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

Monday, August 21, 2006

How Can This Be?

The scaremongers who push doomsday scenarios in an overt attempt to convince weak-minded people that all life on the planet is going to soon die as a result of an ever warming globe have such bad luck.

Factual evidence gets in the way:
Greenland's glaciers have been shrinking for 100 years: study

Greenland's glaciers have been shrinking for the past century, according to a Danish study, suggesting that the ice melt is not a recent phenomenon caused by global warming.

Danish researchers from Aarhus University studied glaciers on Disko island, in western Greenland in the Atlantic, from the end of the 19th century until the present day.
Using maps from the 19th century and current satellite observations, the scientists were able to conclude that "70 percent of the glaciers have been shrinking regularly since the end of the 1880s at a rate of around eight meters per year," [glaciologist Jacob Clement] Yde said. (
Now I know this flies in the face of everything you learned from Al Gore. But Crazy Al will push on just the same. Science be damned!

Facts? What facts? We don't need no steenking facts ...

Never Forget

Check out this YouTube slide show. It's about 9/11 and those who keep the promise we all made on 9/12.

Start With Your Own Back Yard

A trip to downtown Roanoke on Saturday brought to mind an editorial in the Times that appeared back in April:
Published on April 3, 2006.

As the national debt nears double-digit trillions of dollars and crony capitalists shove their way to the federal trough for no-bid contracts worth billions, a Virginia congressman has proposed to add insult to injury for ordinary Americans by charging admission -- for the first time in 160 years -- to the Smithsonian Institution museums. (fee charged for
What brought this memory rushing back was a visit to the Science Museum of Western Virginia. If the Times editorial staff has a problem with the Smithsonian charging a fee to enter, they should walk down the street and see what it costs to get into the SMWV.

In fact, there's no need. I'll supply the information. (On Saturdays at least) the charge is $8.00 for each adult and $6.00 for each child. Want to see the laser light show? That'll cost you extra. How about the movie currently showing that has to do with undersea volcanoes. That's extra as well.

I and Paula took four-year old twins Kaid and Jayla to the museum. It cost us $28 to get in (we skipped the two add-ons; that would have required that we take out a second mortgage). Now we're not talking Six Flags or Epcot Center here. This is a museum the main features in which include an exhibit devoted to lightning bugs and another featuring a rock collection.

Don't get me wrong. I can afford the eight bucks. But six dollars for a little kid? What's that?

When Paula asked at the entrance where the restroom was, the woman sitting behind the counter pointed off in a direction behind us. I looked at her and in uncontrolled annoyance asked, "So what does that cost?" She took offense (as I would have as well; she didn't set the outrageous prices) and replied something not worth going into.

I'm told the museum management had decided to raise its admission fees because attendance hadn't met expectations and revenues needed to be increased. Whoever made the decision to raise the price of admission to such a level (remember: the Smithsonian - THE SMITHSONIAN - is free) obviously never took Business 101.

I enjoy a weekend stroll through museums (although bugs and rocks don't register highly on my interest-o-meter) but when I have to take out a loan in order to gain entrance, I may decide to get a case of Bud and get sloshed instead. It's a whole lot cheaper. And more satisfying.

Thank You, Big Oil

Everyone likes to blame Big Oil when the price of gasoline goes up. Let's see if those same people take time out to thank Big Oil now that the price is going down:
Price Plunge at the Pump
Angela Hatcher, WSLS NewsChannel 10

The government says gas prices are going to keep going down all the way until Labor Day.

Driving around Roanoke that seems to be true.

The average for a gallon of regular is $2.78 ... (
If you think Big Oil sets the price of gas (it doesn't), you should be on your knees thanking oil executives about now for making your life a little more bearable.

Of course I and those executives - who are sure to be called greedy capitalists again tomorrow - are not holding our collective breath ...

People Who Live In Glass Houses ...

I've decided to take back my criticism of the Democrats for their shabby treatment of former vice presidential candidate Joe Lieberman. I realized that I was right there with them when it comes to cleansing the party of renegades (perceived or real). I of course have this joker in mind:
Chafee, GOP rival swap salvos
By Donald Lambro, The Washington Times

Republican Sen. Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island is trailing Cranston, R.I., Mayor Stephen Laffey in a bitterly divisive primary contest that offers Democrats their best shot at picking up a seat in one of the nation's bluest states.

Internal campaign polls show the conservative mayor's campaign attacks on Mr. Chafee's liberal voting record -- including the incumbent's opposition to President Bush's tax cuts and to Supreme Court Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr.'s nomination -- have struck a responsive chord among Republican voters. (
One could make the argument that the difference between Lieberman and Chafee is in the fact that Lieberman is a centrist and Chafee is ... well, a nut. But it says something when the Republican party is prepared to lose the senate seat in Rhode Island just to rid itself of this cancer. And excise it's going to.

Once that's been accomplished, then they need to concentrate on McCain and John Warner and Lindsey Graham and ...

Perhaps They Got The Message

Most experts are now lining up behind the notion that Israel botched - badly - the recent war with Hezballah. There may, however, be something positive to have developed from the relentless air campaign that Israel waged against Lebanese infrastructure - Lebanon doesn't want it repeated:
Hezbollah told not to incite Israel
By Steven R. Hurst, The Associated Press

BEIRUT -- Lebanon's defense minister said yesterday that he is certain Hezbollah will not break the cease-fire, but warned all militant groups of harsh measures and a traitor's fate if they incite Israeli retaliation by firing rockets into the Jewish state.

Defense Minister Elias Murr's strong remarks indicated concern that Syrian-backed militants will try to restart the fighting by drawing retaliation from Israel. (
The devastation that rained down on Lebanon was heartbreaking. But it could have been prevented had the Lebanese government taken control of south Lebanon years ago rather than cede it to the Hezballah terrorists.

That government has a chance now to take control of its borders and secure peace. The chance is slim but it is there.

A Case For 'Going It Alone'

"Going to war without France is like going deer hunting without your accordion."
— General Norman Schwartzkopf

"We can stand here like the French, or we can do something about it."
— Marge Simpson

The French. Even the New York Times is put out with their antics:
Waiting for Jacques

It would be tempting to laugh about France’s paltry commitment of 200 additional peacekeepers for Lebanon, if it weren’t so dangerous. After insisting for years that they be treated like a superpower, the French are behaving as if they have no responsibility for helping dig out of the Lebanon mess.

When the Security Council agreed earlier this month on a cease-fire resolution, scripted by the French and the Americans, it was with the clear understanding that Paris would head the 15,000-member international force and contribute a large number of troops. Now President Jacques Chirac’s generals have cold feet. Such a condition is highly contagious. And there are serious concerns about whether the United Nations can field enough well-trained troops without the French to ensure that Israeli troops withdraw completely and Hezbollah’s attacks on Israel do not start again. (
"Broadway producers are saying that because of the war, musicals are suffering from weak ticket sales. Not only that, over at 'Les Miserables,' the French are refusing to take part in the revolution."
— Conan O'Brien

A Failing Plan

The following article first appeared in the Roanoke Times August 11, 2006.

The Plan For Southwest Virginia Is Failing
Jerry Fuhrman

In a recent conference call with one of Virginia’s most powerful politicians, I asked how he thought the dismal situation in Southwest Virginia could be turned around. I wanted to know what could be done to counter the sweeping and devastating manufacturing job losses that have occurred, how he might deal with our coal counties that are losing population, and about our stagnant economy. His answer? “Tourism.”


Another politician who has no answers, no new ideas, so he falls back on the default position learned from and perfected by a long line of politicians past and present. Southwest Virginia has nothing going for it save some rocks and bushes so we need to promote what little we have in the forlorn hope that we can lure northerners down here and partake of our scenic splendor, and while doing so, try to get them to purchase a hot dog and a bottled water at the local gas station. That, friends, is the plan for our future success.

It certainly can be said that we have what can be considered a scenic – some might say rugged and inhospitable - landscape. And with it – because of it – we are burdened with a weak transportation infrastructure. To make matters worse, we have substandard schools. And a very low-tech environment with predominantly unskilled labor. And in the areas where we were traditionally strongest, we now have foreign competition. And in parts of the region, we are in the throes of depopulation, particularly when it comes to our best and brightest young people who routinely move out of the area in order to be able to make a future for themselves. Yes, we have our hurdles.

But, by God, we’ve got trees too. And boulders. Lots of pretty rock formations. And lizards and snakes and such. So our future, according to those we look to for guidance in such matters, depends on enticing tourists to the area to walk among nature’s wonders. Or some such.

This attitude isn’t unique to outsiders. Politicians down this way sing that same song, because they too have no clue as to how to solve our problems. So they all talk of developing our tourism trade, of greater promotion of the Blue Ridge Parkway, and of developing more opportunities relating to the Appalachian Trail. Of lots and lots of bike paths and hiking trails.

In case you haven’t noticed, we now have dozens of local, state, and federally funded trails crisscrossing Southwest Virginia. Some are little more than cow paths while others, like the Virginia Creeper Trail down in Damascus, have come at great expense. There are now even plans in the works to link many of them to one another. And there are still more trails in the development and construction stages.

To what end? Well, nobody’s sure. “Tourists/hikers/bikers” are the answers you get - whoever they are; however that’s measured; whatever good they bring.

And while we await positive results from all the efforts that are going into developing our tourism business, a troubling trend emerges. Gas prices, some experts fear, are going to curtail vacation plans for many would-be tourists, an issue that may be playing out already. The Forest Service announced recently that some facilities in the Jefferson National Forest (including one in Wythe County) are being closed because of poor attendance. And the National Parks Service released a study a few months ago that shows the number of visitors to the Blue Ridge Parkway, the jewel in our tourist attraction crown, is down for the third year in a row. Down by millions of visitors.

In the meantime, our manufacturing base, the engine that still drives the economy of Southwest Virginia whether you accept it or not, continues to implode at an alarming rate as news comes out almost weekly of another plant closing and more layoffs slamming communities throughout the region. Just ask the folks in Galax.

It’s time – no, it’s long past time – that we changed course. It’s past time that we told our political leaders that the plan they all signed on to is failing us at the very same time the companies they should be doing everything they can to support and defend are failing as well.
We either change course or we do what tens of thousands of our neighbors have done in recent years. We pack our bags and head north to find work. It’s long past time.