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

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Governor Warner Would Never Allow This

What are those tourists from up north going to say when they hear about this:
Appalachian Town Looks to Flatten Mountain
By Roger Alford, Associated Press Writer

PIKEVILLE, Ky. (AP) -- The towering mountains that frame this Appalachian town have been a hindrance to growth, forcing homes and businesses to crowd together side by side on precious little flat land.

That could change under a plan by Pikeville leaders who recruited a coal company to flatten two mountaintops to make room for the town of about 6,300 to expand.

Ordinarily, coal companies are required under federal law to restore mountains to the original contour, said Tom FitzGerald, head of Kentucky Resources Council. But an exception in the law allows mining companies to leave the land flat when that better serves post-mining purposes. (link)
Well, good for them. If, in removing one of the 850,000 mountains around here, the citizens of Pikeville rearrange the landscape to make room for growth and earn a few bucks off the natural resources that are in abundance around them, more power to the people there.

What is going to happen, though, when word spreads to Southwest Virginia and all those planners who have invested their reputations in hiking trails, bike paths, and such silly notions, are told that people around here can actually make money the old-fashioned way. They can mine for it.

This could be a transformative event. We'll be keeping an eye on this story.

Alton Foley To The Rescue ... I Think

Alton, over at ImNotEmeril, has provided me with more information than I could ever have asked for with regard to laws relating to liquor purchases around this country (see it here). The info - as bizarre as a lot of it was - was actually quite informative.

But I had no idea it was so difficult to buy liquor in so many states around the USA. I'm also wondering now how Alton knows so much about the subject ...

Anyway, I guess I was spoiled when I lived in Michigan. There was a "party store" - that's what package liquor stores are all called there - on every street corner, all run by and owned by Pakistanis, and you could - without difficulty - buy all the rum you wanted without having to jump through hoops. It was very convenient. And the ready access to booze didn't seem to increase the rate of crime or delinquency there, as best I could tell.

But then I was often drunk and incapable of discerning reality from fantasy or remembering most anything that went on around me, so I may not be a good judge.

I blame the Pakistanis, by the way. It think it might have been a Muslim plot to end America as we know it, one liquored-up fool at a time.

Thanks, Alton, for filling in the blanks - so to speak.

More On Intelligent Design

Here's an interesting perspective on the theory of Intelligent Design from Granville Sewell, Professor of Mathematics at the University of Texas El Paso and visiting professor at Texas A&M University, who's article appears in this morning's American Spectator. Included is this:
Evolution's Thermodynamic Failure
By Granville Sewell

Science has been so successful in explaining natural phenomena that the modern scientist is convinced that it can explain everything. Anything that doesn't fit into this materialistic model is simply ignored. When he discovers that all of the basic constants of physics, such as the speed of light, the charge and mass of the electron, Planck's constant, etc., had to have almost exactly the values that they do have in order for any conceivable form of life to survive in our universe, he proposes the "anthropic principle" and says that there must be many other universes with the same laws, but random values for the basic constants, and one was bound to get the values right. When you ask him how a mechanical process such as natural selection could cause human consciousness to arise out of inanimate matter, he says, "human consciousness -- what's that?" And he talks about human evolution as if he were an outside observer, and never seems to wonder how he got inside one of the animals he is studying. And when you ask how the four fundamental forces of Nature could rearrange the basic particles of Nature into libraries full of encyclopedias, science texts and novels, and computers, connected to laser printers, CRTs and keyboards and the Internet, he says, well, order can increase in an open system. (link)
Read the whole thing. Fascinating stuff.

The Most Significant Moment In U.S. History

I sometimes enjoy thinking about things like this: What was the most momentous occurrence in my lifetime? Some would think of tsunamis, others the victory over Saddam Hussein. The assassination of John Kennedy, perhaps. Maybe the Beatles breaking up.

I'd have to answer - with some reservation - that it was the evening the Berlin Wall was torn down by deliriously happy - and free - German citizens. I sat in front of the television watching in awe and knew that it was a moment in history that was ringing the death knell of communism. What an evening it was.

That, to me, is the most outstanding moment in my lifetime. That said, what is the greatest moment in American history? When I received my copy of Smithsonian magazine the other day, and read "My Whole Soul is In It," I was reminded of this:
As his army faltered and his cabinet bickered, Abraham Lincoln determined that "we must free the slaves or be ourselves subdued." In 1862, he finally got his chance. (link*)
We could each have a different opinion on the matter but, to my thinking, the monumental changes that came about as a result of Lincoln's order that all slaves then living in rebellious regions of the country would be free as of January 1 of the following year - some three and a half million people - was the most momentous act in American history.

Think about it. Think about the hope this proclamation brought to those millions of slaves who were to be set free, and the hope that it gave to the millions who were not covered by the proclamation but knew freedom was soon to be theirs as well.

Also, think about how bold Lincoln's decision to issue the proclamation - especially considering when he issued it - really was. Half the country - the south - was already in mortal rebellion (and don't let revisionists fool you; the war was fought because of the slavery issue, not over states rights). And even in the north, a sizeable percentage of the white population was opposed to such a drastic act and would rather their government appease the south - and bring an end to the terrible civil war that was claiming so many thousands of lives (yes, most Democrats were openly opposed to that war too. They opposed freeing the slaves then, they oppose freeing Iraqis today - seems to be a pattern ...)

Abraham Lincoln turned down the advice of many of his supporters - and all his political advisors - and did what he felt was the right thing to do. He knew - more than anyone else alive in 1862 - what that act meant to the future of our nation:
"In giving freedom to the slave, we assure freedom to the free -- honorable alike in what we give, and what we preserve. We shall nobly save, or meanly lose, the last best, hope of earth." (link)

My choice for "The Greatest Moment In American History."
The Emancipation Proclamation
January 1, 1863

By the President of the United States of America:

A Proclamation.

Whereas, on the twenty-second day of September, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-two, a proclamation was issued by the President of the United States, containing, among other things, the following, to wit:

"That on the first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, all persons held as slaves within any State or designated part of a State, the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States, shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free ...

... by virtue of the power, and for the purpose aforesaid, I do order and declare that all persons held as slaves within said designated States, and parts of States, are, and henceforward shall be free; and that the Executive government of the United States, including the military and naval authorities thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of said persons. (link)
* Only a portion of Doris Kearns Goodwin's article appears on line. If you want to read her work in its entirety, you'll have to come over and borrow my copy.

Getting Desperate In Detroit

Headline in the Detroit News:
Astrologer predicting higher car sales in '06 (link)
Ignore the industry analysts. And Standard & Poors. And the balance sheets. An astrologer says GM and Ford are going to do better next year. So go out and buy that stock ...

On Monday Night Football

ABC has lost the contract to televise Monday night NFL football games to ESPN (I know, it isn't exactly breaking news but this reminded me of the fact). Tears are being shed around the world because of it.

But I have to ask a question: Is there anyone out there - on the east coast - who is over the age of 21 - who is gainfully employed (on first shift) - who doesn't have a meth problem - who isn't some kind of devil worshipper who enjoys staying up at night and howling at the moon - who can actually sit through a Monday night game without falling asleep? The game is - for reasons known only to ABC TV programming gurus - always scheduled to start at about that point in time when many of us are going to bed.

I know the reason given is that the network wanted to capture as much of the west coast audience as possible. And I'm sure the Los Angeles Rams fans and the LA Raiders fans are appreciative, but what about the rest of us?

ESPN would do well to revisit this topic. A 6 o'clock (EST) start time would do us all a great service. Not that my team is worth staying up for ...

Addendum 12/29/05: Enough with the emails already. I know there is no Los Angeles Rams or LA Raiders. It was not an error. It was my point. Los Angeles cannot support a professional football team and yet the NFL feels compelled to cater to their viewing desires and to shortchange ours here in the real world.