fix the beer taxRaise your pint glasses, steins, and snifters in a toast to the success of TN’s Fix the Beer Tax campaign! On Monday the bill passed the state senate, and on Wednesday it passed the state house. Both were almost unanimous votes. The bill still has to be signed into law by Governor Bill Haslam, but with such widespread support and virtually no opposition whatsoever, he will sign it. TN is now on its way to becoming much friendlier to the craft brewing industry, and no longer will breweries be penalized for making a better quality product. Thank you to all my friends and readers who supported this campaign! Read the full article from the horse’s mouth at the official Fix the Beer Tax website.

 

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fix the beer taxI want take a moment to spread the word to fellow Nashvillians/beer lovers about an upcoming rally at the state capitol. As you should’ve heard by now, there is a BIG movement, called Fix The Beer Tax, in our fair state to change our absurdly high beer tax code that has been in place since the 1950’s. Brewers, beer lovers, and politicians alike have all been on the road over the past month or so building support for the Tennessee Beer Tax Reform Act of 2013.

This coming Monday, March 11th there will be a rally held downtown at The Standard (167 Rosa L. Parks Blvd), just a few blocks from the capitol, from 5-8:30pm. Sen. Brian Kelsey, Rep. Cameron Sexton, and representatives from the Tennessee Malt Beverage Association, Anheuser-Busch, other national brewers, and importers will all be present. Join the event on facebook, and if you haven’t already, GO SEND A LETTER TO YOUR STATE LAWMAKERS IN SUPPORT OF THIS BILL! The form is very easy and it only take a few seconds!

I’m sure by now you’ve heard about the big stink being raised over Instagram’s new terms & policies set to go into effect on Jan. 16th. If you haven’t, please familiarize yourself. In short, as the policy is currently written, Instagram would have the right to sell any photos you upload to their service without paying you anything or even letting you know that your photo was being sold or used.

When I first heard about this my initial reaction was utter disgust, and indeed I planned on deleting my account if the policies weren’t changed from what was written. But I also felt pretty confident that it must have been simply some overzealous and greedy lawyers and executives from Facebook writing blanket statements into the policies, and that it wouldn’t be long before they responded by changing the proposed policy. Thankfully, Instagram responded to the outcry today in a blog post titled “Thank you, and we’re listening.” It seems that most if not all of the clauses that pissed everyone off will be removed. The most important thing to take from their statement is this:

Instagram users own their content and Instagram does not claim any ownership rights over your photos. Nothing about this has changed. We respect that there are creative artists and hobbyists alike that pour their heart into creating beautiful photos, and we respect that your photos are your photos. Period.

And this:

Our intention in updating the terms was to communicate that we’d like to experiment with innovative advertising that feels appropriate on Instagram. Instead it was interpreted by many that we were going to sell your photos to others without any compensation. This is not true and it is our mistake that this language is confusing. To be clear: it is not our intention to sell your photos. We are working on updated language in the terms to make sure this is clear.

As a photographer who makes part of my living from photos and licensing their usage, I am hyper-aware of the copyright issues and legalities involved in photography and of how corporations, media, and other establishments are constantly trying to find ways to avoid paying for usage of creative work. I absolutely would not have continued using Instagram if the original policy change had gone into effect. I also had visions of the crumbling Instagram empire, as the backlash would’ve been pretty widespread, whilst other services such as Twitter and Flickr are launching their own photo-sharing apps/features, complete with Instagram-like filters. Hipsters everywhere would have cried a sea of vintage filtered tears until one of the other services (my guess would’ve been Flickr) took over as the king photo filter/sharing app. It remains to be seen what the new version of the policies & terms of use will look like, but I have a feeling it will keep everyone happy, and not rip off the user base. But Instagram/Facebook, be warned- I’ll be looking at the new policies & terms of use very carefully and if you try to pull anything remotely similar to this, SHAME ON YOU and I will be GONE.

Image credit: Dr. Phil Plait/Bad Astronomy Blog

Rant warning: I’m about to go on a major rant. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

There’s simply no way else to put it, science classrooms in Tennessee’s public schools are fucked. It’s clear that our Republican Governor Bill Haslam didn’t actually like the so-called “monkey bill” that will allow teachers in TN public schools to teach creationism and climate change denialism under the guise of “scientific weaknesses,” but unfortunately he proved to be a coward by finding the political equivalent of “having your cake and eating it too”- allowing it to pass without his signature. The bill is nothing more than Bible-thumping socially conservative legislators trying to create a seemingly politically correct path for religious-based ideas to be taught alongside thoroughly proven scientific principles in our public schools. Honestly the state Board of Education is who should be making decisions like this, not state lawmakers. The separation of church and state is made crystal clear by the US Constitution, and teaching pseudoscience that is solely based on religion- creationism and intelligent design- should never EVER be allowed in public schools. Climate change denialism, while not religiously motivated per se, is very politically motivated and not supported by scientific evidence. Both evolution and climate change are overwhelmingly supported by rock-solid scientific evidence. Both are large and complex topics, the minor details of which are constantly going to be debated/improved/clarified, but the overall facts of both are very certain. They are not “scientifically controversial,” they are only politically controversial. It’s times like these that I’m quite ashamed of my home state. Dr. Phil Plait of Bad Astronomy Blog has much better and more professional commentary on this than I, so I suggest reading his blog post about it.

However, things like this Elon Musk interview from last night’s Daily Show with Jon Stewart bring me right back up when I’m down. Watch part 1 here and part 2 here, because you can’t embed Comedy Central videos on a wordpress hosted blog. 😦 It’s awesome and inspirational to see people like him be successful. People who have both the money and the vision to do great things and push the boundaries of mankind’s knowledge and capabilities. Elon Musk is one of many who are pushing the human race forward. The religious right pandering morons in the TN legislature and our coward of a Governor are among those pulling the human race backward.

End of rant.

I’m a little behind in posting this, but if you haven’t been to We Own This Town in a while, I highly suggest you head over and check it out. Joe Baine Colvert and Michael Eades (aka Yewknee) have been doing a great job of keeping it updated and active (especially the show listings). They have a new podcast featuring all artists from Theory 8’s roster, including some yet-to-be released material. Good times for all!

Some other exciting news recently posted on WOTT- The Features have a song in a trailer for the new Mike Judge film Extract, slated to release this fall. It’s got a pretty star-studded lineup, too- including Ben Affleck, Mila Kunis, Jason Bateman, and J.K. Simmons. Watch the trailer. Let’s hope they actually end up in the soundtrack!

Nashvillest has a really nice post about dining out on the cheap in Nashville. Nice work, ladies! They also posted a link to a City Paper story about a new local law being proposed that would hold venues directly responsible for illegally posted concert fliers. This has to be the most RIDICULOUS idea I’ve ever heard. We already know it’s technically illegal to post fliers on telephone poles/light poles/any pulblic property. But nobody gives a shit because it’s impossible to enforce unless a cop actually sees someone doing it. But fining a venue because some band’s fanclub posts fliers for their upcoming show? How on EARTH could a venue possibly control this kind of thing? That’s right, NEVER. It’s IMPOSSIBLE for them to do such a thing. They can’t cancel the show (as some dumbass commenter on the City Paper story suggests), what good does that do anyone? The shows are the venue’s business! Futhermore, the bands will be pissed, especially if they’re a touring band, because once again, playing shows is their business. They make their money from it. Then no bands will ever want to play there, thus the venue ends up closing and the whole live music process just implodes. I guess if you want to take the “Music” out of “Music City,” go right ahead and pass this. I have a suggestion for Mr. Tygard- WAIT. It’s quite clear that the internet is becoming a far easier and cheaper way to promote concerts, and that means less and less printed fliers. It’s only a matter of time before this very MINOR problem fixes itself.

Off the soapbox, onto some more interesting stuff…

Hipster Runoff examines Billy Corgan and Tila Tequila.

Remember Line Rider? Well if you enjoyed that, you’ll want to check out BallDroppings. Just go try it. Absolutely addictive and it could easily consume hours of your day if you aren’t careful. Don’t say I didn’t warn you! Via Yewnkee’d.

Just one science-related tidbit for the day- the Kepler space telescope popped its lid and is now starting to look for earth-like worlds orbiting other stars! That was the last major milestone in the mission, aside from when it eventually does discover the first earth-like exoplanet. Go Kepler!

I’ll leave you today with this awesome Man Man video featuring my favorite SNL cast member Fred Armisen. Werewolves!

Image via Time.com

Apparently Pitchfork founder Ryan Schreiber is on the list of TIME magazine’s candidates for the 100 most influential people. You can vote to rank each individual’s influence on a scale of 1 to 100. Seriously? Everyone’s heard of the “Pitchfork effect,” but I think it has become less relevant over the past 2 years or so. It just seems to me that people start regarding over-hyped “blog-buzz” bands as “Pitchfork bands,” and rightfully so, because most of the bands they’ve hyped over the last couple years have had little staying power. Ex.- Vampire Weekend, Deerhunter, TV on the Radio, etc… Hipster Runoff has a take on this issue.

Rapper T.I. has been confirmed as the “other” headliner for this year’s Rites of Spring, and it will probably be one of his last performances before starting his 1-year jail sentence. Kinda weird but kinda cool at the same time?

In other festival news, the 2nd All Points West lineup has been announced, and it includes Nashville/Bowling Green act Cage the Elephant. These guys have a very festival-friendly live show from what I’ve heard, so it’s really no surprise, especially since they’re also playing Coachella and Bamboozle.

It had to be invented eventually… shoes that grow with children’s feet.

President Obama signed a very important environmental bill into law yesterday called the Omnibus Public Land Management Act. This protects wildnerness areas in California, West Virginia, Idaho, Colorado, New Mexico, Michigan, Utah, Virginia and Oregon. It also protects a thousand miles of rivers. This act has been in the works for many years, so one can only credit Obama with the final push to make it law. Still, a big win for our country’s natural beauty. Via the Daily Galaxy.

NASA unveiled a mock-up of the Orion Crew Vehicle yesterday on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. For some reason I can’t find any photos of this in the public domain, but it basically looks just like the Apollo modules from the 60’s. Technologically, though, it’s vastly more advanced than the Apollo modules. The new Constellation project (of which the Orion Crew Vehicle is a part) will carry astronauts to the ISS beginning around 2015, to the moon in the early 2020’s, and hopefully to Mars in the mid 2030’s. I really hope that I’m still around when that happens.

Finally, the National Weather Service in Nashville has completed their assesment of the storm damage from this past Saturday. As you probably know if you’re from here, a tornado warning was issued for western Davidson and eastern Cheatham Counties around 5:30pm. The storm that prompted this warning did indeed drop an EF1 twister that hit northern Cheatham County. Also, another storm that hit Rutherford County dropped an EF1 twister that hit very near downtown Murfreesboro. This tornado was orginally thought to be and EF0, but further damage assesment prompted the NWS to upgrade it to an EF1. They have very good aerial survey methods that can determine whether damage was caused by straight-line winds or a tornado. The Enhanced-Fujita scale uses damage to estimate the wind speeds in the tornado. There is still no direct way to measure the wind speeds inside the actual funnel, unless the tornado happens to directly hit a wind vane and it somehow miraculously survives. But the chances of that happening are slim to none. If you know me I’m sure you’re wondering whether I chased either of these storms, and the answer is yes, I did attempt to track down the one in Davidson County, but chasing in TN is very difficult, mainly because the roads are not laid out in nice, easy-to-navigate grids like they are in the plains, and also because the storms around here tend to be High-Precipitation Supercells, rather than Low-Precipitiation Supercells which are more common in the plains. This means that most of the tornadoes in TN are shrouded in rain and thus very difficult or impossible to spot from a distance. So no, I was unsuccessful in seeing/documenting this tornado.