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

Thursday, March 01, 2007

A Trip Down Memory Lane

I was perusing Kilo's wonderfully creative weblog and noticed a link on his sidebar to an old friend of ours long departed.

How many of you remember The Salt Lick?

It seems like only yesterday that one could stop by there "Where Balanced Journalism Is Nourished and the Roanoke Times is Prey" for a great read.

As happens so often in the weblog world, he was there one day, and was gone the next.

Ol' Salt. We hardly knew ye.

Here's a REAL Funding Crisis

The Democrats across the country convinced themselves, after much torment and a whole lotta tears (not to mention more than a few threats of violence), that the reason they lost the election in 2000 was because of those infernal punch card voting machines that were then in use in Florida. Residents there, so the theory went, were too damn stupid to figure out how to poke a hole in a piece of paper properly. And perhaps they were.

So the Democrats, with the active assistance of a compliant media, twisted arms and forced state and local officials throughout the land to dump their until-then reliable punch card (and mechanical lever) machines in favor of the new, sleek, whizbang, and extremely expensive Touch Screen kind of voting machines. Problem solved.

Well, the problem wasn't solved. Darned if the Democrats didn't lose again in 2004.

So what did these geniuses blame the loss on? You guessed it. Confound those infernal Touch Screen machines!

Because the new machines didn't allow for paper backup, and because there was obviously either widespread malfeasance or a whole lotta malfunctions in Ohio, Florida (!), and everywhere else, the Democrats felt they got cheated - again.

Now here's the kicker. Those new electronic machines, recently purchased, cost a bundle.

But, because the existence of our Republic - yea, our very way of life - was threatened, teetering on the brink, and because we didn't want to endure another Democratic defeat in 2008, we went to the expense (money that could have gone to fixing our roads!) of buying the machines anyway - as recommended by our political leadership. God love 'em.

Another loss.

So, do the politicians have the testicular fortitude to actually demand that our new machines, those purchased with precious dollars that should have gone to feeding the poor and educating our youth and providing our elderly with prescription drugs and saving the whales and cleaning up the Chesapeake and making the blind see and the lame walk, would they actually demand that the new machines be trashed and replaced with all new ones that will assure a Hillary win in 2008?

Get out your hanky:

Voting machine law could be ‘disaster’ for Tazewell County
By Charles Owens, Bluefield Daily Telegraph

Tazewell, Va. — Legislation approved by the Virginia General Assembly could have a “devastating” impact upon Tazewell County, officials are warning.

If Senate Bill 840 and House Bill 2707 are signed into law by Gov. Timothy M. Kaine, no locality in Virginia currently using the new electronic touch-screen voting machines — including Tazewell County — would be allowed to purchase any additional touch-screen equipment or replacements machines after July 1. The legislation in return would mandate the purchase of new “opti-scan” voting systems ...

“This would really be a disaster,” Bill Rasnick, chairman of the county Board of Supervisors, said of the proposed change.“To change them (the voting machines) again would be a really difficult situation,” Southern District board member Mike Hymes added.

[County Registrar Deborah] Barrett said 104 of 134 localities in Virginia are currently using the new touch-screen machines. Barrett said it has been estimated that it could cost the 104 localities as much as $33 million dollars to replace the electronic touch-screen voting systems with the opti-scan machines. (link)

$33 million. With that we could have found a cure for cancer. We could have purchased VDOT a new flag waver or two. Prevented avian flu. Global warming. Crabgrass infestation.

But no. We are going to toss all those machines we paid $33 million for - and used once or twice - into the garbage and buy new ones. Optiscan Turbo Flame-throwin' FailSafe 6000 or some such. Electronic machines that leave "a paper trail." Paper that looks ominously like a punch card ...

So that Hillary will be assured victory in 2008.

I ask you: Can we just vote her in by acclamation and save the money? And the children? And our elderly? Our roads? The waters. The flora ... The fauna ... The planet ...

If Only He Felt The Same Way About Ignorance

We learned the other day that 65% of America's twelfth graders can't read proficiently. God only knows what that number is here in Southwest Virginia. So how does our governor decide to combat the problem? You might by now be able to guess:

Kaine urges students to get with it, shape up
The governor came to Roanoke to tout a bill that would require state officials to team up to battle childhood obesity.
By David Harrison, The Roanoke Times

Gov. Tim Kaine traveled to Roanoke on Wednesday to talk to a fifth-grade classroom at Raleigh Court Elementary about exercise.

He told them about a 117-mile bike ride he took last year from [I'm skipping this anguidhlingly boring part. It exceeds my tolerance threshhold]

Kaine came to Roanoke to tout a bill that came out of the just-completed General Assembly session that would require the state's school superintendent and the state's health commissioner to team up to battle childhood obesity.

He chose Kevin Spencer's Raleigh Court classroom because he was impressed with a running program Spencer has started at the school.(Link)


Kevin Spencer deserves better from us.

A Lesson Learned The Hard Way

Muddle-headed, politically correct LiberalThink resulting in the ill-conceived implementation of moronic decisions has consequences. To wit:
Donor withholds $12 million over chapel cross dispute
The Washington Times

Williamsburg (AP) -- A longtime donor to the College of William & Mary will withhold a $12 million pledge to the public university because of the removal of a cross from a campus chapel.

The donation was pledged to the campaign fund before Gene R. Nichol became the university's president and was revoked because the donor disagreed with Mr. Nichol's decision to remove the brass cross from permanent display on the chapel's altar, spokesman Mike Connolly said.

The donor was not identified. (link)
The president of the university will tell you that he acted out of love for those who felt "excluded" by the mere presence of the Christian cross. I wonder if Nichol is feeling the love.

He's Dreaming

If a tree falls in the forest and nobody is there to hear it, does ...


Take It To The Bank

A prediction: There is going to be, at most, one satellite radio network in coming years. It will come about either by merger between XM and Sirius, or one of them is going to file chapter 7 bankruptcy (it's that bad).

Another prediction: The latter is your best bet because the geniuses in Congress have this inexplicable fear of the former:
Mel Getting Static
By Peter Lauria, The New York Post

March 1, 2007 -- If the terse exchange between Wisconsin Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner and Sirius Satellite Radio CEO Mel Karmazin is any indication, the road to regulatory approval for Sirius' $11.4 billion merger with XM Satellite Radio will be antagonistic and bumpy.

"You're going to be a monopoly!" said Sensenbrenner, a Republican, of the proposed deal. (link)
"You're going to be a monopoly!" blubbered a sniffling and clueless Sensenbrenner is more like it.

Look, one of these two companies, both of which have gotten caught up in their own hype, and have greatly overextended themselves, is going out of business. At best, the other may be able to acquire its competitor's resources and perhaps, only perhaps, make a go of it.

"You're going to be a monopoly!" isn't going to change that.

10,000 Deaths Are Acceptable

The New York Times this morning sings the praises of a new wonder drug that reduces the incidence of malaria in children in a controlled test in Africa:

Project Curbs Malaria in Ugandan Group
By Lawrence K. Altman, The New York Times

Los Angeles, Feb. 28 — A simple, inexpensive and surprisingly powerful combination of treatments all but wiped out malaria in a group of H.I.V.-positive children in a study in Uganda, scientists are reporting.

The combination — taking one inexpensive antibiotic pill each day and sleeping under an insecticide-treated mosquito net — reduced the incidence of malaria by 97 percent compared with a control group, Dr. Anne Gasasira, an AIDS researcher at Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda, said at a medical conference here on Wednesday. (link)
I'd laugh if I didn't have the inclination to cry.

Two points:

1) Rather than kill the mosquitos that pass the scourge of malaria on to little African children, a plague that brings about the deaths each year of a million people, with a pesticide that is highly effective and has proven to be harmless to both man and beast, we are going to, what, administer a daily pill to every freaking child on the continent - forever?

2) With a 97% success rate, we are prepared to celebrate the deaths of 10,000 innocent children. Go ahead. Leave me out.

DDT proved to be wondrously effective in eliminating the curse of mosquito-borne malaria in much of the U.S. in past decades - before the environmentalists took control of the issue, scared our easily frightened politicians, and got it banned (read about it here). And as for the hoopla about the harmful effects of the chemical, read this:

Researchers and human volunteers have ingested as much as 35 milligrams (about 3 table spoonfuls) of DDT a day for two years without having adverse effects. To prove to sophists that DDT was harmless to humans a US scientist Dr. Wayland Hayes ingested a tablespoon of DDT (about 12 mgs), swallowed and took a glass of water before presenting a talk about DDT lacking toxicity to vertebral animals including humans.

Not only will DDT help control malaria but would help manage typhus, yellow fever, Chaga’s disease, African sleeping sickness, Leishmaniasis, tick-borne bacterial and rickettsial diseases that are a threat to humans. (link)

And we want to give kids a pill. And cross our fingers that they won't be among the 10,000 who will die horrible deaths.

For the love of God.

Excellent News

NASA's space shuttle program is not able to send up any craft for lack of funds. Well, they're being delayed anyway. But we can hope:

Cutbacks May Delay Flights, NASA Leader Says
By Warren E. Leary, The New York Times

Washington, Feb. 28 — The craft that is to replace the space shuttle could be delayed because of recent budget reductions, pushing its first missions into 2015 instead of 2014, the NASA administrator, Michael D. Griffin, told a Senate committee on Wednesday.

Mr. Griffin said the reductions could shift money from the development of the Orion crew vehicle and the Ares I rocket. That would widen by four to six months the period in which the United States could not send humans into space after the shuttle is retired in 2010.

Mr. Griffin said other nations would continue to fly people and cargo into space while the United States was grounded. (link)

Though Griffin may be an administrator, that last line proves there's some politician in him as well. Putting the squeeze on us taxpayers. My, my.

In any case, the monumentally wasteful manned space flight program is being delayed. Let's hope Griffin soon moves on to a career in Congress and it gets scrapped completely.

The Times Is So Provincial

I watched stock market analysts on the BBC and on Bloomberg yesterday talking about the selloffs that took place on the Chinese market and subsequently on the New York Stock Exchange. The New York Times blamed the drop (estimated worldwide to be worth $1 trillion - in one day) on a lack of confidence in the American economy (read about it here).

Not seeming to want to take a cue from the venerable Times, none of the analysts attributed the "correction" to a concern about our economy. None. They agreed that it all began as a Chinese problem. (Who'da thunk it?) And they agreed that, not only did it not result from any particular interest in the U.S. economy, they agreed that the correction won't have much of an effect going forward even on the Chinese economy.

And the fact that the NYSE rebounded somewhat yesterday would lead one to expect that the Times would report that same level of confidence to have risen.

But no. It's still our fault. Though we seem to be easing tensions somehow. Good grief:
Asian Markets Fall but Show Signs of Stabilizing
By Wayne Arnold, The New York Times

Singapore, March 1 — Asia’s stock markets continued to slide today amid concerns that a slowing United States economy could hurt the region’s export-dependent economies. But there were signs that the rout that began in China Tuesday and swept through global markets was abating following reassuring comments by the chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve.

East Asia’s largest markets — in Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan and China — ignored Wednesday’s rebound on Wall Street. Taiwan’s benchmark stock index led the region lower, falling as much as 2.83 percent. Stocks in China also dropped, with one benchmark index of exchanges there falling roughly 2.79 percent.

But aside from those two markets, stocks appeared to be regaining their footing. Japan’s benchmark Nikkei-225 and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index both fell roughly 0.86 percent. India’s benchmark index declined by 0.35 percent. The stock market in South Korea was closed for a public holiday. (link)
Priceless analysis that. Concerns persist about the U.S. economy but the markets, affected profoundly on Tuesday, are stablilizing on Wednesday (with the U.S. market actually up ... fellas. What, confidence in America came back in a matter of hours?).

The New York Times business section has always been a lousy read. Forever. The mediocrity persists. Though now it moves to the front page.