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

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Move Those Trees. We're Looking For The Forest.

A group of Radford University students made a journey into deepest darkest West Virginia a few weeks ago and found something there that is, in the words of a pair of them who lived to tell the tale, "awful." Make that "indescribable."

No, their detailed description wasn't of the rampant poverty that exists in much of the area they visited - Boone County, north of Logan, south of Charleston (where one of every five people lives below the poverty line and the average per capita income, according to the last census, is $14,453; about what it costs to attend party-hardy Radford for a year, and about equal to the annual cost of per capita alcohol and marijuana consumption). Nor of the many, and growing number of abandoned homes and businesses in the county (unlike most of America, Boone County, West Virginia experienced a decline in its population between 1990 and 2000 as a horde of people moved out to find work). Nor of the woeful problems that exist there with broken health care delivery systems, inadequate schools, or the rise in criminal activity.

No, the troubling circumstance these students drove three hours to find was ... commerce:

The Green Team attempts to move mountains in the coal mines of West Virginia
by Ashlee Cossaboon and Hilary Smith, The Radford Tartan


Mountaintop removal is quickly becoming the most devastating force ever to hit the Appalachian Mountains. Members of Radford University's Green Team traveled to West Virginia Nov. 12 as part of Mountain Justice Summer's Southeast Youth and Student Mountaintop Removal Convergence this past weekend to get a firsthand look at how the mountain environment is quickly crumbling away.

"Mountaintop removal is awful to hear about, but to go and witness the impact firsthand is indescribable," said RU senior Lauren Storie.

Mountaintop removal is causing the citizens of affected areas to leave the only place they have ever known as home. (link)
Now there's a creative way of explaining West Virginia's decline in population. I'll bet these students are putting their heads together as I write this to come up with an explanation for the state's dismal decades-long economic performance and bleak outlook as well. You can be sure it will have something to do with mountaintop removal mining and the minimum wage. And global warming.

No word on whether Ashlee and Hilary made it back to campus in time for Quadfest.

The Boycott Continues

Entering the third season of our boycott of Target Stores, an action that was originally taken because the retail giant banned Salvation Army bell-ringers from soliciting donations for the poor at its entranceways, it's obvious the mental giants who run the company still haven't gotten the message:
Holidays Get Surreal At Target
Boontje Supplants Santa With 'A Magical World'
By Linda Hales, Washington Post Staff Writer


When modernist designer Tord Boontje set out to remake Target, he trained the store's trademark bull's-eye on the back of one man.


Santa.

For the holidays, Boontje gave Claus the heave-ho-ho.

"I wanted to get rid of the old cliches," Boontje, the 38-year-old Dutch-born product designer, says by phone from his studio in Bourg-Argental, France. "This is a much more contemporary way, a fresh look." (link)
Target is ridding our society of its old cliches.

You won't find Christ there at Christmastime. He is, to them, an old cliche.
As is giving to the poor.
And now Santa.

I'm looking forward to my fourth year of shopping everywhere else but Target.

Saved From Computer-Rage

Wal-Mart (where I gave generously to a cheery Salvation Army bell-ringer who wished me a warm cliche-riddled Merry Chirstmas with a broad smile the other day) has an interesting promotion going this week, beginning yesterday. They are offering some super prices in a flyer that was delivered via US Postal Service to my house on an array of wonderful products, including a giant 22" flat-screen computer monitor that would look great here on my desk. The twist in this promotion is in that, in order to take advantage of the special pricing, all purchases have to be made on-line through Walmart.com.

I was prepared to jump on the opportunity but now ... well, now I'm not so sure:
Black Friday stalls Wal-Mart site
Associated Press

New York -- High traffic disrupted Wal-Mart Stores' Web site for much of Friday.

Wal-Mart's early-season discounts, especially for large-screen TVs, drove the traffic.

Keynote Systems, which monitors leading Web sites, said it began detecting problems about 4:30 a.m. Throughout the morning, visitors could access portions of the site but generally ran into difficulty before completing purchases. (link)
Just as I don't ever wait in line at a restaurant longer than 15 minutes anymore (I don't have that many years left and every moment is precious; and it's food for God's sake, not a heart transplant), I refuse to sit in front of my computer and watch a cursor hourglass flutter ... and flutter ... and flutter.

Of course, since I get up at 4 am every day, I might ...

The Road Is Paved With Good Intentions

God love him. Mitt Romney, current governor of the state of Massachusetts and future president of the United States means well. He simply wants the legislators there to do their jobs and execute the will of the people; something they, like the cowards they are, so far have been unwilling to do.

But rather than take his case to those same people and have them throw the bums out, Romney approaches the courts, hat in hand like a supplicant to a superior branch of the government:
Massachusetts Governor Sues to Compel Vote on Same-Sex Marriage Amendment
By Katie Zezima, The New York Times


Boston, Nov. 24 — Gov. Mitt Romney filed a lawsuit Friday asking the state’s highest court to order the legislature to vote on a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage or to place it on the 2008 ballot if lawmakers do not take up the provision.

The legislature voted 109 to 87 on Nov. 9 to recess a constitutional convention before the measure was taken up, which appeared to kill it. (link)
It was this same court, you may remember, that created this whole mess in the first place when a small handful of rabidly liberal judges there bypassed the other two branches of government and wrote into law a provision allowing for - no, mandating - gay marriage.

Mitt Romney has good intentions. But he also has a pathetic misunderstanding of representative democracy and his role in it.

Ah, The Joys Of Christmas

When we were children, we waited with eager anticipation for Santa to come down the chimney and bring us lots and lots of Christmas cheer. Train sets. Barbie dolls. GI Joe. These many years later, nothing has changed. The excitement still consumes us. The expectation. Today, much like then, we eagerly await the opportunity ... to beat the living hell out of each other the moment the Christmas shopping season begins:
Attention, Holiday Shoppers: We Have Fisticuffs in Aisle 2
By Michael Barbaro, The New York Times


Perhaps it should be renamed Black-and-Blue Friday.

For decades, the day after Thanksgiving has been called simply Black Friday, because it is the unofficial start of the holiday shopping season, when retailers supposedly move into the black, or start turning a profit.

But bargain hunters competing for scarce quantities of “doorbuster” discounts have given this day an increasingly sharp-elbowed, close-fisted and purse-swinging edge.

Shortly after midnight yesterday, an estimated 15,000 shoppers pushed and shoved their way into the Fashion Place mall in Murray, Utah. Police soon joined them, responding to reports of nine skirmishes.

Once inside, shoppers ransacked stores, overturning piles of clothes as they looked for bargains. A retailer’s dream — too many customers! — quickly turned into a nightmare ... (link)
This is perfectly understandable ... if you've ever held a Tickle Me Elmo in your arms. You too would want to disfigure little old grannies waiting in line at the Wal-Mart just to get your hands on one of the fuzzy little bundles of wonder. He is to kill for.

I can't remember though why Elmo didn't interest me the other 364 days of the year. But it doesn't matter now. Get out of my way, you old hag! And let go of that iPod! It's Christmas and tis the season for me to rip your freaking lungs out!