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

Monday, February 25, 2008

Ah, The Entrepreneurial Spirit

Well, why not?

After it was disclosed last week that an Antigua-based Internet casino paid $10,600 for that Virgin Mary/with Child pretzel on eBay (seen above), a number of similar offerings have appeared on the planet's most popular e-auction site. Go figure.

Key in the words Virgin Mary Pretzel in eBay's search engine and the following come up:

· The Joseph's Staff Pretzel (it's straight).

· An unopened bag of Rold Gold pretzels that might contain another Virgin Mary pretzel.

· A Virgin Mary Lucky Pretzel (pieces miraculously spilled from the bag and spelled out the words VIRGIN MARY.

· A Baby Jesus Olive, A GREAT Virgin Mary Pretzel Accessory

· The "original" Joseph & Virgin Mary 12" pretzel.

· A Virgin Mary Pretzel Christian icon found in chex mix

· The Father Son & Holy Spirit Tortilla

· THE VIRGIN MARY SHOELACE

· A Virgin Mary Animal Cracker

· the Virgin Mary or Baby Jesus Corn Chip

And last but not least:

· The VIRGIN MARY ROCK ("not a replica")

Great stuff.

Photo courtesy of the AP.

Look At The Results, Not The Methodology

Some one translate this for me. I only have a Masters Degree.

From today's Charleston (WV) Gazette ("Pistols Bring More Crime"):
"Gun Availability and Crime in West Virginia" is the title of a report in the Justice Research and Policy professional journal. It was written by Dr. Stephen Haas and others at the Criminal Justice Statistical Analysis Center, a unit of the West Virginia Division of Criminal Justice Services.

The survey - designed to support America's "Project Safe Neighborhoods" to reduce gun violence - compares county-by-county figures in three categories: the per-capita rate of violent crimes, the per-capita rate of "legal guns" as indicated by concealed pistol permits, and the per-capita rate of "illegal guns" as indicated by thefts reported to police.

The authors acknowledge that these categories are fuzzy, because some gun thefts aren't reported to police and some unlicensed "street guns" are traded informally among drug dealers and others. "More comprehensive measures of true illegal gun activity are likely to be substantially higher," the report says.

Counties with a high rate of legal guns have more violence, the study found - but the danger soars further in counties with many illegal guns.

"The results indicate that counties with high concentrations of both legal and illegal guns are associated with violent crime, gun crime and knife crime," the report concludes. "... Our analysis supports the notion that both legal and illegal guns contribute in specific ways to crime problems in West Virginia."
"Fuzzy" categories? Knife crime? "Counties with a high rate of legal guns have more violence ... but the danger soars further in counties with many illegal guns"? Further than "more"?

This isn't a study. It's an editorial position fluffed up with meaningless, dubious jargon. Idle commentary. Paid for by the taxpayers of West Virginia, no less.

Come back to us, fellas, when you have a legitimate study for us.

Maybe There's a Reason For This

I read Roanoke Times columnist Christian Trejbal's argument (see "Paying our own way," February 24) regarding local government and funding sources and came away feeling like I needed to take a shower. The general premise seems strong enough, but something just doesn't seem right.

He posits:
Lazy pundits often claim that Democrats like to spend, spend, spend. When the party controls Congress or the General Assembly, cash flows easily by way of subsidies and bleeding-heart programs.

Republicans, the story continues, are responsible with public dollars. They don't waste money. Good conservatives stand on their own abilities and take care of themselves without government handouts.

Were those portrayals accurate, one would find that conservative localities strike boldly independent financial courses. The communities that vote Republican pay their own way while liberal locales suckle at the state and federal teat whenever they can.

What one actually finds is just the opposite. Localities that voted Republican in recent elections rely more heavily on state and federal welfare to provide local services.

Liberal bastions of Northern Virginia pay up to 80 percent of their own way.

Conservatives talk big about self-reliance, but progressive communities live it.
Uh, let me pick a bone. "Liberal bastions of Northern Virginia pay up to 80 percent of their own way"? With what exactly are they paying it? How about tax dollars?

Everyone knows that government (particularly the federal government) is far and away the largest employer in northern Virginia. Factor in those tax dollars that go to (highly paid) government employees by the tens of thousands and the numbers balance out again. In addition, add in all the income that goes to those who work for private entities in the area (of Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun, Prince William Counties; cities of Alexandria, Falls Church, Fairfax, Manassas) that feed off of government largesse and the comparison goes completely haywire. So I'd probably leave northern Virginia out of the discussion. It is, by anyone's measure, more dependent on government than we are.

But the general point is well taken. Republicans' actions - when it comes to spending - often don't match their rhetoric.

Don't confuse, though, Christian, Republicans with conservatives. While Republicans (locally and in Richmond) are sometimes as recklessly wasteful as their Democrat brethren, conservatives don't like it one bit. And we often say so. Just ask this guy.

And while I'm at it, I might make another related point. Regarding this:
Localities that voted Republican in recent elections rely more heavily on state and federal welfare to provide local services.

Consider Craig County. It raises only 36 percent of its money locally. Yet it voted heavily for far-right conservatives such as Jerry Kilgore and Bob McDonnell in 2005 and George Allen in 2006. Each was a close election statewide but a landslide for the Republican in Craig County.

The same goes for the other conservative communities in the New River Valley and, indeed, around Virginia.
I'll not dispute the numbers. But I might ask that readers take into account a bit of area history. Southwest Virginia, including Craig County, was Democrat-controlled for more than a hundred years. Much of it still is. It has only been in recent years that Republicans have gained a foothold in local elected offices. Why?

Because of the statistics that Christian Trejbal cites.

We are dependent on government handouts because we lack private enterprise. Enrepreneurs. Wealth. And we are experiencing a heart-wrenching decline in manufacturing jobs to boot. We know it.

It is who we are, to be sure. We are ever-more reliant on government here for our livelihood(s). But we don't like it. We don't want it to be that way. So we, in ever growing numbers, are driving the bums out and are voting Republican.

But understand this: If the GOP'ers don't produce, we'll kick their asses out too and look to someone else. One way or another, we are going to turn things around here in Southwest Virginia. And stop the dependence on government once and for all.

Unfortunately things are going to get worse before they get better. But sooner or later we are going to elect leadership here that understands how to grow the economy. Not with bike paths or hiking trails. Not with earmarks for music centers and museums. Not with layers upon layers of government relief. But with quality jobs offered up by private employers. By the hundreds. Because they find it more advantageous to relocate here rather than to the jungles of Guatemala.

So. Don't look at things as they are and criticize those who are trying to make it better. One by one, those who created this mess are being driven out of office. Stick around.

The TD Joins The Chorus

From the Richmond Times-Dispatch this morning:

We support legislation to allow Sunday sales in ABC stores in Richmond and other jurisdictions of similar size. We also agree with State Sen. John Watkins -- an opponent of the move -- that the commonwealth ought to get out of the retail liquor business. Private stores sell wine and beer. Private stores ought to sell rye, bourbon, vodka, gin, and other spirits.
"In Brief," February 25, 2008

The Insiders Chose What?

What were the top movies* of 2007? According to Box Office Mojo, they were:

According to Hollywood's best and brightest, what were the top movies of 2007?

"2008 Best Picture Oscar Winner" - "No Country For Old Men"

"2008 Best Director Oscar Winner"Joel & Ethan Coen - "No Country For Old Men"

"2008 Best Actor Oscar Winner"Daniel Day Lewis - "There Will Be Blood"

"2008 Best Actress Oscar Winner"Marion Cotillard - "La Vie En Rose"

"2008 Best Supporting Actor Oscar Winner" Javier Bardem - "No Country For Old Men"

"2008 Best Supporting Actress Oscar Winner" Tilda Swinton - "Michael Clayton"

"2008 Best Original Screenplay Oscar Winner"Diablo Cody - "Juno"

"2008 Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar Winner" "No Country For Old Men"

So the following is a surprise why?

Dull Show Hails Flicks No One Sees
By Adam Buckman, The New York Post

At three hours and 18 minutes, last night's Oscar telecast was far from the longest ever produced - it only seemed that way.

You can probably blame the nominated films, most of which no one bothered to see. As a result, it was difficult to really care about who won.

For example, raise your hand if you went to see that movie about Edith Piaf, "La Vie en Rose," the film for which Marion Cotillard won a Best Actress Oscar last night.

Edith who? Marion who? I figured as much. In fact, about five minutes after she won the award last night, I forgot she'd won it. (link)


Forgot. Past tense of the word forget. As in: Forget these people. You can take La Vie en Rose and stick it. I'm renting I Am Legend.

* In gross box office receipts.

Visions Of Things To Come

I read articles like this and conjure a vision of Hillary - ten years from now - being a bag lady wandering the streets of Hoboken:

No One Dares To Tell Her It's Over

Even Bill is frightened to death of the woman.

Blame The Israelis If You Wish ...

... but the real problem for the Palestinians lies elsewhere.

Within.

Here's Yael Kaynan's "Gaza's Culture of Self-Destruction":
Do the parents in Gaza not worry about the shape their future society will take when today’s children are being taught that the lives of other children have no value and, indeed, that those other children should be killed, as is frequently told to the children of Gaza through their children’s television programming? Do they not worry about the kind of adults they are producing when, as children, their society and the parents themselves have told them that their own lives have no value? What future accomplishments will their society attain when their children have been taught that the greatest thing they can do with their lives is to kill themselves in the process of killing others –that there is no greater accomplishment that they can achieve than to blow themselves up among groups of old women and children? What will be the face of a society in which the children have been raised to admire violence and to consider the use of a deadly weapon as a first resort in a conflict?
A fact that speaks volumes about this situation: The Israelis have built a wall to keep the suicidal maniacs - the children of Gaza - from entering the freedom-loving world and wreaking havoc, not to keep them inside Gaza. Even the Egyptians want them kept apart. Such a sad circumstance.

Ralph Nader Decides To Ru..zzzzzz

Sorry. I dozed off.