Thursday, July 13, 2006

The Stuff Dreams Are Made Of

I was so close to finding it too ...
Lost Shelley poem found after 200 years
By Dalya Alberge, Times On Line

The attack on the horrors of war will give scholars a valuable insight into poet’s early development

A PAMPHLET containing a long poem by Shelley that had languished unread for almost two centuries has been discovered.

The extraordinary find has excited scholars, who knew that it had been searched for in vain since 1811.

Percy Bysshe Shelley was a young undergraduate at Oxford when he produced his Poetical Essay. Along with a preface on politics and religion, it featured a 172-line poem that ranges from the devastations of war to the oppressions of colonial India. It was his direct response to the arrest and imprisonment of a radical Irish journalist who had dared to report the horrors of war in the national press. (

Discovered after 200 years. Remarkable.

Pulaski's Not Giving Up

Nobody in Southwest Virginia is trying harder to mitigate the impact of economic decline as much as is the town of Pulaski. Some of the efforts of its economic development director and the town council are wastes of taxpayer dollars and are doomed to failure - like redeveloping the old train station downtown into a terminus for the New River Trail and sinking money into its Fine Arts Center (and nothing they do could be as dismal a failure as the nearby Commerce Park). The bottom line is they're trying. And some of their plans are actually going to help.

The latest example:

Pulaski looks to offer wireless Internet service downtown
By Paul Dellinger, The Roanoke Times

PULASKI -- Pulaski may be offering high-speed wireless Internet connections to some of its downtown businesses and residents soon.

It would serve the area where the town is pushing building improvements through a $1 million Community Development Block Grant. (

To my thinking, this project will only help downtown revitalization marginally. But the upside outweighs the cost. And any time that happens, the effort is a bargain.

More On Liquid Coal Fuel

This could be big:
Coal-to-liquid technology could fuel enormous economic boom for region
By Samantha Perry, Bluefield Daily Telegraph

... there’s a new frontier on the horizon.

With the price of crude oil skyrocketing, the process of converting coal into fuel is in the spotlight. Several states, including West Virginia and Virginia, are eyeing the possibility of developing coal-to-liquid plants.The technology for this process has been around since the early 1900s. Named for the German scientists who invented it in 1925 — Franz Fischer and Hans Tropsch — the process was used to fuel Nazi tanks and airplanes during World War II.

... in America, where imported oil fueled the nation, turning coal into gasoline did not make economic sense.

But that’s no longer the case. (

To think: We have a landscape of mountains just gushing with high octane fuel. The opportunities are immense.

They've Lost Their Minds

The United States Senate is at it again. We should all be very afraid:
Senate bill seeks more pay for aliens
By Charles Hurt, The Washington Times

The Senate immigration bill would require that foreign construction laborers here under the guest-worker program be paid well above the minimum wage, even as American workers at the same work site could earn less. (
I see McCain in this. And Kennedy. Two socialists of a stripe. What on earth are they thinking?

Quote of the Day

George Will on the death of Louise Will:
It is said that God gave us memory so we could have roses in winter. Dementia is an ever-deepening advance of wintery whiteness, a protracted paring away of personality. It inflicts on victims the terror of attenuated personhood, challenging philosophic and theological attempts to make death a clean, intelligible and bearable demarcation.

Is death the soul taking flight after the body has failed? That sequence - the physical extinguished, the spiritual not - serves our notion of human dignity. However, mental disintegration mocks that comforting schemata by taking the spirit first. (

Words well writ ...

Another Racehorse Breaks Down

Are Paula and I the only two people on the planet that wonder why they allow three-year old thoroughbreds on the track?

Barbaro's Condition Worsens Again
By Dan Gelston, AP Sports Writer

KENNETT SQUARE, Pa. (AP) -- Weeks of good news about Barbaro have suddenly taken an alarming tone.

Words like "potentially serious" have turned up more than once in the past few days to describe his condition.

On Wednesday, "tough odds" was how the vet treating the Kentucky Derby winner described the 3-year-old's chances for recovery from the catastrophic injuries suffered in the Preakness.

Barbaro, who shattered three bones in his right hind leg May 20, has undergone three surgical procedures in the past week. (link)

News like this from the racing world is not a rare occurrence. Thoroughbreds are started out when they are two and will be on the circuit by three. And too often they are broken down and put out to pasture (if they're lucky) by four. Their young bones are just not yet strong enough to handle the stress generated in racing a mile or more at full tilt.

This won't change of course. So expect to read lots of stories like this in years to come.

The Dems Roll Out a Plan ... Finally

The Democratic party has drawn a line in the sand. After having been accused these last few years of standing for nothing but standing against a lot of things - the war, border security, social security reform, etc., a platform position finally emerges:
Democrats Link Fortunes to Rise in Minimum Wage
By Edmund L. Andrews, The New York Times

WASHINGTON, July 12 — Democrats, seeking to energize voters over economic issues in much the way that Republicans have rallied conservatives with efforts to ban same-sex marriage, have begun a broad campaign to raise the minimum wage and focus attention on income inequality. (
Why the party couldn't have come up with an issue that is less relevant to today's America and more meaningless is not known.

But what is known is that the minimum wage affects a miniscule segment of the workforce. Beyond that, it involves - overwhelmingly - teenagers from middle class to affluent households, part-time employment, and it more often than not is being paid to a person with another primary earner or earners in the household. The minimum wage debate is, being charitable, of no consequence anymore.

My experience tells me, though, that we are all better off with the Democrats focusing on such hokum. Better that than tax policy or war strategy.

Close 'Er Down. Fill 'Er In.

I think we've found a place to locate a national landfill. Under the city of Boston:

Wide Flaws Found in Boston Tunnel After Death
By Pam Belluck, The New York Times

BOSTON, July 12 — Massachusetts officials on Wednesday ordered every road and tunnel in the city highway system examined after inspectors found at least 60 more trouble spots in the Big Dig tunnel where a woman was crushed to death on Monday by three-ton ceiling tiles.

Michael Lewis, the project director for the Big Dig, said bolts appeared to be loose, that gaps existed or that other parts of the ceiling system seemed “compromised” in at least 60 places in the tunnel.

In addition, the Massachusetts attorney general said that problems with ceiling anchor bolts in the tunnel had been identified in 1999, when the ceiling was built, and that his office was investigating to see whether a plan to correct those problems was carried out.

Wednesday’s disclosures further unraveled confidence in the safety and management of the Big Dig, the country’s largest highway project, which took 15 years and $14.6 billion to complete. The recently finished project, which buried Boston’s central highway, has been plagued by reports of leaks and flaws in slurry walls, cost overruns and other problems. (
15 years. $14.6 billion.

Actually, I shouldn't make light of this. I average one or two trips through the I-77 Big Walker Mountain Tunnel here in Southwest Virginia each day and it's under extensive repair as I write this (after a whole mess of wall tiles have come off over the last several years).

But if the government has an obligation to protect its citizens, it has a greater obligation not to harm them. And in the case of The Big Dig, people are being harmed. Fill it in. Before more people die.