Botanist celebrates importance of accuracy in floral illustrations

Entrance to the "Birds, Bugs and Blooms" exhibit.
Entrance to the “Birds, Bugs and Blooms” exhibit at the McClung Museum.

Botanist Barney Lipscomb spoke on the importance of scientific accuracy in nineteenth century floral illustrations at UT’s McClung Museum on Wednesday, Oct. 22.
The lecture was titled “A Botanists Eye–Redoute and the Art of Floral Illustrations” and was given as part of the museum’s current “Birds, Bugs and Blooms: Natural History Illustration from the 1500s-1800s” exhibit.

Lipscomb is the Dorothea L. Leonhardt Chair of Texas Botany at the Botanical Research Institute of Texas. His lecture primarily focused on the notion that “botanical illustration is not only an art form but an aid to science.” Libscomb touched on the history of many talented botanical illustrators, but the one who dominated his lecture was Pierre-Joseph Redoute.

Redoute, Lipscomb explained, was unlike the other botanical illustrators of the his time. Redoute was able to accurately combine art and science. He realized  the grave importance of scientific accuracy in depicting a plant in his art, but was also able to create something stunningly beautiful and intricate.

Catherine Shteynberg is one of the exhibit curators for the “Birds, Bugs and Blooms” exhibit.

“He talked about sort of the origins of natural history illustration and why it came about and the fact that its this really interesting mix of art and science together,” said Shteynberg. “And so that really strikes at the heart of what the exhibit upstairs is about.”

Redoute’s art, along with many others, can be seen as part of the McClung Museum’s temporary “Birds, Bugs and Blooms” exhibit.

For more information on the exhibit, visit the McClung Museum’s website.

Edited by Jessica Carr

Mayor Rogero talks downtown Christmas fun at city meeting

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At the meeting, Mayor Rogero talked about Christmas in the City, a collection of holiday activities that are taking place downtown.

The holiday season found its way to the City Council meeting Tuesday night when Mayor Madeline Rogero discussed Christmas in the City, a collection of festive events that will take place in downtown Knoxville.

This event will feature several activities from a tree lighting and ice skating to the annual Christmas Parade on Gay Street. The theme this year is “A White Christmas in Knoxville.”

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A Christmas tree lighting will take place in Crutch Park on Friday at six p.m. to start the Christmas in the City celebration.

“We’re about to kick off our Christmas in the City events, and that begins on this Friday, the Friday after Thanksgiving. We will open our ice skating rink which is down on Market Square, and then at six p.m., we will be lighting the Christmas tree to officially kick off our Regal Celebration of Lights and that is at 6 p.m. on Friday near the Crutch Park extension,” Rogero said. “The following Friday we will have the annual Christmas parade which is on Gay Street.”

One part of Christmas in the City unique to this year is the showcase of holiday artwork drawn by several young patients at Children’s Hospital.

“Something new this year at the skating rink, they will have holiday-themed artwork donated by East Tennessee Children’s hospital. This art is made by patients who are receiving treatment at the hospital,” Rogero said.

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Some artwork drawn by Children’s hospital patients is displayed at the skating rink in Market Square.

Rogero added that Christmas in the City will provide a festive atmosphere to families looking for holiday fun.

“Downtown is a great place to come anytime of year, but particularly during the holidays when there’s a lot of festive activities going on, when you have the Christmas trees and the windows decorated and all and the place to come down to shop,” Rogero said. ” And it’s just a great place to come down and to enjoy a variety of activities for all the family.”

For a full list of events, check out


Edited by Jennifer Brake


Facts, fiction, feedback behind the Affordable Care Act

Since President Barack Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law in March of 2010, much controversy, confusion and commotion has followed. It is an issue of national importance, but in Knoxville and on the University of Tennessee’s campus, there are a wide array of views on this subject. Opinions range from absolute disapproval of the law to strong support with many people  falling in between. But how did these opinions form and are they based on fact or fiction? Also, how are the facts concerning this law reaching the public? Several trends and sources provide answers to these questions.

The most recent trend regarding the ACA is the failure of its website. Upon its release on Oct. 1,  only a half a million applications out of two million visits to the website have been submitted. This is attributed to the site’s inability to hold the large number of users who are trying to access it.

However, Randy Neal, president of BranchConnect, was able to successfully navigate the website. He says that after logging on, applying for insurance via the site was fairly straightforward, but he did encounter some problems.

“The site was acting real screwy a couple nights ago. I was looking at different coverage plans and there are supposed to be 65 or 67 and there were only 10 or 20 showing up,” Neal said.

Another unique trend occurring since the ACA’s inception is a question of name. While officially it is called the Affordable Care Act, it has been dubbed by many as ObamaCare. According to a poll carried out by CNBC, this difference in title has had a large effect on how people view the law.

CNBC polled two different groups, using “ObamaCare” for one and “Affordable Care Act” for the other. Forty six percent of those polled opposed ObamaCare while 37 percent opposed the Affordable Care Act. Also, 29 percent of those polled supported ObamaCare while 22 percent were in support of ACA. The disparity seems to lie within Americans’ tendency to derive opinion from Obama’s name alone rather than the actual details of the healthcare law’s plans.

This can also be seen in various interviews with students from the University of Tennessee.

Those who were questioned on ObamaCare seen in the video below have strong opinions regarding the ACA. There was clear approval and disapproval seen in most of the interviews.

However, those who were questioned about the Affordable Care Act seen in the video below had different answers. While there were some who approved or disapproved of it, some interviewees did not know the facts surrounding it at all.

The confusion regarding the Affordable Care Act does not end with its name though. Many people are unaware of the details about its insurance plans.

According to Becky Harmon, Knox County coordinator for the Tennessee Health Care Campaign, this lack of information can cause many uninformed citizens to have negativity towards this law.

“Everybody thinks it’s really bad (the ACA) and it isn’t, most of that is coming out of misinformation.” Harmon said. “They haven’t done the research, they just go with the negative.”

This is why Harmon is taking the initiative to inform people about the ACA and its insurance policies.

Her main role in the Knox County community is getting people ready to enroll. This encompasses explaining how the website works, the application process, and making sure people understand what the marketplace insurance plans look like. She plans to develop a class to help educate people about these aspects.

“We’re in the process of trying to come up with a short class on ‘Health Care 101.’ Just the basics,” Harmon said.

In addition to Harmon’s work on informing others about the ACA, other organizations in Tennessee have taken this initiative.

Jackie Shrago is a volunteer for Get Covered Tennessee, a  private organization that helps uninsured Tennesseans gain access to timely and affordable health care.

With a background in entrepreneurship and interest in healthcare, Shrago decided to volunteer for this organization after being inspired by the implementation of the ACA. Her main goals are to inform people about the ACA and assist them with enrolling in it as well.

“My daily schedule is phone calls, emails, and making connections. I just want to share efficient information with those in need,” Shrago said.

There are also national organizations working to provide Americans with information about the ACA.

The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation is an example of this. This foundation provides a Health Insurance Subsidy Calculator to estimate how the ACA impacts families financially. With this calculator, one can enter different income levels, ages, and family sizes to get an estimate for his or her eligibility for grants and how much he or she could spend on health insurance.

However, just as there are complaints about the ACA from those who are uninformed, other criticisms have developed over misinformation regarding it.

Some complaints include a rise in unemployment or a lack of full-time job positions after the ACA is implemented. When consulting though, this is proven false.

According to the website, the Republican National Committee’s claim that 8.2 million Americans won’t be able to find full-time work as a result of the ACA is false. There were actually more Americans seeking these 30-hour-a-week positions in 2010 when the bill was signed into law than there are now.

It also cites a 2010 report by the Congressional Budget Office that estimated a decrease of labor in the economy by .5 of a percent. This decrease is not primarily a result of the law. That projected decrease is actually caused by Americans with jobs choosing to work fewer hours as well as some people affording to retire early.

Despite the complaints, misinformation, and problems regarding the ACA, only time will tell what effects it will have on the Americans who choose to use it and those who do not.


This article is the combined work of several students from the University of Tennessee’s School of Journalism.

Edited by Jennifer Brake




Downtown street performer gets ordinance involving masks amended

An illusionist and costume designer is still able to perform after his meeting with the City Council of Knoxville about an ordinance that bans wearing masks in public.

Justin Webb, street performer, has performed in Market Square for around three months. He dresses up as spiderman and ironman. Webb claims he never had any problems with the police until recently when KPD Officer S. Frazier issued a citation for wearing a mask. The citation has no detail other than the ordinance number, City Code 19-62, and the words “Mask (Spiderman).”

“It was a $115 ticket, and I was not just going to pay it,” Webb said.

The ordinance basically states, no mask or other devices can be worn on public or private property.

“The ordinance is far too ambiguous. The way it’s written, it would apply to anyone. It could be medical gear, religious head dresses, even Vol fans with their faces painted orange. I just want my freedom of expression,” says Webb.

Vague laws give police discretion, making citizen’s confused on what the laws actually are. This meeting gave a better understanding of what people can and can’t do.

As Webb approached the stand he gave his thanks to the City Council members.

“It’s very rewarding and hopeful to see that people are willing to work for the common good for the small people. As small as we performers may be. You have my deepest gratitude whether it is opposed or approved. I appreciate it.”

The City Council approved for the ordinance to be removed. The law has been amended. He is now allowed to perform in full costume. He has to remove mask and show identification when asked.

“I think tonight showed, when you show them the proper respect, they will show it back. It is unconstitutionally applied. I am more than grateful,” Webb expressed.

For more information visit,


Justin Webb dressed as Ironman.

City Council members during the decision of approval or denial of the ordinance.







Farragut student wins Parent-Teacher Association Award of Excellence

During a Knox County Board of Education meeting on Thursday, a Farragut Primary School student was honored with the Award of Excellence by the National Parent-Teacher Association’s Reflections Program.

Since 1969, the National PTA Reflections Program has encouraged students worldwide to express their creativity through many different types of art. Film production, dance choreography, dance interpretation, music composition and literature are just a few of the forms of art that are part of the Reflections Program.

The 2012 -2013 theme, The Magic of the Moment, asked students to reflect on their families, nature, and feelings of hope, adventure, and achievement. Farragut Primary second-grade student Caleb Han took the magic to heart as he created a film about his little brother, Jayden.

“I started [the film] about Jayden last year around I think April 3, cutting out letters and pictures. I think I took about 100 pictures for five hours. It took me about one whole month,” said Caleb Han.

Using still frames, Caleb made his film, “My Tiny Little Brother Jayden.” Each picture and letter was cut out, positioned, and then photographed. Each time a new letter or picture is added a new photo is taken.

Along his filmmaking journey, Caleb had many supporters. His teacher Amber Good and his principal Gina Byrd agree that he has a knack for creativity. Caleb also had the firm support of his parents and of course, his little brother, Jayden.

“Amber sees his creativity everyday in the classroom,” said Principal Gina Byrd

Caleb Han showing of his Award of Excellence with his family.

When Caleb was handed a camera by his mother, he put his creative mind to work, started doing some research, and came out with an award-winning ‘ Magic of the Moment’ video.

To see Caleb Han’s video, go to:


Associate professor gives climate lecture at Baker Center

Joshua Fu, associate professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at UT, spoke at the Baker Center on August 29 about the future of climate in Knoxville and how aware the city’s citizens should be.

Joshua Fu discusses climate control with the Knoxville audience.
Joshua Fu discusses climate control with the Knoxville audience.

Fu began his discussion by stating the impact of continuous climate change, which affects air quality and energy. Fu gave his opinion on climate going forward.

“Humans and nature drives climate change,” Fu said.

Fu said people will decide the future of climate, not the environment, using many charts and graph to explain his reasoning. One graph pictured the increasing hot days and more precipitation every decade since 1950.

One of Fu’s key points came when he surprised the crowd with the fact that the United States no longer holds the top position for carbon dioxide fossil fuel emitters. China now holds the claim as the world’s top carbon dioxide polluter, while USA comes right behind at second in the world, Fu said.

Fu’s many years of studies in Knoxville area and around the county have not gone unnoticed, according to one student in the community. 

“I believe it’s important for people like Joshua Fu to keep speaking to the people of Knoxville and keep us update on how the world will be in 20 years,” Corey Clay, a UT student, said. 

Clay said he was very concerned about the climate for the future.

“I’m glad Fu is here because we as people have to stop being selfish and think about others,” Clay said.

Fu left the podium with a sense of optimism saying recent climate studies show significant improvements. 

Edited by Jennifer Brake