People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it. Welcome to From On High.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Virginia Wines. Yes!

I mentioned the other day that I had gotten a bottle of Austrian Auslese for my birthday. I was reminded, when I read this, that Virginia vintners produce some of the best wine on earth as well.

Wine Production Up, But Vintners Face Challenges
By The Associated Press

(AP) - Virginia vintners can raise their wine glasses to 2004 grape production.

The state's 250 vineyards produced more than 3,700 tons of commercial grapes last year, up nearly 3 percent from 2003.

If Mother Nature cooperates, 2005 could yield an even heftier harvest.

"It's looking good so far," said David Sawyer, co-owner of Fincastle Vineyard & Winery. "Cross your fingers."

Virginia ranks 10th nationally in commercial production and ninth for grape-bearing acreage. (

I was in a wonderfully outfitted general store on Diamond Hill Road over in Moneta, Virginia the other day. I was told by the proprietor that he stocked the largest selection of Virginia wines anywhere. Based on the tonnage I saw there, I wouldn't argue with him.

My stroll through the store was an unforgettable experience.

If you're ever heading south toward Moneta out of Bedford, turn right on Diamond Hill Road and drive about four miles. There you'll find the general store, out in the middle of nowhere, your entry into which will be like stepping back in time (it even features a pot-belly stove in the middle of the wine room). It's a beautiful little storehouse of all things rural, and has an excellent assortment of the "fruit of the vine" as well.

Consider this today's travelogue.

Does Anyone At The Times Read It?

I read in the New York Times the other day that the folks who put the paper together are meeting behind closed doors, formulating plans to broaden their reader base. They intend to reach out to rural readers (with a farm report?) and (if you're willing to believe it) conservatives. Whatever.

Since the publisher and editors are seeking ways to gain customers, I feel it is time to offer my suggestion. Put interesting stuff - news if at all possible - on the front page.

Here's what's taking up valuable space on the front page this morning.
Gay Men Are Found to Have Different Scent of Attraction

Using a brain imaging technique, Swedish researchers have shown that homosexual and heterosexual men respond differently to two odors that may be involved in sexual arousal, and that the gay men respond in the same way as women.

The new research may open the way to studying human pheromones, as well as the biological basis of sexual preference. Pheromones, chemicals emitted by one individual to evoke some behavior in another of the same species, are known to govern sexual activity in animals, but experts differ as to what role, if any, they play in making humans sexually attractive to one another.

The new research, which supports the existence of human pheromones, is reported in today's issue of The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences by Dr. Ivanka Savic and colleagues at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm. (link)
Does anyone other than a researcher in Stockholm care? I can't even believe homosexuals find this interesting.

In the meantime, little girls are being murdered in Illinois, the battle rages in Washington over judicial nominees and the shameful filibuster that radical Democrats in the senate are maintaining, and President Bush is greeted as a savior by the people of the former Soviet satellite of Georgia.

But you won't read any of that if you peruse the front page of the Times. You'll learn that gay guys smell different.

Good grief.

We Told You So

I hate to pick on the New York Times. (Well, not really. It somehow goes well with my coffee in the morning.) But, like that itch that one gets deep down in the crotch area; one can be polite - and uncomfortable - and resist the urge to relieve oneself, or one can just throw caution - and good graces - to the wind, and burrow. Sorry, ladies. You'll never understand. It's a jockey shorts phenomenon.

Anyway (how did I get off on that tangent?).

The Times op/ed page editors are upset that there is too much money in politics. Again. Still.

When was it? 2002? When George W Bush, John McCain, and their pals at the Times pushed through campaign finance reform? A number of us said at the time that it won't halt the (massive) contributions of interest groups to political parties or to individual candidates. That it will only complicate an already over-regulated system.

But the Times and McCain knew better. They're smarter than the rest of us, you see.

Or not.
Hard Politics and Soft Money

The biggest loophole in the laws regulating big-money campaign donations is the runaway spending by unregulated shadow-party advocacy groups. The $400 million that poured through these thinly disguised party operations - called "527 committees" after a section of the tax code - included funds for the campaign by the supposedly independent Swift Boat Veterans for Truth against Senator John Kerry, and the checkbook politicking of George Soros, who spent $24 million trying to defeat President Bush. The loophole obviously needs plugging, but the going is getting rough in both the House and Senate.

In the Senate, a strong bill by John McCain, Republican of Arizona, and Russell Feingold, a Wisconsin Democrat, has been freighted with retrogressive amendments. Senator Charles Schumer, an original supporter, tried to eliminate a key provision that would bar this soft-money pipeline for voter registration drives by partisan organizers feigning party independence. When Mr. McCain accused Mr. Schumer, the New York Democrat, of a "cave-in to special interests," he said he was simply responding to Republican amendments that would allow freer campaign spending by corporations. In this case, everyone is right. All the amendments should be scrapped or an effective
bill will never survive. (
So, there is a need for more campaign finance reform. Again.

For crying out loud.

Would someone in Washington get a message to John McCain? You've done enough to screw up the system, genius. You were told that your efforts to "reform" the process would result only in the stifling of free speech; that your efforts would do nothing to block the machinations of donors to contribute to political parties or to donate to their favorite political causes. But you wouldn't listen. Those of us who tried to get you that message last time around failed (and were called names, as I recall). Now you're at it again.

Please go back to Arizona. Soon.

And as for the Times editors, I hear Phoenix is a great retirement destination. The desert air is good for the sciatica, I'm told.