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

Monday, April 03, 2006

Out Of The Past

How many times have you driven past this spot on the Blue Ridge Parkway without knowing the full story behind that cluster of grave markers at the side of the road?
The Slave Meadow
Unmarked Graves on National Park Service Land
by, Bob Heafner, The Mountain Laurel

They accompanied the Steptoe Langhorne family to the tiny mountain community of Meadows of Dan, Virginia, in the mid-nineteenth century. The Langhorne family owned thousands of acres in the area prior to the Civil War. They were slaves and by some accounts there were twelve or thirteen of them; by other accounts, only four or five. Little, if anything, is known about them, but two facts are certain, they were slaves and this meadow is their final resting place.

... sixty years ago, when the Blue Ridge Parkway was built, the National Park Service acquired that portion of the cemetery where the slaves are buried.

Buried in this picturesque mountain setting, is not only the Langhorne slaves but the symbolic remnants of black history in the Blue Ridge. These pioneers have passed into the oblivion of time unknown, their lives and contributions all but forgotten. They lived without benefit of freedom and now in death they face eternity without the final human dignity of a simple stone marker to acknowledge their lives.

Old man Matt Burnett, told me about the graves before he died and recalled why there were no markers. During the construction of the Blue Ridge Parkway the markers, which were just simple stones, were carried into the woods at the edge of the field to "get them out of the way” during construction. The intent was to put them back when they were finished but no one ever got around to it. (link)
Read the whole thing. If memory serves, there is a marker at the site now recognizing the slaves' burial plot.

It's a remarkable story.

The Virginia Blog Carnival Is Up

Will Vehrs has outdone himself this week as host of the latest installment of the Virginia Blog Carnival. See his artwork here.

There was a great deal of "talk" in the blogosphere this week about what a weblog is supposed to be and, it seemed, most of the attempts at giving definition to the concept revolved around political matters. So I decided to offer up something to the Carnival that had nothing to do with Virginia politics. As it turned out, most of the entrants did the same thing. Thank God.

If I can make a point to those of you trying your best to "lasso the wind" by giving definition to an ever-evolving medium that has as many definitions as there are weblog hosts, if all you read are all-politics-all-the-time blog sites, you'll come to the conclusion that the weblog world is one discussion of politics feeding off another. You'll then want to harness them accordingly.

Most weblogs aren't political at all. Many are diaries. Some are chat rooms. Others are corporate-sponsored advertisements. Dave Barry's is all about yucks. Then there are the clearing-houses of information. Porn sites. Music & movie reviews. Scripture. Business/investment advice. War-related news from the front. On and on. And I'll bet that for every weblog that devotes itself full-time to politics, there are five that deal with sports on one level or another.

So don't be so confined in your thinking by assuming everyone's world revolves around (Virginia) politics. 99.99% of the planet's readership tunes out. Like me, they'd much rather know what the Packers are going to do about their linebacker situation ...

As for me, my one and only rule when it comes to weblogging - ENTERTAIN.

Truth be known, I do this - first and foremost - to entertain myself. I get great satisfaction out of expressing my opinions on a broad range of subjects every day. It's a totally selfish morivation, I know. On my entertainometer, though, y'all come in a close second.

You'll understand what I'm talking about when you read the many Carnival entries this week. A broad array of topics, most of which are wildly entertaining, and few dwell on how Governor Tim Kaine chews his food and plots the next tax increase.

And that is as it should be.

House Leader Slices, Dices The Times

I'm getting to like H. Morgan Griffith, the majority leader in the Virginia House of Delegates. In addition to standing firm in what's becoming a semi-annual scare-the-bejeebers-out-of-the-taxpayers-and-raise-their-taxes-staggeringly event, he takes the time to write a letter to the Roanoke Times (published in this morning's paper), in which he manages to both ridicule the paper's editorialists for being knee-jerk tax increase fanatics and, at the same time, calling their bluff by announcing that he had offered to Governor Kaine and the state senate the very compromise that the Times had advocated in a recent editorial (read my take on it here) - and that both had turned him down.

This is too good:
House Republicans offer a compromise

In your March 30 editorial "Games of chicken rarely play well," you characterized the House of Delegates as being instigators of the current legislative impasse. As your editorial board's reflexive advocacy for increasing taxes is well-established, it comes as no surprise you are blaming the stalemate on House Republicans, the only lawmakers not supporting increasing taxes.

You cynically assign terms like "courage" to those insisting taxpayers pay more. However, it takes more courage to stand with the people of Virginia, who, after having the largest tax increase in Virginia's history imposed on them less than two years ago, are now expected to accept what would be the second-largest at a time when the commonwealth is racking up record surpluses.

The compromise called for in your editorial has already been offered by the House to Senate budget negotiators, who summarily rejected it. House negotiators advocated completing a budget agreement on the areas of the budget other than transportation, setting aside the tax increases supported by the governor and the Senate, and the use of the $1.4 billion surplus supported by the House, for a special session later in the year. This approach was used by Gov. Baliles to forge 1986's transportation agreement.

Although your editorial board would never support a compromise that does not guarantee higher taxes for your readership ... (link)
As I was reading the letter, I began to wonder, "Does the editorial staff deserve to be slapped around like this?"

I quickly answered my own question.

You go, Grif.

The Earth Is Cooling!

George Will drew excerpts from this 1975 Newsweek article yesterday. It's amazing that "scientists" were absolutely certain about climatic trends back then too:
The cooling world
By Peter Gwynne


The evidence in support of these predictions has now begun to accumulate so massively that meteorologists are hard-pressed to keep up with it.

A survey completed last year by Dr. Murray Mitchell of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reveals a drop of half a degree in average ground temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere between 1945 and 1968.

Climatologists are pessimistic that political leaders will take any positive action to compensate for the climatic change, or even to allay its effects. (link)
There are times when we should thank our lucky stars that politicians don't react every time scientists come up with a wild unsupportable theory.

MIA Anniversary

You may not know it but we have one soldier in the Iraq war who has been missing in action for the last two years:
Lone U.S. soldier remains missing
By Joyce Howard Price, The Washington Times


Sunday will mark the second anniversary of the capture near Baghdad of Army Reserve Sgt. Keith Matthew "Matt" Maupin of Batavia, Ohio, the only U.S. soldier not accounted for in the three years of Operation Iraqi Freedom.


While more than 2,300 U.S. service members have been killed in Iraq since the March 2003 invasion and more than 17,000 have been wounded, Sgt. Maupin is the only one officially listed as "missing/captured" and his whereabouts unknown.

The Pentagon says it does not know whether Sgt. Maupin is dead or alive, calling a dark and grainy video it obtained that purports to show the sergeant being shot in the back of the head "inconclusive." (link)

Let's hope Keith is alive and is released soon.