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

Monday, January 22, 2007

More Evidence That Tourism Is Over-Hyped

It's one thing for our local politicians to steer precious tax dollars toward the construction of hiking trails and bike paths. They say we are ever so close to making Southwest Virginia a tourist mecca. And there's a whole mess of politicians saying it.

Y'all know where I stand on that.

But when other services that we traditionally look to government to provide are sacrificed in order to perpetuate the hokum, there is something glaringly wrong.

For anyone who travels a good deal around the area, the one highway with the poorest maintenance, the one that is perpetually in the worst condition - hands down - is the West Virginia Turnpike, that stretch of I-77, a toll road, that runs from Bluefield north to Charleston.

A washboard is less jarring.

As it turns out, there's a reason why the Turnpike is so poorly maintained. Funds for repairs are being diverted to prop up a failing - and very expensive - tourist mecca:
Tamarack: What next?
Charleston (WV) Gazette

Tamarack, the giant arts and crafts stop at Beckley, requires about $2 million a year from the state Parkways Authority to keep running. That’s $2 million that state residents and visitors pay in tolls that could be spent on other urgent needs.

A legislative audit concluded that the project has not lived up to expectations.

Despite assurances from lawmakers and from former Gov. Gaston Caperton that Tamarack is a success ... (link)
Those "urgent needs" include the repair of potholes the size of a Volkswagen.

Despite the whining of the usual suspects, change may be in the offing:
Artisans who gathered to defend the project and to criticize the audit spoke of being able to pursue careers in art, thanks to the giant showplace built 10 years ago near the split between Interstate 64 and 77.

No one disputes that Tamarack is filled with lovely works and handsome craftsmanship. But it seems that West Virginia artisans should be able to sell their creations without costing the Turnpike Authority $2 million a year.

So, what should West Virginia do with Tamarack?

Maybe one of the many churches looking for more room would be willing to buy it — as is. There’s plenty of parking. Easy Interstate access. Just imagine the Tamarack Gospel Tabernacle, with that striking rooftop reaching up to the heavens and ...
While you're at it, let me add to your list of potential church sites. We have a slew of unproductive and costly "tourist meccas" on this side of the border as well. We could begin here.

They Have To Be Democrats

Any bets?

Prison board's opposition to Grayson site draws rebuke
The Associated Press

The Kaine administration and the board that oversees state prisons are at odds over a new prison proposed in Grayson County.

One day after the state Board of Corrections took a stand opposing a prison site on the New River, Gov. Timothy M. Kaine's chief of staff fired off a letter saying it had no right to do so.

The board passed a resolution opposing the site after hearing from two Grayson County residents who said the site would harm river-related tourism and change the rural character of the Cox's Chapel community. (link)

Two people voiced their hostility to the plan. Two. And the Board of Corrections decided to take a stand in opposition to the construction of the prison and the 250 permanent full-time jobs it would bring.


Short Shrift

From a Roanoke Times editorial this morning:

In response:

That beating heart isn't coming from a womb, hotshot.

There's Buying Votes And Then There's Buying Votes

In a relatively notorious incident that took place in Appalachia not long ago, voters were offered pork rinds in exchange for their votes (believe it). And beer. Marlboros. Those were deemed illegal acts and the perpetrator is off to the slammer.

In the rest of America, votes are purchased with your hard-earned income. And it is, apparently, perfectly legal. In fact, it is championed:
Clinton Opens Her Campaign With Health Insurance Plan
By Patrick Healy, The New York Times

... Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton began her newborn presidential campaign yesterday at a Manhattan health care clinic, announcing legislation that would significantly expand federal health insurance for Americans under age 18.

Mrs. Clinton’s proposed legislation would renew the Children’s Health Insurance Program, which provides money to states to cover Americans under age 18 whose families earn too much money to qualify for Medicaid. The 10-year-old program, which now covers four million children ...

Mrs. Clinton’s legislation would raise the income eligibility limit so that more children could enroll; in New York, a family of four earning $75,000 would qualify. And the bill would allow any family ... (link)
Offer a voter a pork rind and you go to prison. Offer him cold hard cash to help pay for his health care and you're on your way to the White House.

Only in America.

A Chant Is Not A Conversation

This sounds so perfect:
When John Meets Al
New York Times editorial

Four major bills have recently been offered in the Senate calling for mandatory controls on carbon dioxide, the main global warming gas.

But at least as important was a quiet little letter to the members of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce from its new chairman, John Dingell.

A Michigan Democrat who in recent years has opposed stronger fuel economy standards for automobiles, Mr. Dingell is, at best, agnostic on global warming. But he said he would put climate change at the top of the committee agenda this year and, for good measure, would invite Al Gore — whose documentary “An Inconvenient Truth” has raised public awareness of the issue — to testify first.

Hardly a believer, in other words, but plainly open to persuasion. Which is why it’s essential for Mr. Gore and others to become part of the conversation Mr. Dingell has invited. (
Ah, yes. A conversation. Well, as I understand it, a conversation necessarily involves two or more people. And when it comes to the issue of global warming, these guys prefer to talk to the mirror:

Will Al Gore Melt?
If not, why did he chicken out on an interview?
By Flemming Rose and Bjorn Lomborg, The Wall Street Journal

Al Gore is traveling around the world telling us how we must fundamentally change our civilization due to the threat of global warming. Last week he was in Denmark to disseminate this message. But if we are to embark on the costliest political project ever, maybe we should make sure it rests on solid ground. It should be based on the best facts, not just the convenient ones. This was the background for the biggest Danish newspaper, Jyllands-Posten, to set up an investigative interview with Mr. Gore. And for this, the paper thought it would be obvious to team up with Bjorn Lomborg, author of "The Skeptical Environmentalist," who has provided one of the clearest counterpoints to Mr. Gore's tune.

The interview had been scheduled for months. The day before the interview Mr. Gore's agent thought Gore-meets-Lomborg would be great. Yet an hour later, he came back to tell us that Bjorn Lomborg should be excluded from the interview because he's been very critical of Mr. Gore's message about global warming and has questioned Mr. Gore's evenhandedness. According to the agent, Mr. Gore only wanted to have questions about his book and documentary, and only asked by a reporter. These conditions were immediately accepted by Jyllands-Posten. Yet an hour later we received an email from the agent saying that the interview was now cancelled. What happened?

One can only speculate. (link)
So much for conversation. Makes you wonder just how sure of their position these hucksters really are, doesn't it?

Evolving At Light Speed

I grew up on Windows 3.1. That is, after I shed my first computer, a Commodor 64. It had 64,000 bytes of storage capacity. My current PC, with Windows XP, has 80,000,000,000. As of this month, even it has been rendered obsolete. Vista has arrived.

Some interesting info:
Numbers Behind Windows 95, Vista
By The Associated Press

Some numbers behind Microsoft Corp.'s evolution from Windows 95 to this month's consumer release of Windows Vista:

Number of lines of code in Windows 95: 11.2 million

In Vista: 50 million is a commonly cited figure, but Microsoft refuses to confirm that officially.

Approximate number of Windows 95 programmers: 200

For Vista: More than 2,000 ... (link)
We've come a long way. To think, though, Vista too will be obsolete in another five years. If not sooner.

We live in an exciting age.