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

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

It's The Thought That Counts

I read this and my mouth watered:

Bland is Va.’s new wireless ‘hot spot’
By Charles Owens, Bluefield Daily Telegraph

BLAND, Va. — Bland County is officially the first “hot spot” in Southwest Virginia.

In what the county Board of Supervisors hope will lead the way for all of Southwest Virginia in technology and innovation, Bland will be the first community in Southwest Virginia, and one of only three in the Commonwealth, to launch wireless Internet access free to its citizens next month using the latest in broadband deployment technology, according to County Administrator Jonathan D. Sweet.

Sweet said the installation work on the free broadband service is scheduled for completion on May 1 with the service going live on May 4. (link)

I currently use Sprint DSL service (and it works extremely well) but my mama told me to never look a gift horse in the mouth (not sure what she meant ...). Then I read this:
“The installation is going to be very rapid because of this technology,” Sweet said. “Since we are only activating downtown Bland as a hot spot in phase one of this juncture, it will not require extensive equipment.
Now let me say, up front, that I have a tremendous amount of respect for Jonathan Sweet. He's doing yoeman's work for us.

But for him to tout the fact that downtown Bland is going to have wireless service soon is like saying he'll personally autograph every Bible owned by a Democrat in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Neither is going to require a whole lot of effort.

"Downtown" Bland consists of an IGA, a State Farm Insurance office, a heating/air conditioning repair company, the public library and an auto repair shop (I'm not going to count the Dollar General or the Nextel office; they're in the suburbs).

This would suggest that the county went down to Wal-Mart, picked up three wireless routers, and is in the process of installing them at State Farm Insurance and the library (hard to say where that third one will go; Congressman Boucher will probably ask that it be installed at the abandoned and crumbling Bland Sportswear factory - just in case).

Anyway, the emperor of Bland County says this is progress and I'm inclined to take his word for it.

Still, I'm not sure how this advancement beats just opening a window and hollerin' to the folks "across town" but, by gum, we've entered the technological age here in Bland County.

Next - a community hot tub.

God Love 'Em

Here are three stories - back to back - in this morning's Charleston (WV) Gazette:
Residents say 'wind factory' would spoil life
By Eric Eyre, Staff writer

FAIRLEA — There was a lot of talk Tuesday about dead bats and birds, excessive noise and “flashing strobe lights” in the night sky if a state commission approves a proposed 124-turbine wind energy project. (link)
Then this:

Power rates are set to rise
By Sarah K. Winn, Staff writer

West Virginia’s Public Service Commission has 70 days to approve a rate settlement agreement, which would increase Appalachian Power customers’ electricity bills an estimated 16 percent by 2009. (link)
And finally:
Little relief at the pumps
By Mark Silva and William Neikirk, Chicago Tribune

WASHINGTON — President Bush’s decision to suspend oil purchases for the Strategic Petroleum Reserve and authorize waivers of some environmental fuel regulations are designed to demonstrate government action about rising gas prices, but are unlikely to slow the larger forces pushing prices past $3 per gallon, analysts said Tuesday. (link)
So, what do we make of all this? (1) The cost of energy is skyrocketing and (2) we are prepared to nothing about it except whine.

We're doomed as a species.

It Never Ends

My feelings were hurt the other day when I read a response to one of my posts on what I guess can be described as a local Dickenson County chat room / bulletin board. I was described as being "disconnected" for having made mention of the 40,000 square foot shell building constructed in Clintwood with public money as a spur to economic development that has sat unoccupied for the last decade. I was disconnected apparently because - we're told - the thinking of local officials has changed. Taxpayer money is no longer wasted on local projects like constructing empty buildings that are meant to lure out-of-state employers. Local officials have learned from that mistake.

Or not:

Harvest backs shell building: foundation will pay off loan if not sold in 5 years: New plan praised
By Ginny Wray, Martinsville Bulletin Staff Writer

Most members of the Henry County Board of Supervisors and Martinsville City Council said they are supportive of a plan to develop a $3.5 million shell building project in the Patriot Centre at Beaver Creek industrial park.

City council members liked the proposal, too.

Under the proposal, the EDC would commit about $200,000 for architectural / engineering expenses, marketing and the first-year's interest.

Henry County would pay about $400,000 in interest over the following four years on the building -- which Heath calls an "available building" rather than a "shell building" -- and Martinsville would pay $200,000 of the interest costs for that period.

If the building has not sold at the end of year five, The Harvest Foundation would pay off the construction loan.

Heath responded to Parker that the deal "has two things going for it."

First, he said, is that The Harvest Foundation is willing to take part. "We're encouraged they're supportive of what we're doing."

Second, "the activity generated by this is as exciting as anything," Heath said. "It shows we're in the game." [emphasis mine] (link)

What "game" local officials are playing isn't made clear in the article but I can give it a name based on the Commerce Park fiasco in Pulaski County and the Dickenson building pipedream-turned-bust :

It's a shell (building) game.

Disconnected indeed.

Quote of the Day

CIA Director Porter Goss is now facing press criticism for trying to impose some discipline on his agency. The serious and disturbing question is whether the rot is so deep that it is unfixable, and we ought to start all over and create a new intelligence agency.

The press is also inventing a preposterous double standard that is supposed to help us all distinguish between bad leaks (the Plame name) and virtuous leaks (whatever Ms. McCarthy might have done). Washington Post executive editor Leonard Downie has put himself on record as saying Ms. McCarthy should not "come to harm" for helping citizens hold their government accountable. Of the Plame affair, by contrast, the Post's editorial page said her exposure may have been an "egregious abuse of the public trust."

It would appear that the only relevant difference here is whose political ox is being gored, and whether a liberal or conservative journalist was the beneficiary of the leak. That the press sought to hound Robert Novak out of polite society for the Plame disclosure and then rewards Ms. Priest and Mr. Risen with Pulitzers proves the worst that any critic has ever said about media bias.

Wall Street Journal Editorial, "Our Rotten IntelligenCIA," April 26, 2006

A Shameful Immigration Sham

Following in his father's footsteps (remember how George Bush pere pledged that there'd be "read his lips," no new taxes, just before he sided with the Democrats and raised taxes?), George W Bush has decided he no longer needs to masquerade as a conservative and has gone over to the dark side:
Bush, senators agree on alien citizenship, shut out critics
By Stephen Dinan, The Washington Times

President Bush and a group of senators yesterday reached general agreement on an immigration bill that includes a pathway to citizenship for many illegal aliens.

But left out of the closed-door White House meeting were senators who oppose a path to citizenship. The meeting even snubbed two men who had been considered allies of Mr. Bush on immigration -- Sen. John Cornyn, Texas Republican and chairman of the immigration subcommittee, and Sen. Jon Kyl, Arizona Republican. (link)
I watched the news as a beaming Democratic senate minority leader came out of the White House yesterday afternoon to praise President Bush for having come out of the closet. Bush is now one of them.

Besides the president thumbing his nose at his conservative base, (we want the illegals in our midst handled compassionately too; we just want the illegality down along the border to stop first) here's what makes this a farce:
The Hagel-Martinez bill [the legislation the our president and Ted Kennedy support] would divide illegal aliens into three groups. Most of those who have been in the country for more than five years would be granted access to citizenship, those here more than two years but less than five years would have to go home first but would also be eligible for citizenship, while those here two years or less would not have a path.
We're going to ask those illegally in the country how long they've been in the USA. If they reply that they've been here more than five years, they get to stay! Those who haven't been properly coached and answer that they've been here less than five years will be summarily kicked out. Now there's a workable plan!

For what it's worth, what's left of the Republican Party isn't going along with this silliness:
"This idea that was being kicked around the Senate about providing some sort of amnesty for those who have been here five years or more, I just think it was a very big mistake," House Majority Leader John A. Boehner, Ohio Republican, said yesterday. "You are just inviting more people to come."
By the millions. Tens of millions.

Any more immigration reform and we might as well all start learning Spanish.

Who Profits From a Windfall Profits Tax?

Those eyes that have not been diverted by Virginia Governor Tim Kaine's plan to increase the price of gasoline at the pump by raising gas taxes at the worst possible moment in history, are looking to the federal government to do something about skyrocketing prices. The Democrats have - as one might predict - proposed a tax on "windfall" oil company profits. ExxonMobil makes lots of money; so why not?

I'll tell you why not. The elderly will suffer. As will hundreds of thousands of soon-to-be elderly. Here (from the Detroit News) is how:
Editorial: Granholm's oil profit cap will damage pension funds

[Michigan] Gov. Jennifer Granholm's grandstanding to get oil company profits capped is not only misguided and misinformed, it's bad for Michigan -- particularly the state's retirees.

How so? ExxonMobil Corp. is the largest stock held by the Michigan State Employees' Retirement System and the Michigan Public School Employees' Retirement System. At the end of 2005, the state pension funds owned more than 13 million shares of the oil company's stock with a market value of more than $846 million. (link)
The hundreds of thousands of owners of the major oil companies (through 401K investments, IRA plans, mutual fund retirement programs and the like) are banking on those profits to put bread on the table when they get old.

When the government (state or federal) raises the windfall tax on profits, the government has a windfall to be sure. But the elderly are left holding the empty bag.

Dissolve NASA

So much could be done - so many questions could be answered - if we weren't hell-bent on sending school teachers and retired politicians into space:
NASA Chief Says Future Flights Will Force Cutbacks in Science
By Warren E. Leary, The New York Times

WASHINGTON, April 25 — The ability to send humans into space after retiring the space shuttle is such a high priority for NASA that some space science must be sacrificed to help pay for it, the agency's administrator, Michael D. Griffin, said Tuesday. (link)
This is pathetic.

It costs ten times as much to send a ship into space with someone aboard as it does to send up an unmanned craft. We could have a ship on Neptune right now running all kinds of experiments. Instead we're going to cut back on science in order to continue this program that amounts to little more than an amusement ride for the photogenic - a program that's going nowhere.

Here's a Waste Of Time

Thousands of gun laws and New York and Boston still suffer from rampant crime. What to do? "Hey, let's pass some more gun laws!"

Seeking a National Voice, 15 Mayors Meet on Gun Violence
By Sewell Chan, The New York Times

Asserting that the federal government had failed to curb gun trafficking, mayors from 15 cities gathered yesterday at Gracie Mansion and agreed to intensify efforts to combat illegal firearms.

Mayors Michael R. Bloomberg of New York and Thomas M. Menino of Boston, the organizers of the meeting, said the mayors needed to use every tool, from crackdowns on irresponsible gun dealers to new gun-tracing technologies, because federal authorities had abdicated their responsibility. (link)
Yeah. Don't want to be cracking down on those criminals, eh Mike?

I have an idea. Michael Bloomberg is one of the wealthiest persons on the planet. How about - in a real demonstration of his interest in solving the daunting crime problem in his city - he signs over all his assets to the NYPD so that they can put more cops on the street?

Like that'll happen.

I guess the photo-ops - and feckless gun laws - are more economical.

Oh, Hurt Me

Another reason why the United Nations should be dissolved (what is this, reason number 613?):
U.N. Council Imposes Sanctions on 4 Men in Darfur War Crimes
By Warren Hoge, The New York Times

UNITED NATIONS, April 25 — The Security Council passed a resolution on Tuesday imposing the first sanctions in the violence that has killed more than 200,000 villagers and driven two million people from their homes in Darfur, in western Sudan.

Twelve members of the 15-nation Council voted in favor of the American-drafted measure, which will freeze the assets of four Sudanese accused of war crimes and instructs nations to block their entry. (link)
These fiends are responsible for the deaths of 200,000 innocent people in Darfur and the U.N. slaps "sanctions" on them. What's the punishment when the number gets up to 1,000,000? No satellite TV for a month?

Good Choice

President Bush did well with his pick for White House press secretary:
Fox Host to Join White House
By Jim Rutenberg, The New York Times

WASHINGTON, April 25 — Tony Snow, the Fox News radio and television commentator, has agreed to become the White House press secretary and could be officially named to the post as early as Wednesday, administration officials said on Tuesday.

A senior administration official said the president chose Mr. Snow, 50, to become one of the most visible faces of the administration because he understood newspapers, radio, television and government, having worked in all four areas. (link)
The fact that he is kind, considerate, and congenial helps as well. Best of luck to Tony. He'll need it.