In order to fully understand the risks associated with a behavior, you have to know two things. You have to know the increase in the risk, which the anti smokers are really good about, but you also have to know the baseline risk, which the anti smokers are very quiet about.

The problem for the anti-tobacco side is that the baseline risk is so low that if they publicized it, they would lose all traction. Or do you think the anti-smoking bans would have passed if the anti smoking warriors banners said

"90% of smokers will not die from smoking!"

And that is what bothers me. By giving people only half the information they need, they are manipulating them through fear, while pretending to inform them.


Popularity Contests


When did politics turn into high school popularity contests? When did a President's effectiveness become solely measured by his polling? For years we've heard nothing except how Bush's approval ratings prove he's a bad president, that his 30% numbers are an historic low, that his administration is an utter failure.

But somehow, Congress's 9% approval rating draws a pass.

And let's take a stroll through history for a moment. Just how popular was Abraham Lincoln during the first 3 years of the Civil War? If I remember my history correctly, his war was considered a failure as well. He was told to end it by the major media of the day. And how many people stood behind the Revolutionary War and the founding fathers? Last time I checked, their support ran around 30%, with an overwhelming majority of Americans either indifferent or actively opposed to the war for independence.

Sometimes, maybe even most times, doing what's right isn't going to make you popular. Remember high school? The cool kids, were they the ones who worked hard, studied hard, got the grades, and did what they were supposed to do? Or were they the ones who did the fun things, the glamorous things, lived on the edge, at least, as edgy as it can get in a suburban school.

Just like high school, politics is based on standards that reward conformity and mediocrity, or do you really believe that the two best people to run America are John McCain or Barack Obama?

It's no longer about doing what is right for America, but doing what's popular.

Pictures from the wedding


The Groom and his Kilt...What's he wearin' underneath it?
Isaac and Stephen in the because they care!
The bridal party and some old guy...
Waiting for the bride...better get used to that!
The bride and the old guy again...
The rings...
The kiss...
The cakes...
The ring bearer...
The flower girls...
The first dance...
The getaway car
Mr. and Mrs. Sasha and Adam Privett!

Adam is Home!


At midnight EDT on July 4th, he left Kuwait and traveled for nearly thirty hours before arriving home in Kodak for 18 days of leave.

He'll be getting married tomorrow evening by the shores of Douglas Lake, and leaving on a honeymoon Monday with his new bride.

He'll be back home around the 14th, and then headed back to Iraq around the 20th to finish his 15 month tour, at which time my new daughter, Sasha, will be heading to Colorado for college.

Kids grow so fast...

The Heller Decision


The Supreme Court today decided on a 5-4 basis that the Second Amendment confirms an individual right to keep and bear arms.

What this means is that 4 out of 9 Supreme Court Justices either cannot read simple English sentences, or that 4 out of 9 Justices would rather follow their own prejudices than the Constitution.

The fact that these 4 Justices are the most liberal is not a coincidence.

Kanye West is a Poser


Yep, you heard me right. He's nothing but a loudmouth who acts like he has a social agenda, but in reality, it's all about him.

How do I know this?

Remember a few years back during the benefit for New Orleans after Katrina, Kanye went off script to deliver an impassioned plea to the people of America. "They're killing us," he said, shortly before his famous "George Bush doesn't like black people." He was in a state of moral outrage as he railed against the injustices of the federal response to Katrina.

But as angry, offended, and outraged as he was then, he says nothing can compare or ever will compare with how offended he was at being booed by a Bonnarroo crowd, angered because his show started almost 2 hours late.

On his website, West wrote. "This is the most offended I've ever been ... this is the maddest I ever will be."

So let me get this straight: Kanye is more offended by being booed than by police shooting at looters in New Orleans? What a guy!

More Stupidity.


Yesterday, I pointed out Stacy Campfield's ridiculous post about refusing to issue birth certificates for US citizens based on the actions of their parents. Today, in the spirit of bipartisan snark, I am obliged to point out the ridiculous response coming from my old friend R. Neal at KnoxViews. Here is Randy's headline: (If link doesn't work, go to Randy is funny sometimes about allowing links from my site to his.)

Slavery was a Better Immigration System?

Now, I've read Stacy's post in detail, and there's absolutely nothing in Stacy's post that can even be remotely construed as approval of slavery. Only a warped and twisted reading of the post in question could result in such an interpretation. Randy isn't stupid, and I'm relatively certain he's neither warped or twisted, so what gives? Is he that worked up about Campfield? Or was he just providing a little red meat for the monkeys in his echo chamber?

Hey, I never thought I'd be in the position of defending Campfield, but if you're going to ridicule a guy for the stupid things he says, and Campfield has said some fairly stupid things, you shouldn't need to make stuff up to do it.

When is it OK to Refuse to Give a Birth Certificate to a US Citizen?


According to Stacy Campfield, if you don't like their parents, the State does not have to issue a birth certificate. Mr.Campfield posts about his amendment that would prevent the state from issuing a birth certificate to a child born in the US to two illegal alien parents.

His "logic" goes like this:

(1) If both parents are here illegally, then they are not under our jurisdiction, and therefore, their baby is not automatically a citizen.
(2) Citizenship is a Federal matter, and birth certificates are issued by the State. Even if the child is a US citizen, the State has no obligation to issue a birth certificate.


OK, let's apply a little bit of real world logic here, not the stuff that passes for it in the mirror maze of Mr. Campfield's mind. If a man is in this country illegally, he is subject to arrest and deportation. He is given a hearing to determine his status and that all applicable laws regarding his case are met. He has legal avenues to pursue to apply for asylum. If he is incarcerated during the process, he has civil rights that must be observed. If he commits a crime while in the US, he can be charged, tried, convicted and sentenced, regardless of his immigration status.

Now I'm not a lawyer, but the above seems to suggest that our illegal alien is certainly under local, state, and federal jurisdiction.

So much for point number one.

As for point number two, if Mr. Campfield had finished reading the 14th Amendment, he would have gotten to the part about "...No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws." That's pretty simple to read, and it says that if a person is a citizen, then the state cannot pass any law that would abridge their rights and privileges, and withholding a birth certificate would certainly do that very thing.

I understand that we need to get control of immigration, but we need to do it intelligently, not with stupid amendments that will never stand up to a constitutional challenge. I don't care for the "anchor baby" loophole either but I don't see any way to close it without causing worse problems down the road.

Humility? You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.


Obama's speech:

...we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when we began to provide care for the sick and good jobs to the jobless; this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal; this was the moment when we ended a war and secured our nation and restored our image as the last, best hope on Earth.


I face this challenge with profound humility.

All he needs to add to his act is water into wine and walking on water to achieve deity status. The Dems will probably even let him skip that whole messy crucifixion thing.

The First Fight of the Presidential Campaign


The sun had barely set on the Democratic Primary Race, and already, Sen. Obama and McCain were battling. The issue...

Who gets Hillary as their VP.

McCain needs her to cement his image as a spineless RINO bridge building maverick, and Obama needs her as a life insurance policy.

The two Presidential candidates lost no time in beginning to suck up to Sen. Clinton, who lapped up the attention like Scarlett O'Hara at the Twelve Oaks barbecue. Sen. McCain, speaking in New Orleans yesterday, said

Senator Clinton has earned great respect for her tenacity and courage. The media often overlooked how compassionately she spoke to the concerns and dreams of millions of Americans, and she deserves a lot more appreciation than she sometimes received. As the father of three daughters, I owe her a debt for inspiring millions of women to believe there is no opportunity in this great country beyond their reach. I am proud to call her my friend.

Obama was quick to plant his own smooches at the belle of the ball's feet.

I want to publicly acknowledge Hillary Clinton for the outstanding race that she has run," he said. "She is a true friend of Israel. She is a great Senator from New York. She is an extraordinary leader of the Democratic Party, and she has made history alongside me over the last 16 months. So I am very proud to have competed against her.

As for Sen. Clinton, she just batted her eyelashes, let out a "fiddle dee dee" followed by a genteel giggle, and asked for another plate of barbecue.

On a more serious note, I don't understand why folks are assuming McCain will choose a running mate who will bolster his conservative credentials. After all, conventional wisdom says that in a Presidential election, you run to your base during the primary, then to the center for the general election. McCain ran so far to the middle during the primary season, the only people out there further to the left are Democrats like Lieberman, Obama, and, you guessed it, Hillary Clinton.

What is Up With WBIR?


I was watching the 11:00 news and couldn't believe what I was seeing. On a night when Barack Obama claimed victory in the race for the nomination, they teased that story and went into their top story of the night, a UTPD bicycle officer doing a face plant that was caught on You Tube.

This is the lead story?

Ok,sure, a local news station usually leads with a local story, but the next story to air was about the retrial ordered for Gussie Vann, currently on death row for raping and murdering his 8 year old daughter. (Note the link goes to The Knoxville News Sentinel; a search of the WBIR website for Gussie Vann came back empty.)

A kiddie cop acting the fool is a bigger story than Obama claiming the nomination, and a murdering rapist getting a new trial?


Ah, but where else could you get to see college students pontificating about how people shouldn't goof off at work, especially when they are getting paid by "my daddy's tax dollars."

Truly a sad night for local news, but don't worry, the national boys have some issues as well. Check out this screen grab from my yahoo news page.


Yes, the headline is all about Obama, but the picture and the story are all about Hillary.

Sour grapes anyone?

Speaking of sour grapes, not that I'm flogging a dead horse or anything, but I'm not convinced that Hillary plans on retiring quietly to the Howard Dean Home for Failed Presidential Ambitions just yet. I am curious about how all the Hillary supporters will react if she does concede. To put it politely, some of them have really been hard on Obama. Will they eat their words, swallow their dislike and vote for him anyway,or will they walk away in disgust?

Hillary's Big Win


No, not Puerto Rico.

Her win came from the loving hands of the DNC, who agreed to seat all of the delegates from Michigan and Florida, but only giving them a half of a vote each.

This was a complete victory for Clinton, who has now assured that Obama cannot win the delegates needed to clinch the nomination out right.

Here's how it works. With all of the delegates seated, Obama is back to needing 2200+ delegates to clinch, ie a majority of the delegates seated. But, because the Michigan and Florida delegates only get half a vote, there won't be enough to put him over the top. Without the Michigan and Florida delegates, he was within striking distance of the 2000+ he needed, but now, once the implications of seating the delegates sinks in, he'll be further away from a majority.

It really is a masterstroke of strategery. In a move that seems to favor Obama, the DNC actually just guaranteed more chaos at the convention.

Chaos that will end with a Clinton victory.

Or do you think Hillary won't take advantage of a mathematical loophole to win the nomination?

Blogging Blues


I've fallen behind in reading and posting. It happens when I get happy.



I went last year and posted about it(Starting here). Apparently those posts are showing upon search engines because I'm getting a bunch of new comments, most of which object to the fact that I cast the experience in a less than favorable light. Sorry folks, I just call it like I see it. If you don't want to go back and read through all the posts, here's a brief summary: I heard a lot of music I liked, and listened to acts I'd never heard of, but the aggravations of the festival outweighed the fun in my opinion. Getting in to the campground was a nightmare, and each entry into the festival grounds was an adventure in randomness. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy camping. I've got a nice setup with most of the comforts of home, but the quality of a campout is determined more by the people you are camping with than the equipment you use, and the Bonnaroo crowd contains too many of the people who can make camping miserable. All in all, while I probably won't go back again, I'm glad I went. I met some very interesting folks, hung out with a crowd about as different from me as you can get, got a nice hat, and heard some great music. I want to find a different festival, maybe a bluegrass festival, and go to it. Anyway,for those of you heading out to Bonnaroo, here is a collection of tips to make your experience more enjoyable. Come early, come late, it doesn't seem to matter much as far as the wait to get in to the campground goes. There are very specific rules on what you can and can't bring with you and the type of shelters you can use. They are available well in advance of the event. Ignore them; the folks searching your vehicle do. You will have a very limited amount of space to set up your campsite, roughly 100 square feet plus your vehicle. An 8' by 8' tent will take up most of it. Plan accordingly. Prices are high as you might expect. Make sure to bring everything you need. Bring extra ice. If you bring an extra stick of butter, you may be offered a lap dance. Plan on drinking roughly a gallon of fluids a day. This does not include alcohol or soda Bring your own toilet paper. Showers are $10. A solar shower from WalMart is $6. You do the math. You will want to take a shower. Your neighbors will want you to take a shower. You will want your neighbors to shower. The three most vital things to bring besides lots of water are A hat. Keep the sun off of your head and you'll stay cooler. Sunglasses Sunblock Traffic getting into the site is a nightmare so make sure you have plenty of gas to get in, and back out again. Cell phone service is available, but spotty. Encourage your family to send text messages instead. They get through easier. Plan ahead. Use your schedule to pick the acts you really want to see. Fill in the gaps with shopping, eating, or hearing an act you've never heard of. Challenge yourself. Be careful what you bring in to the venue. Just because they let you bring it in yesterday doesn't mean they'll let you in today. If you get turned away from one gate, try another. Take your time. This is a marathon, not a sprint. You've got three more days of this ahead of you. Try food you've never had before. Yeah, it's a little pricey, but it's nowhere near as bad as Disneyland. If you're turned away from the gate for carrying something you shouldn't, try another gate. (Yes, I mentioned this twice. It's important.) Get to know the folks camping near you. You're neighbors for the next 96 hours; you might as well be friendly. Drink plenty of water before you leave your campsite, and keep drinking it while you're at the venue. Bonnaroo provides free water stations, or you can spend $2.50 for a bottle. Bring a beach chair or something else to s[...]