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

Saturday, December 31, 2005

To Err Is Human, To Forgive ...

I suppose, since we forgave Kobie Bryant, Bill Clinton, and OJ Simpson quickly for their sundry transgressions (what's a little rape and murder among friends; they all had it coming), we should probably give this lowlife a second chance too:
Disgraced S. Korean scientist Hwang defends his work: report
MSN News

SEOUL, South Korea -- Disgraced South Korean scientist Hwang Woo-suk insisted he has the technology to produce embryonic stem cells individually tailored to patients even though a panel of his peers said he didn't produce any such cells, a newspaper reported Saturday.

A university panel said Thursday Hwang did not produce any patient-specific stem cells as claimed in a paper published in May in the journal Science, dealing a shattering blow to the already disgraced scientist's reputation as a medical pioneer.

But Hwang stood by his work. (link)
I'm prepared to give him a break but Hwang needs to work on his explanation:
"I definitely have the source technology to produce tailored embryonic stem cells," Hwang was quoted as saying in Beopbo, a South Korean Buddhist newspaper. "I can replicate the process any time."
"I can do it. I have the know-how. I just choose not to at this time."

Hwang. Hwang. Hwang. Come on, man. Come back when you've got a better come-back.

Look Past The Happy Horsepucky

Next time you hear Congressman Boucher or former Governor Mark Warner or newly-elected Governor Tim Kaine or their local cheerleading squad The Roanoke Times editorial staff blather on about how great things are here in Southwest Virginia (remember this laugher?), pause and reflect on what the local citizenry has to say in the matter.

In a revealing news report in The Roanoke Times this morning that focuses on the devastating circumstances that plague the area - and worsen by the day - we learn that the Allegheny Highlands (Alleghany, Bath and Highland counties; the city of Covington and the towns of Clifton Forge and Iron Gate) is in fact struggling for its very survival:

Seeking new heights
Alleghany Highlands hopes to revamp and re-energize to halt its downward slide.
JoAnne Poindexter

COVINGTON -- Erika and Shannon Daly see Alleghany County as the New Land. The Dalys moved out of prosperous but crowded Northern Virginia and found an unfinished log cabin on the perfect piece of land.

Instead of seeking the challenge of opening a wilderness, they are coping with the downward slide of a once-established economy.

... The place is an economic and political basket case.

The Dalys arrived at a time when some residents of Alleghany County and Covington are pondering moving because of conditions here. In fact, things got so bad that Virginia's Gov. Mark Warner called on leaders of the Alleghany Highlands' six local governments to work together to draw more industry and commercial business in an effort to enlarge the Alleghany Highlands' tax base and attract residents.

Heeding the governor's advice, governmental leaders adopted the Highlands Regional Enterprise Business Plan on Nov. 19.

Bill Withrow, a certified public accountant in Covington[*], said the county is experiencing a steady decline in population. The U.S. Census Bureau showed a 3.6 percent population decline between 1990 and 2000. That population drop may be one of the reasons the county's unemployment rate is not higher than its November level of 3.9 percent. (link)

On that last point, it should be mentioned that there are two ways to reduce the unemployment rate. One is to increase the number of employed people, the other is to reduce the number of employable people. Drive through downtown Pocahontas - or what used to be downtown - and you'll quickly understand how the unemployment rate in Tazewell County is hovering around 3.8%. What you'll find when you do the research is that, according to the last census, Tazewell County lost 4.6% of its population in the last decade. At the rate Southwest Virginia's population is declining, we'll have 0% unemployment by the turn of the next decade.

And Boucher will take credit for the achievement.

Funny. I can't find mention of Allegheny County's suffering or of Tazewell County's precipitate decline in population on the colorful, deliriously happy, and self-congratulatory website of our Congressman-for-life. Instead we are treated to bullshit like this:
A major focus of Congressman Boucher's economic development agenda is the expansion of the tourism economy of Southwest Virginia. We are lucky to live in one of the most beautiful regions in the country and Rick will continue to work to find ways to attract the traveling public.
The public is traveling all right, Rick. As JoAnne Poindexter illustrates in her Roanoke Times article, they're traveling ... no, they're getting the hell out of Allegheny County rapidly, looking for work. A future. A better way of life.

Friends, this doesn't have to be.

* Lear, a major employer in Covington, officially closed its manufacturing plant there, throwing 220 people out of work, today, (link) creating the disheartening need for more people in Southwest Virginia to become - in the memorable words of Congressman Rick Boucher - "traveling public."

Top 10 Movies of 2005?

I'm not sure what to make of this. Here are the top ten movies of the year as judged by The Washington Post's film critic, Ann Hornaday:

1. Capote

2. The Curse of the Were - Rabbit: Wallace & Gromit

3. The Constant Gardener

4. Syriana

5. Hustle & Flow

6. Grizzly Man

7. Good Night, and Good Luck

8. No Direction Home


10. March of the Penguins (link)

What's interesting, I suppose, is that I've heard of only three of these flicks and have seen none of them (I also heard that Syriana sucked). Does this say something about me and my tastes in cinema or a good bit about film critics? You be the judge.

Quote of the Year

This has to be the most revealing exchange of 2005. It explains so much about the decline of the profession of journalism.

CBS "Memogate" producer Mary Mapes: "I'm perfectly willing to believe those documents are forgeries if there's proof I haven't seen."

ABC's Brian Ross: "But isn't it the other way around? Don't you have to prove they're authentic?"

Mapes: "Well, I think that's what critics of the story would say. . . . I think they have not been proved to be false yet."

Ross: "Have they proved to be authentic, though? Isn't that really what journalists do?"

Mapes: "No, I don't think that's the standard."

- Exchange on Good Morning America (link)

It was at a point in time a number of years ago when Sam Donaldson, a former correspondent with ABC News and a darling of the liberal media, in response to a question about the obligations of the press to be accurate, replied that the news industry had no such obligation, that I turned off the network news forever.

Mary Mapes reveals in this exchange that the mindset in the mainstream media hasn't changed.

Get Us Out of Indonesia!

I guess John Murtha, Howard Dean, and the Democratic Party will now demand that we retreat from Indonesia:

Bomb Blast at Indonesian Market Kills at Least 8
By The Associated Press

Indonesia (AP) -- A bomb ripped through a crowded meat market Saturday in an Indonesian province that has been plagued by sectarian violence, killing at least eight people and wounding 45, officials said. Many of the victims were believed to be Christians.

The attack occurred in the town of Palu on Sulawesi island as people were preparing for New Year's Eve celebrations, flocking to the morning market that sold and slaughtered pigs, said Brig. Gen. Oegroseno, police chief of Central Sulawesi province.

Police said it was too early to say who was behind the attack, but it followed repeated warnings that members of the al-Qaida-linked militant group Jemaah Islamiyah were plotting strikes in the world's most populous Muslim nation over the holidays. (
"Retreat! Retreat! "

"What? We have no troops there?"

"Why didn't Bush put troops there? Why didn't Bush put troops there?"

What's Up With The Times?

Think the New York Times might be flailing these days in its attempt to redefine itself? I'm beginning to wonder. Here's front page news this morning:
So, Guy Walks Up to the Bar, and Scalia Says...

Justice Antonin Scalia's wit is widely admired, and now it has been quantified. He is, a new study concludes, 19 times as funny as Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. (link)
And this breaking news:
In a Daring Leap, Ringling Loses Its Three Rings

TAMPA, Fla., Dec. 29 - And now, ladies and gentlemen, children of all ages, step right up and meet the no-ring circus.

For the first time in its history, the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus will present a new show to its audiences without three rings, or two - or even one. (link)
If you're like me, you find yourself blowing through the Times in a matter of minutes these days and wonder, even with that, why you devoted precious moments to the effort.

Something is going on over there and it is not good.

Experienced Blogger, New Blog

Charlie of SW Virginia Republican fame has created a new weblog and has given it the kind of title I like: The Virginia Partisan (pay him a visit here). Charlie could be counted on to keep us informed on the goings on here in Southwest Virginia . Now we will be treated to Charlie's views on a wide range of conservative subjects - from a partisan's point of view.

I think we will all enjoy his getting back into the fray.