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

Monday, July 09, 2007

I Wonder If He'd Say The Same About Newspapers

A Times-Dispatch columnist thinks we should ban beauty pageants. Why? There are, it seems, bad people involved with them. From Michael Paul Williams:
It's Time To Pull The Plug On Pageants
By Michael Paul Williams

Underage drinking. Pregnancy. Photos. More photos, particularly compromising photos with other woman. In a digital age of MySpace and YouTube, the high-profile pageant is a prescription for disaster that has all but spawned a "gotcha" counterindustry.

But beyond the tastelessness of it all is the simple truth that the contests have moved from quaint and sexist to dangerous anachronisms that promote unrealistic and unhealthy attitudes among both genders.

This is not about political correctness, but about the tiresome regularity in which a celebration of "beauty" becomes a pageant of ugliness. It's time to pull the plug. (link)
Williams goes on to name names. Four to be exact.

But how many instances can we quickly come up with of scoundrels besmirching the reputations of those in the journalism business? Would Williams be as quick to call for a ban of all newspapers? Somehow I don't think so.

Anyway, Michael Paul, look up these infamous names in your scandal sheets: Stephen Glass, Jayson Blair, Walter Duranty, Mike Barnacle, Janet Cooke, Bob Greene, Eason Jordan, Barbara Stewart, Adnan Hajj, and - last but not least - Katie Couric's Notebook.

People in glass houses, pal, ...

Their Voices Should Be Heard

One has to feel sorry for the folks up in Bluefield (WV) and Mercer County. If they want to take a tour one weekend of their state capital or, perchance, they decide to seek employment in Charleston, they have to pay dearly in highway tolls to get there (we'll discuss the exorbitant gasoline taxes that are levied another day). With three toll booths confronting them, drivers from Mercer face a higher turnpike tax than anyone else in the state.

And their opinions on the subject have been ignored since the beginning of time.

Until now, that is:
West Virginia Turnpike — Mercer County long overdue a voice
Bluefield Daily Telegraph editorial

When the state Parkways, Economic Development and Tourism Authority convenes Tuesday in Bluefield, it will be in part at the urging of Gov. Joe Manchin.

“Mercer County is attached to the West Virginia Turnpike, and what happens with the turnpike affects Mercer County and it’s people,” Lara Ramsburg, a spokeswoman for Manchin, told the Daily Telegraph last week. “They are certainly due a voice, just like every other county affected by the turnpike."

We applaud the governor’s renewed focus on giving southern West Virginia — and Mercer County in particular — a long overdue voice when it comes to the future of the turnpike and the Parkways Authority, an agency that has reaped the ire of concerned citizens and business leaders in southern West Virginia, who would have unfairly shouldered the burden of a controversial toll hike increase proposed by the authority last year.
I think I might hold the applause until the state actually does something constructive to lessen the burden for southern West Virginians. But this is certainly a step in the right direction.

All affected should be pleased.

Wishful Thinking

The Washington Post is in damage control mode this morning:

Edging Away From Inner Circle, Pelosi Asserts Authority

Right. And ... "If frogs had wings, and snakes had hair ..."

A Day Gone By

This seems so foreign to our modern way of life:

31,536,000 minutes & still ticking
He learned trade at 14; now 74, he just can't stop
By Lauren Pauer, Richmond Times-Dispatch Staff Writer

Watchmaker Ewell Hartman retired 10 years ago.

But the 74-year-old still comes in three days a week at Schwarzschild Jewelers, where he has worked for 40 years. He still replaces batteries as small as the end of a Tylenol capsule. He still takes apart and reassembles watches worth ...

I had an uncle whose profession it was to repair watches, in a small town in central Wisconsin. A long time ago.

More recently, I wore for several years a digital wristwatch that I bought at a big-box retailer one night (it was an emergency) for $4.96. (yes, it looked like a $5 watch)

I made a point on many occasions in my business travel of pointing up the fact that the Chinese - this was in the 80's - could assemble all the necessary raw materials and parts for my watch, build it, package it, ship it half way around the world, allow Wal-Mart to get its cut, and still put it on the shelf for $4.96. It was a modern marvel.

And a portent of things to come.

Anyway, stories told like those of watchmaker Ewell Hartman - and my uncle - will become more and more of a rarity as watches become ever more disposable ... and the Chinese take over more and more of the world's production capacity.

A good thing. A bad thing.

I Thought Al Qaeda Was The Enemy

Congress Returns, Ready to Battle Bush

It Makes For A Bad Day

I've never hit an SUV but I ran into the side of a brick house once. And I am here to profess: When you're on a motorcycle, at any speed, you are not going to bounce off. Bad things happen.

Another example:
Motorcyclist dies as bike hits SUV
Richmond Times-Dispatch

A King George County man was killed Saturday afternoon in Stafford County when the motorcycle he was driving crashed into a sport utility vehicle.

State police said 24-year old Richard L. Zirkle was traveling on state Route 218, just east of state Route 710, when his motorcycle crashed into a vehicle that was turning into a driveway off Route 218. (link)
I lost two good high school friends in the exact same circumstances - an automobile driver didn't see the oncoming motorcycle and turned in front of it. Both guys on the bike were killed instantly.

The lesson? Well, you know the lesson. Bones break so easily ...

A Prediction

You'll see a blip in the unemployment rate for the month of August and for the third quarter of 2007. Why? Because.

Another Day, Another Democrat Conspiracy Theory

This gets to be amusing after a while:

Democrats call Libby 'silenced'
By Eric Pfeiffer, The Washington Times

Three key Democrats on congressional judiciary committees say they suspect that President Bush's decision to erase the prison sentence of I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby was a bid to pre-empt the former White House aide from incriminating others in the Bush administration.

“This was, actually in my view, a blatant way of guaranteeing that Scooter Libby would not talk about the things that were done, you know, some of the misleading information given out by Vice President Cheney and the president,” Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick J. Leahy, Vermont Democrat, said yesterday during an appearance on CNN's “Late Edition.” “They led us into this war in Iraq, and they bought his silence.” (link)

Leahy's evidence? Come on! He don't need no stinking evidence. “They led us into this war in Iraq, and they bought his silence.” And that's that.

Shoot, evidence would only get in the way of this knucklehead's little conspiracy theory.

Don't Do It, Fool

The only reasons anyone should ever invest in a particular stock are: (1) A return on investment based upon an anticipated dividend payout or (2) A return on investment based upon an anticipated increase in the value per share of the stock.

Don't listen to anyone who tells you otherwise, whether it be all those "green" analysts and brokers out there, or guys pushing ideas like this:

Morally sound stocks sought
By Julia Duin, The Washington Times

The love of money doesn't have to be the root of all evil, according to several organizations active in "values investing."

The search for stocks and mutual funds known for religious virtue as well as financial vitality has shot up in recent years with a proliferation of evangelical Protestant, Catholic and Muslim investment companies.

The Matthews, N.C.-based Stewardship Partners, for instance, specializes in "biblically responsible" stocks in companies that eschew abortion, alcohol, gambling, tobacco, pornography, cloning, stem-cell research and homosexual rights. (link)

Companies that eschew abortion, alcohol, gambling, tobacco, pornography, cloning, stem-cell research and homosexual rights? How about eschewing declines in sales and/or profits?

Is there even one Fortune 500 company that would qualify?

This sounds very gimmicky. And will probably therefore find some level of success.

But you've heard the saying: Caveat Ä“mptor. It applies.

Tying Them In Knots

Justice Clarence Thomas has always confounded the civil rights community. One of the most successful African-Americans in history, he is vilified at every turn for, in essence, not being black. And the names he's called ...

They'd never admit it but those who despise Justice Thomas do so because he supports the notion of individual rights, as opposed to group rights, as his predecessor on the court, Thurgood Marshall, was famous for promoting. Affirmative action being the most volatile issue in this context.

It all gets a bit strange when Clarence Thomas makes the argument that black kids don't need to be sitting next to a bunch of white kids in a classroom in order to excel and those who hate his very being take the opposing argument that, well, black children do in fact need to be in a white environment in order to get ahead. As bizarre as that sounds.

But welcome to America, 2007:

Justice Secures His Place as a Critic of Integration
By Neil A. Lewis, The New York Times

Washington, July 8 — When Justice Clarence Thomas provided a pivotal vote last month as the Supreme Court struck down school integration plans in Louisville, Ky., and Seattle, he suggested the concept of integration was inherently demeaning to black children because it implied they needed to mix with whites to achieve excellence.

His comments, including his description of people who promote integration as faddish theorists, demonstrated anew his place as the most influential black voice criticizing the value of integration and affirmative action plans.

Justice Thomas joined in a 5-to-4 majority on June 28 ruling that integration plans put in place by officials in Seattle and Louisville violated the Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection. In writing a separate concurrence, he dismissed the notion of the court’s minority that “racially balanced schools improve educational outcomes for black children.” He said that, “In reality, it is far from apparent that coerced racial mixing has
any educational benefits, much less that integration is necessary to black achievement.”

Integration is not necessary for blacks to succeed. Heresy, right?

Here's where the civil rights community has to twist itself in knots. Because Thomas is who he is, the civil rights leadership has to take the opposing side: "Oh yes it is, Clarence. We can't do it without white folks being there by our side."

Christopher Edley Jr., the dean of the law school at the University of California, Berkeley, said no one had seriously argued that just putting black children alongside white children made them learn better.

“The central claim for integration today is aspirational,” Mr. Edley said. “How do we build a society that is free of the poisons of color?”

Mr. Edley, who served in the Clinton and Carter administrations and on the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, argued that “public education is the single best opportunity to promote understanding across our most dangerous divisions.”

The translation: We can only free ourselves of "the poison of color" by chaining ourselves to societal structures based on color." From the dean of a prestigious law school.

Clarence Thomas must be shaking his head.

Gotta Love Them Democrats

News out of Pennsylvania caught my eye this morning:

Pennsylvania Governor Orders Partial State Shutdown
By The Associated Press

Harrisburg, Pa. (AP) -- Gov. Ed Rendell late Sunday ordered a range of state government services shut down and placed about a third of the state work force on indefinite unpaid furlough after frantic last-minute negotiations failed to break a budget stalemate.

A partisan battle of wills between the Democratic governor and the Republicans who control the Senate has created a deadlock lasting eight days into the new fiscal year. With Rendell's order, 24,000 state workers not deemed critical to health and safety were furloughed without pay Monday.

Pennsylvanians will no longer be able to take driver's license tests and state-run museums will be shuttered. Highway maintenance and a range of permitting and licensing functions will be stopped or severely curtailed, and the lights illuminating the Capitol's dome were to be turned off. (link)

Wow. This is serious stuff. Pennsylvania is virtually shut down this morning. But why?

You ain't gonna believe it:
Republicans said they doubted that the furloughs were a legal necessity and repeated complaints that Rendell has included other priorities in the budget talks. Key sticking points include raising the state's debt ceiling and an energy plan that Rendell has insisted the Legislature approve before he signs the budget, they said.

The centerpiece of Rendell's energy plan would place a surcharge on electricity use for a fund for alternative energy programs and electricity conservation. Republican legislators and some Democrats oppose the surcharge and accused the governor of holding state employees hostage to force them to approve it.
The governor of Pennsylvania has temporarily laid off tens of thousands of state workers in an attempt to get a silly alternative energy bill through the legislature.

Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati, a Republican, captures the sentiment most concerned citizens must feel when they read this:

''I can't believe that a man who would call himself governor would do this to state employees.''