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

Monday, March 03, 2008

Somewhere Over The Rainbow

How many times have we here in Southwest Virginia been told this?

Southwest Virginia could have a Big Future in Tourism

I have to tell you, I'd trade that ever looming ... "Big Future" for "a little present."

Anyway, hot news - we have more big future. From the Bristol Herald-Courier:
Tourism can mean big business for Southwest Virginia localities, especially if the area governments and organizations work together to build destinations to lure visitors to the region, said Jonathan Belcher, executive director of the Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority.

The authority, created by the Virginia General Assembly two decades ago to diversify the economy from one based primarily on coal, recognized the economic benefits of tourism several years ago and has used some of its money and influence to promote the industry.

“We’ve done quite a few tourism projects,” Belcher said.

... the Carter Family Memorial Music Center ...
...... Ralph Stanley Museum ...
............ the Breaks Interstate Park ...
... the tourism train in Buchanan County ...
...... Virginia’s Coal Heritage Trail ...
.........The Historic Crab Orchard Museum and Pioneer Park ...
Here's the latest. (Drum roll).This is sure to bring a tourist to the area:
Breaks Interstate Park was one of the first tourism destinations in the region to receive VCEDA money. The latest grant, nearly $700,000, will allow the park to build log cabins for lodging near Laurel Lake, said Carl Mullins, the park superintendent.

“It’s going to be hand-hewn log cabins,” Mullins said. “We hope to have five in place this summer.”

The cabins will have fireplaces, hot tubs and gas grills and will allow the park to generate some revenue during the winter months, Mullins said. “We lucked out,” he said of the VCEDA grant.

The Dickenson County Industrial Development Authority also kicked in $700,000 for the project as well, Mullins said.
And what would all this be without that familiar empty promise:
Belcher, the VCEDA director, said seed money the coal authority has spread out for tourism development likely will show results in coming years.

“We can build upon it and grow,” he said. “In the next five to 15 years, tourism can become a more important part of our economy.”

Belcher said the region could become a major tourism destination if the region works together and ties together the many venues for visitors as ...
... We can ...
........We could ...

............We haven't ...

ODBA Member Makes Waves

I was notified just the other day that one of our cherished Old Dominion Blog Alliance members has - upon threat of lawsuit - been forced to shut down.

Snapped Shot, authored by Brian Ledbetter, received a letter from an attorney with the Associated Press, essentially telling him to cease and desist. A copy of the letter, and Brian's response to it, can be found here.

Brian, like the rest of America, wonders where copyright infringement starts and stops in this the age of the internet. The issue is being sorted out but, in the meantime, blogs like Brian's are coerced to disappear.

I bring this up now because the news of Snapped Shot's demise is getting some serious airing in the weblog world. This from Jules Crittenden, city editor and columnist with the Boston Herald:

Legal Jihad

America’s largest news agency has sent the lawyers after a blogger, who happens to be a long-time critic, on fair use.

Plucky little Snapped Shot must have really touched a nerve. This could make an interesting case, if Brian gets some good representation and takes it into discovery. Only seems fair to be able to establish how deep the bias and incompetence is. The strategy would appear to be deep-pocket intimidation, to make annoying, miniscule, insignificant nuisances just go away. But even if that works, it could get awkward if and when the nation’s prominent newspapers start writing the David and Goliath/Bigfoot stories, and rehashing all the bias and incompetence claims. Interesting also to see where the various press freedom/free speech advocacy groups fall. Could be a challenge to those with bias problems.

The mockery starts here. And here. (link)
Glenn Reynolds over at the widely read Instapundit links to the story as well. See "ASSOCIATED PRESS SENDS THE LAWYERS after a blogger who's criticized them for photo-fakery."

"Deep pocket intimidation."

Snapped Shot has - at least for now - ceased to exist. Too bad.

- - -

Update: Bill Quick is on it too:

"More Evil Crap From the Associated Press In which the bigfoot bastards at AP attempt to SLAPP-suit a blogger into silence for the unforgivable legal sin of exposing their corruption and incompetence.

Let’s hope this guy gets some pro bono legal assistance, and quickly!"

- - -

Update II: It appears that Snapped Shot is back up and running, after having gotten content approval from the Associated Press. Ugh.

The Logic Escapes Me

Politicians over in southern West Virginia are rapturous over the fact that taxes are extremely high there but area counties might get a tiny portion of them back in the form of a rebate.

I'm not making this up:

Severance tax rebate — 5 percent hike vital to coal counties
Bluefield Daily Telegraph

An effort to give severance tax rebates to counties and municipalities could provide funding for vital infrastructure and community projects across southern West Virginia.

Senate Bill 735 would dedicate 5 percent of every $1 million generated in natural resources taxes to the county, city or town where it was generated.

Spearheaded by Senate Majority Leader H. Truman Chafin, D-Mingo, who also represents a portion of Mercer and McDowell counties, the legislation passed the Senate Wednesday and now moves to the House of Delegates for approval.

“This should have been done many, many years ago,” Chafin told senators before the bill passed Wednesday night, adding that lawmakers often have to “beg and beg” the executive branch for such small sums as $2,500 to build or repair a small park in their districts, only to see it go through more red tape when it reaches the Legislature.

The 5 percent rebate could generate around $750,000 alone for McDowell County, which pays about $15 million in annual severance taxes. (link)

I suppose making a recommendation that West Virginia politicians ask to have the severance taxes (natural resources use taxes) reduced by 5% and have the savings ($15 million) devoted to "small parks" is out of the question.

From our pockets to their coffers; a miniscule portion of which is returned; and we're grateful.

For the love of God.

I Take Back What I Said Yesterday ...

... about Norfolk Virginian-Pilot reporter Joanne Kimberlin. Not being willing to leave well enough alone, she goes and proves this morning that she doesn't have the first clue as to what she's talking about.

Whereas yesterday I praised her (with a caviat) for a well-balanced look at the gun control debate here in Virginia, she begins a column this morning (see "Gun sale rules can be easy to avoid" courtesy of the Roanoke Times) with this eye-opening bit of ignorance:
An AK-47 with five 30-round clips ($375).

A Bushmaster, like the one the Beltway snipers used [ed: nothing pejorative that], complete with bipod ($1,300).

A Barrett .50-caliber rifle with scope, accurate at one mile ($3,200).

What do these guns have in common? They've been banned in a number of states and cities. And they were recently for sale in Hampton Roads, offered up to anyone -- no questions asked.
No questions asked? Only if the buyer and seller have no interest in this bit of related information:
Violations of the National Firearms Act are punishable by up to 10 years in federal prison and forfeiture of all devices or firearms in violation, and the individual's right to own or possess firearms in the future. The Act provides for a penalty of $10,000 for certain violations. (my emphasis)
The NFA makes certain conduct a criminal offense, including receiving or possessing a firearm made in violation of the NFA. There is also the Firearm Owners' Protection Act (1986) to consider.

Possession or transfer (yes, even at a gun show) of that AK-47, a fully automatic weapon, just might violate the NFA, sweetheart, and might subject both principles in the transaction to hard time in the slammer.

"Offered up to anyone -- no questions asked"? Only if you want to become close personal friends with Mr. Incarceration.

For those wondering what question should be asked (don't ask a reporter - she'll have no clue) - start with this:

"Is it legal to own or buy a fully automatic firearm? "

The correct answer is: Probably not.

Go from there.

And quit reading newspapers. You'll only be confused.

You Mean Obama's Just Blowing Smoke?

Jacob Sullum:
Under the Second Amendment, Sen. Barack Obama says, "There is an individual right to bear arms, but it is subject to common-sense regulation, just like most of our rights are subject to common-sense regulation."

The leading candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination thus seems to be on the same wavelength as the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, which in a decision last March said that "the protections of the Second Amendment are subject to the same sort of reasonable restrictions that have been recognized as limiting, for instance, the First Amendment."

But there is a crucial difference between these superficially similar formulations: The appeals court meant what it said, and Mr. Obama doesn't.
"Isn't Self-Defense Common Sense?," The Washington Times, March 3, 2008

The Age In Which We Live

This is so typical. A young man carries a book around for twelve years as he grows up, never thinks to open the thing and teach himself to read, so ... he sues the school system for leaving him ignorant:

Education case makes it to W.Va. Supreme Court
Sissonville graduate reads on third-grade level, lawyer says
By Davin White, Charleston (WV) Gazette Staff writer

The state Supreme Court of Appeals has agreed to hear the case of a former Sissonville High School student who says he should not have graduated and Kanawha County schools did not prepare him for life.

Although he finished school in 2004, Thomas P. Sturm reads on a third-grade level, according to his attorney, Mike Clifford.

Clifford and attorney Barbara Harmon-Schamberger argue that the Kanawha County school board failed to abide by state and federal laws meant to monitor and protect the rights of students with disabilities. The school system also inflicted severe emotional distress on Sturm as they held him up to ridicule and denied him the right to an education, they argue. (link)

There is a case to be made that the school system failed by graduating this illiterate person. But then again, it is public school, the only requirement of which, these days, is to graduate every warm body that passes through its portals.

That aside, for him to blame the system (and his ADHD) for his inability to open a book and teach himself to read is ... well, typical of the age in which we live.

Fail to make your way in society? It's all society's fault. Sue the pants off somebody.

For the love of God.

Seems Like a Good Rule To Follow

The New York Health Department:

"The children pictured in this ad are real patients, suffering from conditions that have been clearly associated with exposure to secondhand smoke." (link)

Jan Wicks, a University of Arkansas expert in advertising ethics:

"I would have tried to find children who actually did have illnesses due to secondhand smoke."

Don't bring ethics into this argument, lady. We're talking about cigarettes. Truth and ethics should have nothing to do with it.

Let's Clear This Up, Once & For All

I am not a Muslim.

And I don't know where anyone got the idea that I was.

Barack Hussein Obama

Photo courtesy of the New York Daily News

Huh. Who Knew?

Gloria Steinem is still alive.


Stumping for Clinton, Steinem Says McCain's P.O.W. Cred Is Overrated

Having America's most notorious feminist from a bygone era "stumping" for you is probably not a good move on Hillary's part.

And trashing a hero's reputation ain't too slick either.

But we consider the source. And move on.