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

Thursday, February 09, 2006

An American Warrior Laid To Rest

If you love your country and have a deep abiding respect for those who risk their lives - and sometimes make the ultimate sacrifice - so that no harm comes to our children and grandchildren, you'll love these photos.

Be prepared to shed a tear when you go through them though. They're very moving.

How Do You Tell?

This is hilarious:
Computer Analysis Suggests Paintings Are Not Pollocks
By RANDY KENNEDY, The New York Times

A physicist who is broadly experienced in using computers to identify consistent patterns in the drip paintings of Jackson Pollock has determined that half a dozen small paintings recently discovered and claimed by their owner to be original Pollocks do not exhibit the same patterns. (link)
Drip paintings. That's how the cultured classes refer to Jackson Pollock's technique of tossing paint on canvas and calling it art. It more closely resembles puke, but no matter.

In his defense, though, I will be the first to come forward and say that there is no way on earth a physicist can distinguish between Pollock's splashings and some other schmuck's splashings.

Pictured above, by the way, is not a photo of one of Paula's cat litter boxes. It's Pollock's "Autumn Rhythm (No.30)." Kinda makes you want to see "Autumn Rhythm (No's 1 through 29)," eh?

Click image to enlarge.
Photo Courtesy of Metropolitan Museum of Art

Uh Oh. Boucher's In Trouble.

My Congressman's one claim to fame is that he's brought piles of cash back to his district (what we refer to as the "soon-to-start-Fighting 9th") for special projects. My argument with his efforts has always been with Congressman Rick Boucher's wasting valuable funds on worthless projects relating to hiking trails and bike paths; museums that will collect only dust and horseback riding trails in remote areas of Southwest Virginia that will benefit a whopping handful of people.

But noone can argue with the fact that he has thrown a lot of money at the area - no doubt about it. You'll find in this list of his self-congratulatory press releases, many of the projects into which he's invested our hard-earned tax dollars.

It now appears, though, that there is a growing movement in Congress to put an end to Boucher's "one claim to fame":
Earmarked Men
By Jeff Flake, writing in the New York Times

Earmarking - in which members of Congress secure federal dollars for pork-barrel projects by covertly attaching them to huge spending bills - has become the currency of corruption in Congress. It is not just the rising number of earmarks (more than 15,000 last year - up from around 1,200 a decade ago), or the dollar amount ($27 billion) that is troubling. More disturbing is that earmarks are used as inducements to get members to sign on to large spending measures. (The disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff was astute when he referred to the House Appropriations Committee as an "earmark favor factory.")

It is no coincidence that the growth of earmarks has paralleled the monstrous increase in overall federal spending. And President Bush's new $2.77 trillion budget will only set off another frenzy.

Solving the earmark problem will require transparency - a requirement that earmarks be included in the actual text of legislation (where they can be seen and challenged) rather than hidden in committee and conference reports. I've introduced such legislation in the House and my Arizona Republican colleague John McCain has introduced companion legislation in the Senate. Debate on these measures should begin as soon as possible. (link)
It's a longshot that Congress is going to fix this problem since most members of Congress are guilty of participating in this shameful practice. Boucher being right there with the worst of them.

But what will he do if the House takes this tool away from him? He'll no longer be able to come back to his district every other year for a quick visit at election time and brag about all the (meaningless and worthless) projects into which he's invested our money.

He'll then - for the first time in his long career - actually be forced to deal with the mounting problems that afflict the area - economic stagnation, declining population, the devastation of our manufacturing base, woeful infrastructure, inadequate educational opportunities, our inability to compete in the global marketplace ...

And he'll stop funding all those bike paths to nowhere. Sooner rather than later, we all hope.

Virginia Tech a Haven For Racists and Bigots?

Officials at Virginia Tech are falling all over themselves trying to convince an alarmed and frightened student community that racism and bigotry are not rife on campus and that a wave of intolerance and oppression - the Ku Klux Klan! - Republicans! - are not on the rise and are not going to sweep through campus raping, pillaging, and writing the 'n' word on stairwell walls.

Say what?

Some adolescent on campus scrawled ... something ... on a wall in a dormitory. Again. My guess is the 'n' word was involved. As was the nondesript 'f'' (fag) or 'q' (queer) word. Those three always get a rousing response from campus bigwigs.

The dismaying news:

Belittling graffiti surfaces again at Virginia Tech
This marks the third year in a row that racist graffiti has been found on the campus.
By Greg Esposito, The Roanoke Times

Graffiti containing derogatory terms for blacks, homosexuals and women was found last week in a Virginia Tech residence hall.

A Tech student reported the graffiti Friday morning through a new online incident-reporting program, according to Ed Spencer, associate vice president for student affairs.

The graffiti, written on a wall in the stairwell of Lee Hall, was washed off by university staff after photos were taken, Spencer said. It consisted of four separate remarks of two or three words each and did not contain any threats.

While Spencer said that this type of conduct is a glimpse of society as a whole, it runs counter to Virginia Tech's values and philosophy. (
I missed the part about women being disparaged too. The graffiti must have also included the 'b' word.

The story becomes comical. Police were summoned:
No arrests have been made and Virginia Tech Police Chief Debra Duncan said Wednesday that she had not been made aware of the graffiti.

She said officers were sent to Lee Hall to investigate the incident as soon as she learned of it.

"I'm very concerned that this was not reported immediately to the police department," she said.
It appears that (a) the police chief has a complex about getting "disrespected" and that (b) the campus police aren't overwhelmed with a burgeoning case log.

Most precious of all, the administration goes into its annual grovel mode:
The university has gone through some effort the past few years to portray itself as a place where diversity is encouraged and racism is not tolerated.

Last month, the school did not hold classes on Martin Luther King Day for the first time in school history and held a weeklong celebration of the holiday that included a visit by the Rev. Jesse Jackson [a racist but the acceptable kind].

In March 2005, the school adopted the Virginia Tech Principles of Community. The statement, approved by the Board of Visitors, affirms the university's commitment to a diverse and inclusive community.

And the campus has been experiencing problems with adolescent anti-diverse and anti-inclusive graffiti ever since. It's becoming a rite of passage. Want to send the entire Virginia Tech community into a frenzy? Want to get the cops to come running, guns drawn and mace in hand? Want to get the administration to cry, "Oh, the inhumanity!" Want to get Jesse Jackson invited to your campus to heap shame on you because of the color of your skin, your racist ancestry, and your "latent bigotry"?

Write "four separate remarks of two or three words each" on a wall and stand back and watch the bedlam begin.