Friday, March 30, 2007

I'm Confused (A Not Altogether Unfamiliar Condition For Me.)

I'm trying to make sense out of this flap over those U.S. Attorney that got themselves fired. The way I understand it, it's just a temp job, right? Your guy gets himself elected, perhaps you helped, and he likes you enough to give you the job. Now you're set for the next 4 years. 8 if you're lucky. But the job, even if it is temporary, is a good springboard for something else in 8 years. Attorney General of your state maybe. Lieutenant Governor? Hmm, maybe even a Federal Judgeship if your guy really likes you.

But, there's the flip side. Suppose you cross the Big Guy? Suppose you don't apply the same level of importance to some crimes that your boss does. You let certain cases slide, or don't pursue investigations in a timely manner. Nah, the Old Man doesn't really mean that stuff he says in speeches. Whoops, maybe he does. You get canned. Don't be so sad, Bunkie, it happens all the time. Besides, you knew that when you signed on.

Now we have a new Congress. A new Congress that realizes their own jobs may be temporary if they can't keep a scandal of some sort on the front burner for the next two years. And in you they just found one.

It doesn't really matter that you guys have been hired and fired on a whim since, well, forever. It was POLITICAL. It was a POLITICAL FIRING. That just must be bad, 'cause it sounds so capricious. believe me, how something sounds means a lot. In the previous sentence I used "capricious" because it sounds more ominous and conniving than "arbitrary".

So our new Congress is holding hearings and taking testimony and hoping that someone will mis-remember so perjury charges can be flung about again. It was so easy with Libby. There was no crime committed in that investigation either, but by cracky we got ourselves a conviction. And we've got David Gregory and Chris Matthews and Kieth Olberman and Rosie the blob all upset because those attorneys were fired on POLITICAL grounds.

But now I hear that President Bush has pulled a nomination for some Ambassadorship because John Kerry pointed out that the guy made POLITICAL donations to some group which does not agree with Senator Kerry.

Now, here's where it starts getting confusing. According to Patrick Leahy, who's holding the hearings looking into the Attorney firings, it's a really bad thing to fire someone based on POLITICS. But, according to John Kerry, it's required to consider POLITICS when deciding to hire someone.

Liberals. Can somebody please explain their thought process to me?

Democrats In Denial

President Carter's national security adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski, delivered a speech at Duke University recently.
As for Iraq, he argued that a "jointly set date of departure" for U.S. forces, agreed to by the American and Iraqi governments, would put pressure on Iraq's various factions to reach an accommodation. U.S. diplomats should also try to pull Iraq's neighbors into a discussion about that country's security, as they all would be harmed if the situation there explodes.

Brzezinski said there's no reason to think a bloodbath would necessarily follow a U.S. withdrawal.

"We expected that the U.S. leaving Vietnam would result in massive killings and genocide and so forth, and collapse of the dominoes in Southeast Asia," he said. "It didn't happen. How certain are we of the horror scenarios that have been mentioned in what will take place in Iraq?"[Link] Emphasis mine.
And we still have people who claim that was a model administration...

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Carnival Time Again

Just a quick reminder that I'm hosting the Virginia Blog Carnival this week.

This may be a good time to dispel some erroneous thoughts that seem to be running around the Virginia Blog Community.

First, the Virginia Blog Carnival is not affiliated with the Old Dominion Blog Alliance in any way. A lot of ODBA members are frequent contributors, but that is the extent of the association.

You do NOT need to be invited to submit an article for the carnival. Just pick your favorite piece each week and send it in. It does not have to be political, but it certainly can be. Participating bloggers should be from Virgina, or a Virginia expatriate, or writing about the vacation they just enjoyed in Virginia, or.. Well, you get the idea. Just make sure there is a Virginia connection somewhere.

You do NOT need to be invited to host. Just send an email via the link on the Carnival website and let us know when you would like to host. We'll take it from there. During the week prior to the weekend you are scheduled to host the Carnival e-mail will be auto-forwarded to your email address so all entries will come directly to you. Typically the deadline for submitting Carnival entries is Sunday evening at 6:00pm. Sometimes the host chooses to extend that deadline.

Sometimes the host will decide he or she wants to do a themed Carnival. If that is the case, the host may choose any theme he or she desires and will post a notice sometime during the run-up week informing all of the theme. You may choose to conform to the theme, but you are not required to do so.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

No Gunbearer For Me

I carry.

If I have to explain the previous sentence you probably think like Christian Trejbal and would lump me in with scum of the earth like child molesters, sex offenders, and James Webb.

But there's a very big difference. Unlike James Webb, I carry. I don't pay a gunbearer. Oh, and I do tend to research the laws when I travel outside my state.

See also:
Dogwood Pundit
Black Velvet Bruce Li
Tale of The Donkey

And don't miss these:
Not Larry Sabato
Richmond Democrat

Move The Museum

The time has come to move the Museum of the Confederacy. Feeling ever more squeezed out by Richmond, Museum officials are searching for a new location. I say it's time for that to happen. There are several Virginia locations much better suited to such an institution.

Richmond and the legislators that haunt the area each Winter and Spring showed last month just how embarrassed they are to live in a state associated with anything from the 1860s. History be damned. I could go into the many reasons besides slavery that lay behind the war, but what's the use? Should the Pastor turn around in mid sermon and preach only to the Deacons sitting behind him? Liberals and Political Correctness have decreed that slavery was the sole factor in the conflict, so that's that. We must surely be racists to even attempt to explain otherwise. History be damned. If you are predisposed to listen to my history lesson, you've obviously already learned the history. If not, you have no interest in learning and will simply close your ears and chant "lalalalala" in order to tune it out.

As I said, there are many suitable locations for a relocated Museum of the Confederacy. Lexington comes immediately to mind. Somewhere near the final resting place of General Robert E. Lee. Traveler is there as well along with Lee's beloved Virginia Military Institute. Washington and Lee University, Lee's Chapel and Museum, and many other related landmarks are in Lexington.

The last Capitol of the Confederacy, Danville, would also be a suitable location. One that I believe would welcome such an institution with open arms. Montgomery Alabama, the first Capitol, or Fort Monroe, the prison which held President Davis are both excellent choices as well.

And there's one more. One that does not immediately come to mind when one thinks of such things, but one that would be just as fitting. Of course it would require a little road work on one of Virginia's most neglected sections of US Highway, but I'm sure that is coming sometime soon now that a steady source of Transportation Fund dollars has been found. (Thank you Roscoe Reynolds and Ward Armstrong, NOT.)

Of course I'm speaking of the old town of Taylorsville. Near the birthplace and home of James Ewell Brown Stuart, the town of Taylorsville is now known as Stuart in his honor. I think the Museum would be right at home here on the eastern slope of the Blue Ridge.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Revenge On Clear Fork

This is chapter two of a multi-part story. To start with Chapter One, "The Harmans of Clear Fork", go here.

Chapter Two
Revenge On Clear Fork

One of the many tributaries of Walker's Creek in Bland County is Wolf Creek. Wolf Creek flows out of Burke's Garden, in Tazewell County, down through the beautiful Grapefield valley of Bland County and past its dozen or so houses, it meanders past the Wolf Creek Golf Course and the Boy Scout Camp and into the tiny community of Bastian, just north of the town of Bland. If you follow Wolf Creek upstream you will come to the top of Rich Mountain and a breathtaking view of the valley between Rich Mountain and Buckhorn Mountain. Through this valley flows Clear Fork of Wolf Creek, a small stream with its head at Gratton. After flowing north through this valley Clear Fork joins Wolf Creek at Rocky Gap in Bland County. Even though both streams begin within a mile or so of one another, they run along opposite sides of Rich Mountain before joining. From there they eventually meet the New River somewhere in Giles County and continue on to the Ohio River to ultimately mingle their Appalachian spring water with the saltiness of the Gulf of Mexico.

It was somewhere in the Clear Fork valley that Thomas Wiley built his cabin on land he purchased from Mathias Harman. Thomas had moved into the area from Strausburg Virginia along with several other families, including the family of Hezekiah Sellards. Sometime in the early 1780s Thomas married Jean Sellards, the eldest daughter of Hezekiah Sellards. Jean was called "Jenny" by all who knew her.

The settlements at what was then known as Walker's Station, somewhere near the confluence of Wolf Creek and Clear Fork mentioned earlier, were scattered widely about, on both sides of Rich Mountain. The Wiley's nearest neighbor was Mathias Harman, living less than a mile away. (Many accounts put the Harman cabin in Abbs Valley, near present day Bluefield, but I doubt that. I have found records of a Thomas and Virginia Wiley in old Tazewell County documents placing them in the Clear Fork Valley. It's true, Jenny's given name was not Virginia, but I mark that off to a careless clerk's error. At any rate, that's where I'll place them in this account.) Jenny Wiley's sister, Catherine and her husband John Borders lived further out, more than five miles away, perhaps even on the Bluefield side of East River Mountain.

Indians were often seen, and even battled, in the widely scattered settlement, but the skirmish fought by the Harman men during the previous winter had been largely forgotten. At least that fight was no longer news in the early fall of 1789. Winter was coming on and the Shawnee and Cherokee were traveling less and less along their warpath between North Carolina and the Ohio River.

Early on the morning of October 1, 1789 Thomas Wiley left on an expedition into the New River Valley and the settlements there in order to trade ginseng, star anise and other herbs he had gathered through the year, and animal pelts for much needed winter supplies. The trip down into what is now Wytheville would keep him away from home for several days. He left Jenny and their five children in the care of Jenny's fifteen year old brother. He wasn't too concerned that his absence would place Jenny and his children in danger, he knew that this time of year Indian activity was slowing down, besides, his wife's brother-in-law John Borders and the other men of the settlements, including Mathias Harman, would check on her periodically.

Mathias Harman was well known for his adventures during the French and Indian Wars, as well as during Lord Dunmore's War. He was a "long hunter", the forerunner of the 19th century Mountain Man of the Rocky Mountain West. A small man, he stood barely five feet tall and weighed less than 120 pounds, yet he was fierce beyond his stature. The Shawnee and the Cherokee both hated him and feared him for the damage he had done to their tribes, having killed many of each. The Indians had named him "Skygusty", meaning a dangerous man.

The first day of October in 1789 was a cold, damp, foggy and rainy day. The evening before several of John Borders' sheep had not come in from the pasture and he was out searching for them when he heard the calls of several owls. Now it's not unusual for owls, especially barred owls, to call out on dark foggy days. But Mr. Borders did not feel comfortable with the calls he heard. He knew that the Indians would often use bird calls and other natural sounds to communicate over distance. Since he was close by the Wiley cabin, and knowing that Thomas was away in the Valley, he detoured by there to check on Jenny.

John found his sister-in-law working at her loom, weaving cloth for the family's clothing. He told her about the owl calls and asked her to gather up her children and her brother and come to his house for their safety. While Jenny was not overly concerned, she agreed and said she would finish the web she was working on, feed the livestock, and be at the Borders cabin as soon as she could get there. If not tonight, then early the next morning.

John, relieved that he had not had to argue the point with her, left for his own cabin to see to the safety of his wife, Catherine.

Jenny finished her weaving some time later, and as dusk was rapidly approaching because of the inclement weather, she hurriedly finished her chores and made the children ready, but she decided to go instead to the cabin of Mathias Harman, at least for the night, since he lived less than a mile away, before going on to visit her sister and her husband.

Suddenly, the door to the cabin was violently knocked open, and several Indians burst in. Jenny had her youngest child in her arms and could not get to the rifle cradled in its rack near the doorway. Before her eyes her four other children were murdered and scalped along with her young brother.

As the Indians rampaged through the cabin she heard the names Harman and Mathias mentioned often. It became obvious to Jenny that these Indians were bent on avenging the death of their chief the previous winter at the hand of Mathias Harman. Trying to explain in English to these Shawnee and Cherokee that they had attacked the wrong cabin was futile.

As she tried to communicate, one of the Indians lunged at the baby still in her arms, intent on killing him as well. A Shawnee chief stopped him, telling them all that she was to be his captive.

This Chief was an old man, with a serious demeanor. A string of silver brooches hung about his neck. Many rings decorated his fingers. He had many ornamental bands around his arms and ankles, all indicating great power and stature among his people.

A Cherokee Chief was also in the party, and he showed some signs of jealousy at the idea that the Shawnee would take this woman as his own. He was also old, 50 or more years. He wore leather leggings, a red shirt, and many pieces of jewelry as well. In his belt he carried a long, sharp knife, and he was also armed with a rifle.

Finally the Shawnee and the Cherokee stopped arguing, and the Shawnee explained in a few words of english that she was to take the place of his daughter, who had recently died.

Still fearing the return of Mathias Harman, and still not realizing that they had chosen the wrong cabin, the Indians took Jenny and her infant son and left the cabin. As they left they set the cabin ablaze, but because of the weather the fire was slow to start. They left with the cabin partially ablaze and the only other survivor of the attack, Thomas Wiley's hunting dog, following them.

Chapter Three
Tragedy On Tug Fork

The Harmans Of Clear Fork

The following is the first in a series.

In this series I'll be telling the story of a remarkable Virginian, Mrs. Jean (Jenny) Sellards Wiley who was captured in 1789 by a mixed band of Shawnee and Cherokee from her home in what is now Tazewell County, Virginia.

Chapter One
The Harmans of Clear Fork

The old man set about getting the camp in order. After years on the frontier Henry knew just how he liked his hunting camp, and his sons knew better than try to help him set it up. The old man was particular that way. His sons, George and Mathias, put their guns in order and started into the woods to look for sign and maybe even kill a deer for the evening meal, Leaving Henry to tinker with the details of his camp while George Draper, the fourth member of their party, made himself busy in hobbling and caring for the horses.

It was late afternoon on November 12, 1788 when Henry Harman and his sons along with George Draper arrived at their hunting camp on the banks of the Tug Fork River. They had left the settlement in the valley of Clear Fork of Wolf Creek early the day before, expecting to be gone for most of the early part of winter.

Just before darkness fell George returned to camp with the startling news that he had found signs of Shawnee, an unusual circumstance at this time of year. The Shawnee lived primarily north of the Ohio River, and generally west of this part of the Virginia frontier, but they did often use the Tug Fork as a warpath between themselves and the Cherokee to the south. The settlers in western Virginia had learned that the Shawnee and the Cherokee generally remained close to home during the winter; at least they had a tendency to stay away from the rugged country around the Tug Fork and Clinch River during that time of year. Even so, George had found their camp nearby, with a smoldering fire still burning.

Now old Mr. Harman was well experienced on the frontier and having that remarkable self-possession that such a life requires, took a seat near the fire and began to interrogate his oldest son on the dimensions, appearance, and condition of the camp that George had discovered. When the old man had fully satisfied himself, he told his sons and Draper that there must be between five and seven Indians about, maybe even watching them now. The men still did not know just why this party of Shawnee was so far away from the Indian villages along the northern shore of the Ohio River. Henry just knew that they must head back to the settlements near the headwaters of the Clinch River to prevent, if possible, any mischief the Indians might be planning.

George and Mathias immediately repacked the horses while Mr. Harman and Draper began to load their rifles. When the old man noticed the nervous trembling of Draper he suggested that he and Draper should lead the way with the pack horses following and George and Mathias bringing up the rear.

The group had gone only a short way when Draper remarked to Mr. Harman that he would go ahead, as he could see better than Mr. Harman, and that he would keep a sharp lookout. As any hunter knows, if you look at it hard enough a tree can change itself into a buck right before your eyes. Something similar must have happened to Draper, as he soon spun about on his horse declaring he saw the Indians, which proved to not be true. Within a few minutes Draper called out an alarm once again, "Yonder they are - behind that log." Like the boy who cried "wolf!", Draper was ignored by the more seasoned men. Mr. Harman rode on while the dog that was with them ran up to the log betraying the Indian's presence. At that instant a sheet of fire and smoke from the Indian's rifles was all that could be seen in the darkness. Mr. Draper had spoken the truth this time.

With agility that belied his age, the old man dismounted and he and the dog fell back to where his sons stood ready to face the Indians, while Draper fled with all the speed within his swift horse. Of the seven Shawnee, only four had guns, the rest being more traditionally armed with bows and arrows, tomahawks and scalping knives.

The Shawnee immediately surrounded the Harmans who had formed themselves into as much of a circle as can be formed by only three men. Henry told Mathias to hold his fire while he and George fired into the group, wounding two.

I should say here that George, having had white swelling in his childhood, was slightly lame. After firing a couple of rounds one of the Indians noticed his limp and rushed him, thinking him wounded. George briefly held off the tomahawk attack by using his empty rifle as a club. The Indian mounted a second charge, half-bent and head foremost. George sprang up and jumped across him, which brought the Indian to his knees. George, reaching for his knife and not getting hold of it, seized the Indian‘s from his grasp and plunged it deep into his side. Mathias struck him on the head with a tomahawk, and finished the work with him.

Two of the Indians had attacked the old man with bows, and were maneuvering around him, to get clear aim at his left breast. The Harmans, like most seasoned Indian fighters on the frontier, wore their bullet pouches on the left side, and with this and his arm he so effectively shielded his breast, that the Indians did not loose their arrows until they saw the old man's gun nearly loaded again. The first arrow struck his right elbow, cutting an artery, the second into his chest, lodging against a rib. He had by this time reloaded, but as he raised his rifle to fire, the blood from his wounded elbow spurted into the pan, spoiling the load. The act of raising his gun to aim had the effect of sending the bowmen back to cover.

Mathias, who had obeyed his father's order to hold his fire, now had the only loaded rifle left among them, Harmans or Indians, and he asked permission to fire, which the old man granted. The target Mathias chose appeared to be the chief and was standing under a large beech tree. At the report of the rifle, the Indian fell, throwing his tomahawk high among the limbs of the tree under which he stood.

Seeing two of their number lying dead upon the ground, and two more badly wounded, the Shawnee immediately made off. Several hundred yards along the trail they never noticed the hidden Draper, who had left his horse, and concealed himself behind a log.

As soon as the Indians retreated, the old man fell back on the ground exhausted and fainting from the loss of blood. George and Mathias tended Henry's wounded arm, removed the arrow from the shallow wound in his chest, and washed his face in cold water. Somewhat refreshed, the old man said, "We've whipped them boys, give me my pipe." George packed the old man's pipe for him while Mathias scalped the two dead Shawnee.

When Draper saw the Indians pass him, he stealthily crept from his hiding place, and pushed on for the settlement. Arriving back on the Clear Fork of Wolf Creek the next day Draper reported the attack and told of the deaths of the Harmans. Several men gathered to go across East River Mountain to retrieve the bodies of the old man and his sons for a proper Baptist burial. They had not gone far before they met the well known old hound followed by the obviously alive Harmans coming down the mountainside. Though tired and wounded, they were in much too good condition to need burying.

Chapter Two
Revenge On Clear Fork

All of the events in this and the following chapters are true. Many accounts of the Jenny Wiley story exist, with most following two distinct, very different versions. I have researched the story and taken the most likely and best documented events from all of the various accounts in order to produce this version. As I write this I'll also be compiling linkable footnotes which will be added soon after the story's completion.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Jeff Evans Website Coming Soon

I'm sorry for the delay. I know I've been promising the debut of the Jeff Evans for Senate website for some time now, and I really did plan to have it online early this week. But due to a glitch on my end the debut has been delayed until next week at the earliest. I'm sorry Jeff.

There are a couple of details that still need to be addressed, a few graphics to tweak, and some JavaScripts that are not quite right yet, but I'm working on those items today. I will, however, put up a screenshot of the index page below. Personally, I think it looks pretty good. Your feedback will be appreciated.

The website is now online, visit us at

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Tell Mayor Bloomberg To Mind New York's Drug Problem And Leave Virginia Out Of It.

Better hurry. Virginia's gun rights supporters have only until March 31 to rub New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's nose into the odoriferous mess he's stirred up.

I've been meaning to mention this for some time now, but it has always just slipped away. Today, thanks to an e-mail from Rebeldame at From a Southern Girl's Perspective... I've been reminded. Thanks girl.

Some time back, in a purely political staged event, Mr. Bloomberg authorized the City of New York to hire undercover agents in order to perpetrate a "sting" operation on legitimate gun dealers in several states. Virginia included. The sting involved these agents, (essentially City of New York contract employees), intentionally misrepresenting themselves while attempting to make illegal firearms purchases from legitimate dealers.

The City of New York then proceeded to sue these gun dealers with the intention of driving them out of business via costly litigation. It has worked with at least two Virginia dealers. The costs of defending their legitimate businesses against the blatantly illegal activities of the New York City employees, their boss, and his subsequent civil lawsuit has forced these two dealers to close up shop. Nine other dealers have folded and settled the lawsuit, at considerable harm to their business.

In a letter to Mr. John Feinblatt, Criminal Justice Coordinator for the City of New York, Michael A. Battle, Director of the Executive Office for United States Attorneys informs the Mayor that his undercover agent employees did not uncover any criminal activity at any of the legitimate gun dealer's places of business;
As I communicated to you in May of 2006, the evaluation and investigation of this matter is within the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF). Accordingly, the materials your office provided to ATF's New York Field Division were referred to the appropriate ATF field offices for evaluation. Recently, the ATF field offices concluded their evaluation and investigation, and consulted with their respective United States Attorney's Office. The United States Attorney's Offices in each district wherein the City of New York conducted activities have carefully reviewed the matters and considered all of the materials. Each United States Attorney's Office has concluded that the circumstances surrounding the purchases do not rise to the level that would support a criminal prosecution.
Mr. Battle goes a step further and warns Bloomberg that the City of New York and its employees have come dangerously close to committing chargeable offenses themselves and to cease and desist;
Although a decision has been made not to move forward with case filings in these matters, you should be aware that there are potential legal liabilities that may attach when persons outside of law enforcement undertake actions typically reserved for law enforcement agents. This risk is particularly acute when such persons, however well intentioned, but without proper law enforcement authority, misrepresent that they are the actual purchasers of the firearms when, in fact, the purchases are being made on behalf of another person or entity (for instance, on behalf of the City).[Link](PDF)

Now, just how can you rub Mayor Bloomberg's nose in his own mess? Easy. Just go to one of the following Virginia dealers and make a purchase of $100.00 (or more) and be entered in a drawing for either a Para Ordnance PX745E handgun or a Browning Varmint Stalker in 223 WSSM. Your purchase does not have to be a firearm, it can be anything in the store. You get one chance per hundred dollars spent. Buy $500.00 worth of merchandise and get 5 chances to win.

Bob Moates Sports Shop
10418 Hull Street Road
Midlothian, VA 23112

Bob Moates Sports Shop
212 David Bruce Ave.
Charlotte CH, VA 23923

Old Dominion Gun and Tackle
7608 Martinsville Highway
Danville, VA 24541

Hmm. I think I need some fishing stuff. And clothes. And ammo.

Calorie Offset Credits

I experienced a small epiphany during lunch.

I have lunch quite often at Honduras Coffee in Stuart. It's a little surprising to find such a "trendy" place in small town Stuart, but they have great coffee, (go buy some now, I'll wait 'till you get back). They also offer the best chicken salad in SWVA, and my favorite sandwich, the Total Tuna meltdown.

As its name implies the Total Tuna Meltdown is more than a tuna melt. It's much more. Of course it starts with freshly made tuna salad, but it continues with a delicious combination of hard cheeses and a piquant pesto like sauce. All that on a buttered artisan bread of some sort that is slightly sweet, yet nicely crunchy from the grilling that subtly blends the flavors of the melted cheeses and now slightly warm pesto.

Calories? Who knows? Who cares? I sure don't. Suffice it to say the description alone could easily make Jenny Craig's head spin right off her shoulders. Even so, it takes at least one serving a week to keep me happy.

Oh, I almost forgot. My epiphany? While there I noticed another diner order the Total Tuna Meltdown. That in itself is not unusual. But this customer ordered it with a Diet Coke. Let that sink in. That hedonistic sandwich topped off with a Diet Coke. And a small garden salad with no dressing.

It occurred to me that the meal my fellow diner had just ordered was the perfect analogy to Al Gore's personal energy management. Engorge yourself, load up on carbohydrates and fat and kilowatts and BTUs and all the other goodies you want, then offset that with a plain salad and a Diet Coke.

One neutralizes the other. Right? Right? No? I didn't think so either. The salad and Diet Coke and Carbon Offsets are there only as a nice soothing ointment on your self-inflicted wounds. They don't actually heal anything, but they make you feel better about yourself.

And me? Why I had a beer, of course. A nice, dark, carbohydrate filled, full bodied beer. Hey, I've never been accused of being politically correct, not even in my diet.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Navel Gazing Upon Command

This is a special assignment for the Virginia Blog Carnival this week. Like most special assignments I've been hesitant to begin, so now I find myself staring at a deadline looming just a few hours away. I'm just wired that way. I'm more the spontaneous type.

Eileen, who has somehow become affectionately known as "Demzilla", has decreed that the theme for this Carnival will be "Why I blog". Well, I'm not really sure. Why do I smoke? Why do I drink a bit? Why does the fat man next door mow his lawn wearing only a speedo and flip-flops? It's just what we do and who we are, I suppose.

Someone once said that writing is easy. You just sit at the keyboard and sweat blood until the page is full. I have always dabbled in writing. Not very well, but at least I enjoyed it, whether anyone else reading it did or not. My profession requires that I write a lot. But that is technical writing and it's not much fun. Not fun to write. Certainly not fun to read. After I write a program designed to control some machine or group of machines I get the pleasure of writing an instructional manual or article describing the sequence of operation. Yeah, it's exciting prose alright.

I first became aware of blogs sometime in 2001 I guess. The first blog I ever read is not a typical blog, but it fits the definition of a blog, I suppose. The Wall Street Journal's Best of The Web Today by James Taranto.

I remember the days before the internet. It seemed each time I turned to a dictionary to look up a word I would get sidetracked. Some other word would catch my attention, and its definition would send me off looking for yet another word. That would, more often than not, spawn another such search. I often forgot what the original subject was that started the dictionary journey. Google does the same thing to me today. During a Google search for some long forgotten item I stumbled across John Behan's Commonwealth Conservative. That led me to Bacon's Rebellion where I re-discovered Barnie Day.

My daily routine included reading those three eminently readable writers, Mr. Taranto, Mr. Behan, and Mr. Day. I soon added a few others to my daily reading list, Norman Leahy, Will Vehrs, and Jerry Fuhrman for example.

One day while I was living in my mother's basement feeling somewhat creative I decided that what my life needed was a blog. Yep, I would become famous. I could finally emulate Earnest Hemingway in an entirely different way.

I don't write for the praise of my fellow writers, nor do I obsess over "hits" and statistics. I do enjoy seeing where my readers come from though. I often wonder about that one from Martinsville who shows up every day, always from a Yahoo search on "I'm Not Emeril". I wonder about the guy (girl?) in Fort Dodge Kansas who drops in every day or so. Whoever you are in Salinas California that comes by daily, what in the world do I offer that keeps you coming back? I wonder that about all my readers. Just what it is that grabs their attention and draws them back. I suspect for many it's like that nasty wreck on the other side of the interstate. You don't want to look. You try not to look. But you know the pain and suffering simply requires that you look.

I suppose now would be a good time to explain this blog's name. I'm Not Emeril. Many people have asked me why. Why name the blog "I'm Not Emeril"? "Is it because you're a bad cook?", they ask. In a word, no. between my second and third marriage (ahhh, don't even ask. I love women, what can I say), I was single for 14 years. I long ago graduated from Stouffer's macaroni and cheese and Denny's Grand Slam breakfasts and learned to cook for myself. I'm actually quite good at it too, preferring Mexican and Italian style cuisine. I just don't consider myself a chef. I cook more in the style of the Food Network's Anti-Emeril. The one who shares my first name. The science and chemistry of cooking fascinates me, as it does Mr. Brown. My original plan for this blog was to actually feature a favorite recipe once a week, but as I said in the opening paragraph, I don't generally follow directives very well. Not even my own. OK, how about it. Does anyone want a "recipe of the week" feature? I've got several shoeboxes, a complete bookcase, and a hard drive full of them. Many are my own creations. I was once able to satisfy the palates of two very picky stepchildren every day with healthy, tasty meals. I still could, but their mother (that would be my third ex-wife) would frown on it now. Ask for it and you'll get it. A recipe of the week. Just don't command me to do it. And don't expect me to adhere to a rigid schedule of one a week.

I am not a post-a-day kind of blogger. Hell, sometimes I'm not even a post-a-week kind of blogger. I write what I want to, whenever the spirit moves me. I do appreciate those that do post daily though. You guys give me something to read each morning while the caffeine is steeping through the fog in my head.

I'm adding this paragraph at 9:30pm. But that's not unusual for a serious post of mine. I tend to go ahead and publish as soon as I finish writing a piece. Then I read it online and see something that needs to be "tweaked" just a bit. I did. I've now tweaked a place or two. Come back in an hour and you may find something else has been tweaked. Is there a "higher cosmic meaning" in that? Who knows? It's just the way I do stuff. Somebody who majored in psychology may be able to enlighten me. Please feel free to psychoanalyze me in the comments below.

While I don't covet the approval of other bloggers, I do enjoy the social aspects of blogging. The Blogs United Conference was a huge success in that respect. I met some great people, from both sides of the political spectrum, and will always remember those three days in August.

It occurred to me some time ago that I may come across on here as being angry. Or at least curmudgeonly. Do I? I'm not really like that. I'm a lovable guy, really. Believe me. It's true damn it!

Eileen's request included an inquiry about what we consider to be our best article. Now that's a tough one, but since Demzilla has decreed it, she must be obeyed. I'll append my favorite to the end of this Carnival submission.

Titled Football In ANWR this article combines my technical side and my political writing personality;

Recently efforts to extract known oil reserves in Alaska's Arctic coastal plain were defeated once again. The coastal plain area of ANWR (Arctic National Wildlife Refuge) is shown in green on the drawing to the right. If you open the image to full size you will see in red the area the Senate wants to open to drilling. The entire Arctic National Wildlife Refuge covers 19.5 million acres. That makes it roughly the size of the State of South Carolina. The Coastal Plain (green) covers 1.5 million acres. The barely discernible red square represents the 2,000 acres proposed for drilling. I would like to credit the source of this image, but frankly, I've had it on my hard drive for some time and do not remember were I obtained it.

I've been trying to get this representation of size down to something more conceivable. Luckily, I have AutoCAD and I ain't afraid to use it. AutoCAD is a software application designed for drawing to exact scale. The greatest attribute of the program is that it allows you to draw in full scale, then when you are ready to print your drawing, you specify the size of the sheet being used and the finished drawing is correctly scaled to fit the sheet. In other words, if the device I am designing is to be 20 feet long, I can draw a line 20 feet long on the screen and then zoom in or out to see the entire line.

For example, in this screen capture I drew a football field. In AutoCAD (and in the real world) the distance from endzone to endzone is 300 feet. The dimensions are all perfectly scaled when the drawing will be printed, regardless of the size of the paper I decide to use.

I drew this football field in order to bring the ratios discussed in the first paragraph into a context more relevant to those of us who do not use acres as a daily measurement, not to mention acres in the millions. I assume nearly all of my readers have seen a football field and can conceptualize it's size.

The hashmarks between the full yardlines are each 24" long and 2" wide. Roughly two whole Subway sandwiches laid end to end. Consider the entire field, including both endzones represents Alaska's Coastal Plain that lies within the ANWR (the green part above). All four of the hashmarks between the 45 yard line and the 50 yard line would then represent an area equal to the area proposed for drilling. Eight Subway sandwiches lying on a football field represents the small area of the coastal plain proposed for drilling.

Next, I wanted to show the proposed drilling area in relation to the entire 19.5 million acres of ANWR. If you were to download this image you would see a small dot within the zero of the numeral 30 on the opposing team's side of the field. That "dot" does not represent the correct ratio of ANWR to drilling site, assuming the entire field represents all of ANWR. No, that "dot" was something I had to draw there in order for you to see that something was in fact drawn inside the opposing team's 6 foot high "30".

I drew the United States Quarter coin, again in exact scale, that the referee dropped after using it for the game opening coin toss. That Tic Tac just above George Washington's head represents the size of the drilling area in relation to all of ANWR.

If the entire Arctic National Wildlife Refuge were the size of a football field, the area being proposed for drilling would be much smaller than a Tic Tac breath mint. Estimates of the oil reserves that can be extracted from this Tic Tac range between 10 and 20 years at current consumption.

With the power of AutoCAD at my disposal, I could continue and extrapolate a drawing that represents the drilling area in relation to the entire State of Alaska and even to the area of all 50 states combined. But if I did this experiment with just the State of Alaska the resultant drawing would end up being so small as to have no relevance to the real world in the opposite direction.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

A New Patrick County Blog!

Badrose and I have a new neighbor. Richard Rogers, host of "The Great Day in the Morning Show" on Stuart's AM station WHEO, started his blog last month. I just found it via a "Google alert".

Welcome to the Virginia Blog Community Richard.

Another Henry County Moment Coming?

Like most here in Henry County I read the Martinsville Bulletin. Sure, it's a left leaning locally owned paper which only publishes news that the owner decides is publishable, but it's the only place in the area for any kind of real news.

The other two sources are incredibly weak when it comes to real news. For the most part Bill Wyatt's TV and radio stations simply read the Bulletin or the Roanoke Times on the air while Charles Roarke's cable access station serves up juicy gossip, but seldom has anything of substance.

Now, via badrose, I see that there may be another Martinsville and Henry County moment brewing. This one involving the rape and sodomy of a 17 year old male. The connection that badrose points out is very tenuous at best, but if the dots lead where they appear to go there could be some serious repercussions for one of Henry County's media outlets.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

ManBearPig, Could Al Gore Be Scamming Us?

I've looked. believe me, I've looked. For the life of me I can't find Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth" online in its entirety anywhere. I really wanted to do a side by side comparison here, but apparently Al Gore is more interested in the income he receives from his propaganda film than he is in getting his version of the truth out. I guess those incredible power bills in Nashville have to be paid somehow. Fortunately, our friends at Briton's Channel 4 TV are willing to put their documentary online for all to see, without requiring us to get into a car or train or bus and wasting energy to go and see it.

We've all heard from our liberal friends that "all credible scientists concur that global warming is caused by mankind's actions" and our incredibly debaucherous (is that a word? Well it is now.) lifestyle. Sorry guys, but that's just not true. There are many world renowned scientists that do not buy into Al Gore's version of "the truth". In fact, here in Virginia, our own University of Virginia's resident climatologist is prominently featured in the following video.

Find some time in your incredibly interest packed life and invest an hour and thirteen minutes into the video linked blow.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

VBC Is Online...

Badrose is always an excellent hostess, and this week she proves it once again by hosting the Virginia Blog Carnival.

Next week the blogger affectionately known as Demzilla will be your host, be sure to send her your best. Her theme;
...I'm thinking of subtitling it "The Art of Blogging" and ask folks to submit posts that explore their passions towards blogging, what gets them inspired and/or annoyed, what their "blogging philosophy" may be, if it's hits that drives them, what they think their greatest contribution to blogging has been so far and why, or just submit what they consider to be their best post while also explaining why.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Virginia Landmark Contest Returns

A weekly feature once found here was a Virginia Landmark Contest. I once had hundreds of photos of various Virginia Landmarks, but a crash of the 80 gigabyte external hard drive that they lived on caused me to lose almost all of them. Since then I've been slowly adding new landmark photos to a new collection and I'm bringing back the landmark contest. Just like before, the only award the winner will receive will be the admiration and awe of his or her fellow readers. Note that all pictures will get bigger if you click on them.

This week we are in Southwest Virginia and we'll be looking at several landmarks. First, this building is not on the main street of the town in which it is located. But if you've spent much time wandering the side streets of this town the building's arresting architecture and bright blue shutters should be all the clues you need to identify it.

If you instead prefer to visit this town's many pubs and drinkeries, you may still have some insight into the building's current use.

While not a landmark in the sense that we tend to think of them today, the place on the right was surely a well known landmark and navigational aid to those intrepid explorers who wandered Southwest Virginia around 250 years or so ago.

The water in the river that winds around the base of this formation does not eventually find its way to the Atlantic. Instead, after producing some of the most challenging kayaking rapids in the east, it enjoys a nice slow trip to New Orleans before mingling with the saltiness of the Gulf of Mexico.

Other than that, the only hint I'll add is that it's located about an hour's drive north and west of the building above.

Less than an hour away from the wilderness shown above is a charming little Appalachian town. That is the location for our next stop.

Your mission is to identify the town, the building in the photograph, and the monument on the corner. There are monuments all over Virginia. This is one of the very few that does not feature a guy with a gun.

Your hint for this location is the small street you see going by the building on its left side. Once merely a side street, almost an alley really, it (for now at least) would have to be considered the main street of the business district in town.

You can see a close-up of the monument if you click on the small image on the right.

I hope you enjoyed this little trip through one of my favorite parts of Virginia.

We'll now begin our journey back toward the Blue Ridge and my home.

As we leave the eastern edge of the coalfields though, we'll make one more stop at an historical spot in Southwest Virginia. The photo on the right is obviously a re-creation of a late 18th century settlement. Where is it and what is it's name?

Bonus question;
This location also has an important connection to the history of a state park in Kentucky, you can get extra bonus points if you can identify that connection. If you are not aware of that connection, watch this blog. Sometime within the next few days I'll be writing the story of an incredibly strong woman that is the subject of that connection.

If you have a photo that you think would make a good future Landmark Contest feature please send it to me and I'll include it in a future contest.

There have been some very good guesses, and a few correct answers so far. But no one has yet named them all.

There is only one landmark left to be correctly identified. Here's your hint; It's not the Carter Family Fold, go back up and read the paragraph that introduces the final landmark.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

The Liberal And The Giant, A Parable (Since Liberals Seem To Love Parables)

I just serendipitously stumbled onto the perfect example of the liberal mindset. It's so precious it may make you weep, so get your Kleenex ready. I'm sure most of my readers have not seen this, but I'm sure you'll all appreciate the lesson in liberalism.

Once upon a time, in the eastern end of an east coast Commonwealth there lived a frustrated liberal blogger. This blogger was (and is) the target of many a barb from the village giant, a conservative blogger, (most of them well deserved I might add).

Recently our liberal friend made a software switch from Blogger to Wordpress. This can be a daunting task, even for experienced web persons, so she received quite a bit of help from the village giant. Now many denizens of the blog village did not consider this act to be out of character for the giant in the east, but our little liberal was quite surprised to be a recipient of such kindness. Especially since it came from the village giant.

The liberal blogger was so impressed, a decision was made to reward the village giant. "How can I best reward the giant?", the liberal blogger said to no one in particular. "I know, the giant really needs a new computer, but I can't afford the $400 or so that would cost. How can I show the giant just how big my heart truly is, and how compassionate I am, and how much I really want to thank him for his kindness"? The liberal blogger thought and thought, and came up with the only solution liberal bloggers have been trained to come up with.

"The solution is so simple," said the liberal blogger, "I'll just collect money from others here in the village, then I can use their money to buy my gift to give to the giant." And so the liberal blogger set about to do just that.

But soon the giant heard of the liberal blogger's efforts, and being the conservative he is, declined the offer graciously.

The moral of the story? Liberals are truly compassionate and thoughtful, and they always want to provide the most lavish gifts they can possibly provide, as long as they can take money from the other villagers to provide that gift. A conservative, on the other hand, would have simply bought the giant a cup of coffee and an omelet, and offered a genuine heartfelt thanks across the table at Denny's. That and a genuine offer to return the favor at any time.

Upanishads And Jim Webb?

And I thought LSD and "Summer of Love" prose went out of fashion 30 years ago... [Link]


Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Jeff Evans At Fast Track

Tuesday evening was the opening night for Fast Track, a trade show for Martinsville and Henry County businesses to show off their goods and services. There was a great variety of participants, ranging from Martinsville Speedway to Berry-Elliott Realtors to CPFilms to various nonprofit organizations such as The United Way of Henry County-Martinsville. Sponsored annually by the Martinsville-Henry County Chamber of Commerce, attendance this year was good, despite the recent announcements by Bassett Furniture, Dutailier, and Georgia Pacific resulting in the loss of 385 more jobs from Henry County.

As usual, wherever two or three are gathered together, there Jeff will be in their midst.

Jeff's primary platform is his accessibility. Unlike the current occupant of the 20th Senate District seat, Jeff is determined to be available to the communities that he intends to represent. As a current member of the Board of Supervisors in Carroll County, Jeff Evans has learned that our incumbent Senator only shows up in public here in the 20th District every 4 years or so, and then only at carefully chosen events.

A retired State Trooper, Jeff has vowed to continue to be accessible to the many small businesses and their employees year-round. Living in Woodlawn, almost the geographical center of the 20th Senate District, Jeff will be uniquely positioned to be "on call" to all of his constituents.

I'll have more on the rest of the Evans for Senate platform in later posts, and his new website will be online in a few days. Watch this blog for the announcement.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

NASCAR Has A Silly Season... I Never Thought Blog Carnivals Did...

Until now. Silly season indeed, wherever Jerel C. ("J.C.") Wilmore now lives.

September 07, 2005 was the very first Virginia Blog Carnival, hosted by Chad Dotson. Sorry, but it is no longer available online. The next host was Brian Patton, followed by Norm Leahy, Kenton Ngo and Ben Tribbett.

Democrats at least started out fully supporting the Carnival, but somewhere along the line they simply stopped contributing or offering to host. The most recent liberal host was Monstrosity, (which is now defunct) in October of 2006. Prior to that you have to go all the way back to May 22, 2006 to find Virginia Progressive as host.

Along the way, most hosts would add "host's choice" entries from across the political spectrum in order to round out their carnival, but the Democrats for the most part simply stopped contributing. The Richmond Democrat has decided that he is unhappy with the lack of liberal participation. F.T. Rea, in his typical half-cocked fashion, has decided that the carnival has been hijacked by the vast right-wing conspiracy. Thomas Krehbiel has decided it's just too much work to be bothered with, which is at least an honest assessment.

But now we have threats of a lawsuit. Blogger v. blogger. We have a Democrat starting what he calls a "competing" carnival.

Ironically, this Democrat claims to have offered to host a carnival in April of 2006, but the honor somehow went to Norman instead. Interestingly, he has two posts published in succession asking for contributions on April 23 and 24, 2006. But there was no carnival on The Richmond Democrat blog anytime during that week, although there was one on One Man's Trash on April 23. I find it very interesting that no one caught such a glaring discrepancy. There was not even any mention of it on The Richmond Democrat.

Just as ironically, the only carnival that I can find in which Mr. Wilmore did participate was one I hosted on March 6, 2006. Wonder what got into him that week?

Now, just how important is any of this? Pfft, not very. Certainly not important enough for Mr. Wilmore to demand that a sitting judge be bothered with verifying certain details of his story. Hardly worth this post, except I thought it may be fun to include in Mr. Wilmore's new carnival.

The only part of this saga that is important is that we have a blogger, formerly from Richmond and allegedly an attorney, putting forth the rather extreme effort required to determine Kilo's full name and contact information. And then somewhat heatedly threatening a lawsuit if a very benign post is not retracted.

On second thought, that's just silly too.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Bassett Announces Facility Closure

Today Bassett Furniture Industries announced the pending closure of their wood manufacturing facility, on Fairystone Park Highway, in Bassett.

The closing will begin within the next 60 to 90 days and will affect 280 employees.

Recent Virginia Blogging

A quick lap around Virginia;

Chris at STD suggests Lowell live up to his claims.

Kilo has Duncan Hunter's speech at CPAC in its entirety.

badrose has found a new use for her George Allen bumper sticker.

publius is considering the creation of a conservative diary.

Leslie tells the schoolyard taunters to grow up.

Jerry wonders why our benevolent government doesn't give each of us a Lexus.

That dog tells us what we already knew.

John continues to educate his readers about the seriousness of Islamic Radicalism. Or fascism. Or whatever the excusers are calling it these days.

SWACgirl has a tale about the troubles Sen. Hanger is experiencing.

Bwana Explains It All. Or Questions It All. Or Something.

I missed this a couple of days ago...
I realize it is logical this study was done. Circumstantial evidence suggests otherwise. I think if either the pro-tax, the no-tax, or the gotta survive-tax groups had such a report, they would be trumpeting it from one end of the state to the other. You see such a report has to bolster one side or the other. If VDOT is well run, and there is no waste, then the argument for higher taxes becomes more reasonable. If VDOT is not well run, and there is rampant waste, then the argument for no taxes becomes more palatable. It cuts favorably one way or the other, and the fact that no one is talking about such a report or analysis argues persuasively that said analysis does not exist.[link]
Go read the whole thing, Bwana has an excellent analysis of the transportation crisis.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Capitalistic Environmentalism

There has been a tremendous amount of interest since the Oscars directed at Al Gore's terribly wasteful energy lifestyle. Most of that interest has of course come from bloggers, but a few MSM types have at least mentioned it in passing. I won't go into how huge Mr. Gore's energy bills are, or the amount of carbon monoxide his private jet pumps into the atmosphere. Instead I would like to discuss the concept of buying "carbon offsets". Mr. Gore proudly proclaims he has a neutral "carbon footprint" because he buys enough of these offsets to neutralize his wasteful lifestyle.

Just where does one go to buy a couple of "carbon offsets"? Why, to your friendly neighborhood carbon offset store, of course. Not really. There are companies that are set up just for the purpose of selling such items though. Mr. Gore buys his through Generation Investment Management
Generation is an independent, private, owner-managed partnership established in 2004 and with offices in London and Washington, D.C.

We invest in long-only, global, public equities with a concentrated portfolio of 30-50 companies. We aim to buy high quality companies at attractive prices that will deliver superior long-term investment returns. Sustainability research plays an important role in forming our views on the quality of the business, the quality of management and valuation.

Our performance fees align our interests with that of our clients by being based on long term performance.
Generation Investment Management buys companies or stock in companies that either are effectively reducing their greenhouse gas emissions or are producing the technology that will enable other companies to do so. Generation Investment Management does not ship Mr. Gore a "carbon offset certificate" when he makes his purchase, though. What they send him instead is a plain old ordinary stock certificate. See, a "carbon offset" is really just a stock purchase. A purchase of shares in a company that is hopefully more energy efficient than it's competitors, but a stock purchase just the same.

What really makes all of this interesting is Mr. Gore himself.

Al Gore is a founding partner in Generation Investment Management. He is also the Chairman.

Now pay attention. Mr. Gore buys stocks through his own brokerage company, stocks that presumably will produce a profit. One would assume Mr. Gore also receives a salary of some sort from the company he chairs. Then Mr. Gore gets to claim that this transaction negates his wasteful lifestyle, in effect "balancing the books" environmentally. He gets the conservatives off his back and gets a clean conscience at the same time.

Now that's a great gig, if you can get it, I don't care who you are. Hell, I'm just as much a capitalist as the next guy, so I certainly am not going to criticize his neat little scam.

But, let's revisit the idea of "carbon offsets" for just a moment. In effect it's very similar to a strategy that has been used for years by many other industries. Perhaps most notably, the coal industry I used to work in.

If your process can not be "cleaned up" for less than the fine that would result from an environmental discharge conviction, you simply pay the fine and life goes on. In the words of John Lennon, Obladi oblada...

Al Gore does exactly the same thing, except he is not paying actual "fines" for his wasteful lifestyle. He has instead taken it a step further and is making a neat profit from the "fines" themselves.

Capitalistic Environmentalism. Like I said, it's a great gig. If you can get it. And so far, as far as I know, ex-vice Presidents are the only ones who are able to pull it off.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Dial "B" For Blackmail?

Doug at below the beltway has an interesting piece about the California madam who ran an escort service in DC. Finally we get a good old fashioned scandal in the making. Nothing like commercial sex to get the newspapers smokin' the presses.

Reading his post raised a question that has been in my mind for years, but I've never received a satisfactory answer. Steve Minor, Eric Monday, Brian Patton, Ken Lammers, Roger Jarrell; I'm counting on one of you guys for an answer.

Just why is blackmail illegal? Don't get me wrong, I don't mean the type of action where I threaten to spread untrue information about someone unless they pay me enough. And maybe come back for a second helping later. That is definitely immoral, as well as illegal. I'm speaking instead of the following hypothetical situation;

I have documents, legally obtained, that could be embarrassing to a powerful and or wealthy individual. I state my intentions to publish that information unless he or she is willing to outbid my publisher. Have I committed blackmail? Is it not simply capitalism? Is what I've done morally wrong? Is it legally wrong? If it's not morally wrong, yet still legally wrong, why is that?