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

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

It Doesn't Work That Way

If I may, I'd like to suggest to Roanoke city planners that they schedule a trip to Detroit. Soon. There they'll learn what a silly notion like that touted by the Roanoke Times editorial page ("Helping City Market reach its potential") brings.

Comerica Park (where the Tigers play) is, by all accounts, a jewel. As was Tiger Stadium before it was abandoned. Greektown is the one and only "happening" nightspot in a city of 900,000 people. The Renaissance Center is a masterfully designed and vibrant hub on the Detroit River where General Motors employees and hundreds of others make their way in life.

These are oases. In an otherwise wrecked and largely abandoned city.

The folks at the Roanoke Times and their buds in city government think that the reported success of City Market can, by osmosis (or whim), be transferred to an otherwise failing downtown area. Planners in Detroit had the same thought; thus the name Renaissance Center.

Here's a portion of the editorial:

Helping City Market reach its potential

The latest study can help the market area keep its vitality, and perhaps spread it elsewhere.

Roanoke skeptics wary of the ability of high-priced consultants to advance the revitalization of the City Market area should remember Design '79.

That study by an out-of-town consultant was the genesis of much of what is currently good and vital downtown.

The City Market area has become the heart and soul of downtown. Its restaurants, produce vendors, museums and shops attract the daily and nightly crowds that make downtown -- or at least parts of it -- bustle. (link)

Anyone who spends time there will attest to that fact. But, just as is the case with Detroit, isolated areas of vitality do not a kickass city make.

... the vitality of the City Market has yet to spread to other parts of downtown.
When I lived in the suburbs of Detroit, I moved in and out of the city the way most people in the area do. The family would drive downtown to catch a Tigers game and, when the game was over, we'd drive back out. People drive down to Greektown at night to get their fill of souvlaki and ouzo and drive back out. GM employees endure the morning commute to the "Ren Cen" and, at the end of the day, head back home.

Detroit and Roanoke have similar problems. Except for a few enclaves where economic vitality still lingers, both cities are dead - or dying.

The Times editorial calls for support of a new ($100,000) study by an outside consultant that is intended to spread City Market success to the rest of the downtown area. Or at least to the building next door.

It's a waste of time.

The city, the county, Southwest Virginia need to turn onto a different path. Growth for the area will only come about when our political leadership - Democrats all - break the shackles that stymy investment and force businesses to flee (by the way, goodbye Johnson & Johnson; nice try Wal-Mart).

The costs of doing business in Roanoke, Virginia are too high. Government taxation and regulation - and planning - are part of the problem.

Get out of the way, quit meddling, and stop trying to make Roanoke a worker's (and environmentalist's) paradise, and business - large and small - will solve its own problems.

I have another suggestion for city planners. To find a path to prosperity, schedule a trip to Ireland. Soon.

Or look to a vegetable stand for your future. You decide.

God in the Classroom

I would think, in an age when a sizeable percentage of high school graduates can't read the menu at McDonald's, experts would be happy that something - anything - is being taught in public schools.

But no.

They'd rather our students continue to be stupid rather than have anything related to creationism be taught to our youth.

Here's another sounding of the alarm from the New York Times:
Dear Old Golden Rule Days in Texas

As President Bush arrives home for vacation, he may want to sample a school struggle about science versus scripture that's brewing in West Texas.

It's the latest front in the campaign by cultural conservatives to wedge their own brand of religion into the public school curriculum. The Odessa school board's approach, which involves offering students a Bible study course as an elective, is actually an excellent demonstration of the trouble public schools can get into when they attempt to force any religion's teachings into the curriculum.

It's a timely lesson because Mr. Bush, before he headed for Texas, voiced support for the idea that schools should teach an alternate theory of evolution known as "intelligent design" alongside the scientific version, which has been subjected to rigorous examination and testing over generations. "I think that part of education is to expose people to different schools of thought," he declared. (link)
I'll avoid commenting on the fact that the title of this editorial has no connection to the substance (The Golden Rule?) and mention the negative reaction to the President's comments I've been reading on weblogs the last few days, including several written by purportedly smart bloggers. It appears there are many people - on the right and left - who don't want to know, and don't want their children to know - what some scientists are postulating about the origins of the universe.

As for me, I find their theories - and supporting thoughts - fascinating.

But I guess we'll not be having any of those thoughts.


I Can't Find a Signal!!!!!!!

I pulled into Harlan, Kentucky yesterday afternoon and immediately walked into the Cingular store on the town's main street. I hadn't been able to get a signal on my phone for an hour and a half and, in my business, that's a bad thing.

I walked up to the woman at the counter, holding my cellphone - I have Cingular (AT&T Wireless) cellular service - and asked, "Can you get a signal here?" I thought there must be a secret to getting service if there was a store selling it deep in the mountains.

The woman looked at me and replied, "No."

A cell phone store where you can't get a cellular signal. I felt like passing on to her some of my marketing experience. "Don't try selling ice cubes in Iceland or sand in the Sahara."

Or cell phones where there is no service.

But I was in a hurry.

"So where do I have to go to make a call?"

"Go back to the lat (that's light to those of you who don't speak mountain) and turn left. You should git a signal when you git to the Pizza Hut. But some days are better 'n others."

Darned if she wasn't right.

I made my calls. I picked up my accumulating voicemails. I sat in the car sweating like crazy.

But I got a signal! In Harlan, Kentucky!

I bring this up for a reason. Tom Friedman, writing a column for the New York Times, wants our politicians to do something about the problem - but for those like him who live in the big city.
Calling All Luddites

I've been thinking of running for high office on a one-issue platform: I promise, if elected, that within four years America will have cellphone service as good as Ghana's. If re-elected, I promise that in eight years America will have cellphone service as good as Japan's, provided Japan agrees not to forge ahead on wireless technology. My campaign bumper sticker: "Can You Hear Me Now?"

I began thinking about this after watching the Japanese use cellphones and laptops to get on the Internet from speeding bullet trains and subways deep underground. But the last straw was when I couldn't get cellphone service while visiting I.B.M.'s headquarters in Armonk, N.Y. (link)
He goes on to say Congress should fix the problem.

I'll not hold my breath.

Disappointment on the Left

In a House race the Democrats and their pals in the mainstream media were watching with eager anticipation, thinking they could seize a seat that had been held by a Republican, sadness is the order of the day. For them.

The news from the Cincinnati Enquirer:
Schmidt wins tight race
By Howard Wilkinson, Enquirer staff writer

In a race that had been the focus of national attention, Republican Jean Schmidt beat Democrat Paul Hackett for the 2nd Congressional District seat – though by far less than Republicans had anticipated a few short weeks ago.

With all precincts reporting, Schmidt had 52 percent of the vote to Hackett’s 48 percent – the closest election in the district since 1974.

By running Hackett – an Iraq war veteran who opposes the war – Democrats nationwide hoped the race would become a referendum on President Bush, and especially his Iraq policies. (
The Democrats try running a war hero who was against the war on terror.

Where have we seen that before?