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

Saturday, July 07, 2007

We Have Our Own Weather Channel!

You know what frustrates the speedos off of me? I turn to The Weather Channel ®, hoping to find out what the weather is going to be, and instead find myself confronted with something called "Storm Stories." Hours upon hours, it seems, of stories about storms. A few days ago they were even doing "a storm story" about a World War II typhoon. An hour-long storm story. On my Weather Channel.

And if they aren't boring me to tears with that, I can routinely expect a lecture from some gal on the looming effects of global warming. She has her own time slot, though I couldn't tell you her name or why she's been chosen to preach to us. I have a remote and I use it with alacrity.

And what in God's name is "Abrams and Bettis?"

Can't we just get the freaking weather?

Anyway, in lieu of us ever finding such on The Weather Channel, I can merrily report that we now have the capability of turning to an alternative:
Roanoke TV station launches weather channel
WSLS' general manager said the venture is intended to increase viewership and the advertising base.
By Christina Rogers, The Roanoke Times

WSLS (Channel 10) has launched a new 24-hour weather channel featuring the station's four-person meteorological team and giving regular updates on local forecasts.

Patrick McKee, the station's weekend forecaster, is heading the new venture, which is intended to both increase viewership and the advertising base, said Warren Fiihr, WSLS' general manager and vice president.

The weather channel first aired about 11 a.m. Thursday on digital cable, Fiihr said.

Its programing will include travel updates, road condition reports and shots from the station's real-time Vipir Radar, in addition to regular forecasts by the WSLS meteorologists, he said.

The new channel is likely to compete with the well-established cable network the Weather Channel but with a more targeted audience by providing regional weather coverage. (link)
Had I been editing this piece, I might have changed that last sentence to read: "The new channel is likely to compete with the well-established cable network the Weather Channel ... by offering weather information."

Anyway, give a big hug to our very own weather channel. It couldn't have come at a more opportune time.

Boucher Supports Economic Growth!

Somebody pinch me. I must be dreaming.

Keep this up, Rick, and you and I may become best buds:
Boucher: Will take steps to make sure New River bill doesn't become law

Efforts to designate portions of the New River as "wild and scenic" aren't flowing well in Congress.

North Carolina Senator Richard Burr introduced a bill that would apply the designation in parts of his state and Grayson County. Congressman Rick Boucher says he and other Virginia lawmakers have taken steps to make sure Burr's bill doesn't become law.

"Wild and scenic designation essentially protects the river, which is good. But it also prohibits development along the shores of the river, in the place where that designation has been made. That's a problem," says Boucher. (link)
Cease my beating heart. Congressman Boucher believes in protecting development interests in Southwest Virginia after all. Next we're sure to hear how he intends to work toward cutting taxes and government regulation.

Here's to you, Rick.

Roanoke Times To Downsize

The tremor you felt yesterday afternoon that rumbled across Southwest Virginia originated in downtown Roanoke. The venerable Roanoke Times is feeling the pinch. A pinch brought about by changing market forces. Where is this going to end?
Newspaper to reduce work force
Reductions could total about 10 percent of the newspaper's workers.
By Jenny Kincaid Boone, The Roanoke Times

The publisher of The Roanoke Times said Friday that the news organization will offer voluntary retirement incentives to 21 employees, and she said more jobs may be eliminated in the future.

"Like the media industry as a whole, we're taking steps to reinvent our company to remain relevant to our existing customers and to seek out new customers in new markets," said Debbie Meade, president and publisher, in an e-mail announcement to employees. "We're dealing with business conditions unprecedented in our long history."

Advertising revenue at The Roanoke Times, similar to newspapers across the country, has declined. It's mainly because of competition from other media sources, such as the Internet, said Nan Mahone, promotions and community relations manager at The Roanoke Times. (link)
I've always questioned a business model that called - in part - for giving a valuable product away free, as the Times does with its internet offering of the daily news. And I've always found the notion that "page hits" being tied in any way to ad revenue to be a highly dubious proposition. Advertisers are apparently coming to that same surmise.

Many of you are eagerly anticipating the news that this is going to affect the editorial department. If early retirement is the only mechanism that needs to be employed in order for the Times to survive, you're to be disappointed. Having met everyone on the staff, I can safely report, knowing that few of the fine writers there are even old enough to drink, none of them are eligible for the early buyout.

Shucks is right.

Too bad too. While the editorialists are boneheads, the reporting at the Times is, in my estimation, top notch. Those bringing us the local news, it seems, are the ones who will be affected by this reduction in staff. Speaking from experience, lots of experience, in such circumstances, it's always those least deserving of punishment that get the axe.

This makes me want to go out and buy an annual subscription, just to help out. If only the Roanoke Times delivered and I didn't have to drive over to the Citgo to get a copy ...

Speaking of Downsizing ...

It's never a pleasant experience to have to announce workforce reductions. Especially if you're breaking the news to an employee who has been with you for 38 years ...
Royal Mouldings workers laid off
By Khristopher J. Brooks, Media General News Service

Six research and development technicians at Royal Mouldings in Marion were laid off in a move that one company official says “will make us more efficient and profitable.”

... spokesman Will Hinson said dropping the technicians Tuesday was part of the company’s overall strategy to cut costs “and ultimately return value to our shareholders.”

He said he didn’t know if those employees would be asked to return in the future. He said one of the workers had 38 years with the company. (link)
Terminated after 38 years service. Wow.

Quote Of The Day

From James Taranto:

"White liberals often claim that racism is everywhere, "just beneath the surface." Given the intensity with which they target blacks who reject liberal orthodoxy on race, one suspects they are telling the truth--about themselves."

"Best of the Web Today," July 6, 2007

How Cool Is This?

Boeing isn't just Number 1 in its class any longer. It IS the class. There are no seconds. (has Airbus folded yet?)

And the hits just keep on comin'. The latest:

The news:

Boeing Comes Soaring Back
By Del Quentin Wilber, Washington Post Staff Writer

In the 13 years since Boeing last introduced a new jetliner, it has slogged through one of the toughest stretches in its lengthy history, enduring corporate scandals, major production problems, executive turnover and even questions about whether it should abandon the commercial airplane business.

Tomorrow, the company will go a long way toward laying those doubts to rest when it rolls out the eagerly anticipated 787 Dreamliner.

Made mostly of high-tech composite materials, the wide-body 787 promises extra comfort for passengers and extra fuel efficiency for carriers. Boeing has already snapped up more than 640 orders for the jet from 45 customers worldwide, the most successful launch of a plane in civil aviation history, the company says. (link)


Be the first on your block to own one. Price tag: $146 million to $200 million.

Click on image to enlarge
Image courtesy of

A Tombstone. A Mystery.

If you're the kind of person who likes mysteries, especially those involving centuries-old tombstones found beneath the floorboards of an old house, you're going to love this story.

A who-done-it indeed.

They Know Which Way The Wind Blows ...

... and "independent voters" can always be counted on to wander off in that direction:

Virginia May Spurn GOP in '08
Independents Leaning Democratic for President
By Tim Craig and Jennifer Agiesta, Washington Post Staff Writers

Virginia, usually a reliably Republican state in presidential elections, may become a key battleground in the 2008 election as broadly negative views among independents of President Bush and the war in Iraq have altered the presidential race.

... more than a year before the general election, this poll shows that four in 10 voters prefer that a Democrat be elected to the White House in 2008, compared with 33 percent who said they favor a Republican. One in 10 said they prefer an independent. (link)
Of course, the Democrats won't be nominating someone named "A. Democrat" for president; they'll be nominating the Beast From The East. Let those Washington Post pollsters substitute that name (Hillary!) for "A. Democrat" and see how those independent voters' opinions run.

Still, it's a tough slog for the Republicans right now. Unpopular decisions relating to an unpopular - but vital - war on terror have consequences. One of those consequences is that the timid can be counted on, when the going gets tough, to jump and run.

To those who monitor independent voters and their interests, these shifts occur as fast and as often as do the gentle summer breezes.

It's early. They'll come around. And go around. And ...

A Footnote For The Memory banks

From Bob Novak:
Just before Sen. John McCain drastically reduced his presidential campaign staff, he finished fifth in the straw vote conducted at Hershey, Pa., June 30 during the summer conference of Pennsylvania's Republican State Committee. Rudy Giuliani was first with 87 votes, ahead of unannounced candidate Fred Thompson's 40. McCain was favored by only seven straw voters, also finishing behind Mitt Romney and non-candidate Newt Gingrich. McCain had been scheduled to attend the Hershey meeting but cancelled because the Senate was debating the immigration bill.
"Dems Dump On Hill Heavy," the New York Post, July 7, 2007

Powerful Democrat Proposes Massive New Tax

A growing body of researchers is coming around to the theory that global warming is caused by factors other than human activity. Another sizeable group has argued that it is going to actually be beneficial to our way of life, that we should accept it as a gift.

But there are those who see only evil in the prospect. And they react in the only way they know how. In the case of Democrats, there's only one solution to any problem, real or perceived: Global warming? Raise taxes.
Counting on Failure, Energy Chairman Floats Carbon Tax
By Edmund L. Andrews, The New York Times

, July 6 — A powerful House Democrat said on Friday that he planned to propose a steep new “carbon tax” that would raise the cost of burning oil, gas and coal, in a move that could shake up the political debate on global warming.

The proposal came from Representative John D. Dingell of Michigan, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee ... (link)
Dingell's rationale? God knows. But it seems to be that his fellow Democrats aren't being serious. On that, he should know:

... Mr. Dingell, in an interview to be broadcast Sunday on C-Span, suggested that his goal was to show that Americans are not willing to face the real cost of reducing carbon dioxide emissions.

His message appeared to be that Democratic leaders were setting unrealistic legislative goals.

“I sincerely doubt that the American people will be willing to pay what this is really going to cost them,” said Mr. Dingell, whose committee will be drafting a broad bill on climate change this fall.

“I will be introducing in the next little bit a carbon tax bill, just to sort of see how people think about this,” he continued. “When you see the criticism I get, I think you’ll see the answer to your question.”

Even the reporter couldn't figure this out. "His message appeared to be ..."

Dingell says his goal is to show us something. He has succeeded.
Before I get off this subject, I think it would serve his constituents well for Rick Boucher (D-Abingdon), who also sits on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, to tell us now where he stands on this (massive) carbon tax issue. I know he's not up for reelection but a little communication with the people of Southwest Virginia would be appropriate. Our future, after all, is in his and this Dingell character's hands.