Friday, July 28, 2006

MZM Athena Closing

I haven't written much about MZM (Athena) here in Martinsville. Not that it has not been a good story, it's just that I have really not had anything much original to bring to the table on this subject. Your best source for the back story on all of this is my friend Bill Wyatt at Martinsville Daily. Bill has had an average of an article a week on the subject for over a year now.

Wednesday evening I received a tip that the Martinsville Athena (nee MZM) employees had received their pink slips. My source said that a story would be printed in the following morning's edition of the Martinsville Bulletin.

I had verified the story by midnight, but could get no more information. Yesterday as I was writing this there arose a electro-mechanical crisis at the plant that required my full attention, therefore I am late with the "news" as usual. (Hey, I don't claim to be a reporter, or even a journalist, if you come here for news you will in most cases be disappointed.)

As for my thoughts on the matter, they run in several directions at once. Primary of these, of course I am not happy to see another employer in Henry County wither.

Much has been posted regarding the decision by the City of Martinsville to sign the performance agreement for $500,000 in state incentives. Charlottesville blogger Waldo Jaquith is currently claiming that the closure of Athena will now cost the City that $500,000. Waldo knows better.
(from 07/27/06)
Second, Martinsville itself will take a significant, direct financial hit. Rep. Goode personally brokered the deal that got MZM into town, putting Martinsville on the hook for the success or failure of MZM by making the city responsible for repaying $500,000 in state grants if the company failed to perform. The arrangement is highly-unusual--perhaps one-of-a-kind--making Goode's insistence on it bizarre, at best. It's nice that Goode gave to charity the $90k that he took in illegal campaign contributions from MZM employees. I wonder if he's prepared to give Martinsville the hundreds of thousands of dollars that they'll lose because of his bad judgement?
If Waldo had read his own link he would see that any forfeiture would be prorated, based upon the actual performance over time, greatly reducing any liability to the City. He would also see that this sentence "The arrangement is highly-unusual--perhaps one-of-a-kind--making Goode's insistence on it bizarre, at best." is disingenuous at best. His own links show that, while it was unusual, there have been precedents. Also, while the arrangement was suggested by Goode, there is no evidence it was insisted upon by him. In fact, his links show just the opposite, there was an exuberant willingness on the part of City officials to participate in this arrangement including a quote from City Manager (at the time) Earl Reynolds,
(from the Roanoke Times, 12/11/05)
The agreement called for any payback to be proportional to the company's performance. For example, if only half of the pledged capital investments were made, the city would be responsible for paying back 50 percent of the allocation.

Usually, it's the company that makes such a commitment.

"The city understands that this is outside the normal procedures," then-City Manager Earl Reynolds wrote in a letter to the state seeking the funds.
Over ten months ago, on September 9, 2005 the City's possible liability under such a "worst case" scenario was estimated at $133,000 by City Finance Director Wade Bartlett.
(from the Martinsville Bulletin, 09/09/05)
With about 18 months left to fulfill the agreement, Bartlett said "we'll just have to wait and see," as with any other company.

However, Bartlett said he believes the company has met the capital investment requirement because the building "alone is valued at $3.2 million. That does not include any equipment" which would likely push the amount of the capital investment to $4 million.

Currently, Bartlett said he is not certain of the number of jobs created, but thinks it was 35 to 50.

Using the low end of 35 to base his calculations, Bartlett said that was 46.6 percent or nearly half the number of jobs specified in the performance agreement. Based on that, the city would be asked to repay about $133,000 of the state funds if the performance agreement ended now.
Bartlett goes on to state that the City has to date received roughly $30,000 in property tax revenue from the business, add to that income taxes and other tax revenue from employees who have moved here and purchased homes, cars, and other goods and the $133,000 loss shrinks dramatically. That assumes the Governor's Opportunity Fund and the Virginia Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission actually demand forfeiture, a conclusion that would frankly be hard to imagine.

I am not sure what will become of the MZM/Athena Building, but if it reverts back to City ownership, the City will then have a $4 million plus asset that can still be used to attract other firms.

It's hard for me to picture Virgil Goode as the villain in all of this as he has been portrayed elsewhere. Waldo and Weed would have you believe Virgil is either hopelessly corrupt, or terminally naive. This is one of the very few issues I've ever seen in which the liberal Democratic viewpoint is so starkly black or white. Typically they insist on seeing shades of grey in every issue, but not this one. Virgil did all that he could to bring jobs to Henry County. Jobs beget jobs. Jobs paying twice the average annual salary beget even more jobs, some of which will also pay twice the average annual salary. The ball rolls, hopefully picking up momentum as it goes.

Unfortunately, it did not work that way this time. There is and has been too much bad publicity generated by Cunningham, Wade, and Berglund surrounding the Martinsville facility for the Department of Defense to continue with the relationship. Martinsville loses an employer, the DOD loses what by all accounts was a high quality supplier of services, and Virgil loses a certain amount of credibility, but only amongst those who truly want to see the worst in him.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

The Hatchet

This hatchet that's lying on my desk was given to me by my grandfather. Before that it was given to him by his. It's a sturdy, old hatchet that shows years of use, and I am pleased that he saw fit to pass it on to me.

When he gave it to me, he told me a bit about its history.

"This hatchet was made down in Tennessee by a blacksmith named Hobson, I think," he began. "Yep, made it for Ol' Hick'ry himself." I stood there in awe, listening as he retold the story that he had heard nearly seventy years before from a man who had lived it seventy years before that.

"Now, back in about 1840 or so, my grandpa was working in Tennessee, cuttin' timber down near Nashville. I think there's a big forest of cedar somewhere in that area, and that's where he was working. He was cuttin' it for Colonel Jackson, after he left the White House." Only in my early teens, I listened intently as the rest of the story was told. How many times had this story been told? No one knows. But he continued, "One Sunday, after all the timber had been cut, Colonel Jackson invited grandpa Abe up to the house for Sunday Dinner," he said. "After dinner, he took him and showed him around the place," the story continued, "in the workshop attached to the barn, grandpa picked up this hatchet and asked Colonel Jackson who had made it. 'That hatchet was made by Troy Hobson, the blacksmith over in Baird's Mill,' said Colonel Jackson, 'if you like it Mr. Foley, keep it, I'll have him make me another.'

"So that's how my grandfather, let's see that would be your great, great, grandfather wouldn't it," he paused. "Yeah, I think that's right, anyway, that's how grandpa got this hatchet. And now I'm going to give it to you," he said as he handed me Andrew Jackson's hatchet.

I turned it over and over in my hand, admiring the heft and feel of the tool. "But PaPa," I said, "this hatchet doesn't look that old. It's a great old hatchet, but it doesn't look like it was handmade by a blacksmith." "No," he replied, "it's kinda like Ol' Hick'ry's Democratic Party. It's had three new heads, and at least a dozen new handles since then, but it's the same hatchet, I promise."

I know James Webb admires Andrew Jackson, as he does Ronald Reagan. But perhaps he should take a closer look at Jackson's Democratic Party before claiming it. It's changed. It's changed a bunch. The modern Democratic Party would prefer not to have Jackson as a member, much less a head of the party. But a writer such as he may not have noticed that. It's time he got his money's worth and asked some of his political friends like Lowell Feld. They would be able to explain to him how many times the head and the handle of the party he thinks he's joined has been changed over the years.

Monday, July 24, 2006

The Latest Virginia Bloggers Carnival Is Up

The Virginia Bloggers Carnival is on tap at Kilo's.

He and Wise Girl have a short history of carnivals in store for you. I promise you'll learn at least one new thing, plus you get to read some of the best writing Virginia has to offer.

Go get some.

Minimum Wage

I have seen many calls for an increase in the minimum wage. Both nationally and on the state level. George Allen has been criticized for his vote against increasing the Federal Minimum wage. I wonder though, can anyone show me the clause in either the United States Constitution or the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Virginia that gives the Government the power to set the price of services? And make no mistake, the wage you recieve from your employer is the price he is willing to pay and the price you are willing to recieve for services you have sold to your employer.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Born Fighting

I've been reading "Born Fighting" by James Webb. I know that does not make me an unusual Virginian in the year 2006. It's a very good history of the Scots-Irish, an ethnicity which Jim and I share, along with many millions of other Americans. Jim, If our paths should cross during this campaign, allow me to pour you a short glass of Bushmills (or Jameson, if the Catholic/Protestant thing has any relevance to you).

As history texts go, it's good. I've read better phrased prose in factual history texts, and I've read much worse, but the passion shown by Mr. Webb toward his subject is seldom found in non-fiction. He spends most of the book focusing on and documenting the fiercely independent nature of the Scots-Irish, not only in America, but back to the beginnings of their history under a failed Roman rule in northern Briton.

I know firsthand of the individualism he writes so passionately about. I also know that that stubborn individualism has not always served my (or my ancestors) best interest in the short term. But it has certainly helped more Foleys than me get through the morning ritual of staring at a well known face as we shaved, as I'm sure it has for the Smiths and Massengills before me, and the Webbs and Millers before him . As my grandfather always said, regarding family and ethnic pride, "It's a damn poor dog that won't wag it's own tail". Jim Webb does an excellent job of wagging our Scots-Irish tail.

Anyone from Southwest Virginia after reading this book would have to be proud of it's early settlers, whether they share our ethnicity or not. As he points out often, family names notwithstanding, chances are very good that if they are from Southwest Virginia, Eastern Tennessee, or Northwestern Carolina they most likely do share that ethnicity. For example, my paternal grandmother from Dublin, VA, was a LaPrade, a mixture of French Huguenot, Cherokee, and Scots-Irish.

Another theme running throughout Born Fighting is his admiration for Andrew Jackson, America's first (but not her last) Scots-Irish President. Historians have not been very kind to President Jackson, primarily focusing on his tendency to not defer to Congress, instead using the veto power and party leadership to lead the Executive branch. Not unlike the charges Jim Webb levels at the current occupant of the White House.

Another Scots-Irish he expresses admiration for is General George Patton, as much an individualist as the Army ever produced . And during the recent debate at Hot Springs he admitted to an admiration for Ronald Reagan, yet another Scots-Irish politician who seldom deferred to Congress.

While reading this book, one thought kept coming to mind. Jim Webb has stated on several occasions that he came to realize his affinity for the Democratic party while writing this book. That makes me wonder, just how this epiphany occurred? The subject of his book is a people that hold great store in the individual, and the importance of independence from a central government. That is the complete antithesis of the current Democratic Party. I am sure that Jim Webb is aware of the conflict between his book and his recent statements. I am not so sure that Jim Webb is not aware that he is being used by the Democrats of Virginia for their own ends.

Friday, July 21, 2006

There Is A Single Mother Living In My Backyard

She and her little ones come by for dinner each evening.

Don't let the background of trees fool you. Less than 50 yards through those trees is another street with houses. I can hit a short iron shot into my uncle's front yard just over those trees. A driver or long iron in the other direction might hit a car on US 220. Collinsville, Martinsville, and most of the suburban areas of Henry County have become way overpopulated by deer in the past 10 years or so.

When I was growing up here hunters had to travel to Bath County or some other such destination to hunt deer. Quail, rabbit, and squirrel were about all the hunting there was to be had here until the early 1980's. Now, if I could shoot a bow worth a damn, I could keep my freezer full and never have to leave the back yard. Instead, I hunt with a rifle (sometimes I use a revolver) on some farms just east of here in Axton. And yes, I still keep my freezer full.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

I've Been Bumped

I was scheduled to appear (can you appear on radio?) on Coy Barefoot's radio show on Wednesday, July 26 at 5:00pm. Now I'll be on at 5:30 instead. If you are in the Charlottesville area and can stay awake through the first interview, (some guy named Webb, I don't think he's a blogger), be sure to listen in.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Steven, Even I've Not Been That Bad

I've disappointed a couple (or three) wives in the past myself, but I've never gone quite this far. Click the image to make it bigger (and more painful).

Follow this link to read Emily's side of the story, I don't know what Steven has to say in his defense, or even if he has any defense.

Virginia Blog Carnival

Welcome to The Virginia Blog Carnival, sorry for the delay, let's just say I've been somewhat busy here in Stuart and Adelphia has let me down in Collinsville.

Let's start with Chris at Spank that donkey; long URL

Chris interviews Randy Marcus. I feel like I know Randy, we exchanged about 600 e-mails (OK, I know I've been told a billion times not to exaggerate, but it sure seemed like 600) while he was working out the Lt. Governor's schedule so he could attend the Blogs United Conference. He seems to be a good guy, I hope he will be here with LG Bolling in August. Did you notice he mentioned the conference in Chris' interview?

Next up is hr_conservative, one of a group of very good Hampton Roads bloggers;

hr_conservative gives us his interpretation of Virginia's domestic violence laws. I have to agree with him that a layman's reading of the statutes would tend to render the second paragraph of the Marshall/Newman amendment moot. But since when have you been able to count on a Judge making a "logical common sense" ruling. Sure some do, but can you count on it?

Up in Charlottesville is Bob Gibson;

Bob Gibson explains that even though we all may enjoy the plush ride of a Lexus, when you're walking even a moped looks good. Al Weed is happily ringing the bell on the handlebars of his moped.

Next we have Adam who has been reading it seems;

Adam at sophistpundit gives us a review of Glen Reynolds latest book, "An Army Of Davids". I haven't read it, but now that I've read Adam's review, I might.

Here is a Virginia blogger that I have just discovered, Leslie Carbone;

Now this one is quite interesting. Several months ago I stumbled upon a blog from a guy who was on a quest to trade up from a single red paperclip, just to see how far up in value he could trade. I lost the link somewhere around the Dodge automobile, and never went back to find out how he made out. Leslie tells us he made trades all the way up to a house in Canada. Pretty cool, don't you think?

Back to Hampton Roads for a visit with insider at hrpolitics;

Insider shows us the "feminine side" of Phil Kellam, a candidate out in the Hampton Roads area.

Always on Watch has this;

Always on Watch details some plans for a Sept. 11 tribute. I think I like the idea myself.

Ready for a diet? You really must try this one;

I really liked this one. Let's not give away the ending.

Jim Hoeft (guess what? Right, Hampton Roads again. Must be something about the sea air) has this;

Jim comes in with the shocking news that Susan loves Felix

My good friend Carl is thinking about oil;

Kilo reports on a plan to build new refineries, on property that has been

We learn a bit about the head cat here;

Apparently the man in charge of the cathouse (or is he just the man "at" the cathouse?) has quite a sense of humor.

And finally, our neighbor The Southern Democrat (no wonder they have a hard time winning, apparently there's only one?) has this about the first Senatorial Debate;

Sorry Doug. I missed them both.

From Doug's great blog, Below the Beltway; long URL/

And this from The Liberty Papers;

Monday, July 17, 2006

Now This Is Interesting...

A while back Pitin, one of Lowell's children at Raising kaine had this to say about Ol' Joe Lieberman;
I am absolutely incensed that Senator Lieberman claims to be a Democrat while at the same time is running an Independent campaign. Many states have "sore loser" laws that prevent candidates from running as Independents if they lose the primary, unfortunately Connecticut does not.
I commented on that episode here.

Now there is a different angle going on in Vermont. Lowell, what are you and Kos telling your kids to think about the fact that Democrats in Vermont are actively working to collect signatures for an avowed Socialist, while at the same time discouraging any Democrats from running in their own primary?

Are things so bad in your party that you would rather run a Socialist in Vermont, a single issue newby in Connecticut, and a single issue Republican wannabe/usetabe in Virginia rather than real long term liberal to moderate Democrats?

Friday, July 14, 2006

Carnival News

The Virginia Blog Carnival has found a new home. The Carnival is now housed in or near Gretna ("Ain't no big thing, but it's growing") VA. Kat shows promise of being a great proprietess. She has some interesting ideas that will be certain to make the VBC more attractive to all Virginia Bloggers.

She has established this page; as the "go to" site for all Carnival news and information. Be sure to check it out, it contains all the information you need to know about how to submit, what to submit, where to submit, etc. (Despite all those commands from her to submit, somehow I still can't picture her as a Dominatrix).

You may also want to bookmark this permalink; long URL which I shortened
for information on upcoming hosts and vacancies.

If you've checked out the second link above you will see that I'm listed as host for the coming week. It's only been a couple of weeks since Badrose joined me here to host a Carnival. This week I'll go over to her place ( Ramblin' Badrose) and once again we will C0-Host.

Pick out your favorite post from this week, maybe add that little last minute "editorial touch up" to it, and submit it to this weeks Carnival.
If you'd like to make a submission, send it to vablogcarnival AT gmail DOT com by Sunday, at 6:00 p.m. ET (but earlier if possible!). Or, you may submit with the Conservative Cat's Carnival Submit Form.

1. Identify one of your posts that you'd like to publicize.

2. Include the following information:

* Name of your Blog
*URL to your blog
*Your name (or the name you blog under)
*Where in Virginia you live
*The title of your post
*Permalink to your post
*Trackback to your post (optional, but suggested)
*Brief summary of your post (also optional)

3. Publicize the Carnival when it appears each Monday.

4. Make sure the subject line clearly identifies your submission as related to VBC.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

So Long Fred, Sorry We Never Met

I have discovered another reason for future remembrances by me on July 9. From now on it will no longer be just my birthday. Every year my July 9th celebration will also include the memory of a man I never knew, but sure wish I had. From the July 9th edition of the Richmond Times Dispatch Obituaries, meet the late Fred Clark;
Frederic Arthur (Fred) Clark, who had tired of reading obituaries noting other's courageous battles with this or that disease, wanted it known that he lost his battle as a result of an automobile accident on June 18, 2006. True to Fred's personal style, his final hours were spent joking with medical personnel while he whimpered, cussed, begged for narcotics and bargained with God to look over his wife and kids. He loved his family. His heart beat faster when his wife of 37 years Alice Rennie Clark entered the room and saddened a little when she left. His legacy was the good works performed by his sons, Frederic Arthur Clark III and Andrew Douglas Clark MD, PhD., along with Andy's wife, Sara Morgan Clark. Fred's back straightened and chest puffed out when he heard the Star Spangled Banner and his eyes teared when he heard Amazing Grace. He wouldn't abide self important tight *censored*. Always an interested observer of politics, particularly what the process does to its participants, he was amused by politician's outrage when we lie to them and amazed at what the voters would tolerate. His final wishes were "throw the bums out and don't elect lawyers" (though it seems to make little difference). During his life he excelled at mediocrity. He loved to hear and tell jokes, especially short ones due to his limited attention span. He had a life long love affair with bacon, butter, cigars and bourbon. You always knew what Fred was thinking much to the dismay of his friend and family. His sons said of Fred, "he was often wrong, but never in doubt". When his family was asked what they remembered about Fred, they fondly recalled how Fred never peed in the shower - on purpose. He died at MCV Hospital and sadly was deprived of his final wish which was to be run over by a beer truck on the way to the liquor store to buy booze for a double date to include his wife, Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter to crash an ACLU cocktail party. In lieu of flowers, Fred asks that you make a sizable purchase at your local ABC store or Virginia winery (please, nothing French - the *censored*) and get rip roaring drunk at home with someone you love or hope to make love to. Word of caution though, don't go out in public to drink because of the alcohol related laws our elected officials have passed due to their inexplicable terror at the sight of a MADD lobbyist and overwhelming compulsion to meddle in our lives. No funeral or service is planned. However, a party will be held to celebrate Fred's life. It will be held in Midlothian, Va. Email for more information. Fred's ashes will be fired from his favorite cannon at a private party on the Great Wicomico River where he had a home for 25 years. Additionally, all of Fred's friend (sic) will be asked to gather in a phone booth, to be designated in the future, to have a drink and wonder, "Fred who?"

Monday, July 10, 2006

The Virginia Blog Carnival Is Open At Below The Beltway

The Virginia Blog Carnival is up!

Go see Doug at Below The Beltway and peruse some of Virginia's finest prose. And one of mine.

My pick from this weeks entries? It would have to be this one. Not necessarily because of that particular post, but because it led me to more great writing from this NOVA blogger.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

The Kitchen Is Closed Today

Today (July 9) is my birthday. I will not be cooking anything for this spot today. Check back in tomorrow.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Dr. Gore, Please Call Your Office

By now we have all heard of Dr. Gore's dire predictions regarding global warming. You remember Dr. Gore, right? He was the inventor of the internet, a French scholar at 15 while plowing hillsides in Eastern Tennessee, a consultant to the author of the best selling novel and eventual movie, Love Story, and was once even the President of the United States (Senate).

I'll concede that the earth's annual average temperature has indeed risen during my lifetime. I won't even bother to argue the difference in quality and precision of temperature measuring equipment and data keeping between the mid 1950s and now. Just accept the stated 1/2 degree Fahrenheit temperature rise as accurate. For the purposes of this article I won't even use the current argument of my fellow conservatives, (and the same one I used to use on my Mom), "I didn't do it!".

No, for now let's take Dr. Gore at his word. The Earth is getting hotter, and we are causing it. It seems his theory is that we, by continually pumping Carbon Dioxide into the atmosphere, are causing more and more of the Sun's energy to be retained instead of being reflected back out into space. It's getting scary, ain't it?

I've been able to hold back and not really get into this hysteria until now. I recently came across a link in the Virginia blog community to an article in the Sunday Los Angeles Times. The first paragraph of the linked Times article, based on Dr. Gore's recent movie, says; "The Greenland ice sheet - two miles thick and broad enough to blanket an area the size of Mexico shapes the world's weather, matched in influence by only Antarctica in the Southern Hemisphere."

Well, let's stop right there for a moment. Greenland certainly does have an ice sheet, but it's not two miles thick. According to the Encyclopedia Britannica it does reach thicknesses of over 10,000 feet (almost two miles), but it averages less than a mile thick at 5,000 feet. Also, it's area is considerably smaller than Mexico. Coming in at 669,064 square miles as opposed Mexico's 780,000 square miles. Now that's still a big chunk of ice. But not quite as big as Dr. Gore exaggerated it.

Later in the article it is stated that; "Should all of the ice sheet ever thaw, the meltwater could raise sea level 21 feet and swamp the world's coastal cities, home to a billion people."

Let's go back up to the figures I noted above when correcting Dr. Gore's initial error. Using those figures I come to this conclusion. 669,064 square miles of ice that averages .94 miles thick equals 5,353,248,505,651,200,000.00 cubic feet of ice. Now as an engineer of sorts I use numbers every day. But I don't work with numbers that large. I know that once you've used 4 commas in a number you are getting into the trillions, I don't know what you call a number with 6 commas. It's a big ol' number is descriptive enough for this article. What it really means is, like I said before, that's a bunch of ice. But, if it were to all be melted it would raise the ocean level by 16.4 feet, not 21.

But even that little math error is not the purpose of this article. I think we all can agree that a large amount of ice, which if melted could raise the ocean level by 16 feet, if not 21 feet is still a heck of a lot of ice.

Instead of looking at that ice as melted water, let's look at what it takes to melt that much ice. A BTU, (British Thermal Unit), is the amount of energy required to raise the temperature of one pound of water one degree Fahrenheit. Our Sun presents each square foot of the Earth's surface with 3.412 BTUs per hour.

Allow me to stop here just a moment and discuss Greenland's climate. The CIA factbook lists it only as "arctic to subarctic; cool summers, cold winters" so I had to dig a little deeper to find that the current yearly average temperature in Greenland is a very low 12.2 degrees Fahrenheit. I found further that the temperature only goes above freezing (barely) for three months out of each year (June to August). You could say that Greenland has two seasons. "Winter" and "Winter will be back in a minute". I'll be generous and allow Dr. Gore to claim the tons of ice (did I mention that Greenland has a whole lotta ice?) maintains a fairly uniform temperature of 20 degrees during both seasons. We both know it doesn't, in reality it's certainly much lower, but it will make my math easier, and for this exercize it serendipitously works out to fit Dr. Gore's ten year disaster plan.

I mentioned earlier that the Earth receives 3.412 BTUs of energy per square foot per hour. Again, let's be very generous to Dr. Gore and assume that we achieve 100% efficiency from those three BTUs. Extremely oversimplified (and nowhere near accurate) that would mean that for every hour of sunlight we would raise the surface temperature of the ice by one degree Fahrenheit. After an initial 13 hours of 100% efficiency sunlight, and no outside influences such as the second law of thermodynamics, the effect of ambient air temperature, and the inevitable darkness, we would begin to melt the ice on Greenland. In nine and a half years of continuous unabated sunshine, Greenland would become a rocky barren wasteland as opposed to the icy barren wasteland it is now.

Now, we all know it is impossible to achieve 100% efficiency from sunlight alone, even if we ignore the laws of physics as we did in the previous paragraph. And there is no way a mere one degree per hundred years average annual temperature rise can help offset those laws of physics which we just ignored in less than ten years. Dr. Gore's prediction that the Greenland ice cap may melt completely in ten years, as scary as it is to folks in Virginia Beach, is complete and unadulterated horse hockey.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Why I Can Never Be A Democrat

The answer to the title question is simple. I actually think an idea through to it's logical end.

If this does not show Lowell's children over at RK to be single issue political idiots, I'll turn in my Chris Green signature model "Spank That Donkey" tee shirt.

Let's see if I can get this straight. You have an established long time incumbent Senator. A Senator that was his Party's Vice-Presidential candidate only 6 years ago. A Senator chosen to be that Vice-Presidential candidate primarily because his moderate political views somewhat balanced out the Presidential candidate's extremely liberal political stance. An incumbent Senator who was a sure win for the Democratic Party in the upcoming general election. But, this stable, electable, loyal Democratic Senator is faced with a challenger in the primary election. Remember, he is not faced with a challenger because it was feared he would be a weak candidate and thus might lose in the general election. No, he was faced with a challenger in retaliation for only one position he has stood for. A position he has maintained for over 6 years without wavering, unlike many in his Party.

Keeping all of that in mind, this Senator decides that if he fails to win the nomination he will be prepared with the requisite signatures on a petition to run as an Independent. He also is careful to state that should he prevail in the General election he will maintain the current Democrat/Republican ratio by continuing to caucus with the Democrats.

Simply because this is so surreal, allow me a short recap. This extremely electable Senator is challenged in a primary. He vows to continue to represent the people who elected him in the past, in the same manner he has always represented them.

Now take a look over at RaisingKaine. Which candidate do you suppose is being eaten alive, the long time Party loyalist or the spoiler who challenged a safe incumbent? How does one make the leap in ill-logic to proclaim the following?
However, as a life-long Democrat, I feel entitled to say to Senator Lieberman, "You are no Democrat". Real Democrats, support winners of Democratic Primaries.
Excuse me, Pitin, Mr. Lieberman was a "Real Democrat" when you were still peeing in your pants. It seems to me a "Real Democrat" would never dream of putting an electable incumbent through a Primary battle in the first place.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

The Virginia Blog Carnival Is Now Open

This week the Founder and Proprietor of the Virginia Blog Carnival is also the host. As usual Chad does his stellar best presenting some amazing writing from all over Virginia, and one from me as well. Here's a hint, when you get there go straight to the entry from Kat at Cathouse Chat. It's a great little history lesson on one page.

Now, shoo, go!

July 4, 2006

Today we celebrate the anniversary of the idea of freedom. On this date in 1776 56 men of note met in Philadelphia to affirm a document written by Thomas Jefferson which declared their independence from an oppressive monarchy.

But our independence was informally declared over 12 years earlier by Patrick Henry in Virginia's House of Burgesses;
Resolved therefore, That the General Assembly of this Colony have the only and sole exclusive right and power to lay taxes and impositions upon the inhabitants of this Colony, and that every attempt to vest such power in any person or persons whatsoever other than the General Assembly aforesaid has a manifest tendency to destroy British as well as American freedom.

Resolved, That His Majesty's liege people, the inhabitants of this Colony are not bound to yield obedience to any law or ordinance whatever, designed to impose any taxation whatsoever upon them other than the laws or ordinances of the General Assembly aforesaid.

Resolved, That any person who shall, by speaking or writing, assert or maintain that any person or persons other than the General Assembly of this Colony, have any right or power to impose or lay any taxation on the people here, shall be deemed an enemy to His Majesty's Colony.
After this seed was planted there were many skirmishes and insurgencies leading up to June of 1776 when Richard Henry Lee, a Virginia delegate to the Continental Congress, presented a formal resolution calling for America to declare its independence from Britain. Congress decided to postpone its decision on this until July. On June 11, Congress appointed a committee to draft a declaration of independence. The Committee members were Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Roger Livingston and Roger Sherman. Jefferson was chosen by the committee to prepare the first draft of the declaration, which he completed in only one day. Just seventeen days later, June 28, Jefferson's Declaration of Independence was ready and presented to the Congress, with changes made by Adams and Franklin. On July 2, twelve of thirteen colonial delegations (with New York abstaining) voted in support of Lee's resolution for independence. On July 4, the Congress formally endorsed Mr. Jefferson's Declaration, with copies then being sent to all of the colonies.

While it took only 8 days for the British to exhibit their military strength with the first official shots of the impending war in the form of two frigates sailing up the Hudson River firing their guns, independence was not won until 6 and a half years later with the signing of a treaty in Paris by Benjamin Franklin and Richard Oswald of Britain. In an ironic display of the future,France expressed strong objections to the treaty being signed in Paris without America first consulting them. America's first Statesman, Benjamin Franklin soothed the French ego with a diplomatic statement.

Lessons learned;
  • Democracy and Freedom are seldom, if ever, easily won.
  • A "quagmire" is present in one form or another in every conflict before victory is obtained.
  • The French would find something to complain about even if they were walking down the road on a beautiful summer day with the wind at their back and a roll of bologna under each arm.

Monday, July 03, 2006

On Becoming A Citizen

On the eve of the birthday of the idea of a free and independent United States, it's sometimes good to know just how much we really know about our Country. There are several places on the web where one can go to take a sample test comprised of questions from the Naturalization test given to those immigrants wishing to become citizens.

One such test can be found here. Good news guys, I get to stay.

You Passed the US Citizenship Test

Congratulations - you got 10 out of 10 correct!

Warehouse Warrior

Back in the early eighties I was working for a division of Eaton Corporation, traveling way too much and spending 300+ days a year in hotels. During this time I was introduced to a new computer game by one of my co-workers. It was a simple game, as most computer games were at the time, playable only on DOS. Sokoban became, however, for us field personnel at Eaton-Kenway a major form of recreation and competition.

As I said it was a simple game, with only 3 rules and 1 objective. On a crude graphics screen was displayed a little guy in a warehouse maze, his objective was to move boxes through the maze and into specified storage spaces. The three rules were just as simple. He could push a box. He could not push two or more boxes simultaneously. He could not pull a box.

Keeping those three simple rules in mind, click on the image above and work through the puzzle mentally. You can see that it quickly becomes quite an exercise in logical thinking and problem solving. That's only the first level, there were 49 more to solve in the original game, with each becoming successively more difficult.

At first you merely want to accomplish the primary objective. Get all the boxes into the proper places. But then you try various strategies to reduce the number of moves and pushes, or try for a faster time. This game kept us field guys occupied for several years competing man to man or jobsite against jobsite.

A few months ago, I stumbled upon some new incarnations of Sokoban. There are dozens, but the best by far is Sokoban++ developed by Joris Wit and available as freeware. Sokoban++ remains faithful to the original, using the same layouts for the 50 levels, but goes a few steps further by including several "skins" or graphic looks, including an accurate reproduction of the MS-DOS original I have shown in the first graphic.

There are several versions of Sokoban developed for the Mac, as well as some java and flash versions playable online. There is even a freeware version for mobile phones called postman.

It had been years since I played the game, but it's just as addictive as it was in 1988 when I last played it. My lead electrician was so taken by the game that he has already gone through all 50 original levels and has pushed me to find additional levels for him. Luckily there are several sources for additional levels and I've just presented him with a CD containing approximately 300 more puzzles. That should keep him occupied until the end of the year I suppose.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Wide Awakes Radio Is Coming

Radio reception in my office in Stuart is almost non-existent. Thankfully there are several sources for streaming audio via a broadband connection. Typically I listen to WKHK in Richmond while I'm working, but I sometimes listen to WSB in Atlanta.

Beginning July 4th, though, I'll have another option, Wide Awakes Radio. Streaming audio radio by bloggers. Conservative bloggers. Including the ODBA's very own Kat, who will host a show on Sunday afternoons at 4:30pm. The call in number is certainly appropriate; 888-407-1776, get it? 888- fourth 0' july-1776.

It's an interesting endeavor, and one that I hope has much success. Testing of the audio feed is going on now, I've been listening to some guy named Justin bumping around and muttering to himself, sometimes assuming his official "radio announcers voice" to offer information about the various shows being planned and air times.